• FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013, file photo, a BNSF Railway train hauls crude oil near Wolf Point, Mont. A collapse in oil prices won't derail the railroads’ profit engine even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude oil shipments seen in recent years. Railroads went from hauling 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to 435,560 last year, as production boomed and oil routinely sold for $90 a barrel or more. But even with the surge, crude oil shipments remain less than 2 percent of all the carloads major U.S. railroads deliver. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013, file photo, a BNSF Railway train hauls crude oil near Wolf Point, Mont. A collapse in oil prices won't derail the railroads’ profit engine even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude oil shipments seen in recent ... years. Railroads went from hauling 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to 435,560 last year, as production boomed and oil routinely sold for $90 a barrel or more. But even with the surge, crude oil shipments remain less than 2 percent of all the carloads major U.S. railroads deliver. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 25, 2014, file photo, an oil train moves through the area south of St Paul, Minn. A collapse in oil prices won't derail the railroads’ profit engine even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude oil shipments seen in recent years. Railroads went from hauling 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to 435,560 last year, as production boomed and oil routinely sold for $90 a barrel or more. But even with the surge, crude oil shipments remain less than 2 percent of all the carloads major U.S. railroads deliver.  (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Connor Lake, File)

    FILE - In this July 25, 2014, file photo, an oil train moves through the area south of St Paul, Minn. A collapse in oil prices won't derail the railroads’ profit engine even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude oil shipments seen in recent ... years. Railroads went from hauling 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to 435,560 last year, as production boomed and oil routinely sold for $90 a barrel or more. But even with the surge, crude oil shipments remain less than 2 percent of all the carloads major U.S. railroads deliver. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Connor Lake, File) (The Associated Press)

Low oil prices unlikely to hurt railroads as costs decline and economy boosts other shipments

Energy Associated Press

A collapse in oil prices won't derail the railroads' profit engine even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude shipments seen in recent years.

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Railroads went from hauling 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to 435,560 last year as production boomed. Investors have naturally become jittery as crude prices have been more than halved since the summer.

But even with that surge, crude oil shipments still make up less than 2 percent of all carloads that major U.S. railroads deliver.

Edward Jones analyst Logan Purk says the importance of oil shipments for railroads is overrated.

What's more, cheaper oil means lower fuel costs for railroads and it provides a boost to the economy, which means more shipments of other freight.

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