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Carloads By Commodity
Carloads By Commodity

source: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Facts and Figures 2007 Edition

We collect our corn from over 200 family farmers and the railroad is what allows us to find markets for this corn. Without the short line railroad these farmers would be limited to what they could truck short distances within our state. For many it is what makes their farming operation viable.

Sonia Meehl
Crete Grain, North Dakota

America's short line and regional railroads operate over 50,000 miles of railroad track, nearly 30% of the nation's total railroad mileage. This was some of the most vulnerable railroad track in the country as the large national railroads were forced to dramatically downsize their systems in the 1970's and 80's.

These lines were saved by entrepreneurs who took huge financial risks to purchase and rehabilitate long neglected track. And these new small businesses have become the workhorses of America's rail network.

Over 550 short line and regional railroads operate in 49 states and bring efficient, reliable rail service to thousands of communities that would have otherwise lost their connection to the nation's mainline railroad system. In 30 states short lines operate at least one quarter of the rail network.

The majority of short line and regional railroads have two or more connections.

Short lines are a feeder system for the large Class I railroads, picking up or delivering one out of every four rail cars moving on the national rail network. They employ nearly 20,000 people, serve over 13,000 facilities and haul over 14 million carloads per year.

Small Railroads by Number of Connecting Railroads
Small Railroads by Number of Connecting Railroads

source: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Facts and Figures 2007 Edition

Short line railroads compete directly for truck load traffic and that competition helps lower transportation costs for the shipping public. They allow producers to reach markets far beyond that which trucks can reach economically. They take trucks off the road and in so doing reduce fuel consumption, highway congestion and highway repair costs.

Short line railroads keep America's communities connected to the national railroad network and to the economic benefits that flow from that network.