Shortline Railroad
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Shortline Railroad
Short Line is also one of the four railroads in the popular board game Monopoly, named after the Shore Fast Line, an interurban streetcar line.[1][2][3][self-published source]

A shortline railroad is a small or mid-sized railroad company that operates over a relatively short distance relative to larger, national railroad networks. The term is used primarily in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., railroads are categorized by operating revenue, and most shortline railroads fall into the Class III or Class II categorization defined by the Surface Transportation Board. Shortlines generally exist for one of three reasons: to link two industries requiring rail freight together (for example, a gypsum mine and a wall board factory, or a coal mine and a power plant); to interchange revenue traffic with other, usually larger, railroads; or to operate a tourist passenger train service. Often, short lines exist for all three of these reasons.


In the beginning of the railroad age, nearly all railway lines were shortlines, locally chartered, financed and operated; as the railroad industry matured, local lines were merged or acquired to create longer mainline railroads.

Especially since 1980 in the U.S. and 1990 in Canada, many shortlines have been established when larger railroad companies sold off or abandoned low-profit portions of their trackage. Shortline operators typically have lower labor, overhead and regulatory costs than Class I railroads and therefore are often able to operate profitable lines that lost money for their original owners.[4]


Because of their small size and generally low revenues, the great majority of shortline railroads in the U.S. are classified by the Association of American Railroads as Class III. As defined by the Surface Transportation Board, a Class III is a railroad with an annual operating revenue of less than $28 million.[5] In Canada, Transport Canada classifies short line railroads as Class II.

There are three kinds of shortlines in the U.S.: handling, switch, and ISS (Interline Settlement System).

  • Handling shortlines exist only to move cars along their tracks for larger railroads. They are not listed in the route on a railcar's waybill. Handling short lines may have compensation agreements with the larger railroads they serve that do not depend on per car rates.
  • Switch shortlines are similar to handling shortlines except that they are listed on a railcar's route, and they collect a fee for each car they move on their tracks.
  • ISS shortlines operate the same as Class I and II railroads. They are included in the routes of railcars. Also, they serve as the billing railroads for loads that originate on their lines. For loads not originating on their lines, ISS shortlines still collect a portion of the freight rate.

List of short lines by state

Current short line railroads in operation in the U.S. are:











Railroad AAR rep. mark
Boise Valley Railroad BVRR


Railroad AAR rep. mark
Bloomer Line BLOL
Central Illinois Railroad CIRY
Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad COER
Decatur Junction Railway DT
Eastern Illinois Railroad EIRC
Foster Townsend Rail Logistics FTRL
Illinois Railway IR
Keokuk Junction Railway KJRY
Peoria and Western Railway PWRY
Tazewell and Peoria Railroad TZPR
Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad TPW













New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Railroad AAR rep. mark
Red River Valley and Western Railroad RRVW





South Carolina

South Dakota

Railroad AAR rep. mark
Dakota Southern Railway DSRC
Ellis and Eastern EE


Railroad AAR rep. mark
East Tennessee Railway ETRY
Nashville and Eastern Railroad NERR



Railroad AAR rep. mark
Utah Railway UTAH


Railroad AAR rep. mark
Green Mountain Railroad GMRC
New England Central Railroad NECR



West Virginia

Railroad AAR rep. mark
Big Eagle Railroad BER


Railroad AAR rep. mark
East Troy Electric Railroad ETER


Railroad AAR rep. mark
Bay Line Railroad (AL and FL) BAYL
Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad CFE
Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (IL and IN) CSS
Cimarron Valley Railroad (CO,KS, and OK) CVR
Deseret Power Railroad (CO and UT) DPRW
Rail Link, Inc. (operates 26 short line railroads) RLIX
Housatonic Railroad (HRRC) HRRC
Kankakee, Beaverville and Southern Railroad (IL and IN) KBSR
New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NJ and NY) NYNJ
New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (NJ, NY, and PA) NYSW
St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (ME, NH, and VT) SLA
Utah Railway (CO and UT) UTAH
Watco Companies (owners of 17 short lines) WATX, WAMX
Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway (OK and TX) WTJR


It was reported in 2009 that short-line railroads employ 20,000 people in the U.S., and own 30 percent of nation's railroad tracks. About a quarter of all U.S. rail freight travels at least a small part of its journey over a short-line railroad.[6]

In other countries

In France, the equivalent of short-lines railroads are the "opérateurs ferroviaires de proximité" (local railways operators).[7]

See also


  1. ^ Borgnis, Mervin E. "We Had A Shore Fast Line," 1979 (Exposition Press)(ISBN 0682494119).
  2. ^ Orbanes, Philip E. (2006). 'Monopoly: the world's most famous game & how it got that way'. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 52 and 53. ISBN 0-306-81489-7.
  3. ^ Anspach, Ralph (2000). The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle (Second ed.). Xlibris Corporation. p. 132. ISBN 0-7388-3139-5.
  4. ^ The Little Engineers That Could by Sandra D. Atchison (Business Week), 1992-7-27
  5. ^ Link text Archived 2014-05-06 at the Wayback Machine,.
  6. ^ Shortline Railroads Keep American Towns Humming By Ben Dobbin (Associated Press), 2009-08-26
  7. ^ "Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire". Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire (in French). Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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