Rail Freight Times

Rail Freight Times

Class I rail freight line-haul speeds averaged 21.8 miles-per-hour in the first-quarter of 2005, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the previous quarter1 (figure 5-12). Between the first quarter of 2002 and the first quarter of 2005, average line-haul speeds decreased 15 percent. This decrease followed a general upward trend in line-haul speeds since late 1999.

Line-haul speed is a shipper-related indicator of the performance of the railroad industry. To put the average speeds in perspective, revenue ton-miles totaled 416.7 billion in the first quarter of 2005 (figure 5-13). This represented an increase in revenue ton-miles of 18 percent from the first quarter of 2002 to first quarter of 2005, the same time period in which average line-haul speeds were declining.

Terminal dwell time, the time a train spends in terminals, is not included in line-haul speed data (box 5-C). It is, thus, a rail freight time indicator that supplements line-haul speeds. Terminal dwell time of Class I railroads averaged 24.2 hours in the first quarter of 2005, an increase of 0.7 percent compared with the previous quarter [1].


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculations using Class I railroad data reported to the Association of American Railroads, available at http://www.railroadpm.org/.

1 For the definition of Class I railroads, see the Glossary.