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What Are Class I Railroads?

Have you been injured in a train accident with a Class I train company in Texas?

The railroad industry in the United States is a vital part of our transportation industry. The railroad carriers and the thousands of miles of railroad tracks that crisscross our country are regulated by the Department Of Transportation's Office of Railroad Safety. The railroad industry classifies the railroads and carriers based on their annual operating revenues.

In this article we'll explain what classifies a Class I railroad company and the influence that they have on your safety.

Questions answered in this article:

  • What makes a railroad company Class I?
  • Which companies are in the Class I category?
  • What should I do if I am injured by one of these large railroad companies?

Class I Railroads - A Brief History of Each:

Class I Railroads represent the majority of the revenue that is generated on a yearly basis by the railroad industry as a whole. As mentioned above, the seven Class I Railroads that operate in the United States represents 94% of the industry's revenue, 69% of the industry's freight rail mileage, and about 90% of the industry's employees. The seven Class I Railroads are primarily privately owned and re-invest about 20 billion dollars in maintaining the thousands of miles of track and carriers they utilize each year. Each of the Class I Railroads is an important part of the transportation industry and America's railroad industry history.

  • Union Pacific Railroad

    The Union Pacific Railroad is both the largest and the oldest of the Class I Railroads in the United States. The railroad was created by Congress in 1862 to complete a transcontinental railroad to the Pacific. Union Pacific's original main line, the Overland Route, is still in operation today and remains to be quite busy and profitable for the railroad. Union Pacific's size is the result of mergers throughout the years, most notably its purchase of Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific in 1982. This purchase gave Union Pacific access to California, Chicago, Texas, and St. Louis. In 1995 and 1996 the railroad grew even larger with its purchase of Southern Railroad and the Katy Railroad. Currently Union Pacific operates on over 32,000 miles of track in 23 states west of the Mississippi. Union Pacific also has over 8300 locomotives and over 82,000 freight cars that carry goods and products all over the United States.

  • Kansas City Southern Railway

    The Kansas City Southern Railway is the second oldest of the Class I Railroads, but is also the smallest of the seven. The railroad was founded in 1887 and currently operates in 10 states in the US. The Kansas City Southern Railroad operates on over 3200 track miles and has hubs in four major cities, including one in Dallas, Texas. Kansas City Southern Railway has four subsidiary railroad companies and is the only one of the Class I Railroads that owns track both here in the United States and in Mexico.

  • CSX Transportation

    CSX Transportation was created in 1986 with the merger and renaming of Chessie Inc and the Seaboard System Railroad into one entity. Both Chessie and Seaboard were smaller railroad companies and covered various regions of the United States. Currently CSX is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida and owns and operates on over 21,000 track miles. CSX Transportation has two major regions with five divisions operating out of each region.

  • BNSF Railway

    BNSF Railway is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas and is the second largest of the Class I Railroads in the United States. The history of the railroad dates as far back as 1849, but the modern company that we know now was formed in 1995 with the merger of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railways. In 2005 the name was officially changed to BNSF, reflecting a combining of the names of the two companies. BNSF transports many different types of freight in our country, particularly coal. Currently, BNSF operates in 27 states and owns and operates on over 24,000 miles of track, has over 6400 locomotives, and over 83,000 freight cars.

  • Norfolk Southern Combined Railroad Subsidiaries

    Norfolk Southern is the result of over 200 mergers between railroads since 1838. The railroad now operates over 22,000 miles of track in 22 states and parts of Canada. Norfolk Southern railroad owns over 1000 locomotives and over 100,000 freight cars. The railroad primarily transports coal throughout the eastern United States, but also transports consumer products, agricultural products and chemicals.

  • Canadian National Railway

    The Canadian National Railway was created in 1919 through the combination of several railroads that had gone bankrupt and is Canada's only transcontinental railway. The railway is Canada's largest is terms of size and revenue and operates in the United States as well. Between its Canadian territory and US subsidiary railroads, Canadian National owns and operates on over 20,000 miles of track in Canada and the United States. It operates on track as far north as Alaska and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Canadian Pacific Railway

    Canadian Pacific Railway was founded in 1881 and operates over 14,000 miles of railroad track in Canada and the United States. The railroad serves several major cities in the United States including New York, Minneapolis, and Chicago. Over half of the railroad's freight business comes from the transport of coal, grain, and other agricultural products The bulk of CPR's profits comes from business it conducts in Canada.

    The Class I Railroads have a long and vast history throughout the United States and Canada and are considered industry leaders. Their influence in safety, pricing, and regulatory affairs cannot be underestimated and these seven companies compose backbone the railroad industry.

Safety and Class I railroad carriers:

Class I Railroads are considered industry leaders and have no reason not to follow the federally mandated and industry recommended safety measures. They have the manpower, financial resources and overall incentive to do so. Further, the Class I railroads are very powerful and influence many of the industry standards and regulations that govern their businesses.Therefore, when a Class I railroad does not adhere to these safety standards the consequences are far reaching and can impact the industry as whole. The actions of the Class I railroads can have a trickle-down effect and a degradation of safety measures at this level can appear in the railroad classes below it. This is why safety is so important.

It doesn't matter which class the company is in, you need an attorney.

We've been fighting for victims of railroad company negligence for over 25 years. Railroad companies, and their insurance carriers, have teams of attorneys that are paid to make sure that people that have been injured by them don't get the compensation that they deserve. Make sure to put the odds in your favor and give us a call: (855) 326-0000. If we don't win your case, you don't us a cent.

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