HCL Logo

The Truman Area Community Network
A Community Information Source
supported by the Henry County Library

 

Mike Good's Railroad Connection

Railroad Construction Costs

Over time I have collected a variety of information on how much it cost to build a railroad, mostly relating to the "good old days" rather than current costs. For convenience I've collected most of them here in one place. More data will be added as I find it.

Estimate of cost of constructing a mountain line

From James Marhsall's The Railroad That Built an Empire, published 1945 by Random House.

According to Marshall, the estimate was made in 1875 by Ray Morley, for a line "from the mouth of Antelope Creek at Sagauche River, up canyons, over North Cochetopa Pass and down Cochetop Creek to Wales Ranch.

Distance: Miles - 26
Sidings: Six of 1/4 mile - 1.5 miles: Total 27.5 miles

205,129 cubic yards of earthwork  @ 20-68/100 cents           $ 42,425.95
105,257 cubic yards of rock       @ 99-20/100 cents            104,416.90
 30,292 cubic yards of loose rock @ 64-10/100 cents             19,422.90
  2,704 cubic yards second class masonry 2 $4                   10,816.00
150' wooden trestle, 15' high or under @ $8                      1,200.00
 45' wooden trestle, 20' high or under @ $10                       450.00
Grubbing and clearning                                           1,100.00
Wooden boxes for culverts                                        1,075.00
Moving loose rock and retaining wall                             5,000.00
        Total @ $7,150.26 per mile for 26 miles               $185,906.75

27.5 miles of ties at 2640 per mile - 72,600 @ 20 cents         14,250.00
27.5 miles of #56 iron, spikes, splices, etc, at $45.50        125,125.00
12 complete switches at $160                                     1,920.00
4 watertanks with windmills at $1,900                            7,600.00
26 miles tracklaying @ $450                                     11,700.00
Engineering and contingencies 10%                               34,671.17

        Total cost                                            $381,178.92

Total average per mile: $14,671.11
Maximum grades 170' per mile tangent
Maximum curves 15 degrees per 100 feet

Curvature might be reduced to 12 degrees for, say $30,000 additional.
                                                   W. R. Morley

Morley's survey is for a very lightly built line, involving only about 13,000 cubic yards of earth and rock moving per mile of line; Raymond's 1908 estimate for an average U.S. railroad in moderately rolling country called for 22,000 cubic yards a mile.

Average cost of a mile of American Railroad (1908)

From William G. Raymond's Elements of Railroad Engineering, copyright 1908 by John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1911 printing. (A line through rolling country with little rock, fairly well settled, connecting moderately large cities.)
Right of way						$ 1,800.00
Terminal Stations, land, etc.				  4,000.00
Grading: 20,000 yds earth at 30 cents			  6,000.00
          2,000 yds rock at $1.25			  2,500.00
Bridges and Culverts					  2,000.00
Track: Ties at 50 cents delivered          $ 1,350.00
       Rails, 126 tons @ $30 delivered       3,780.00
       Joint bars. 20,500 pounds at
          1.8 cents per pound delivered        369.00
       Bolts and locks, 2,560 pounds at 
          2.7 cents per pound delivered         70.00
       Spikes, 6,000 pounds at 2.3 cents
          per pound delivered                  138.00
       Track laying                            300.00
       Total track 			   $ 6,007.00     6,000.00

Sidings and yards, distributed portion			  1,000.00
Ballast, gravel, 2,000 cubic yards at 25 cents		    500.00
Fencing							    300.00
Telegraph						    150.00
Water supply						    400.00
Stations, ordinary, and section houses			    500.00
Roundhouses and terminal buildings, shops, etc.             750.00
Equipment						  3,000.00
Engineering						  1,000.00
Legal and general					    300.00
Interest						  3,020.00

Total cost						$33,220.00

To this must be added for interlocking and block signals if these
essentials of safe railroading are used, so that the average American
railroad should cost about $35,000 a mile fully equipped. 

About $20,000 of this estimate is for the permament way, exclusive
of buildings, terminals, etc., but including side track and yards. 
This portion of the estimate may very readily be much increased by
excessive bridging, deep cuts, much rock work, many crossings avoided
by underhead or overhead structures, etc.

... expensive terminals in large cities would greatly increase the
item of their distributed cost.
[Back to the Top of the Page]

Average cost of a mile of American Railroad (193?)

From a 1930's edition of William G. Raymond's Elements of Railroad Engineering. (I copied the data but didn't think to record the book's publication date.)

This estimate is for essentially the same line as the one in 1908, but the total cost comes out more than double. The figures and costs for grading are identical in both estimates, but changing prices plus the addition of tie plates doubled the cost of the track. The allowance for stations and engine facilities is much increased, while the allotment for equipment has been raised from $3,000 a mile to no less than $17,000, 21% of the total cost.

