Tracking the Economy: An Old Industry Chugs Along

Volume 16, Number 2
May–August 2014

peopleThink back to your most recent shopping trip, and chances are many of your purchases spent some time on a train. Indeed, railroads carry more goods than any other form of transport in the United States—about 40 percent of the total—according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Staff writer Charles Davidson explored this vital link in the U.S. economy for the May—August issue of EconSouth, noting that "though its profile might have diminished, the freight rail business sits at the literal and figurative intersections of the economy."

In recent years, railroads have benefited from a growing population and economy, both of which increase the number of containers crisscrossing the country to destinations near and abroad as part of the intermodal transport system. "Intermodal is the present and the future of the freight rail industry," Davidson explained. This comes at a good time as demand to haul coal is slipping, he added. Other factors in addition to intermodal traffic are making up for the dip in coal shipments, including a stronger economy and higher prices, as well as rising crude oil volumes, he noted.

To learn more about the trends affecting the freight rail industry, be sure to read the full article in the latest issue of EconSouth.