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Washington, D.C. — Some Earth Day trivia: What weighs 4,000 tons, carries the load of several hundred trucks, and is still the greenest way to move freight over land? A freight train, of course. Given rail’s scale of movement and the size of the U.S., it makes sense that trains would be the most efficient choice to haul freight from sea to shining sea.

But railroads don’t just rely on physics for efficiency – they’re constantly deploying tech that enables trains to move more for less (less fuel, less pollution, less time). Fuel management systems, advanced routing software, idling reduction tech, more efficient locomotives and various other enhancements have vastly improved efficiency. Case in point: while freight rail today moves nearly twice as much as it did in 1980, its fuel consumption is actually down.

Here are five stats that showcase rail’s environmental credentials:

Updated April 2021.