The rail transportation system in the CIRTPA region is used exclusively for freight transportation to, from, and through central Iowa. Four railroad companies currently operate within the CIRTPA region; the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the Northern Southern, and the Union Pacific are Class I railroads, while Iowa Interstate is a Class II railroad. These four railroad companies operate a total of 452 miles of track in the CIRTPA region.
The Iowa Department of Transportation asserts the future of rail transportation depends upon three trends:
1. Increasing demand for the transportation of freight;
2. Increasing cost and demand for energy; and,
3. Shrinking of Iowa’s trail system.
While these trends illustrate the challenges associated with rail transportation, local governments have little control over the strategies used to face these obstacles. Local concerns are limited to the need for railroad crossings and warning devices.