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future of U.S. railroads’ chemical transport looks strong

June 11, 2019 / Jamiel Lynch

Railroads primarily deal with the movement of bulk chemicals. That category excludes “fine” chemicals or pharmaceutical products, although some chemicals like plastic pellets do get packaged for intermodal shipments.   Most chemical freight moves in either rail tank cars or in covered hopper cars. However, tank cars also move crude oil. And many covered hopper cars carry grain of various types. These car types vary considerably from commodity to commodity in design and purpose. If the car is moving a hazardous chemical product it will always display a commodity warning card, or placard. Here are examples of the hazardous placards How important is chemical freight to U.S. railroads? It’s about 8 percent of total U.S. rail freight carloads… and growing. As of early 2019, there are nearly 33,000 weekly railroad carloads of traffic moved in the U.S. That’s about 4,700 chemical carloads added to the rail network daily. During 2018, the Association of...