Regional & Shortline Railroads

Many railroad worker injuries occur on short line railroads. These injuries are covered by FELA, not workers’ compensation.

Railroads in the United States are classified by size. Large railroads are classified as Class I, such as BNSF, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, CSX, and Kansas City Southern. Short line and regional railroads fall into the classification of Class III or Class II, according to the Surface Transportation Board.

Class II and Class III railroads account for 31 percent of U.S. freight. Approximately 550 short line and regional railroads operate in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. Short line railroads are small, local, mid-sized, and regional railroads that operate over short distances to the national Class I railroads.

Larger Class II railroads are often classified as regional railroads. Currently, there are approximately 21 Class II railroads in service, some that are part of large railroad holding companies (such as Watco’s Wisconsin & Southern and Genesee & Wyoming’s Buffalo & Pittsburgh), and many that are independently owned, such as the Florida East Coast Railway, Dakota Missouri Valley Western Railroad, Montana Rail Link, Red River Valley Western, Central Oregon, Portland and Western, and the Northern Plains Railroad.

Short lines operate for many reasons, such as linking industries together that require or share freight (such as paper factories and timber, or power and manufacturing plants and coal), to carry freight and resources to interchange points with the large Class I railroads, and as small tourist railroads. These short line railroads are critical in linking regions and services to the nation’s infrastructure. Some short lines are older and have been operating for generations. Others were created as larger railroads sold off or abandoned large sections of their rail networks.

Class II and III railroads are not subject to the same reporting requirements as larger railroads, and have much different regulatory and safety requirements, such as different train speeds, maintenance, inspection, and safety equipment standards. Understanding these critical differences can make or break a case. Trust the knowledgeable railroad attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd to handle your claim.

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