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U.S. ECONOMY > American Industries > Transportation > Freight Federal Railroad Administration: Freight Railroading

Freight Railroading

In 2004, the latest year that data are available, the freight railroad industry produced over 1.66 trillion ton-miles that generated revenue of $42.2 billion. Seven major railroad systems accounted for 93 percent of the industry's total revenue even though the rail industry is composed of over 500 carriers. The Surface Transportation Board (the Federal agency with jurisdiction over the economic regulation of railroads) classified seven railroads as meeting the Class I threshold with revenues greater than or equal to $289.4 million in 2004. In addition, according to the Association of American Railroads, there were 31 regional railroads and over 500 local (shortline or switching and terminal) railroads. The industry originated over 34 million carloads on a network consisting of nearly 141,000 miles of road. The industry employed 177,000 employees.

In addition to promulgation and enforcement of railroad safety regulations, FRA provides financial support, research and development, as well as policy analysis and recommendations on broad subjects relating to the rail industry and the nation's general railroad system.

The Office of Policy and Program Development provides support, analysis and recommendations on issues such as: rail mergers and restructuring; economic regulation; rail economics; rail financial health; traffic patterns and network analysis; labor-management issues; freight data and operations; intermodalism; environmental issues; and international programs.

The Office of Railroad Development provides financial assistance, sponsors research and development, and provides technical assistance. These program activites include: the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF), environmental research and project reviews, and research and development to further safety and efficiency of the nation's railroad system.

The Office of Research and Development conducts research, development, test, and evaluation projects to support its safety mission and to enhance the railroad system as a national transportation resource. It contributes vital benefits to the safety regulatory processes, to railroad suppliers, to railroads involved in the transportation of freight, to inter-city and commuter passengers, to railroad employees, and to labor organizations.


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The numerical data in this section is solely for informational purposes. Please consult the original sources for updated information.