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Title:Railroad Investment in Track Infrastructure
Authors:Denver Tolliver, Pan Lu, and Doug Benson
Publication Date:Sep 2018
Report #:MPC-18-365
Project #:MPC-357
TRID #:01684230
Keywords:investments, maintenance of way, railroads, railroad tracks, statistical analysis, ton miles, trend (statistics)
Type:Research Report – MPC Publications


A model of investment in basic track components is estimated from 1985-2008 data for Class I railroads. Network size is measured in miles of road (MOR), while traffic is measured in revenue gross ton-miles (RGTM). In addition to MOR and RGTM, the model includes railroad indicator and time variables. The purpose of the railroad variables is to capture fixed effects (e.g., effects other than traffic and network size) that are specific to particular railroads, but which do not change over time. The time variable, on the other hand, accounts for industry-wide trends and changes that occur during the period. The study shows that when miles of road are held constant (a realistic scenario), a 100% increase in RGTM results in a 50% increase in track investment. However, it is important to consider the interpretative context described in the paper. Several data anomalies were discovered and handled statistically. The parameter estimates vary somewhat with the index used to convert nominal dollars to constant dollars.

How to Cite

Tolliver, Denver, Pan Lu, and Doug Benson. Railroad Investment in Track Infrastructure, MPC-18-365. North Dakota State University - Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Fargo: Mountain-Plains Consortium, 2018.

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