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Shortline Railroad Operation in the US - Industry Market Research Report

Shortline Railroad Operation

The Shortline Railroad Operation industry has experienced somewhat volatile, negative conditions over the past five years. Industry revenue grew in every year during the five-year period except for 2015 and 2016, where revenue contracted due to diminished demand from commodities producers resulting from the bust in commodities prices that occurred in late 2014 and continued through 2016. However, more recently with some appreciation in commodities prices, such as that of crude oil, industry revenue has returned to growth. Industry revenue tends to follow movements in the total value of trade and is largely dependent on the performance of Class I railroad operators (excluded from this industry), with industry operators functioning as intermediaries freighting goods between major Class I rail interchanges. Over the next five years, the industry will benefit from a continued rise in industrial production and international trade volumes. However, the industry competes with other forms of transport such as the Local Freight Trucking industry (IBISWorld report 48411). This competing industry may benefit from more lenient standards on truck weights and sizes over the coming years, which could hurt demand for Shortline Railroad Operation industry players that specialize in larger loads.


Industry operators fall into two categories: local railroads and switching and terminal railroads. Local railroads are line-haul railroads that generate less than $34.7 million in operating revenue. Switching and terminal railroads are those jointly owned by two parties to facilitate the transferring of cars between railroads. By conventional standards, all Class III railroads are called shortline railroad operators while Class II operators are referred to as regional railroads.

This report covers the scope, size, disposition and growth of the industry including the key sensitivities and success factors. Also included are five year industry forecasts, growth rates and an analysis of the industry key players and their market shares.


  • About this Industry
  • Industry at a Glance
    • Table Key Statistics Snapshot
    • Table Revenue vs. employment growth
    • Table Products and services segmentation (2018)
    • Table Industry Structure
  • Industry Performance
    • Table Demand from rail transportation
    • Table Industry revenue
    • Table Life Cycle Stage
  • Products & Markets
    • Table KEY BUYING INDUSTRIES
    • Table KEY SELLING INDUSTRIES
    • Table Products and services segmentation (2018)
    • Table Major market segmentation (2018)
    • Table Business Locations 2018
    • Table Distribution of establishments vs. population
  • Competitive Landscape
    • Table Sector vs. Industry Costs
    • Table Barriers to Entry checklist
  • Major Companies
    • Table Major players
    • Table Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (US industry-specific segment) - financial performance*
    • Table Watco Companies LLC (US industry-specific segment) - financial performance*
  • Operating Conditions
    • Table Capital intensity
    • Table Tools of the Trade: Growth Strategies for Success
    • Table Volatility vs. growth
  • Key Statistics
    • Table Industry Data
    • Table Annual Change
    • Table Key Ratios
  • Jargon & Glossary

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