Shipments of ethanol may account for less than 1% of all U.S. rail freight volume, but for the ethanol industry itself the percentage at stake is far higher, with roughly 70% of all U.S. ethanol moves accomplished by rail, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
Moreover, the association sees little change in the immediate future, according to Technical Director Kristy Moore. “There’s always going to be the economy of rail and the availability," Moore said. "There are railroad tracks crisscrossing the Midwest, where the majority of ethanol is produced. Rail has access, control terminals, and is cheaper than anything else right now.”
U.S. railroads moved 120,000 carloads of ethanol in 2007, according to the Association of American Railroads, up 20% from 2006.