Rail

Kansas is served by a comprehensive rail network comprised of 4,855 miles (over 7,800 km) of total track, the sixth largest network in the nation. More than 900 incorporated and unincorporated cities stand along Kansas’ tracks. Many communities are served by more than one railroad, and businesses in several cities can take advantage of the reciprocal switching agreements between railroads.

Historically used to move countless tons of grain produced by farmers, our rail network ensures freight service to virtually anywhere in Kansas via the four Class I railroads, eleven Class III (short line) railroads and three switching/terminal railroads in the state. These operators administer more than 105 freight transfer facilities and terminals in our state, connecting our communities and businesses to local, national and global markets.

Intercity passenger service in Kansas is provided by Amtrak’s long-distance train, the Southwest Chief. The Southwest Chief operates between Chicago and Los Angeles, with a west- and east-bound train stops at our six stations in Lawrence, Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City. Intermediate stops outside Kansas include Kansas City (MO), Albuquerque and Flagstaff. Each train is equipped with coaches, sleeping cars, a diner and a lounge car. Passengers are also able to use the Thruway bus service to transfer between the Southwest Chief and the Heartland Flyer which operates between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

Class I Railroads

Four Class I, or large railroads, operate in Kansas. These railroads provide long haul service for both in- and out-bound products as well as through traffic. The Class I railroads operating in Kansas are railroad companies BNSF Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad. Three of the four own lines in the state, and the fourth operates over trackage rights.

Class I Railroad Route Mileage in Kansas

Class 1 Carriers
Main Line Owned
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
1,142
Kansas City Southern
18
Norfolk Southern*
0
Union Pacific
1,563
Class 1 Total
2,723
*Norfolk Southern has 3 miles of trackage rights in Kansas

BNSF has 11 subdivisions in Kansas. Each corridor carries substantial through freight as well as origin and termination service for shippers and receivers in Kansas. In 2016, BNSF hauled nearly 4.1 million carloads in Kansas. BNSF’s Transcontinental (Transcon) corridor stretches approximately 305 miles through Kansas, connecting Chicago, IL to Los Angeles and Oakland, CA.

KCS has two subdivisions in Kansas that are part of their one principal north-south route. The line follows the Kansas and Missouri border southward from Kansas City (mostly in Missouri) and crosses into southeast Kansas near Pittsburg. KCS moved 269,000 carloads in 2016.

Kansas Rail Map


NS has trackage rights on three miles of track in Kansas, specifically in the Kansas City area. The NS intermodal facility for the metropolitan Kansas City are is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

UP has 13 subdivisions in Kansas that form six principal corridors in and through the state. Each corridor carriers substantial through freight as well as origin and termination service for shippers and receivers in Kansas. Minor portions of these various routes merge with other routes in and around the Kansas City area. UP hauled nearly 2.2 million carloads in Kansas.

Class III Railroads

Fourteen Class III, or local, terminal and switching railroads, operate in Kansas. Class III carriers providing line haul services are known as short lines. Class III railroads are small railroads that provide connections for their shippers to the Class I railroads and the national rail system. In 2016, Class III railroads hauled a total of 156,140 carloads versus 144,392 in 2015, an eight percent increase.

Class III Railroad Route Mileage in Kansas

Class III Carriers (Short Lines)
Main Line Owned
Lines Leased from Class I
Miles Operated Excluding Trackage Rights
Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad
18
0
18
Blue Rapids Railroad
10
0
10
Boot Hill & Western Railroad
10
0
10
Cimarron Valley Railroad
179
0
179
Garden City Western Railroad
45
0
45
Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad
554
166
720
Kyle Railroad
282
139
421
Missouri & Northern Arkansas
0
8
8
Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado Railway
62
0
62
South Kansas & Oklahoma
267
0
267
V & S Railway
25
0
25

Switching and Terminal Railroad Mileage in Kansas

Class III Carriers (Short Lines)
Main Line Owned
Lines Leased from Class I
Miles Operated Excluding Trackage Rights
Kansas City Terminal
27
0
27
New Century AirCenter Railway
5
0
5
Wichita Terminal Association
9
0
9
Class III Total
1,493
313
1,806

Rail Transit Times to Markets

In-Transit Rail Shipping Times to Major Cities

Destination
Rail Shipments
Atlanta
5 Days
Boston
6 Days
Chicago
2 Days
Cleveland
5 Days
Dallas
3 Days
Denver
2 Days
Detroit
5 Days
Kansas City
1 Days
Los Angeles
5 Days
Memphis
3 Days
New York
7 Days
Omaha
2 Days
Oklahoma City
2 Days
Philadelphia
6 Days
Phoenix
3 Days
St. Louis
2 Days
Seattle
5 Days