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U.S. Crude By Rail Volume & Carloads

This table presents quarterly and annual U.S. volumes of crude oil transported by rail.

Crude by rail volumes have increased significantly since 2009 due to a sharp rise in U.S. crude oil production associated with "fracking" and high oil prices. Much of the increase has occurred in the Bakken/Williston region in North Dakota. Other significant shale deposits generating crude by rail volume include Marcellus (Pennsylvania & Ohio), Eagle Ford (Texas), Barnett (Texas), Permian (Texas & New Mexico), and Niobrara (Wyoming & Colorado). This rapid growth coupled with high profile accidents such as Lac-Mégantic have resulted in considerable public debate and regulatory actions to further improve rail safety and the DOT-111 tank car design.

Crude by rail volumes have moderated in recent quarters due to reduced oil prices. A reduction in oil prices makes U.S. drilling less competitive and results in reduced output.

The differential between U.S. carloads originated and carloads terminated began to expand in 2013 due to increasing imports from the oil sands of Western Canada.

A single 30,000 gallon tank car holds approximately 680 barrels of oils, thus barrel and carload statistics are highly correlated. Unit trains can consist of up to 120 railcars and carry more 80,000 barrels of oil.

Data from Association of American Railroads (AAR) and U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with calculations and analysis by RailServe.com.

See also: State Railroad Statistics, Traffic Volume Statistics, Traffic Mix Statistics, and Financial Statistics

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Quarterly U.S. Crude By Rail Volumes

  Year Quarter Carloads Originated Carloads Terminated Barrels Transported Barrels Year-Over-Year
  2005   6,032 6,107 4,152,000 (est.)  
  2006   4,729 4,674 3,215,000 (est.) ( 23% )
  2007   5,912 5,897 4,035,000 (est.) 26%
  2008   9,500 9,344 6,460,000 (est.) 60%
  2009   10,840 10,966 7,456,000 (est.) 15%
    First 2,860 2,976 2,023,000 (est.)  
    Second 2,498 2,512 1,709,000 (est.)  
    Third 2,832 2,795 1,923,000 (est.)  
    Fourth 2,650 2,683 1,801,000 (est.)  
  2010   29,605 29,673 23,786,000 219%
    First 3,395 3,385 2,738,000 35%
    Second 6,784 6,723 4,836,000 183%
    Third 8,583 8,459 8,180,000 325%
    Fourth 10,843 11,106 8,032,000 346%
  2011   65,751 67,102 42,372,000 78%
    First 11,324 11,973 7,490,000 174%
    Second 11,390 11,631 8,168,000 69%
    Third 16,789 16,777 9,667,000 18%
    Fourth 26,247 26,721 17,047,000 112%
  2012   233,700 236,556 152,047,000 259%
    First 36,544 36,379 22,584,000 202%
    Second 51,474 53,163 33,195,000 306%
    Third 64,658 65,810 45,111,000 367%
    Fourth 81,024 81,204 51,157,000 200%
  2013   407,642 434,042 296,065,000 95%
    First 97,135 99,173 66,063,000 193%
    Second 108,605 117,509 79,790,000 140%
    Third 93,312 103,219 67,589,000 50%
    Fourth 108,590 114,141 82,623,000 62%
  2014   493,126 541,293 382,033,000 29%
    First 110,164 123,543 79,897,000 21%
    Second 119,634 134,998 98,653,000 24%
    Third 132,257 139,476 99,876,000 48%
    Fourth 131,071 143,276 103,607,000 25%
  2015   411,407 480,358 318,779,000 ( 17% )
    First 113,089 134,867 82,498,000 3%
    Second 111,068 121,093 84,330,000 ( 15% )
    Third 101,167 117,129 81,681,000 ( 18% )
    Fourth 86,083 107,269 70,270,000 ( 32% )
  2016   211,986 271,155 175,180,000 ( 45% )
    First 63,261 84,543 52,217,000 ( 37% )
    Second 56,454 67,042 42,849,000 ( 49% )
    Third 48,978 59,217 38,369,000 ( 53% )
    Fourth 43,293 60,353 41,745,000 ( 41% )
  2017          
    First 40,235 59,643 40,586,000 ( 22% )
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