AT THE CENTER OF UTAH INDUSTRY
Trains in the U.S.
hen you think about trains, you may think of
their heyday in the 1800s and early 1900s,
before the invention of the automobile. Since
the completion of the First Transcontinental
Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869, the
railroad has been an integral part of the nation’s economy.
Trains continue to be a vital component of our transportation
network, whether transporting passengers or goods. In
fact, the U.S. economy is especially dependant on our
rail network for transporting freight. The mining industry
has a symbiotic relationship with the railroads, as mining
provides the resources to make rail service possible, and
railroads often are used to transport minerals and metals.
According to the Association of American Railroads, in
2011 North American railroads operated 1,471,736 freight
cars and 31,875 locomotives, with 215,985 employees.
They originated 39.53 million carloads (averaging 63
tons each) and generated $81.7 billion in freight revenue.
The largest (Class 1) U.S. railroads carried 10.17 million
intermodal containers and 1.72 million trailers. Intermodal
traffic was 6.2% of tonnage originated and 12.6% of
revenue. The largest commodities were coal, chemicals,
farm products, and nonmetallic minerals. Coal alone was
43.3% of tonnage and 24.7% of revenue. The average haul
was 917 miles. Within the U.S., railroads carry 39.9% of
freight by ton-mile, followed by trucks (33.4%), oil pipelines
(14.3%), barges (12%) and air (0.3%).
Regarding passenger service, public transportation (including
light rail and commuter rail) has increased 30 percent since
1995. Salt Lake City has made large investments in building
its TRAX system, and it’s not alone. Atwww.urbanrail.net/
am/america.htm, you can see a map of North and South
America that identifies cities with light rail or subway systems,
and there a lots of them. Furthermore, high-speed rail may
well be a part of our nation’s future transportation network.
Trains have a wonderful history, and the best may well lie
ahead. The U.S. mining industry is vital to making it all