The 600 railroads in the US transport cargo within a rail network, and include line haul railroads and short line railroads. Major types of rail freight include energy products (20% of industry freight revenue); chemicals and allied products (14%); mixed shipments (14%); farm products (8%); food and kindred products (8%); and motor vehicles and equipment (8%). Non-freight related revenue includes fees for rail car switching, rail car hire and rental services, and demurrage (when shippers or receivers hold railcars beyond the contracted period of time).

High Capital Requirements

Rail transport is a highly capital-intensive industry, with most companies having significant investments in tracks, terminals, underlying property, locomotives, and rail cars.

Competition From Alternative Carriers

Railroads compete with alternative modes of transportation, such as trucks, barges, ships, and pipeline operators.