The 5 Largest Cargo Rail Companies in the United States for 2022

Moving freight by rail is four times more fuel efficient than trucks. However, it is worth noting that a handful of companies are responsible for carrying most of the goods around the country and to and from ports. 

Because of global warming, railroads are increasingly important as the transportation solution of choice. Today, we will look at some of the most prominent players in the railroad industry. We will look at their market capitalization, the region where they operate, and the length of rail they have. 

  1. BNSF Railway

Headquarters: Fort Worth, Texas

Founded: September 22, 1995

Length: 32,500 miles

Region: West, Midwest, and South United States & Western Canada

Market Capitalization: $636.17B

BNSF is one of 7 North American Class I railroads with 35,000 employees and nearly 8,000 locomotives operating in 28 states.

BNSF and the Union Pacific Railroad have a duopoly on all transcontinental freight rail lines in the Western, Midwestern, and Southern United States.

  1. Union Pacific

Headquarters: Omaha, Nebraska

Founded: 1862

Length: 32,100 miles

Region: West, Midwest, and South United States

Market Capitalization: $141.9B

  1. CSX Transportation

Headquarters: Jacksonville, FL

Founded: July 1, 1986

Length: 21,000 miles

Region: Northeast, South, Midwest United States and Eastern Canada

Market Capitalization: $67.89B

  1. Canadian National Railway

Headquarters: Montreal, Canada

Founded: June 6, 1919 

Length: 20,400 mi

Region: Canada, United States

Market Capitalization: 109.93B

CN is Canada’s largest railway company in revenue and the physical size of its rail network. The network spans Canada from the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia to the Pacific coast in British Columbia across approximately 20,400 route miles.

  1. Norfolk Southern Railway

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

Founded: 1982

Length: 19,335 miles

Region: Northeast, South, and Midwest United States

Market Capitalization:  $56.86B

It was formed in 1982 by the merger of the Norfolk and Western Railway and the Southern Railway. The most common commodity type carried by NS is Intermodal containers and trailers, offering the most extensive intermodal rail network in eastern North America. 

Final Thoughts

The U.S. freight rail network is considered the world’s largest and most cost-efficient freight system. The railroad companies above invest one of the highest percentages of revenues (19 %) to maintain and add capacity to their system.  We hope this article has been informative and gives you a better understanding of how the railway industry works.