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MPC Research Reports
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Title:Analysis of Economies of Size and Density for Short Line Railroads
Authors:Philip Fischer, John Bitzan, and Denver Tolliver
University:North Dakota State University
Publication Date:Oct 2001
Report #:MPC-01-128
Project #:MPC-156
TRID #:00823276
Keywords:costs, density, economic analysis, haul distance, length, railroad trains, savings, short line railroads, size



The study demonstrated that short lines could achieve greater cost savings if they were to increase their density (revenue ton miles per mile) and their size (mile of road). Size is an important criterion that a short line must examine when evaluating the purchase of a new section of track. However, existing railroads may have difficulty increasing their size because of their connections to Class I railroads and limited financial resources. Density is critical to the short line operations, and by increasing their density on the rail, track short lines could decrease their average cost. The cost analysis in the study demonstrates a need of longer hauls and/or larger train configurations for them to remain viable.

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