Freight and Goods Travel

Freight railroads play an important role in the United State's economy, transporting goods like coal and oil across the country in containers. The United States is known for having one of the best freight railroad systems in the world, as one of the most extensively used too, as they "move more than four times as much freight as all of Western Europe's combined", according to the Association of American Railroads. There are approximately 150,000 miles of track in the country. Nearly all railroad lines are privately owned by companies, and these companies are divided into three different classes by the Surface Transportation Board, based on their annual revenue. They are as follows:

Class One ($346.8 billion or more)
Amtrak: 730 miles of track owned
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF): 32,500 miles of track owned, 40,000 employees, founded 1849
Canadian National Railway: 20,421 miles of track owned, 22,696 employees, founded 1918
Canadian Pacific Railway: 15,000 miles of track owned, 16,000 employees, founded 1881
CSX Transportation: 21,000 miles of track owned, 30,000 employees, founded 1827
Norfolk Southern Railway: 20,000 miles of track owned, 28,600 employees, founded 1838
Union Pacific Railroad: 32,000 miles of track owned, 43,500 employees, founded 1862
Kansas City Southern Railway: 6,000 miles of track owned, 6,485 employees, founded 1887

In 1900, there were 132 Class One Railroads. Due to mergers, bankruptcies, and higher standards for a Class One Railroad, only 8 remain today.

Class Two ($37.4 million-433.2 million) and Class Three (Less than $20 million)
Class two and class three railroads are regional railroads and short lines, which can serve a small region, or only a few towns. 

Most railroad gauges are the standard gauge, 4 by 8.5 inches. 60% of railroad lines in the world use the standard gauge. 

Canadian National Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
CSX Transportation
Norfolk Southern Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
Kansas City Southern Railway