Top 10 largest public railroad companies

Written by on May 13, 2013 in Featured on App, Global Projects, Infrastructure with 5 Comments

Top 10 largest public railroad companies (StevenW on flickr)

Who are the biggest pubic railroad companies? Who dominates the industry- which countries do they operate in? Browsing the Forbes World's biggest public companies list, there are 10 companies in the railroad industry. Here they are…

10. Tokyu

Sales- $13.2 B  Profits- $0.4 B  Assets- $23.8 B  Market Value- $9.3 B

9. West Japan Railway

Sales- $15.6 B  Profits- $0.4 B  Assets- $30.6 B  Market Value- $9.2 B

8. Daqin Railway

Sales- $7.2 B  Profits- $1.9 B  Assets- $14.9 B  Market Value- $18.7 B

7. MTR

Hong Kong-China
Sales- $4.6 B  Profits- $1.7 B  Assets- $26.7 B  Market Value- $23 B

6. Norfolk Southern

United States
Sales- $11 B  Profits- $1.7 B  Assets- $30.3 B  Market Value- $23.7 B

5. CSX

United States
Sales- $11.8 B  Profits- $1.9 B  Assets- $30.6 B  Market Value- $24.5 B

4. Canadian National Railway

Sales- $10 B  Profits- $2.7 B  Assets- $26.8 B  Market Value- $42.7 B

3. Central Japan Railway

Sales- $18.2 B  Profits- $1.6 B  Assets- $61.3 B  Market Value- $20.6 B

2. Eastern Japan Railway

Sales- $30.6 B  Profits- $1.3 B  Assets- $82.9 B  Market Value- $32.5 B

1. Union Pacific

United States
Sales- $20.9 B  Profits- $3.9 B  Assets- $47.2 B  Market Value- $66.5 B

The US, Japan and China dominate the list. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts.

Rail Revenue & Customer Management World Europe will further discuss boosting revenue and customer engagement for European passenger rail.

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About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Marketing Manager at Terrapinn working on transport, finance, UAV and Cyber Security events. A socially adept transport enthusiast with a particular interest in the marketing of it all. You'll spot my posts on Blue Sky and Totally Unmanned. .


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  1. Jim Blaze says:

    The term “public” has multiple meanings. Here it presumably means “stock traded”. That at least covers most of the US railroad companies. They are not owned by the citizens as a government enterprise like DB in Germany.

    This leaves several noteworthy railroads off of the list. BNSF (as big and as profitable as Union Pacific) is off the list because to own it you have to own Berkshire Hathaway Inc “stock”.

    FMG and BHP Australian ore railways are off the list because they are wholly owned enterprises of their respective stock traded mine companies — yet extremely profitable railway operations. The same is true for Vale owned railway operations.

    One really interesting question is why does Europe ignore the economic benefits of such railway public companies as their railways continue to lose marekt share to trucks?

    ONE technical observation about Japan’s railways is that they focus on passengers and probably lose money on freight (the exact opposite of the USA public rail model). The Japanese railways also earn a great deal of profit from their lucrative urban real estate assets — which US freight railroads do not have.


  2. Angela says:

    Hi Jim, interesting point about Japan’s passenger revenue model. In our experience Europe’s railways (and even US passenger rail) are starting to really look at ways to boost revenue via passenger management – from new ticketing models, revenue management and ancillaries. It will be interesting to see how this impacts their profits in the next 5-10 years.

  3. Nick Little says:

    Interesting list. The question I would like to have answered is: “Which are the world’s most successful railway companies?” To do so, we need a good measure for “success” and the financial aspects are just one dimension. Customer service is another (however it is measured) that is applicable (using different metrics) for freight and passenger. There are probably others such as safety, employee productivity and so forth. Obvious danger – comparing apples with oranges due to geo-spatial and geo-social differences. Interesting topic. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lorna says:

    Hi Jim, thanks so much for the detailed insight. This list refers just to stock traded companies, but it would make an interesting comparison to take a look at the numbers on European enterprise.

    Nick, thanks for your comment. I agree, a successful railway company list would be interesting but difficult to do as you say with all the variables considered!

  5. Gunther says:

    To compare to Europe’s largest railway companies: Deutsche Bahn had a turnover of 57bn USD in 2012 and SNCF of France 46bn USD. Even though they are government owned, they definately are competitive. Just take a look at how many countries DB is operating in. There are plans to privatize (part of) DB in 2014-2015.

    The reason why road traffic is currently preffered is due to the fact that Europe is made up of different countries with different regulations and different voltages. The economist (augst 17th to 23rd) contains an interesting article on this topic titled “the quest for a ryanair of rail freight”.

    The newest mag-lev trains are developed in Germany by Siemens and as such know-how remains in Europe.In addition, the TGV of France still keeps the land speed record.

    I wouldn’t cross out Europe just yet

    DB would be on the top of my list for most complete, integrated and succesful railway company.

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