History: 21st Century

Railroads companies have now become total transportation companies. Beginning in 2000, the large Class I railroads began entering into strategic partnerships with other international carriers to grow further into international markets.   See http://www.american-rails.com/railroad-history.html

This first decade of the 21st century has continued to see a railroad revival as freight has poured so heavily onto the rails that the industry is running out of capacity, a scenario many thought would never happen and has not been seen since World War II. We have also seen a renaissance of passenger railroading as folks flock to trains to beat the gridlock and look for a more relaxing way to commute and travel.

In 2001,Conrail was acquired jointly by the CSX Transportation System and the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

In 1900 there were 132 Class I railroads. Today, as the result of mergers, bankruptcies, and major changes in the regulatory definition of "Class I," there are only seven railroads operating in the United States that meet the criteria for Class I.

Over the past ten years from 2000 to 2010, intermodal traffic – the movement of truck trailers or containers – has been the fastest growing rail traffic segment. Coal, however, is still the highest-volume single commodity carried by rail. 

As of 2010, railroads move 42% of intercity freight, more than any other mode of transportation.  The rail share of intercity freight traffic has been trending slightly steadily upward over the past 10 to 15 years.

Today's passenger train travel services are still a far cry from yesteryear but they are improving, particularly over the last decade as more notice is being paid to the efficiencies trains provide over cars and buses. Passenger railroading is gaining more and more support and its future looks very good. Look for significant investment in high speed rail service over the coming decades.

In 2008, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) passed, establishing the initial framework for the development of high-speed rail corridors in the U.S.  It remains to be seen how the country will follow through with its plans.

*** Read the reports on High Speed Rail in America - 2050 and Transportation & America's Future.  Also, check out the U.S. High Speed Rail Map and country's plans for the 21st Century.

YouTube Freight Rail Jobs & America's Future

Unfortunately, the amazing boost in efficiency and productivity of America's railroads since the 1980's and the important role they play in carrying freight across this country is little known to the average American. We all need to get involved in raising awareness of the importance of the American rail system to the U.S. economy.

In 2000, Amtrak introduced the Acela Express on the Northeast Corridor in the U.S.  These high-speed trains attain speeds up to 150 mph (240 km/h). The Acela Express trains carried 3.2 million passengers in fiscal year 2010 and is one of the few Amtrak lines to operate at a profit. More high speed rail lines between major city pairs (e.g. L.A. & San Diego, Dallas & Houston, etc.) would benefit the U.S. tremendously.

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