The efficiencies of moving freight by rail

Technological improvements in train engines, aerodynamics and rail friction have made freight-by-rail more efficient than freight-by-trucks, writes Brian Palmer. Traveling over rail creates less friction and requires less energy than roads, while steel wheels provide weight-loading advantages. "Between 1980 and 2013, the number of ton-miles moved by railroads has doubled. But the amount of fuel they are using has remained relatively constant," said Tyler Dick, a research engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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