BNSF Transon Traffic Density

The following data was assembled using data from 2018. 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.

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. The heaviest trains per foot are the unit steel coil trains, which vary from 2.73 to 2.83 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 0.95 to 1.97 tons per linear foot while the
  HBARBEL1 runs from 0.75 to 1.12.
HBELPHX1 runs from 1.70 to 2.25 tons per linear foot while the
  HPHXBEL1 runs from 0.59 to 1.60.
HGALBAR1 runs from 1.45 to 2.03 tons per linear foot while the
  HBARGAL1 runs from 0.84 to 1.35.
HKCKBAR1 runs from 1.90 to 2.30 tons per linear foot while the
  HBARKCK1 runs from 0.74 to 0.90.
HSLABAR1 runs from 1.55 to 1.98 tons per linear foot while the
  HBARTPL1 runs from 1.10 to 1.50.
HTULBAR1 runs from 1.35 to 2.10 tons per linear foot while the
  HBARTUL9 runs from 0.75 to 1.30.

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 while the
  QLACALT6 runs from 0.70 to 0.84.
QALTRIC6 runs from 0.53 to 0.67 tons per linear foot while the
  QSTOALT6 runs from 0.83 to 0.95.
QALTSBD6 runs from 0.65 to 0.80 tons per linear foot while the
  QSBDALT6 runs from 0.71 to 0.79.
QATGLAC6 runs from 0.51 to 0.75 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACATG6 runs from 0.75 to 0.87.
QAUGLAC6 runs from 0.74 to 0.87 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACAUG6 runs from 0.73 to 0.80.
QCHILAC6 runs from 0.69 to 0.85 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACCHI6 runs from 0.73 to 0.86.
QCHIPHX6 runs from 0.82 to 0.86 tons per linear foot while the
  QPHXCHI1 runs from 0.43 to 0.62.
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.
QCHISTO6 runs from 0.82 to 0.91 tons per linear foot while the
  QSTOCHI6 runs from 0.92 to 0.98.
QCXOLAC1 runs from 0.79 to 0.99 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACCXO1 runs from 0.73 to 0.81.
QLPCLAC6 runs from 0.87 to 0.95 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACLPC6 runs from 0.74 to 0.85.
QMEMLAC6 runs from 0.90 to 1.00 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACMEM6 runs from 0.74 to 0.80.
QNWHLAC6 runs from 0.81 to 0.99 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACNWH6 runs from 0.74 to 0.84.
QNYCLAC6 runs from 0.71 to 0.90 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACNYC6 runs from 0.73 to 0.79.
QPEALAC1 runs from 0.71 to 0.86 tons per linear foot while the
  QLACPEA1 runs from 0.76 to 0.90.
Unpaired Q trains:
QCLORIC1 runs from 0.75 to 0.85 tons per linear foot.
QLACNSA6 runs from 0.74 to 0.86 tons per linear foot.
QSTLLAC1 runs from 0.75 to 1.09 tons per linear foot.
QSTOATG6 runs from 0.94 to 1.01 tons per linear foot.

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 while the
  SLBEALT1 runs from 0.82 to 1.03.
SLPCLBE runs from 1.03 to 1.31 tons per linear foot while the
  SLBELPC runs from 0.87 to 1.03.
SLPCLBT runs from 1.06 to 1.28 tons per linear foot while the
  SLBTLPC runs from 0.91 to 1.12.
SLPCLHA runs from 1.22 to 1.37 tons per linear foot while the
  SLHALPC runs from 0.84 to 1.03.
Unpaired Q trains:
SALTOIG runs from 0.49 to 0.57 tons per linear foot.
SALTSCO runs from 0.48 to 1.26 tons per linear foot.
SLPCOIG runs from 0.62 to 0.91 tons per linear foot.
SLBPCLO runs from 0.87 to 0.93 tons per linear foot.
SLBPLPC runs from 0.88 to 1.05 tons per linear foot.
SLBTCLO runs from 0.85 to 0.98 tons per linear foot.
SLHACLO runs from 0.83 to 0.99 tons per linear foot.
SLHGALT runs from 0.89 to 0.97 tons per linear foot.
SLPCSCO runs from 0.99 to 1.34 tons per linear foot.
SLPKSCO runs from 0.90 to 1.13 tons per linear foot.

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.
WAT runs 2.27 to 2.33 loaded and 0.68 to 0.78 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.
ZATGSBD7 runs from 0.74 to 0.86 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSBDATG7 runs from 0.67 to 0.74.
ZLPKLAC9 runs from 0.82 to 0.91 tons per linear foot while the
  ZLACLPK9 runs from 0.69 to 0.74.
ZMEMLAC7 runs from 0.75 to 0.85 tons per linear foot while the
  ZLACMEM7 runs from 0.68 to 0.78.
ZNYCLAC9 runs from 0.65 to 0.79 tons per linear foot while the
  ZLACNYC9 runs from 0.68 to 0.76.
ZWSPLAC7 runs from 0.65 to 0.78 tons per linear foot while the
  ZLACWSP8 runs from 0.71 to 0.78.
ZWSPLAC9 runs from 0.73 to 0.84 tons per linear foot while the
  ZLACWSP9 runs from 0.74 to 0.82.
ZWSPNBY8 runs from 0.70 to 0.86 tons per linear foot while the
  ZNBYWSP7 runs from 0.71 to 0.79.
ZWSPNBY9 runs from 0.69 to 0.76 tons per linear foot while the
  ZNBYWSP9 runs from 0.69 to 0.77.
ZWSPPHX9 runs from 0.66 to 0.79 tons per linear foot while the
  ZPHXWSP9 runs from 0.71 to 0.78.
ZWSPSBD7 runs from 0.67 to 0.76 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSBDWSP6 runs from 0.60 to 0.72.
ZWSPSBD8 runs from 0.67 to 0.72 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSBDWSP8 runs from 0.66 to 0.70.
ZWSPSBD9 runs from 0.69 to 0.72 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSBDWSP9 runs from 0.66 to 0.71.
ZWSPSTO8 runs from 0.68 to 0.77 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSTOWSP6 runs from 0.71 to 0.86.
ZWSPSTO9 runs from 0.67 to 0.75 tons per linear foot while the
  ZSTOWSP7 runs from 0.70 to 0.79.
Unpaired Z trains:
ZALTSTO9 runs from 0.69 to 0.80 tons per linear foot.
ZLACCHI7 runs from 0.63 to 0.72 tons per linear foot.

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

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