This paper analyzes the effects of recent changes in the supply and price of energy on freight transport modes. This is accomplished by studies of the relative energy efficiency of the modes, the relative energy cost intensity of the modes, and the effects of government intervention. Relative modal energy efficiency is analyzed by comparing similar types of service. This approach goes beyond simple comparison of aggregate fuel efficiency data. The conclusion reached is that the relative efficiencies change for different types of service. Energy cost intensity is an important component of the effect of fuel price increases on relative modal competitiveness. Fuel costs are now approximately 55 percent of total waterway operating costs, 24 percent of total truck costs, and 12 percent of total rail costs. Therefore, as energy costs increase, barge costs increase the most, and rail costs increase the least. Government control of the price and supply of energy can prevent railroads from realizing cost and efficiency advantages. Also, the regulatory system creates a lag in railroad recovery of rising fuel costs. The main implication here is that increasing energy costs will improve the competitive position of the rail industry. However, such an improvement may be circumvented by government intervention in the energy market. (Author)

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 89-92
  • Monograph Title: Surface Freight: Rail, Truck, and Intermodal
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00325471
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309030730
  • Report/Paper Numbers: N763
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 18 1981 12:00AM