From greeting cards and furniture to frozen chickens and computers, just about everything found on retailers’ shelves might have traveled on an intermodal train. With an ocean of consumer products and raw materials moving in and out of U.S. ports daily, manufacturers and distributors rely on intermodal transport to get goods to the ships on time or out for delivery across the nation to meet demand. And, this highly efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to ship goods is only growing. In 2013, rail moved approximately 13 million containers and trailers, more than ever before.
As the fastest growing segment of business, the rail industry keeps intermodal transport competitive with billions of dollars in investments for new intermodal terminals, track upgrades and other infrastructure projects ensuring that your new shoes arrive on time and on budget.
Grain feeds America and its farm animals, and rail gets it there. From field to factory, rail is moving the vast quantities of barley, wheat, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghum and soybeans that the food industry depends on to keep grocery shelves stocked and barns full of well-fed animals. In 2013 alone, rail moved 1.3 million carloads or 124.5 million tons of grain across the country and to America’s ports for export.
As the world’s top grain producer and exporter, the U.S. exports an average of 132 million tons per year with rail moving the lion’s share of product to ports. As demand for U.S. grain has grown, rail has responded with new high-capacity cars and efficient “shuttle trains” which move high volumes in an efficient and cost-effective way. So if it’s on your table, chances are it got there by rail.
Safe, fast and efficient, rail makes the perfect partner for industries that keep drinking water clean, farms bountiful, cars and homes running efficiently, perishable foods packaged safely and medical care effective. Whether its plastics, soaps, drugs, fertilizers or any of the essential chemicals on a list that grows by the day, rail is ready, with 2.2 million carloads or 175 million tons of chemicals moved in 2013. Freight railroads help ensure that chemical producers can continue to help enhance our health, safety and quality of life.
Railroads’ continued private investment in the health of the nation’s 140,000 mile freight rail network has resulted in a strong safety record for moving hazardous materials of all kinds, including chemicals. Today, 99.9977 percent of rail hazmat carloads reach their destination without a release caused by a train accident and rail hazmat accident rates are down 91 percent since 1980 and 38 percent since 2000.
Consumers expect variety when they walk into a car dealership; they want to see all the latest in subcompacts, minivans, sedans and cross-overs. Getting all these makes and models from the manufacturing plant to the showroom in time to meet demand is no easy feat, but it’s exactly the kind of challenge rail is designed to meet. With cost-effective routes and newer and more flexible auto-carrying rail cars, it’s no surprise that in a typical year, U.S. railroads deliver approximately 1.1 million carloads of finished vehicles, parts, and accessories. And, railroads go the extra mile to deliver for their automaker customers, instituting special operating procedures and developing special rail car components to enhance the quality of the ride for new cars.
As the auto industry expands, so does the rail equipment fleet with 4,075 new multi-level rail cars added by carriers in 2013 and another 2,440 due in 2014.
Wherever there’s oil, there’s rail. As new technologies unlock previously trapped oil in shale, crude oil is coming out of the ground at an unprecedented rate. That means North America is moving closer to energy self-sufficiency – and U.S freight railroads are playing a critical role. With key routes, transport expertise and flexibility, rail gets crude where it needs to go: to the refineries that will process it into things like gasoline for cars, jet fuel for planes and home heating oil. In 2013, rail originated more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil, more than ever before.
Safety is the industry’s number one priority and, railroads are continually working to improve on their strong safety record through significant and consistent investment in infrastructure and equipment, technology innovation, rigorous employee training, improved operating practices, higher tank car standards and first responder training.