In June 2020, the American Association of Railroads put out a paper that evaluated the positive environmental benefits of using rail for freight movement over trucks.

Some of the key findings or items described in the report include:

  • A modern freight train replaces hundreds of trucks on the road.
  • Moving freight by rail saves two-thirds to 75% of the fuel used to move the same amount by trucks. Shifting a small portion of the freight moved by truck would save therefore billions of gallons of fuel.
  • The cost of building and maintaining the rail system is almost exclusively paid for by the railroads themselves, whereas a considerable amount of taxes are spent on maintaining highways. Moreover, shifting freight to rail from trucks could reduce the wear-and-tear on the highways.
  • Through better railcar design and other factors, the amount of freight carried by an average train has increased 24% over the past 20 years.

Those who rely upon rail systems for moving a wide type of freight are likely already aware of these issues or have thought about at least some of them from time to time. We feel this paper is properly raising the benefits of rail traffic and the need for policymakers and responsible industries to take a fresh look at how to maximize transportation by rail.

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