Iowa's railroad profilesIowa is served by 20 railroad companies, which operate 4,023 miles of track within Iowa. Three of these railroads are major national companies operating throughout much of the United States. These railroads operate 53 percent of Iowa’s total route miles, including much of the Iowa grain-gathering network.
The remaining 17 smaller railroads serving Iowa consist of four regional railroads operating in Iowa and nearby states, and 13 local railroads operating in Iowa. These regional and local railroads serve 47 percent of Iowa’s route miles.
|Appanoose County Community Railroad||APNC||III|
|Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad||BSV||III|
|Burlington Junction Railway||BJRY||III|
|BNSF Railway Co.||BNSF||I|
|CBEC Railway Inc.||CBEC||III|
|Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Co. (CRANDIC)||CIC||III|
|Cedar River Railroad Co.||CEDR||III**|
|Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad||CC||II**|
|Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Co.||DME||III|
|D & I Railroad Co.||DAIR||III|
|D & W Railroad||DWRR||III|
|Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad Corp.||ICE||II|
|Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd.||IAIS||II|
|Iowa Northern Railway Co.||IANR||III|
|Iowa Northwestern Railroad||IANW||II|
|Iowa River Railroad||IARR||III|
|Iowa Traction Railroad Co.||IATR||III|
|Keokuk Junction Railroad Co.||KJRY||III|
|Norfolk Southern Railway Co.||NS||I|
|Union Pacific Railroad Co.||UP||I|
*Railroads are categorized by the Surface Transportation Board (STB)
based on operating revenues. Currently, a Class I railroad has
operating revenues exceeding $319.3 million, a Class II railroad
(often referred to as a regional railroad) has operating revenues
greater than $25.5 million, but less than $319.3 million, and a Class
III railroad (often referred to as a shortline railroad) has
operating revenues of less than $25.5 million or less, and all
switching and terminal companies regardless of operating revenues.
**Iowa has two railroads owned by Canadian Pacific (Cedar River Railroad and Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad), which would be categorized as a Class I railroad if it was a domestically owned railroad and not Canadian-owned.
Appanoose County Community Railroad was formed in 1983 by the town
of Centerville, utilizing abandoned sections of the Burlington
Northern, Rock Island and Norfolk Southern railroads. The railroad
is a non-profit railroad with headquarters in Centerville.
The APNC operates 35 miles of rail from Centerville to Albia. The line connects with the BNSF and the Norfolk Southern at Albia and with the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad at Moravia. Current employment totals seven people, all located in Iowa.
The main commodity handled by the APNC is plastic products.
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad is a nonprofit operating museum
located in Boone. In 1983, BSV purchased 12 miles of track which was
scheduled for abandonment from the Chicago North Western. A
nonprofit historical society was established and began passenger
service later that year. Since 1983, BSV has operated a passenger
excursion train over the 12 miles of track from Boone to Wolf. In
February 2001, BSV obtained an additional 1.66 miles of right-of-way
from downtown Boone eastward to the Boone Industrial Park from the
Union Pacific Railroad to serve the industries located in the park.
Freight service is only provide on the 1.66 miles to the Boone Industrial Park. Current employment totals six people, all located in Iowa.
The main commodities handled by the BSV are lumber and primary metal products.
BNSF Railway Co. began operating in Iowa on Sept. 22, 1995, following
the merger of the Burlington Northern and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
railroads. BNSF is owned by its holding Co. Burlington Northern Santa Fe
Corporation, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
The BNSF is among the largest railroads in the U.S. today with operating mileage totaling more than 32,000 miles covering 28 states and two Canadian provinces. BNSF covers the western two-thirds of the United States from major Pacific Northwest and California ports to the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, and from Canada to Mexico. The railroad operates 675 miles of track in Iowa, which runs from Burlington to Glenwood in southern Iowa (Amtrak also operates on this stretch under trackage rights) and northward from Sioux City in northwest Iowa. The BNSF also operates several branch lines that stem off its main line, including a line from Des Moines to Albia. The railroad employs more than 38,000 people.
