Rail Transportation

Iowa's railroad profiles

Iowa is served by 18 freight railroad companies which operate 3,825 miles of track within Iowa. Five of these railroads are major national companies operating throughout much of the United States (Class I railroads.) These railroads operate 83 percent of Iowa's total route miles, including much of Iowa's grain gathering network.

The remaining railroads serving Iowa consist of regional railroads operating in Iowa and nearby states or local shortline railroads operating within Iowa. These regional and local railroads provide valuable service through shorter hauls, switching operations, and provide access to the larger freight network for their customers.

Railroad Abbreviation Class
Appanoose County Community Railroad
Short line
BNSF Railway
Class 1
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
Short line/Tourist
Burlington Junction Railway
Short line
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (owner of Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad) CP
Class 1
CBEC Railway (operated by Iowa Interstate Railroad)
Short line
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Co. (also known as CRANDIC
Short line
Cedar River Railroad Co. (owned by CN) CEDR
(see CN)
Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad (owned by CN)
(see CN)
CN (owner of Cedar River Railroad and Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad)
Class 1
D & I Railroad Co.  (owned by State of South Dakota) DAIR Short line
D & W Railroad (operated by Iowa Northern Railway Co.) 
Short line
Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (owned by Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.)
(see CP)
Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. IAIS Short line
Iowa Northern Railway Co.
Short line
Iowa River Railroad
Short line
Iowa Traction Railway Co. (owned by Progressive Rail Inc.) IATR
Short line
Keokuk Junction Railroad Co. (owned by Pioneer Railcorp)
Short line
Norfolk Southern
Class 1
North Central Iowa Rail Corridor LLC (operated by Iowa Northern Railway Co.) NCIRC Short line
Union Pacific Railroad UP
Class 1

  • * Class I railroads include the largest freight-hauling railroads. The rail lines of the seven Class I railroads span the North American continent. 
  • Regional railroads are midsize freight-hauling railroads that normally operate at least 350 miles of track and may span multiple states.
  • Shortline railroads are smaller railroads that include local railroads as well as railroads that primarily do car switching.
  • Tourist railroads offer passenger rides usually in restored historic rail equipment and often accompanied by an on-site  museum.