Companies in this industry transport freight and passengers by rail. Major companies include Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific (all based in the US), along with Deutsche Bahn (Germany), East Japan Railway (Japan), RZD (Russia), and SNCF (France).
Worldwide, the railroad industry encompasses about 1 million miles of installed rail track and more than 6 million units of rolling stock, according to UNIFE, a trade association for the European railroad equipment manufacturing industry. The Asia/Pacific region accounts for the bulk of recently added track, primarily due to the construction of new routes in China and India. Approximately 40% of the world's track is electrified, mostly in Western Europe and Asia/Pacific, leaving considerable opportunity for further track electrification in other markets.
The US railroad industry includes about 575 freight railroads with combined annual revenue of about $70 billion, according to the Association of American Railroads. Commuter, switching and terminal, and tourist railroads are not included in the industry.
Demand is driven by sales of bulk commodities and other items best transported by rail. The profitability of individual companies depends on operating efficiently and controlling maintenance expenses. Large companies have advantages in owning systems that connect numerous markets and enable them to serve national customers. Small companies can compete effectively by serving local markets. The US industry is highly concentrated: the top seven companies account for the majority of industry revenue.