What is the busiest rail line in America?

While it’s true that other countries are miles ahead of the U.S. in terms of passenger and freight rail travel, it’s not entirely lost on the United States. In fact, several very busy rail lines are being cut across the US, and you can learn more about commuter rail travel as well as the busiest rail lines in the US.

In the United States, passenger cars and airplanes are the two most common modes of transportation. Trains are not as popular here as in other countries of the world, but they represent a significant portion of the passenger population, and there is also a large tourism industry based around American rail. Once upon a time, the United States was the pioneer of rail travel. Before the invention of airplanes and fuel-efficient motor vehicles, it was the primary means of long-distance transportation in the country.

Private passenger rail service struggled as these new technologies continued to improve, and the struggle led to the creation of Amtrak, now the largest and most popular passenger rail company in the United States. Amtrak operates coast to coast, but only in certain areas. By 2024, there is no single cross-country passenger rail line.

amtrak long distance
Jonathan Lee

The Future of American Passenger Rail

As of the time of writing, intercity rail was by far the most popular form of passenger train travel in the United States. Nevertheless, several major rail lines – namely Amtrak – serve passengers along long routes. One of the most popular routes, the Amtrak Acela, runs through the Northeast Corridor and provides fast, efficient, comfortable travel between a number of high-profile destinations — but it’s expensive for many average Americans. The Acela fleet is being upgraded for 2024, indicating that the U.S. is willing to invest to some degree in rail travel, but passenger rail infrastructure is not being built at this time. It doesn’t already exist.

Other countries have shown that rail travel is safer, more energy-efficient and better for their local economies, but the initial investment involved is heavy, deterring many American investors. Still, as we push into the future and sustainability becomes more of a focus, many hope that our lawmakers — and their fellow Americans — will see the value of investing in quality passenger rail that Covers the entire nation.

Ryan Kenny

Although rail travel has not been as popular in the United States as it is in European and Asian countries, many commuters—especially in large metropolitan areas—see it as a cheap, reliable way to get to and from work. depend on You can learn more about the busiest rail lines in the U.S. below, but keep in mind that ridership numbers reflect pre-pandemic ridership – not ridership in the COVID-19 era.

MTA Long Island Railroad

gave MTA Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is the busiest rail line in the United States on a ridership-only basis. Each year, approximately 117,773,400 people ride the railroad, with 735 daily trains carrying an average of 301,000 people on weekdays.

The rail line serves New York City, with 321 route miles, and boasts 11 different lines at 124 stations. It has been in operation since 1834, making it one of the oldest passenger railroads in America today. It is owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and is headquartered at Jamaica Station in Jamaica, New York.

Adam E. Moreira

NJ Transit Rail

NJ Transit Rail New York, serving the cities of New York; Newark and Trenton, New Jersey; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More than 88 million riders use NJ Transit Rail each year, which equates to about 240,000 riders on a weekday. The railroad covers 530 miles and boasts 11 lines at 164 stations. It opened its doors in 1983 and continues to provide service every day since then. It is the second-busiest passenger rail in North America, and is the longest passenger route in the US based on route length alone.

A transit
Todd and Jack Humphrey

MTA Metro North Railroad

gave MTA Metro North Railroad Also owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), it is the third-busiest rail line in the United States based on ridership. About 86.5 million people ride the rail each year, which equates to a weekly ridership of about 311,000 people. It covers 385 route miles with five lines and 122 different stations, and was opened in 1983. It also serves New York City as well as Stamford and New Haven, Connecticut.

MN Hudson Line
Daniel Case


gave Metra Serves the city of Chicago with an annual ridership of approximately 67 million people. On any average weekday, about 275,000 people ride it. It covers 487.5 route miles with 241 stations spread over 11 lines and 692 trains. Metra covers several different rail lines, including the Heritage Corridor, Milwaukee North and Milwaukee West, Rock Island, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest, Union Pacific West, and many others. It is the largest and busiest rail system outside of the New York City subway.

Ben Sutton

SEPTA Regional Rail

gave SEPTA Regional Rail (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) serves the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trenton, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware. Its annual ridership is just over 35.5 million, and the average weekday ridership is around 135,000. The route covers 280 miles on 13 lines with 153 stations, and operates 404 trains. It is the busiest rail line outside the New York City and Chicago metropolitan areas.

Septa Silver Liner
Valerio Pucci

When it comes to railway stations, there’s no denying that the iconic Pennsylvania Station (also known as Penn Station) is the busiest in the United States. It is located just below Madison Square Garden in New York City, and is not only the busiest train station in the country, but the busiest in the entire Western Hemisphere. Some 21 tracks with 11 platforms converge on this one location, and according to multiple sources, more than 650,000 people pass through Penn Station every single day.