The main products handled by the BNSF in Iowa include coal, food products, grain, miscellaneous mixed shipments, and chemicals and fertilizers.
The Burlington Junction Railway was
formed in 1985 to operate the former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
track in Burlington in southeastern Iowa. In 1996, the BJRY began switching
operations in Mount Pleasant. In 2003, BJRY leased two line segments near
Quincy, Il., from the BNSF railway and began operations. The railroad is
headquartered in Burlington.
The BJRY provides switching operations in Burlington and Mount Pleasant connecting to the BNSF Railway. The railroad operates a total of 3.5 miles (3.0 miles in Burlington and 0.5 miles in Mount Pleasant). The BJRY employs a total of ten people, five of which are located in Iowa.
Major commodities handled by the BJRY include chemicals and fertilizer.
The CBEC Railway Inc. was formed in 1992 by the MidAmerican Energy Co. in
Council Bluffs. The CBEC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MidAmerican. The
headquarters are located in Des Moines.
The CBEC owns six miles of track in the Council Bluffs area, which were installed in 1997. The track is primarily used by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad to haul coal to the utility plant located south of Council Bluffs. Administrative services are provided by MidAmerican Energy. The Great Western Railway performs the maintenance functions.
The main product handled by the CBEC is coal.
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Co. began operations in 1904. The
railroad operated as a passenger line until 1953. The CIC is a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Alliant Energy Transportation. The headquarters are located in
The railroad operates 60 miles of track in eastern Iowa. The CIC’s main line runs from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City. In 1981 the railroad expanded by purchasing 23 miles of the Milwaukee Road from Cedar Rapids to Homestead. It also purchased the Iowa City-to-Hills line from the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in 1982. The CIC also provides switching operations in Cedar Rapids. The railroad interchanges traffic with the Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad; Iowa Northern Railway Co.; and the Union Pacific Railroad in Cedar Rapids. The railroad interchanges with the Iowa Interstate Railroad in Homestead and Iowa City. The railroad employs 78 people, all located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the CIC include food products, coal, grain, and paper.
The Cedar River
Railroad was established in 1991 with the acquisition of the Cedar Valley
Railroad. Cedar Valley was formed in 1984 with the purchase of track from the
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The CEDR is a subsidiary of the Chicago
Central & Pacific Railroad (CC). CC is part of CN as
a result of a merger with the Illinois Central Railroad.
The CEDR operates 103 miles from Waterloo to Glenville, Minnesota. About 83 miles are located in Iowa, including a branch line to Stacyville. The railroad interchanges traffic with the CC at Waterloo as well as with the Iowa Chicago & Eastern Railroad in Charles City and Lyle, Minn. and with the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern and the Union Pacific Railroad in Glenville, Minn. CEDR does not directly employ any people; the employees are part of the CC.
The main products handled by the CEDR include grain, food products and chemicals.
Chicago, Central and
Pacific Railroad was formed in December 1985 as a spin-off from the Illinois
Central Gulf Railroad. In June 1996 the Illinois Central Railroad repurchased
the CC. Currently, the CC is a subsidiary of the CN
system that resulted from the Canadian National and Illinois Central merger
effective on July 1, 1999.
The CC operates 732 miles of track in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska with 558 miles located in Iowa. The line in Iowa extends from Dubuque through Fort Dodge to Council Bluffs. The railroad also operates a line from Fort Dodge to Sioux City, along with several branches. The CC currently employs 228 people system wide, with 197 are located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the railroad include coal, farm products, food products, and chemicals and fertilizers.
The D & I Railroad was incorporated in 1981 to operate
part of the Milwaukee Road purchased by South Dakota in Northwest Iowa. The
railroad is owned by L. G. Everist Inc., a construction Co. It is
headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The DAIR operates on 127 miles of track that is owned by South Dakota from Sioux City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. About 39 miles are located in Iowa. The railroad shares trackage rights with BNSF. The DAIR connects with the BNSF Railway; Chicago, Central and Pacific; and the Union Pacific railroads in Sioux City. In Sioux Falls, the railroad connects with the BNSF Railway. The railroad employs five people all located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the DAIR include stone products and grain.
