The United States is a highly developed and industrialized society. Americans use a lot of energy in homes, in businesses, and in industry. Americans also use energy for personal travel and for transporting goods. There are five energy consuming sectors:
1. The industrial sector includes facilities and equipment used for manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and construction.
2. The transportation sector includes vehicles that transport people or goods, such as cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trains, aircraft, boats, barges, and ships.
3. The residential sector consists of homes and apartments.
4. The commercial sector includes offices, malls, stores, schools, hospitals, hotels, warehouses, restaurants, and places of worship and public assembly.
5. The electric power sector consumes primary energy to generate most of the electricity consumed by the other four sectors.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that cars, light trucks, and motorcycles use the largest share of the total energy consumed for transportation in the United States.
For more than 180 years, railroads revolutionized transportation and catalyzed economic development. Today, freight railroads connect thousands of American communities to the global economy and operate the most efficient and cost-effective freight rail system in the world. As a result, customers — and consumers — save billions of dollars each year. Freight railroads help ease highway congestion, save energy, and reduce carbon emissions. Almost two hundred years after the first American freight train rumbled down a track, America’s railroads remain the backbone of the nation’s economy and the engine that moves America. Operating across nearly 140,000 miles, U.S. freight railroads manage a complex nationwide rail system efficiently, reliably and affordably. As a result, the U.S. is home to the most efficient and cost-effective rail system in the world, benefitting U.S. businesses and consumers. But railroad’s impact on the U.S. economy goes well beyond their tracks. U.S. rail industry spending supports $274 billion in economic activity each year. So, for every dollar railroads spend, ten dollars in economic activity is generated. From 1980 to 2016, privately-owned freight railroads spent more than $630 billion of their own funds on locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure and equipment to keep the economy moving. In 2017, America’s freight railroads project to spend an estimated $22 billion to sustain and enhance the network on which America’s economy rides.
Freight railroads have played a transformational role in the development of America — revolutionizing transportation and catalyzing the country’s economic development for more than 180 years. Today, America’s freight railroads serve nearly every industrial, wholesale, retail, and resource-based sector of the economy, operating over a network of nearly 140,000 miles. Railroads account for approximately 40 percent of intercity freight volume — more than any other mode of transportation. Together with their counterparts in Canada and Mexico, North America’s freight railroads form the world’s most efficient, cost effective, and reliable freight rail system in the world. U.S. freight railroads are overwhelmingly privately owned and operate almost exclusively on tracks the railroads build and maintain themselves. From 1980 to 2015, railroads spent approximately $600 billion of their own funds on locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure and equipment to keep the economy moving. In 2015, America’s freight railroads spent more than $30 billion to sustain and enhance their nationwide network.