"The railroad revival and prospects for continued success turn on oil prices. As those prices rose over the past several years, locomotives pulling long trains became a cheaper alternative than trucks pulling trailers. Inexpensive oil had inhibited rail expansion for a long period.
Trucks are thirstier for fuel than are locomotives, and near big cities trucks must negotiate increasingly congested roads. Oil has fallen from a high of $145 in July to less than $75. 'As long as it stays above $25, railroads should retain an edge,' Rose says.
Rose is also playing the environmental card. For the last several years, Burlington has supplied customers with data on how carbon-friendly their hauls will be if they use trains instead of trucks. A train carrying 100 tons for 1,000 miles produces 45% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change than long-haul trucks bearing the same load, according to Burlington."
"'I refer to it as a three-legged stool,' says Rose. 'Fuel, congestion on highways, and carbon. We like the long-term proposition of the railroad very much.'"