The Dakota, Minnesota &
Eastern Railroad was formed in 1986, taking over lines owned by the Chicago
& North Western located in South Dakota and Minnesota. The railroad is based in
Sioux Falls, S.D. In 2002, DME formed the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern
Railroad (ICE), which took over the operations of the I & M Rail Link. Both DME
and ICE are under the common management of Cedar American Rail Holdings, Inc.
The DME currently has an application before the Surface Transportation Board to
build 262 miles and rebuild 650 miles of track, allowing the railroad access to
coal located in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.
The DME operates more than 1,100 miles of track running from Rapid City, S.D., to Winona, Minn., located on the Mississippi River. The railroad operates 24 miles in Iowa via trackage rights on the Union Pacific Railroad line between Albert Lea, Minn., and Mason City, Iowa. The DME currently employs 299 people, none of which are located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the DME in Iowa include food products, waste and scrap materials, and farm products.
The D&W Railroad was formed in 2002 by the Transco Railway
Products to acquire the rail line from Dewar to Oelwein from the Union Pacific
Railroad in lieu of abandonment. The headquarters are located in Chicago, IL.
The D&W owns 18 miles of track. The railroad has contracted with the Iowa Northern Railway to maintain the line and provide service to shippers.
The main products handled on the line include grain and rail cars to be repaired or rebuilt.
The Iowa, Chicago, and
Eastern Railroad purchased the assets of the former I & M Rail Link, LLC
(IMRL) and began operation on July 31, 2002. ICE is a railroad formed by the
Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DME). Both ICE and DME are under the
common management of Cedar American Rail Holdings, Inc. ICE is headquartered in
Sioux Falls, SD.
ICE operates 1,393 miles of track from Minneapolis to Chicago and Kansas City, paralleling the Mississippi River through Iowa. The railroad also operates a line across northern Iowa and one across southern Minnesota. Iowa operations consist of 660 miles. The railroad has access to all major railroads at gateways in Chicago, Kansas City, and St Paul, MN. Current employment totals 506 system wide, with 256 located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the ICE include coal, farm products, food products, chemicals, transportation equipment, miscellaneous mixed shipments, and hazardous materials.
Iowa Interstate Railroad was founded in
1984 to operate the former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad line between
Chicago and Omaha. IAIS is a subsidiary of Railroad Development Corporation
(RDC) that acquired both the railroad and the property from Heartland Rail
Corporation in December 2003. RDC is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, and
operates several overseas railroads. IAIS is headquartered in Cedar Rapids.
The railroad operates 580 miles of track from Chicago to Omaha through the Quad Cities, Iowa City and Des Moines, as well as several branch lines. Intermodal service is provided at Chicago, Council Bluffs, Newton and West Liberty. The IAIS operations in Iowa include 362 miles. Employees of the railroad total 196, with 129 located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the IAIS in Iowa include farm products, food products, waste and scrap products, lumber, and nonmetallic minerals.
The Iowa Northern Railway was incorporated in 1984 and is
one of the first short-line railroads in the state. The IANR was formed from the
bankrupt Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The railroad was originally owned by a group of grain elevators
located along the line. The line was sold in 1994 to the current owners and is
headquartered in Cedar Rapids, IA.
The IANR operates 169 miles in Iowa between Cedar Rapids and Manly in north central Iowa along with the line (18.8 miles) between Dewar and Oelwein under an operating agreement with the D&W Railroad. The railroad connects with the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railroad in Cedar Rapids; with the Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo; with the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad in Nora Springs and Plymouth Junction.; with the Union Pacific in Cedar Rapids and Manly; and with the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad in Manly. The railroad employs 45 people, all located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the IANR include grain, coal, chemicals/fertilizers, food products, and machinery.
