From an article on Seeking Alpha I found this particular bit of information remarkable:
According to the Association of American Railroads, U.S. freight railroads averaged 484 ton-miles per gallon in 2010, a 106% improvement over the industry average of 235 ton-miles per gallon in 1980.
106% more efficient in 30 years. That’s outstanding! If only we could capture that kind of development in automobiles.