Comparison of  the Relative Efficiencies of Rail and Trucking

ModeFuel ConsumptionInfrastructure CapacityCostsSafety
Railroad455 ton-miles per gallon216 million tons per mainline per year2.7 cents per ton-mile0.61 fatalities per billion ton-miles; 12.4 incidents per billion ton-miles
Trucking105 ton-miles per gallon37.8 million tons per lane per year5.0 cents per ton-mile1.45 fatalities per billion ton-miles; 36.4 incidents per billion ton-miles

Source: Brown, T.A and A.B. Hatch (2002) The Value of Rail Intermodal to the US Economy.

Rail transportation has several key advantages over trucking, particularly in terms of energy efficiency (4 times), capacity (6 times) and costs (2 times).