How do we protect our environment for future generations?

For freight railroads, the answer is by innovating new technologies, investing in new equipment and pioneering new ways of efficiently running our operations. With a private freight rail network that stretches 140,000 miles coast-to-coast, every improvement along the way means a big difference for America’s carbon footprint.

Since becoming partially deregulated in 1980, freight railroads have been able to earn enough revenue to invest in equipment and state-of-the-art technology that helps move goods efficiently and benefits the environment. Innovations like Genset locomotives, which rely upon a series of small engines that can be turned on and off when needed, have made freight trains both more powerful and more fuel-efficient. In 1980, a freight train could haul 2,200 tons in a single journey. Today that number is almost 3,500 tons, a difference that translates into hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel saved.

Railroads have also invested in anti-idling technology and software that can calculate the most fuel-efficient speed for a train. By employing these innovations, a freight train can move one ton of goods more than 479 miles on a single gallon of fuel. This makes trains four times more fuel efficient than trucks,

In fact, moving just 5% of freight from truck to rail would result in nine million fewer tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Freight rail’s commitment to a more sustainable future takes on added importance when one looks at the future demands that will be placed on the nation’s transportation network. The Department of Transportation estimates a 37% increase in the volume of U.S. freight shipped byand 2040. And according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, road congestion is only going to get worse. Americans already lose 6.9 billion hours and 3.1 billion gallons of fuel to congestion each year.

What’s a great congestion buster? Freight rail. A single freight train can take several hundred trucks off the nation’s highways — helping commuters and communities breathe easier.

A cleaner environment and less congested roads are big priorities for our nation. Freight rail helps by spending billions of its private funds each year — more than $660 billion between 1980 and 2017 — to maintain a world-class freight transportation network. In the process, they’re moving the raw materials and goods that keep America’s economy strong while delivery a more sustainable future.