U.S. Class I railroads will move more than 200,000 carloads of oil in 2012, the Association of American Railroads said.
That’s up from 66,000 carloads last year, the Washington-based industry association said in a report.
Shipments by train are becoming more efficient as different sized cars become available to ship various crude grades that take up more or less space depending on their density. Most cars have a maximum weight of 286,000 pounds.
For light crude, such as North Dakota’s Bakken grade, the “ideal” car has a capacity of 30,000 to 32,000 gallons (714 to 762 barrels,) according to the report. For denser, heavier crudes, a car carries about 25,000 gallons.
As new rail cars are built, the amount of oil the average car can hold may climb to between 30,000 and 32,000 gallons, according to AAR, up from an average 28,000 gallons in 2011.