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Freight Rail Facts

  • A Private Network: America’s freight rail industry is one of the most efficient and cost-effective transportation networks in the world. Fueled by billions of dollars in annual private investment — averaging approximately $25 billion a year — railroads maintain and modernize the nation’s nearly 140,000-mile rail network to deliver for America.
  • Economically Critical: In 2017, Class I railroads’ operations and capital investments supported over 1.1 million jobs, $219.5 billion in economic output and $71.3 billion in wages, while creating nearly $26 billion in total tax revenues.
  • Safe & Getting Safer: America’s freight rail industry is among the safest sectors in the world. Railroads train 20,000 first responders annually and more than 99.99% of all hazmat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by a train accident.
  • Future Focused: Railroads use technologies like ultrasound and drones to inspect infrastructure and equipment with greater precision and frequency while Positive Train Control addresses human error.
  • Sustainable: As the most fuel-efficient way to move freight over land, railroads, on average, move one ton of freight more than 480 miles per gallon of fuel. Moving goods by rail instead of truck reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%, on average.
  • Trade Connector: Global commerce is directly tied to 42% of rail traffic and 40,000 domestic rail jobs, worth $4.4 billion in annual wages and benefits. Railroads haul roughly 33% of U.S. exports, allowing U.S. industries to compete abroad while providing consumers access to a greater variety of goods.
  • Employee Driven: Freight railroads employ approximately 135,000 people — the vast majority of whom are unionized. Class I freight rail employees earn and average of $135,700 per year in wages and benefits.

Freight Rail Policies

Positions

Regulators

AAR Government Affairs Contacts


Rail Industry Partners

  • Railinc: Wholly-owned subsidiary of the AAR and is the leading provider of information technology, related network operations and financial services, and near rail-time network data to North America’s railroads.
  • The Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI): Wholly-owned subsidiary of the AAR is and the railroad industry’s world-class rail research and testing facility that works to improve the safety and efficiency of freight railroads throughout North America and the world.
  • GoRail: Works with thousands of community leaders across the country to tell the local story of freight rail — stronger economies, more jobs and cleaner skies.
  • The American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association: Founded in 1913, ASLRRA represents approximately 600 owners and operators of short line and regional railroads throughout North America.
  • Operation Lifesaver, Inc.: Nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.
  • League of Railway Women (LRIW): Professional association that advances the representation, recognition, and opportunities for women in the railroad industry by providing networking opportunities, sponsoring industry educational activities and supporting mentoring partnerships.

Stay Connected

  • The Signal: Stay up-to-date with rail news and industry happenings with our bi-weekly newsletter straight to your inbox.
  • Twitter: @AAR_FreightRail
  • Facebook: FreightRail
  • LinkedIn: Association of American Railroads

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