From www.railphotoexpress.biz :
In 1926,about 800 million intercity passengers and commuters boarded trains nationwide, and almost 32 billion
passenger-miles were generated by the major railroads annually.
Then, during World War II (1941-1945, when there was gasoline and tire rationing),rail travel surged to
record amounts, peaking at nearly 98 billion passenger-miles in 1944.
By 2000, rail passenger-miles, for commuter and intercity, were about 15 billion. But the U.S. population was
much greater, and overall mobility had expanded enormously since mid-century.
Freight railroads are critical to the economic well-being and global competitiveness of the United States.
They move 42 percent of our nation's freight (measured in ton-miles) - everything from lumber to vegetables,
coal to orange juice, grain to automobiles, and chemicals to scrap iron - and connect businesses with each
other across the country and with markets overseas. They also contribute billions of dollars each year to the
economy through investments, wages, purchases, and taxes.
There were 554 common carrier freight railroads operating in the United States in 2002,