Source: Association of American Railroads/FreightRailWorks.org:
What is it with the cost of living these days? Prices for many consumer goods have doubled or even tripled. But thanks largely to today’s balanced regulatory environment, rail rates have remained relatively stable. In fact, rail rates are up just 25 percent since 1981 when the industry was partially deregulated. So while Americans are seeing the cost of things they use every day–like bread, gasoline and bananas–strain their wallets, freight rail keeps offering the best ground transportation deal around.
*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, AAR
Average revenue per ton mile, data are not adjusted for inflation
Here's another infographic via AAR/FreightRailWorks.org:
America has the most affordable freight railroads in the world, saving American businesses and consumers billions of dollars each year. Today, the average rail shipper can ship nearly twice as much freight for about the same price it paid nearly 30 years ago. Thanks in part to today’s reasonable regulatory structure, freight rail’s transportation rates help American business stay competitive in the global marketplace.
Source: International railroads and rail associations, World Bank
Data adjusted for purchasing power parity and based on 2006-2010 averages. Index: U.S.=100