Office of Rail Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Iowa's Rail Transportation System

How many railroads are in Iowa?

There are 19 railroads in the state of Iowa ranging from railroads that have just a few miles of track to transcontinental railroads.

How many trains are there a day on a particular line?

The number of trains per day is available in the Federal Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory. A report can be generated by state and county to identify the number of trains at a crossing. Go to http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/officeofsafety/ and select Report 8.08, Public Crossing Inventory Detail Report. Enter the state and county and the information will be displayed on your screen. 

How fast do the trains go on a particular line?

The railroads determine the operating speed of the trains and must maintain the condition of their tracks pursuant to the Federal Railroad Administration standards that apply to the chosen speed of operation.  The speed range of trains at any individual highway-rail crossing can be found in the Federal Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory

Can I get a copy of Iowa’s current rail maps?

Copies of Iowa’s current rail maps are available on this Web site or call 515-239-1140 to get a paper copy. 

How many tons of freight are shipped by rail in Iowa?

In 2008 railroads originated 52.3million tons of freight and terminated 43.7 million tons of freight in Iowa. In addition to what originated and terminated in Iowa, another 237 million tons of freight moved through Iowa by rail in 2008.  That totals over 333 million tons of freight that traveled on Iowa's rail system.  Additional Iowa rail facts.

What rail passenger service is available in Iowa and what is the current ridership level?

Iowa is currently served by two transcontinental Amtrak passenger routes -- the California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief. Both routes provide daily two-way service between Chicago and the West Coast. Additional route and service information can be found at Amtrak.com. Iowa ridership for fiscal year 2004 totaled 54,365 passengers. More information on the Amtrak station locations in Iowa. 

How can I find the appropriate person to talk to for a specific railroad?

Many of Iowa's railroads maintain web sites where contact information can be found. Links to railroads with web sites are included in the railroad's profile.  If you are unable to locate the appropriate person at a railroad, the Office of Rail Transportation at 515-239-1140 may be able to assist you in identifying the correct contact person. 

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