Rail Coverage in US Regions

Apr 16, 2018
Chart of Rail Length per Square Mile of Land in US Regions

The chart above shows the miles of rail per square mile of land in US regions.  Three regions are all within a tenth of a mile of each other while the West only has a tenth of a mile of rail for every square mile of territory.


  • The difference between the region with the greatest rail coverage, the Northeast, and the region with the least, the West, is 0.06 miles per square mile (0.04 km per square km).
  • The Northeast has 4.99 times the rail coverage that the West has.
  • Only the West contains a state that does not have any rail coverage at all in Hawaii.


  • Rail length data is from 2013.
  • Area data is from 2010.
  • Road and area data come from different sources.
  • Numbers in the chart are rounded to the nearest hundredth.
  • Hawaii has no rail network.
  • The Northeastern US consists of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • The Midwestern US consists of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
  • The Southern US consists of Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
  • The Western US consists of California, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.


The rank in rail coverage correlates directly with the rank in road coverage for the regions.  However, it seems like these do not correlate well with vehicle ownership rates.

The number of miles of railway per square mile of land for the United States as a whole is 0.04 (0.02 km per square km) which ranks it just below the South and well above the West.


United States Census Bureau.  "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016."  Accessed December 12, 2017.  http://factfinder2.census.gov.

United States Department of Transportation.  2015.  "State Transportation by the Numbers."  Accessed March 21, 2018.  https://www.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/files/legacy/_entire.pdf.

Filed under: Charts and Graphs