“Drivin’ that train …” Is CSX high on … something?

So, I keep seeing and hearing these ads for CSX that claim they can “move a ton of freight 436 miles on one gallon of fuel.” Now, don’t get me wrong — I love trains. I would be quite happy for the US to increase our use of freight trains and decrease the  number of trucks on the road, as well as increase the passenger rail system.

But how on earth can this claim be true? A ton of freight? 436 miles? On one gallon of fuel?

I’m trying to do some digging into this, and I welcome your comments or insight. Am I missing something obvious in this equation? I feel like I must be, since no one else seems to have a problem with it, from what I can tell.

Yes, these are the things that clog up my brain ….



  1. Gary, thanks for the link. That kind of math makes my head hurt, but I think I understand. Still, it seems a little too much like: “If a train is traveling East at 70 miles per hour, and a car is traveling North at 60 miles per hour, what color is the conductor’s hat?”

  2. It doesn’t seem unreasonable. It’s like those hot water dispensers. The amount of energy used to heat the water up to 120 degrees (or whatever it is) is expensive energywise, but to maintain the water at 120 degrees is very cheap. (The water is in a sealed and insulated container.)

    to get a train up to speed is probably expensive energywise as well, but to maintain that speed is probably not that great. (The train is on tracks so there is less friction, and they only go in straight lines and gradual curves.)

    I really have no idea, but it sounds logical. ;o)

  3. I think my problem is that I get stuck on the idea of how much fuel the engine uses to go 436 miles. But that’s not what they’re saying here, is it? They’re just referring to the freight cars, not the engine.

    And I think his hat is blue.

  4. Actually, they are not even referring to the freight cars. They are referring to 2000 lbs of freight inside the freight car. It is like the new math of the bailouts. Throw enough numbers around in a hypothetical scenario and eventually you will get your bonus even though your company just lost billions!

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