BNSF Transon Traffic Density

The following data was assembled using data from 2018. Data for loads, empties, tonnage, and length was added on April 15th, 2019.

A few years ago Walmart said that if it could cut the packaging on the products it receives by five percent that it could save over $10 billion each year. The savings would come from shipping costs. As railfans we need to be aware of the economics of railroading. One of the the elements of shipping is the density of the freight being shipped. Most containers cube out before they weigh out, meaning that most are moving at less than capacity. That truth is reflected in the numbers for Q, S and Z trains below. The computation tons per linear foot is derived from dividing the total tonnage for each train by its length. As an example, a 10,000ft long train weighing 10,000 tons would have a tons per linear foot ratio of 1.00.

Baretable trains run around 0.30 tons per linear foot for spine cars and 0.33 to 0.34 tons per linear foot for double stack cars. When a baretable train is handling empty trailers and/or containers the wieght goes up to between 0.38 and 0.47 tons per linear foot. As an example, the BDENSBD4 averaged 69-0:3108T 6784ft at 0.46 tons per linear foot.

Coal trains have the greatest difference between loads and empties. Loaded coal trains are usually 2.69 tons per linear foot while empties run around 0.39 for aluminum gondolas, 0.47 for aluminum hoppers, and 0.67 for steel hoppers. Quite a bit of coal moves through Gallup from either the Lee Ranch spur or the Powder River Basin to three different coal fired electic plants in eastern Arizona. Two examples are the CATMCRD going to the Coranado plant at 124-0:17732T 6583ft at 2.69 tons per linear foot and the CESMJCC going to the Cholla plant at 128-0:18304T 6795ft. The heaviest trains per foot are the unit steel coil trains, which vary from 2.73 to 2.78 tons per linear foot. The USTLPIT1 averaged 49-0:6452T 2349ft at 2.74 tons per linear foot.

Grain trains are a close second to coal trains. Loaded trains run around 2.45 tons per linear foot while empties run around 0.53. DDG trains are a little lighter at 1.95 to 2.0 tons per linear foot while empties run around 0.49.

Manifest (H) trains run heavier westbound than they do eastbound. The westbound trains are presented first.
HBELBAR1 runs from 0.98 to 1.97 tons per linear foot averaging 62-15:7746T 4925ft while the
  HBARBEL1 runs from 0.74 to 1.12 averaging 22-67:4993T 5624ft.
HBELPHX1 runs from 1.70 to 2.25 tons per linear foot averaging 62-9:8286T 4209ft while the
  HPHXBEL1 runs from 0.59 to 1.25 averaging 13-56:3560T 3976ft.
HGALBAR1 runs from 1.45 to 2.03 tons per linear foot averaging 70-25:9700T 5781ft while the
  HBARGAL1 runs from 0.84 to 1.35 averaging 39-65:7223T 6367ft.
HKCKBAR1 runs from 1.84 to 2.27 tons per linear foot averaging 77-8:10673T 5260ft while the
  HBARKCK1 runs from 0.73 to 0.97 averaging 14-91:5456T 6551ft.
HSLABAR1 runs from 1.35 to 1.98 tons per linear foot averaging 70-15:9273T 5353ft while the
  HBARTPL1 runs from 1.06 to 1.50 averaging 34-55:6238T 5469ft.
HTULBAR1 runs from 1.33 to 2.10 tons per linear foot averaging 61-18:8388T 5140ft while the
  HBARTUL9 runs from 0.74 to 1.32 averaging 32-62:6198T 5828ft.

