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Wisconsin's Railroads

Wisconsin's Railroads

While truck traffic is the dominant mode of freight transportation in Wisconsin, freight rail continues to play a vital role in the movement of products for Wisconsin companies.  Wisconsin's 10 railroads last year carried more than 2.7 million carloads of freight weighing in at nearly 164 million tons. 

Wisconsin's freight railroad network is comprised of nearly 4,200 miles of track and is served by four major (Class I) railroads, three regional railroads, two local railroads and one switching and terminal railroad. 

The major categories of freight traffic products originating in Wisconsin include:

  • Nonmetallic Minerals - 22%
  • Pulp and Paper Products - 14%
  • Farm Products - 13%
  • Food Products - 11%
  • Glass and Stone Products - 11% 

The major categories of freight traffic products terminated in Wisconsin include:

  • Coal - 53%
  • Metallic Ores - 13%
  • Pulp and Paper Products - 7%
  • Chemicals - 5%
  • Farm Products - 5% 

Commodity forecasts produced for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation indicate that the state's freight rail tonnage is expected to grow by more than 50% by 2020.  Major growth categories include:

  • Intermodal Shipments - 126%
  • Concrete, Glass and Stone - 94%
  • Food Products - 91%
  • Pulp and Paper Products - 72%

These products provide Wisconsin companies with the materials they need to meet consumer and business demand while rail companies at the same time provide a reliable and affordable service to transport bulk goods and to get finished products to market.  Get more details from the American Association of Railroads.

Freight isn't the only commodity carried on Wisconsin rail lines.  Amtrak provides passenger service through stations in 22 Wisconsin communities (Amtrak Route Map) and carries more than 420,000 passengers each year between Milwaukee and Chicago, primarily for one-day business trips.  Get a complete list of Wisconsin Amtrak stations and their operating hours and services at Wisconsin Amtrak Stations.


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