Trends In the Rail Industry
Railways in today’s modern world – and especially in North America – are used mainly for freight transport with some rail lines such as Amtrak being used exclusively for passenger transport across the country.
Railway companies in the United States operate on over 226,097 km of standard gauge track in both urban and rural locations.
Rail lines are grouped into classifications according to the revenue they generate. Class 1 rail lines have annual operating revenues above $348 million, Class 2 have revenues between $27.8 million and $347.9 million and Class 3 is reserved for all other freight railways.
There were 132 Class 1 railways in the United States in 1939 but with mergers, bankruptcies and other acquisitions that number has dropped to only 7 Class 1 railways in use today.
Moving Freight – Moving People
It’s a fact that railways are responsible for moving more than 40 percent of the nation’s freight and help to connect businesses across the country in both urban and rural areas.
Freight is also moved to the port and dock areas of the country allowing cargo to be sent to all countries overseas. Train traffic is carefully monitored by each rail company helping to ensure that the cargo – whether freight or passengers – arrives safely and without incident. The rail industry is very capital-dependent with each rail worker generating revenue of over $250,000 annually. This is one of the reasons why railway workers of all types are paid so well.
This is also why the specialized training and services that rail workers provide are valued by the railway companies.
Some recent trends in the industry have included many smaller companies being drawn into larger rail corporations with some resulting capital expenditures such as refurbishment of older rails and cars and some training of additional staff.
Most rail lines in the United States are used specifically for transporting freight, especially the lines connecting manufacturing centers with larger cities. Rail lines connecting large cities are used by both freight lines and passenger lines for obvious reasons.
Railways still have the advantage over trucking companies where fuel costs and cargo capacity matters are concerned. It’s still cheaper to have your cargo transported across the country by rail as opposed to using trucking companies.