Q trains run slightly heavier westbound, except Stockton trains. The biggest difference between east and westbound trains was in the Phoenix corridor. The westbound trains are presented first.
QALTLAC1 runs from 0.65 to 0.89 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  QLACALT6 runs from 0.70 to 0.84 averaging 69-0:5036T 6537ft.
QALTRIC6 runs from 0.53 to 0.67 tons per linear foot averaging 72-0:4082T 6669ft while the
  QSTOALT6 runs from 0.83 to 0.95 averaging .
QALTSBD6 runs from 0.65 to 0.80 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  QSBDALT6 runs from 0.71 to 0.79 averaging .
QATGLAC6 runs from 0.51 to 0.75 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  QLACATG6 runs from 0.75 to 0.87 averaging 67-0:5100T 6421ft.
QAUGLAC6 runs from 0.74 to 0.87 tons per linear foot averaging 79-0:5807T 7489ft while the
  QLACAUG6 runs from 0.73 to 0.80 averaging 71-0:5236T 6794ft.
QCHILAC6 runs from 0.69 to 0.85 tons per linear foot averaging 79-0:5882T 7476ft while the
  QLACCHI6 runs from 0.73 to 0.86 averaging 97-0:7339T 9090ft.
QCHIPHX6 runs from 0.82 to 0.86 tons per linear foot averaging 54-0:4370T 5190ft while the
  QPHXCHI1 runs from 0.43 to 0.62 averaging .
QCHISBD6 and QCHISBD7 run from 0.83 to 0.94 tons per linear foot while the QSBDCHI6 and QSBDCHI7 run from 0.72 to 0.79 averaging .
QCHISTO6 runs from 0.82 to 0.91 tons per linear foot averaging 73-0:6135T 6938ft while the
  QSTOCHI6 runs from 0.92 to 0.98 averaging 71-0:6584T 6784ft.
QCXOLAC1 runs from 0.79 to 0.99 tons per linear foot averaging 94-0:7941T 8705ft while the
  QLACCXO1 runs from 0.73 to 0.81 averaging 65-0:4925T 6313ft.
QLPCLAC6 runs from 0.87 to 0.95 tons per linear foot averaging 103-0:8918T 9624ft while the
  QLACLPC6 runs from 0.74 to 0.85 averaging 81-0:6158T 7666ft.
QMEMLAC6 runs from 0.90 to 1.00 tons per linear foot averaging 76-0:6481T 7123ft while the
  QLACMEM6 runs from 0.74 to 0.80 averaging 74-0:5284T 6864ft.
QNWHLAC6 runs from 0.81 to 0.99 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  QLACNWH6 runs from 0.74 to 0.84 averaging 72-0:5399T 6748ft.
QNYCLAC6 runs from 0.71 to 0.90 tons per linear foot averaging 75-0:5407T 7115ft while the
  QLACNYC6 runs from 0.73 to 0.79 averaging 69-0:5050T 6590ft.
QPEALAC1 runs from 0.71 to 0.86 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  QLACPEA1 runs from 0.76 to 0.90 averaging 71-0:5791T 6620ft.
Unpaired Q trains:
QCLORIC1 runs from 0.75 to 0.85 tons per linear foot averaging 61-0:4540T 5662ft.
QLACNSA6 runs from 0.74 to 0.86 tons per linear foot averaging 70-0:5134T 6619ft.
QSTLLAC1 runs from 0.75 to 1.09 tons per linear foot averaging 70-0:5920T 6471ft.
QSTOATG6 runs from 0.94 to 1.01 tons per linear foot averaging 60-0:5459T 5690ft.

S trains run heavier westbound from LPC and LPK. Much of the tonnage was soybeans and other grains from farms in the area around the upper Mississippi and lower Missouri Rivers. There are not as many pairs of trains and not all trains are listed. Since tariffs were imposed, it will be interesting to see the compiled data for 2019.
SALTLBE runs from 0.55 to 0.61 tons per linear foot averaging 78-0:3990T 6860ft while the
  SLBEALT1 runs from 0.82 to 1.03 averaging 77-0:6323T 6831ft.
SLPCLBE runs from 1.03 to 1.31 tons per linear foot averaging 86-0:9196T 7582ft while the
  SLBELPC runs from 0.87 to 1.03 averaging 91-0:7935T 8029ft.
SLPCLBT runs from 1.06 to 1.28 tons per linear foot averaging 120-0:13204T 10643ft while the
  SLBTLPC runs from 0.91 to 1.12 averaging 96-0:8439T 8461ft.
SLPCLHA runs from 1.22 to 1.37 tons per linear foot averaging 135-0:15474T 11875ft while the
  SLHALPC runs from 0.84 to 1.03 averaging 96-0:8439T 8461ft.
Unpaired Q trains:
SALTOIG runs from 0.49 to 0.57 tons per linear foot averaging 80-0:3906T 7135ft.
SALTSCO runs from 0.48 to 1.26 tons per linear foot averaging .
SLPCOIG runs from 0.62 to 0.91 tons per linear foot averaging 74-0:5226T 6576ft.
SLBPCLO runs from 0.87 to 0.93 tons per linear foot averaging 84-0:6683T 7403ft.
SLBPLPC runs from 0.88 to 1.05 tons per linear foot averaging 83-0:7026T 7390ft.
SLBTCLO runs from 0.85 to 0.98 tons per linear foot averaging 94-0:7670T 8307ft.
SLHACLO runs from 0.83 to 0.99 tons per linear foot averaging 76-0:6306T 6812ft.
SLHGALT runs from 0.89 to 0.97 tons per linear foot averaging 76-0:6214T 6705ft.
SLPCSCO runs from 0.99 to 1.34 tons per linear foot averaging 140-0:15198T 12338ft.
SLPKSCO runs from 0.90 to 1.13 tons per linear foot averaging .

