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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Rail represented 40 percent of total ton-miles in '07, federal commodity flow survey shows


In 2007, rail shipments accounted for more than 1.9 billion tons of U.S. freight valued at about $436.4 billion and 15 percent of total tonnage, according to final estimates from a 2007 commodity flow survey released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau.

Rail moves totaled about 1.3 trillion ton-miles, representing 40 percent of all ton-miles. Trucking accounted for 71 percent of cargo value, 70 percent of total tonnage and 40 percent of ton-miles. All told, rail, truck and water shipments involved 12.5 billion tons of cargo valued at $11.7 trillion and totaled 3.3 trillion ton-miles.

Electronics/electrical and office equipment were the top commodity categories by shipment value, totaling $1 trillion. Gravel and crushed stone were the top commodities by weight at 2 billion tons while coal was the top commodity by ton-miles at 836 billion.

Shipments by manufacturing industries were valued at $5.2 trillion, representing 45 percent of total cargo value and 35 percent of all tonnage. Wholesale industries accounted for 41 percent of the total value and 29 percent of the total weight.

BTS and the census bureau conduct a commodity flow survey every four years. Previous surveys were conducted in 1993, 1997 and 2002.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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