Right of way						$ 3,600.00
Terminal Stations, land, etc.				  7,000.00
Grading: 20,000 yds earth at 30 cents			  6,000.00
          2,000 yds rock at $1.25			  2,500.00
Bridges and Culverts					  6,000.00
Track: 3000 ties at $1.25 delivered        $ 3,750.00
       Rails, 126 tons @ $40 delivered       5,040.00
       Joint bars. 20,500 pounds at
          3 cents per pound delivered          615.00
       Tie plates, 66,000 lbs at
	  2.5 cents delivered                1,650.00
       Bolts and locks, 2,560 pounds at 
          4 cents per pound delivered          100.00
       Spikes, 7,300 pounds at 2.75 cents
          per pound delivered                  200.00
       Track laying                          1,730.00
       Total track 			                 13,085.00

Sidings and yards, distributed portion			  4,450.00
Ballast, gravel, 2,000 cubic yards at 25 cents(??)        2,850.00
Fencing							    750.00
Telegraph						    800.00
Water supply						    650.00
Stations, ordinary, and section houses			  4,250.00
Roundhouses and terminal buildings, shops, etc.           2,300.00
Equipment						 17,000.00
Engineering						  1,745.00
Legal and general					    680.00
Interest						  4,415.00

Total cost						$78,075.00

[Back to the Top of the Page]

1995 Estimate of Cost to Rehabilitate 1 mile of Line

The data for this estimate is from the Rehabilitation Cost Estimate for the Missouri & North Arkansas Railways Webb City Branch in the Missouri Rail Plan 1995 Update, produced by the Missouri Highway & Transportation Department, in June of 1995.
Rail, #100 Relay                176 tons @ $275 / ton		$ 48,400.00
Joints, S.H.			270 @ $9.50 each		   2,565.00
Tie Plates, S.H., D.H.		6,000 @ $2.10 each	  	  12,600.00
Anchors, new			4,320 @ $1.05 each		   4,536.00
Bolts, new 1 x 5 1/2		11 kegs @ $131.00 a keg		   1,441.00
Washers, new			1,166 @ $0.30 each		     349.80
Spikes, new 5/8 x 6		50 kegs @ $61.00		   3,050.00

Ties, new			3000 @ $26.00 each		  78,000.00
Ballast				600 tons @ $10.00 a ton		   6,000.00

Unloading rail			$2,000 per mile			   2,000.00
Unloading ties			$1.25 each			   3,750.00
Rail cleanup			$2,000 per mile			   2,000.00
Install crossties		$11.00 each			  33,000.00
Install rail			$7.32 per track foot		  38,649.60	
Install anchors			$0.35 each			   1,512.00
Surface and line		$0.47 per track foot		   2,481.60
Tighten joins			$2,000 per mile			   2,000.00

Total per mile cost						$248,085.00

Extras:

Turnouts			$3,600.00 each
Switch ties			$3,200.00 per turnout
Install turnouts		$6,500.00 each
Install switch ties		$1,580.00 per turnout
Bridge ties, 7 x 9 x 9		$34.00 each
Installing bridge ties		$28.00 each
Road Crossing materials		$420.00 per track foot
Working Crossings		$87.00 per track foot

The estimate for rehabilitating the Gateway Western's Fulton branch has some slightly different figures, as follows:
Cross ties			$21.75 each
Switch ties			$50.00 each
Tieplates			$1.50 each
Spikes				$55 a keg
Grade crossings			$25.00 per track foot
Rail #100 relay			$6 per lineal foot or $31,680 per mile
Ballast				$5 per ton
Angle bars			$9.00 per pair
Bolt assemblies			$1.00 each

Installing ties			$11.50 each
Installing switch ties		$85.00 each
Gage track			$1.80 per track foot or $9,504 per mile
Unload ballast			$1.00 per ton
Surfacing			$0.75 per track foot or $3,960 per mile
Tighten bolts			$1,000 per track mile

Flagging			$350.00 per day, 2 days per mile.
[Back to the Top of the Page]

Table showing Cubic Yards of Cut/Fill per mile.

This table, taken from Raymond's Handbook of Railroad Engineering, gives the number of cubic yards of excavation (cut or fill) per mile for a cut or fill of a given width and depth. To save space (and typing) I've only included part of the table. Raymond regards 14 feet as the minimum for embankment and 20 feet the minimum for excavation, for light traffic single track roads, to be expanded to 20 feet and 32 feet respectively for heavy traffic lines.
Depth of
fill/cut                              Road bed width
          14       16       18       20       24       26       28       32

  1     3,100    3,500    3,900    4,300    5,100    5,400    5,800    6,200    
  2     6,700    7,500    8,300    9,100   10,600   11,400   12,200   13,000
  3    10,900   12,100   13,300   14,500   16,800   18,000   19,200   20,400
  4    15,700   17,300   18,900   21,000   23,600   25,200   26,700   28,300
  6    27,100   29,500   31,800   34,200   38,900   41,300   43,600   46,000
  8    40,800   44,000   47,100   50,300   56,600   59,700   62,800   66,000
 10    56,900   60,900   64,800   68,700   76,600   80,500   84,400   88,300
 12    75,400   80,100   84,800   89,500   99,000  103,700  108,400  113,100
 15   107,500  113,400  119,300  125,100  125,100  136,900  148,800  154,600

