Published: Tuesday, 10 January 2017 09:26
The Freight Rail Network
Today, the U.S. freight rail network is widely considered one of the most dynamic freight systems in the world. The $60 billion industry consists of 140,000 rail miles operated by seven Class I railroads  (railroads with operating revenues of $433.2 million or more), 21 regional railroads, and 510 local railroads.  Not only does the 140,000 mile system move more freight than any other freight rail system worldwide but it also provides 221,000 jobs  across the country and numerous public benefits including reductions in road congestion, highway fatalities, fuel consumption and greenhouse gases, logistics costs, and public infrastructure maintenance costs.
The U.S. freight railroads are private organizations that are responsible for their own maintenance and improvement projects. Compared with other major industries, they invest one of the highest percentages of revenues to maintain and add capacity to their system. The majority of this investment is for upkeep to ensure a state of good repair while 15 to 20 percent of capital expenditures, on average, are used to enhance capacity. 
Where Freight Moves
Essentially, goods can move on the U.S. freight rail network anywhere there is active rail. However, freight tends to move from ports, manufacturing hubs, and areas of specific economic activity, such as rural areas for agriculture and energy products, to population centers or outlying regions where power plants and large manufacturing facilities are located.
Internationally, the U.S. freight rail network connects with Canada and Mexico through several key gateways along the borders. These gateways allow freight railroads to participate in achieving national export goals and facilitating the safe and efficient importation of goods. U.S. Rail Carried Trade with Canada and Mexico provides additional information on the volumes and values of commodities that flow between the NAFTA countries and the most important freight gateways along the borders.