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473700-00027-1 Report Abstract

Importance of Short Line Railroads to Texas

Jeffery E. Warner and Manuel Solari Terra, Texas A&M University, October 2006, 70 pp. (473700-00027-1)

Short line railroads employ more than 20,000 persons, serve 11,500 customer facilities, and originate or terminate approximately 25 percent of all rail movements.  A good portion of short lines also operate on rail lines that were previously unprofitable and are often the lifeline for many rural agriculture communities.  Texas currently has 41 short line railroads that operate on more than 2,600 miles of track, which represents almost 20 percent of the state rail infrastructure.  The remainder of the track is operated by the three Class I railroads in the state.  Nationwide, there are seven Class I and 545 short line railroads.

The Class I railroads are characterized by long distance movement of freight over high-density rail lines between major markets.  The major commodities are usually transported over a few major lines that stretch across the country, similar to perhaps the interstate highway system.  On the other hand, the short lines operate shorter distances with the primary focus being on serving the customers on the line.

Short line railroads face many obstacles to efficient, profitable operations.  But they also hold great potential, especially with their ability to work closely with shippers to quickly meet changing needs and provide high levels of customer service.  This project examines the issues facing short line railroads, future opportunities, and the importance of these railroads to the state of Texas.

Keywords: Freight Rail, Short Line Railroads, Railroads, Shortline

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 774 KB)