Typical benefit-cost analyses neglect many of the external costs of freight transportation. Moving toward a balanced, sustainable transport system requires a full accounting of the lifecycle costs of building, using, and maintaining highways and railroads to move freight.

OnTrackNorthAmerica conceived and funded a next-generation research project that gathered the best available data for seventeen cost metrics. We present this unique data assemblage as a catalyst for further refinements and expansion to inform infrastructure investments. At this critical moment, we must generate multidimensional returns to the business community, economy, environment, and residential quality of life. Our tool can be used by infrastructure planners, government officials, private businesses, and citizens to illuminate the full lifecycle costs of infrastructure and inform future investment. We sincerely appreciate the University of Tennessee’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering for implementing the global search and aggregation of the available data.

Try our tool below to compare the internal and external cost of shipping freight by highway and rail. Enter the distance and weight of your shipment, and it will calculate the lifecycle cost across these 17 metrics.

Land Freight Lifecycle Impact Calculator

It takes 2 steps to view the impact of a freight shipment:


1) Enter total distance traveled between the origin and destination.

2) Enter the total amount of freight in:


Results Statement:

Data Details

View all metrics or uncheck two boxes to view a single category

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...