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U.S. class I railroad locomotive fleet 1995-2018

Following a period of consistent growth, the locomotive fleet of U.S. class I railroad operators fell slightly to 26,546 locomotives in 2017, from 26,719 locomotives in the previous year, only to increase again to 26,086 in 2018.

Class I railroads

Class I railroads are the largest freight railroad operators in the U.S. Officially they are defined as having annual carrier operating revenues of 250 million U.S. dollars or more in 1991 dollars. Currently there are seven class I operators: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, CSX Transportation, Grand Trunk Corporation, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern Combined Railroad Subsidiaries, Soo Line Corporation, and Union Pacific Railroad. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway are also considered as class I operators due to their significant U.S. presence. In total, around 118,799 miles of railroad is operated in the U.S. by class I operators. The largest two class I operators in terms of revenue are BNSF and Union Pacific.

Freight in the U.S.

Over the last two decades, roughly 2.5 trillion ton-kilometers of rail freight were transported annually in the United States. Although a large number, this figure is a fraction of the 5.6 trillion ton-miles of total freight transported on average each year. Accordingly, even the largest class I rail operators generate significantly less revenue than the two main companies which provide road and air freight services, UPS and FedEx.

U.S. class I railroad locomotive fleet from 1995 to 2018

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Release date

August 2019


United States

Survey time period

1995 to 2018

Supplementary notes

* Data is preliminary.
Data prior to 2012 was taken from previous editions of Class I Railroad Statistics.

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