Investing in Tomorrow

America’s privately-owned freight railroads are the most productive and cost-effective in the world — and they are getting even better through strategic investments. Railroads are evolving, providing customers a competitive edge in the global economy of the future.

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Harnessing Technology

We’re building the network of the future — today. We’re using smart sensors, positioned on locomotives and tracks, and cutting-edge data analytics to drive our industry — and America — into the future.

  • Delivering a Safer Future

    Technology solutions are imperative to railroads’ goal of an accident-free future. Positive Train Control (PTC), technology designed to prevent accidents caused by human error, along with automated inspection technologies will allow the railroad industry to make meaningful progress on solving the most challenging safety issues.

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  • Meeting Customer Needs

    Railroads work constantly to ensure customers reliably receive their freight at affordable rates. New technologies make it possible for customers to track shipments in real time. And improvements to infrastructure and operations nationwide are helping speed up delivery times.

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  • Maximizing Efficiency

    Freight demand is expected to increase 30% by 2040, so railroads are strengthening our capabilities now to be ready. Smart sensors and data analytics provide real-time insights that drive productivity increases through informed maintenance planning. Other technologies, like automated gate services, help make intermodal facilities more efficient so freight can move faster.

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  • Empowering Employees

    Freight rail’s culture of safety means our workforce is able to succeed while ensuring they’re out of harm’s way. Training with simulators and virtual reality prepare them before stepping into the field. Once on the job, innovations like remote control locomotives and high-definition cameras on drones for inspections further minimize risks and protect workers.

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Supporting Workers

By moving the industry forward, rail workers are helping the national economy thrive, both now and into the future. Railroads ensure our workers have the resources they need — such as technology and training — to excel to the best of their abilities, resulting in greater productivity, accuracy and safety than ever before. This is accomplished across a wide range of highly skilled jobs, including engineering, dispatching, law enforcement, data analysis, industrial development and more.

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Industry Overview

America’s freight railroads operate the most efficient, cost-effective network in the world. Privately owned, and constantly investing in an interconnected network of approximately 630 railroad companies, our infrastructure has received the highest grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In order to deliver goods to ports and distribution centers nationwide and serve communities and businesses of all sizes, it takes a mix of types of railroads to get the job done.

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Class I

The seven “Class I” railroads — railroads with 2019 revenue of at least $505 million — account for around 68% of freight rail mileage, 88% of employees, and 94% of revenue. Class I railroads operate over nearly 92,000 route miles across 46 states (not Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire or Rhode Island). These are the long-haulers of the railroad world, accounting for more than two-thirds of the industry’s mileage.

Short Line & Regional

Approximately 630 short line railroads (Class II and III) operate over approximately 45,000 route miles in 49 states. For large areas of the country and particularly for small town rural America, short line rail service connects farmers and businesses to the national railroad network.

Switching & Terminal

Many ports and industrial areas include their own small railroads that pick up and deliver goods. This type of railroad also moves traffic between other, larger railroads.

Passenger

Of the more than 21,000 miles on which it operates, Amtrak owns approximately 655 miles, primarily in the Northeast and Michigan. Some of the remaining miles are owned by states or regional transportation authorities, but the vast majority are owned by freight railroads. 70% of the train-miles operated by Amtrak are on tracks owned by these host railroads.

Suppliers

Railroad suppliers play a critical role in keeping freight rail operations safe and efficient. Suppliers across the nation provide complex communications and signaling systems, mechanical and maintenance equipment, railcars, locomotives and all the components necessary to keep freight railroads moving across the private 140,000-mile network. America’s railroad suppliers include large and small manufacturers and represent a $28 billion a year industry that supports more than 100,000 American workers.