Freight rail is booming primarily because of the 3:1 fuel efficiency superiority of rail over trucks. Ryan Avent notes that "This boom is all the more impressive given that the railroad companies will pay for about 65 percent of the network expansion" while trucking companies do not, of course, pay for the roads.
Clearly trucks have a massive inherent advantage as a method of doing the last-mile of shipping, but for long-haul stuff a more rational federal policy environment in terms of carbon pricing and road/rail funding balance would give further momentum to this boom.
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