#87 – Inside Our Industry – Why Freight Railroads are so Successful in the U.S.

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Moving freight efficiently across the country is crucial to the supply chain. The following Transportation post on CNBC details some facts about the U.S. freight rail system.

Why freight railroads are so successful in the U.S.
February 3, 2022  |  Erin Black  | cnbc.com

The United States lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to passenger trains, but when it comes to the freight railroad the U.S. dominates. The U.S. freight rail network operates over 140,000 miles of privately owned track in every state except Hawaii, according to the Association of American Railroads. It moves one-third of all U.S. exports and roughly 40% of long-distance freight volume.

It competes directly with the trucking industry to move goods around the country, shipping everything from coal to cars to chemicals. With the rise of e-commerce companies like Amazon, trains are increasingly moving consumer goods as well.

There are seven major freight railroads that connect North America. Union Pacific and BNSF dominate the west. CSX and Norfolk Southern are the primary east coast operators, while Kansas City Southern, along with Canadian Pacific and Canadian National run routes north and south. Amtrak, which is the United States’ passenger service, owns only 3% of the country’s rail.

In 2019, the five top railroads in the U.S. had a total operating revenue of more than $71 billion dollars.