Any evaluation of our country's resource potential must carefully consider the transport network and the constraints which it places upon future energy development and growth. The federal government has a vague goal of energy independence (or, at least, less energy dependence), but it has not developed a coherent energy plan—a critical element of which is energy transport. The paper analyzes the uncertain coal outlook facing the rail industry, translates these coal scenarios into alternative financial projections for the rail sector, and clarifies the most urgent federal decisions needed in the energy-transport policy matrix. The rail industry is being asked to make substantial long-run financial commitments even though it is unclear how much coal will be produced and what the intermodal split will be between rail, truck, pipeline, and barge. Such uncertainty raises the specter of numerous railroads chasing after the same coal transport business. The success of any coal-centered energy policy is, therefore, directly linked to the federal government's ability to simultaneously formulate an internally consistent set of national energy and transportation policies. It is shown that failure to consider the energy-induced pitfalls facing the railroad industry could lead to severe financial strain on the "strong" Western roads, and thus a counterproductive energy policy.

Meeting Name

3rd Annual UMR-MEC Conference on Energy (1976: Oct. 12-14, Rolla, MO)

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings


Energy Systems II

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 1977 University of Missouri--Rolla, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

14 Oct 1976