According to the AAR, moving freight by rail is 4 times more fuel efficient than moving freight on the highway. CSX trains can move a ton of freight approximately 492 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Efficient use of fuel means fewer greenhouse gas emissions for our planet. (Learn more at the Association of American Railroads’ website, http://www.aar.org/.)
Here is the formula for our 2018 fuel efficiency rating: (From the 2018 CSX R-1 Report)
• Schedule 750, Lines 1+3 (Line 4), Diesel Fuel Consumed (freight + switching) = 423,998,863 gallons
• Schedule 755, Line 110, Revenue Ton-Miles = 208,712,027,000 RTM
• RTM per gallon = (208,712,027,000 RTM / 423,998,863 gals) = 492 RTM/gal
CSX has invested more than $2.8 billion over the last decade to improve its locomotive fuel efficiency and reduce the corresponding emissions.
Calculating Fuel Efficiency
The ton-mile-per-gallon is a unit of measurement used to describe the efficiency of hauling freight by various modes of transportation.
The rail industry tracks and reports revenue ton-miles in the “Annual Report to the Surface Transportation Board” (commonly referred to as the R1 Report). The “Ton-Miles of Freight” annual value is reported in Schedule 755, line 110 of the R1 Report. The rail industry also tracks and reports annual fuel usage in the R1 Report, Schedule 750, line 4. These two reported values are used to determine a system-wide train efficiency value.
For example, in 2018, the CSX ton-miles of freight reported in the R1 Report = 208,712,027,000 ton-miles and the CSX 2018 combined line haul and switcher reported fuel usage = 423,998,863 gallons.
The 2018 CSX system-wide train efficiency metric equals:
208,712,027,000 ton-miles / 423,998,863 gallons = 492 ton-miles per gallon.
In other words, CSX trains, on average, can move a ton of freight nearly 500 miles on a gallon of fuel, based on our 2018 revenue ton miles and 2018 fuel use.
The fuel efficiency for a freight truck can be estimated in a similar way. For example, a heavy-duty diesel truck hauling 19 tons of freight a distance of 500 miles would consume approximately 71 gallons of diesel fuel, assuming an average 7 miles per gallon truck fuel economy and a typical truck payload of 19 tons. The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as:
(19 tons x 500 miles) / 71 gallons = 134 ton-miles per gallon.
This efficiency might be stated as “a truck can move a ton of freight 134 miles on a gallon of fuel.”
Similarly, a typical train might haul 3,000 tons of freight 500 miles and consume approximately 3,049 gallons of diesel fuel. The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as:
(3000 tons x 500 miles) / (3,049 gallons) = 492 ton-miles per gallon.
This efficiency might be stated as “a train can move a ton of freight 492 miles on a gallon of fuel.”
In this example, the train is approximately 3.7 times more efficient at hauling freight, as shown by the ratio 492 train ton-miles per gallon divided by 134 truck ton-miles per gallon.