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Freight Volumes for the Rail System

The folllowing tables summarize estimated 2007 and forecast 2040 regional freight volumes for the rail system.  The source for much of this information is the Transearch database, which estimates national commodity flows based on sample data, rather than comprehensive physical counts.  Where possible, we have validated Transearch 2007 estimates with alternative sources of data, including ground data, alternative counts, and previous estimates.  

Rail Volumes: 2007 estimates and 2040 forecasts

Background: Rail services include carload services and intermodal services.  Carload services are typically trains comprised of a variety of railcars and commodities, each car potentially coming from a different shipper and with different destinations.  Carload trains may provide services to small or large shippers and receivers, typically situated along rail sidings to facilitate all-steel-wheel delivery.  For Transearch database purposes, carload services also include bulk services.  "Bulk services" are commodity-carrying trains for liquid or dry goods, such as coal trains or grain trains, often operating and billed as a unit (in which case, it's called a "unit train"). 

Intermodal services are trains carrying containers or trailers. Containers are carried in "well cars," frequently stacked two-high.  Trailers are carried on flat cars.

Points of Summary:

  • For the seven-county region,  the amount of freight in tons was higher for inbound freight than outbound freight.  However, the value of outbound freight was higher than inbound freight. 
  • The number of carload units is greater than intermodal containers, and is forecast to remain so.  However, future rail volume growth is forecast to be much higher for intermodal services than for carload services.
  • Overall rail tonnage is expected to grow by 62% between 2007 and 2040.
  • The seven-county Chicago metropolitan area handled nearly 41,000 carload and container movements each day in 2007.

2007 Rail Volume Estimates

Direction

Carload Tons

Intermodal Tons Carload Units Intermodal Units

Carload Value

(Million Dollars)

Intermodal Value

(Million Dollars)

Inbound:

Destined for 7-County Region

116,632,000

45,449,000

1,339,000

3,687,000

94,521

187,038

Inbound:

Destined for Remainder of BEA Area

19,130,000

658,000

196,000

51,000

9,400

3,060

Outbound:

Originating in 7-County Region

61,099,000

49,857,000

790,000

3,927,000

77,701

210,139

Outbound:

Originating in Remainder of BEA Area

    18,194,000

975,000

213,000

64,000

13,628

3,943

Local Traffic

11,457,000

49,000

147,000

10,000

13,823

7,634

Through Traffic

294,995,000

12,678,000

3,443,000

1,016,000

250,127

54,136

Total

521,507,000

109,668,000

6,129,000

8,755,000

459,201

458,323

Source: Global Insight, CMAP.

 

2040 Rail Volume Forecasts

Direction

Carload Tons

2040

Intermodal Tons

2040

Total Tons

2040

Carload Tons

% Change

2007 - 2040

Intermodal Tons

% Change

2007 - 2040

Total Tons

% Change

2007-2040

Inbound:

Destined for 7-County Region

167,544,000

139,353,000

306,897,000

+44%

+207%

+89%

Inbound:

Destined for Remainder of BEA Area

24,570,000

1,871,000

26,441,000

+28%

+184%

+34%

Outbound:

Originating in 7-County Region

76,977,000

156,853,000

233,830,000

+26%

+215%

+111%

Outbound:

Originating in Remainder of BEA Area

    16,810,000

1,080,000

17,890,000

-8%

+11%

-7%

Local Traffic

14,665,000

146,000

14,811,000

+28%

+199%

+29%

Through Traffic

399,077,000

25,097,000

424,174,000

+33%

+96%

+35%

Total

699,643,000

324,399,000

1,024,042,000

+34%

+196%

+62%

 Source: Global Insight, CMAP.

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