The Association of American Railroads reported that crude oil last year made up 0.8 percent of all rail shipments, up 0.2 percent compared to the previous year.
"U.S. Class I railroads originated a record 233,811 carloads of crude oil in 2012, up 256 percent from the 65,751 carloads of crude oil originated in 2011," the group said.
Some refinery companies in the United States have turned to rail to deliver crude oil because of a lack of pipeline infrastructure. U.S. oil production is at a historic high in part because of new technologies used to extract oil and natural gas from shale deposits.
Pipeline company Kinder Morgan on Thursday announced plans to build a crude oil rail project for the Houston area. The project would allow partner company Mercuria Energy Trading to receive crude oil from the Bakken shale area in the northern U.S. Plains and from western Canada.
Kinder Morgan Terminals President John Schlosser said the project is the first of its kind in the United States.
"It will provide U.S. and Canadian producers much needed market access and optionality to deliver their crude oil production," he said in a statement.