Shipping Comparisons

Cargo Capacity of Different Transportation Modes

Comparison of the cargo capacities of a barge, rail car, train, and semi truck (adapted from Iowa Department of Transportation)
Mode of Transportation
Tons of Cargo
Bushels of Cargo
Gallons of Cargo

One Barge
1,500 tons52,500 bushels453,600 gallons

One Rail Car
100 tons3,500 bushels30,240 gallons

100-car Train Unit
10,000 tons350,000 bushels3,024,000 gallons

Large Semi
26 tons910 bushels7,865 gallons

Safety of Shipping Methods

Mode of Transportation
Deaths Per Billion Ton-Miles
Injuries Per Billion Ton-Miles
0.010.09
0.84N/A
1.1521.77
Comparison of the safety records of car, train, and semi truck per billion ton-miles (adapted from Haulk)

Energy Efficiency of Shipping Methods

Number of miles one ton can be carried per gallon of fuel
(Adapted from U.S. DOT Maritime Administration)
Mode of Transportation
Number of Miles/Gallon Carrying One Ton of Cargo
514 miles/gallon
202 miles/gallon
59 miles/gallon

Environmental Quality of Shipping Methods

Comparison of the emissions of different gases into the atmosphere from different shipping methods
(Source: C. Jake Haulk Ph.D. - Inland Waterways as Vital National Infrastructure: Refuting "Corporate Welfare" Attacks)
Mode of Transportation
Hydrocarbons Emitted
(lbs/ton-mile)
Cabon Monoxide Emitted
(lbs/ton-mile)
Nitrous Oxide Emitted
(lbs/ton-mile)
0.00090.00200.0053
0.00460.00640.0183
0.00630.01900.1017