The only regular unit trains on the western Transcon are the ethanol tank trains. Since these come from a variety of production facilities, I've only listed the destinations with the loaded and empty figures for comparison.
PHX runs 2.16 to 2.30 loaded and 0.65 to 0.75 empty averaged .
WAT runs 2.27 to 2.33 averaging 98-0:13502T 5860ft loaded and 0.68 to 0.78 2-84:3789T 5141ft empty.

Vehicle trains have the least difference between loaded and empty trains. Average loads are 0.75 to 0.80 tons per linear foot and empties are 0.55 to 0.56.

Z trains tend to run slightly heavier westbound, except Stockton trains.
ZALTSBD7 and ZALTSBD9 run from 0.65 to 0.78 tons per linear foot while the ZSBDALT7 and ZSBDALT9 run from 0.68 to 0.71 averaging .
ZATGSBD7 runs from 0.74 to 0.86 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSBDATG7 runs from 0.67 to 0.74 averaging .
ZLPKLAC9 runs from 0.82 to 0.91 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZLACLPK9 runs from 0.69 to 0.74 averaging .
ZMEMLAC7 runs from 0.75 to 0.85 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZLACMEM7 runs from 0.68 to 0.78 averaging .
ZNYCLAC9 runs from 0.65 to 0.79 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZLACNYC9 runs from 0.68 to 0.76 averaging .
ZWSPLAC7 runs from 0.65 to 0.78 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZLACWSP8 runs from 0.71 to 0.78 averaging .
ZWSPLAC9 runs from 0.73 to 0.84 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZLACWSP9 runs from 0.74 to 0.82 averaging .
ZWSPNBY8 runs from 0.70 to 0.86 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZNBYWSP7 runs from 0.71 to 0.79 averaging .
ZWSPNBY9 runs from 0.69 to 0.76 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZNBYWSP9 runs from 0.69 to 0.77 averaging .
ZWSPPHX9 runs from 0.66 to 0.79 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZPHXWSP9 runs from 0.71 to 0.78 averaging .
ZWSPSBD7 runs from 0.67 to 0.76 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSBDWSP6 runs from 0.60 to 0.72 averaging .
ZWSPSBD8 runs from 0.67 to 0.72 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSBDWSP8 runs from 0.66 to 0.70 averaging .
ZWSPSBD9 runs from 0.69 to 0.72 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSBDWSP9 runs from 0.66 to 0.71 averaging .
ZWSPSTO8 runs from 0.68 to 0.77 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSTOWSP6 runs from 0.71 to 0.86 averaging .
ZWSPSTO9 runs from 0.67 to 0.75 tons per linear foot averaging while the
  ZSTOWSP7 runs from 0.70 to 0.79 averaging .
Unpaired Z trains:
ZALTSTO9 runs from 0.69 to 0.80 tons per linear foot averaging .
ZLACCHI7 runs from 0.63 to 0.72 tons per linear foot averaging .

See the following pages for more information about specific trains:
Bare Table Trains
Manifest Trains Westbound
Manifest Trains Eastbound
Q Trains Westbound
Q Trains Eastbound
Marine Stack Train Overview
Marine Stack Trains Westbound
Marine Stack Trains Eastbound
Unit Trains
Z Trains Westbound
Z Trains Eastbound
Pie Chart Comparison Tool

If you would like to see more information of this type, let me know. I would like to do an analysis of average tons and length of trains symbols, similar to what was presented here. You can email me at:
john underscore carr at wycliffe dot org