The General Railway Corp., dba Iowa Northwestern Railroad (IANW) was formed in April 2001 with the purchase of the rail line from Superior to Allendorf, Iowa. This 37.3 mile railroad was created when the Dickinson-Osceola Rail Association (DORA) purchased the trackage from the Union Pacific Railroad. The IANW was the operator of the railroad, provided freight service to the Ocheyedon elevator, and operated a tourist train operation through the Lakes area. In 2006, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) provided authority to IANW to discontinue service from Allendorf to Lake Park (17.05 miles.) At the current time, IANW is the operator of record, but no service is being provided by the railroad.
The Iowa River Railroad was formed in 2006 when the railroad purchased the Union Pacific Railroad line from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock. The railroad also acquired the rail-banked (dormant) portion of track from Steamboat Rock to Ackley from the North Central Railway Association (shippers on the formerly operational line.) The railroad is principally owned by the shippers on the line.
The Iowa River Railroad connects with the Union Pacific Railroad in Marshalltown. When the rail-banked portion of track is rehabilitated and put back into service, the Iowa River Railroad will also connect with the Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad (owned by CN) at Ackley.
The main products that will be handled by the IARR include grain, chemicals and fertilizers, ethanol, and ethanol's byproducts.
The Iowa Traction Railroad was incorporated in 1986 and is
privately owned. The IATR is the last freight-hauling 600-volt DC-electric
railroad in the country. The line was previously known as the Iowa Terminal
Railroad. The headquarters are located in Mason City.
The IATR operates 13 miles between Clear Lake and Mason City in northern Iowa. The railroad connects with the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad in Mason City. The IATR employs four people, all located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the IATR include food products, waste and scrap materials, and petroleum products.
Keokuk Junction Railway was incorporated in May 1980
to purchase 4.5 miles of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad yard track
in Keokuk. In December 1986 the railroad expanded its operations by purchasing
the line between Keokuk and La Harpe, Ill., from the Atchison, Topeka and
Santa Fe Railway. In March 1996, Pioneer Railcorp purchased the KJRY. Pioneer
Railcorp is a short-line railroad holding Co. operating 16 railroads in 10
states totaling more than 535 miles. The headquarters for Pioneer Railcorp are
located in Peoria, Ill. The KJRY has a main office in Keokuk.
The railroad operates a total of 51 miles, with one mile located in Iowa. The KJRY serves as a switching carrier in Keokuk, interchanging with the BNSF Railway. The KJRY employs a total of 28 people of which 20 are located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the KJRY include grain, transportation equipment, and food products.
Norfolk Southern Railway Co. (NS) was formed June 1, 1982, with the merging
of the Norfolk and Western Railway and the Southern Railway. In June 1997, the
NS and CSX railroad's filed a joint application to purchase the Conrail property. The NS
began operating about 7,200 miles of the former Conrail property June 1, 1999.
The NS is owned by Norfolk Southern Corp., which is based in Norfolk,
The railroad operates about 21,200 miles of track in 23 states in the Southeast and Midwest, as well as in Ontario, Canada. NS serves all major eastern ports. The NS operates 44 miles of track in Iowa running from Des Moines to Burlington, most of which are trackage rights on the BNSF Railway Co. The railroad employs over 30,000 people system-wide.
The main products handled by the NS in Iowa include grain and food products.
Union Pacific Railroad Co. was chartered in
1862 through an act of Congress. The railroad is comprised of the original Union
Pacific, Missouri Pacific, Chicago and North Western, and Southern Pacific
railroads. The UP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Union Pacific Corp.
which is based in Omaha, NE.
The UP is the largest railroad in the U.S., operating 32,426 miles in 24 states in the western two-thirds of the United States. The UP operation link major West coast and Gulf ports with major gateways to the east including Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans; and is a primary connection between the United States and Mexico. The railroad operates 1,480 miles in Iowa, including a main line from Clinton to Council Bluffs and another north-south route through central Iowa, along with many branch lines. The railroad employs 51,326 people system-wide, with 1,850 located in Iowa.
The main products handled by the UP in Iowa include grain and grain products, food and food products, coal, chemicals and fertilizers, and miscellaneous mixed shipments.