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Fuel Efficiency

Fuel Efficiency

According to the AAR, moving freight by rail is 3 - 4 times more fuel efficient than moving freight on the highway. 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 2023 fuel efficiency rating: (From the 2023 CSX R-1 Report)

• Schedule 750, Lines 1+3 (Line 4), Diesel Fuel Consumed (freight + switching) = 388,266,102 gallons

• Schedule 755, Line 110, Revenue Ton-Miles = 196,370,984,000 RTM

• RTM per gallon = (196,370,984,000 RTM / 388,266,102 gals) = 506 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, which is simply the weight of the freight multiplied by the distance the freight is being transported.

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.

The 2023 CSX system-wide train efficiency metric, as shown above, equals approximately 506 ton-miles per gallon.  

In other words, CSX trains, on average, can move a ton of freight nearly 506 miles on a gallon of fuel, based on our 2023 revenue ton miles and 2023 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.

Similarly, a typical train might haul 3,000 tons of freight 500 miles and consume approximately 2,964 gallons of diesel fuel. The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as:

(3000 tons x 500 miles) / (2,964 gallons) = 506 ton-miles per gallon.

In this example, the train is approximately 3.8 times more efficient at hauling freight, as shown by the ratio 506 train ton-miles per gallon divided by 134 truck ton-miles per gallon.


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