Freight and freight capacity

  • 53.9 million tons of freight originated in Iowa and 38.5 million tons of freight terminated or ended its rail journey in the state. (2015)
  • Railroads are critically important to Iowa’s agricultural industry. Farm, food, chemicals and ethanol products account for 80 percent by weight of the rail shipments that originate in Iowa. (2015)
  • Coal, farm products, chemicals and food products make up 83 percent by weight of the rail shipments terminating in Iowa.  (2015)
  • 281.8 million tons of freight traveled through the state to other out-of-state destinations or within the state. (2015)
  • Since 1985, the tons of rail freight originating, terminating or traveling through Iowa has more than doubled.  (2015)
  • Iowa railroads move goods in 110-ton cars and in trains that are often 100 or more cars long. One covered hopper car is capable of hauling 4,000 bushels of grain, which is equivalent to more than four semi tractor-trailers.
  • A 108 car train is approximately 1.3 miles long.  To carry an equivalent amount of freight on the highway would require a bumper to bumper caravan of semi/tractor trailers nearly 7 miles long.
  • It would require over 14 million semi-tractor trailer loads to move the same weight of product carried into, out of or through Iowa by rail (361.3 million tons) in the year 2015.
  • Iowa's rail system moves more freight over fewer miles of track. Between 1985 and 2010, net ton-miles have nearly tripled while rail-miles have fallen by 830 miles. (2015)