American Freight railOn the other hand, it is widely considered to be one of the safest freight rail systems in the entire world. The U.S. freight rail system spans nearly 140,000 miles and operates an $80 billion industry. It is served by seven Class 1 railroads, 22 regional railroads, and 584 short-line or local railroads. More than 167,000 American jobs exist as a result of the nation’s freight rail system, and the nation benefits in other ways as well:

  • Reduction in road congestion. Freight trains take thousands of standard trucks off the highways, which has a significant impact on the amount of road congestion Americans experience when traveling through their hometowns and even across the country via the interstate system.
  • Reduction in highway fatalities. A reduction in freight trucks also reduces highway fatalities. The fewer large trucks on the roads, the fewer deaths that result. If all goods transported by rail were transferred to the highway system, casualties would increase dramatically.
  • Low fuel consumption. Transporting freight by rail uses far less fuel than traditional truck and trailer means, and lower fuel consumption over the decades has led to lower fuel prices.
  • Low emissions of greenhouse gases. Additionally, because less fuel is being used, this means there is less combustion that produces greenhouse gas emissions. America’s freight rail is critical to protecting the environment.
  • Reduction in logistics costs. Freight costs from other sources can be significant. The purchase of tractor trailers, software needed to log miles, and driver salaries are part of the cost reduction.
  • A drastic reduction in public infrastructure spending. Finally, it is important to consider the costs associated with highway infrastructure compared to rail infrastructure. Both require maintenance, but in the long run, using rail to transport freight reduces the severity of infrastructure damage and thus reduces costs at the federal, state, and local levels. Is.

Who maintains the freight rail system?

It is also worth noting that unlike the highway and roadway systems in the United States, the freight rail system is entirely owned and operated by private entities. As such, those companies are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of both railways and freight trains. Every single year, railroad owners in the United States spend $25 billion to maintain and enhance the existing rail system – about 19% of their revenue.

Intermodal trains
Bill Hopper

How important is freight rail in the US?

In the United States, freight is transported in a number of ways – including truck, rail, pipeline, mail, water, and air. The majority of freight in this country is transported by truck (tractor-trailer or semi-truck) at 39.6%. Rail is the second most popular mode of freight movement, coming in at 27.9%. The most common cargo found on railways is heavy cargo such as coal, ore, and timber – especially when it is traveling long distances.

By and large, the area between North Platte and O’Fallons, Nebraska is the busiest freight line in the entire United States. Between 120 and 140 freight trains pass through the area every day, carrying everything from potash to coal and grain. Also, the busiest lines will always be those owned by Class 1 carriers in North America, which are:

  • CPR – it means. Canadian Pacific Railway, which runs through North America, including parts of the United States. They focus primarily on grains, offer heated containers for temperature-sensitive products, and boast regular upgrades on many of their busiest routes. They recently joined the UN Global Compact and have implemented their own climate strategy to help combat the effects of climate change.
  • CN – Another Canadian rail company that serves parts of the United States, C.N Widely known for transporting a variety of goods throughout North America, including automobiles, grain, coal, fertilizers, forest products, metals and minerals, and more.
  • UP – Union Pacific is one of the oldest railroads in the United States, and in recent years, they have focused on bringing green technology to their company. For more than 160 years, Union Pacific has regularly invested in modern engines, including a recent investment. The greatest in history.
  • KCS – This is its acronym. Kansas City SouthernIt claims an edge over its competitors with efficient market access, excellent security and safety records, and access to overseas markets when needed.
  • BNSF – BNSF offers a Virtual train tour On its website – something that other Class 1 companies do. They’ve been in the rail game for more than 170 years, and today’s iteration of BNSF is a collection of nearly 400 rail lines that have been acquired over that period. Some of these include Colorado and Southern. Spokane, Portland, and Seattle; Santa Fe; fresco; and the Northern Pacific Railway, among others.
  • CSXT – CSX Transportation Offers a range of services above and beyond its core rail service. They are known for intermodal transportation, particularly train-to-truck, and many of their trains pass through Midwestern states such as Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. CSX is one of the oldest Class 1 listed companies with over 190 years in the transportation industry, and they started with horse and buggy transportation!
  • NS – Norfolk Southern It is the last of seven Class 1 freight rail companies, and is committed to providing better, more sustainable freight movement now and into the future. They provide GIS-based site and transload discovery as well as a carbon calculator from the homepage of their website.

While America lags far behind the rest of the world in terms of passenger rail service, its freight rail is one of the safest and most durable in the world today. The future of U.S. rail looks bright in terms of transit, but unless more investors come along to build a national railroad, passenger travel is likely to be limited to intra-city areas like the New York City and Chicago metros.