For excavation add 3,000 cubic yards for ditching. Side slopes at 1 on 1.5,
[Back to the Top of the Page]

Tons of Steel Required per mile of line

Multiplying the weight per yard by 1.78 gives the number of short tons per mile, but it is easier to look it up in a table. 30 and 35-lb rails were common on early narrow gauge lines. Early standard gauge U. S. railroads started using rails of 55 to 70 lbs at first, then in the 1850s tended towards somewhat lighter sizes, 50, 56, and 60 lbs being popular weights. The 1870s mostly saw iron replaced by steel with only a slight tendency for rail weights to rise, but the mid-1880s the inexorable rise in the weight of rail had begun. 75 lb was common in the mid 1880s, 85 lb in the mid 1890s, and 90 to 100 lbs early 1900s. The upward march reached its peak with the 152-lb rail used by the Bessemer & Lake Erie and 155-lb rails laid by the Pennsylvania RR in the 1930s. The diesel didn't impose the concentrated loads on track that the steam locomotive did, so in the 1950s most roads settled on 113-117 lb rails as the standard. There has been some shift back to 133 to 136 lb rail for those roads handling heavy unit coal trains.
    Weight of rail                       Short tons
     in lbs./yd.                          per mile
         20                                 33.4
         25                                 44.5
         30                                 53.4
         35                                 62.3
         40                                 66.8
         45                                 80.1
         50                                 89.0
	 56                                 99.7
         60                                106.8
	 65                                115.7
         70                                124.6
         75                                133.5
         80                                142.4
         85                                151.3
         90                                160.2
        100                                178.0
        110                                195.8
        112                                199.4
	116                                206.5
	120                                213.6
	130                                231.4
        133                                236.7
        140                                249.2
	150                                267.0

[Back to the Top of the Page]

Cost of Rails

The following information has been collected from a variety of sources. Railroad histories provide some price figures for rail, while several histories of the American iron and steel industry provided additional information, and the Abstract of Historical Statistics of the United States still more.
1855	Illinois Central English iron              $38.50 - $43.50 f.o.b. Wales
1855    New Orleans Jackson & Gt. Northern iron    up to $85 a ton
1866    Steel rails                                $170 a ton
1866    Iron rails                                 $79 a ton
1872    Iron rails                                 $85 a ton
1875    Iron rails (Morley estimate)               $45.50 a ton
1875    Steel rails (U. S. Census estimate)        $68 a ton
1876    Iron rails                                 $41 a ton
1878    Steel rails                                $42 a ton
1880    Steel rails (U. S. Census)                 $67 a ton
1886    Steel rails                                $34 a ton
1890    Steel rails                                $30 a ton
1896    Steel rails                                $28 a ton
1897    Steel rails                                $14 - $18 a ton
1898    Steel rails                                $17 - $20 a ton
1899    Steel rails                                $35 a ton
1900    Steel rails                                $28 - 30 a ton
1902-13 Steel rails (U. S. Census)                 $28 a ton
1908    Steel rails (Raymond estimate)             $30 a ton
1918    Steel rails (U. S. Census)                 $56 a ton
1923-31 Steel rails (U. S. Census)                 $43 a ton
1940    Steel rails (average cost)                 $38.40 a ton
1945    Steel rails (average cost)                 $41.12 a ton
1950    Steel rails (average cost)                 $71.57 a ton
1955    Steel rails (average cost)                 $96.62 a ton
1960    Steel rails (average cost)                 $125.27 a ton
1965    Steel rails (average cost)                 $127.23 a ton
1970    Steel rails (average cost)                 $146.31 a ton
1995	Relay rail (Missouri Rail Plan 1995 Update)$276.00 a ton

[Back to the Top of the Page]

Cost of Ties

1875    Morley estimate                   $0.20 untreated
1882    Along Mississippi & Ohio rivers
         and in Western NY                under $0.25 untreated
        East Coast, near Chicago, most
         of the west                      $0.50 untreated
        Burnettizing ties cost ca 24 cents a tie
1908    Raymond estimate                  $0.50 untreated, $0.80 treated
1930s   Raymond estimate                  $1.25 treated
1940    ICC statistics                    $1.29
1945    ICC statistics                    $2.02
1950    ICC statistics                    $2.79
1955    ICC statistics                    $3.30
1960    ICC statistics                    $3.60
1965    ICC statistics                    $3.87
1970    ICC statistics                    $5.24
1995	Missouri Rail Plan Update	 $21.75 - $25.00

[Back to the Top of the Page]

[Return to Henry County Railroads Page] [Return to History Page]

[TACnet Home Page] [Henry County Library]
 
Truman Area Community Network, Inc.
Send comments to: Webmaster, mike.good@henrycolib.org
URL:http://tacnet.missouri.org/history/railroads/rrcosts.html
Last modified: Monday, 02-Jun-2008 14:07:22 CDT