Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > American History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

American History American History Forum - United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 11th, 2012, 02:31 PM   #11

Rongo's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Dec 2011
From: Ohio
Posts: 5,685

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoryOMore View Post
Not sure how it's working now, but when the economy was booming ten years ago Amtrak had scheduling problems because it owns just a small portion of the track it runs on (e.g., in the Washington-Boston corridor) and in places where it runs on freight company track the freight trains took precedence, so a passenger train might sit on a siding for a while until the freight train came through.
Yes, I've heard that too, in other areas of the country as well. Definitely a big disadvantage to passenger rail travel.
Rongo is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 11th, 2012, 02:51 PM   #12

bartieboy's Avatar
.
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: The Netherlands
Posts: 6,565
Blog Entries: 5

So what were the reasons for the decline of the passanger trains?
bartieboy is offline  
Old December 11th, 2012, 02:57 PM   #13

astafjevs's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Bristol, England
Posts: 766

Aeroplanes and automobiles, I would guess.
astafjevs is offline  
Old December 11th, 2012, 06:07 PM   #14

RoryOMore's Avatar
Foremost Authority
 
Joined: Mar 2012
From: Northern Virginia
Posts: 2,907

Quote:
Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
So what were the reasons for the decline of the passanger trains?
Population density is very low in most places. The distance from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, or Chicago to St Louis is about the same as the distance from Amsterdam to Paris or Frankfurt, but there's no major population centers between the American cities.
RoryOMore is offline  
Old December 11th, 2012, 06:27 PM   #15

skizzerflake's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Mar 2010
From: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 2,138

Quote:
Originally Posted by astafjevs View Post
Aeroplanes and automobiles, I would guess.
And distance. Trains got squeezed out for long trips because planes are so much faster while prices are comparable. In the northeast corridor, however, distances are comparatively short and that makes trains work better. The congestion of airports and their relative distance from city centers makes a train a good choice for a trip such as Baltimore - New York where trains arrive in the city center and save the cost and time of getting out of an airport.

As a result, Amtrak does fairly well around here and would do better if our routes were not subsidizing nearly empty trains on long runs out west where the distance and trip time get too long.

Around here, our main train station has trains arriving and departing every few minutes, MARC trains to and from DC get crowded to the point of having people standing in the aisles and Amtrak trains to Philadelphia and New York are busy 7 days per week.

The hardest thing is getting $$ for improvements. Trains, stations and rails all need improvements that would help speed and on-time performance. In Baltimore there are 3 large, long train tunnels that run out of the city center. Two are used to capacity by CSX and one by Amtrak/MARC. The Amtrak tunnel (to DC) was built in the Civil War era out of solid granite, the others a century ago, and have been in daily use since then. One freight tunnel was the site of a derailment and fire that burned for a week at temps of up to 2700 degrees, but was back in operation a month later. There's been years of discussions about replacing these tunnels and using them for transit, but we'd need billions to do it.
skizzerflake is offline  
Old December 12th, 2012, 03:09 AM   #16

Koko the Monkey's Avatar
Academician
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 99

It's hard to say that trains ever really died in America, because they didn't. Amtrak is extremely overbooked along the Northeast Corridor, something I don't think most Americans outside of the region realize. It's funny for Northeasterners to go to Europe and try to buy train tickets in advance because we're so used to doing so in America. The idea that you can walk up to a counter in Penn Station, NY and buy a ticket to Penn Station, Baltimore is crazy (if there are ticket left, they're extremely expensive). I remember taking an Amtrak train on a Sunday morning last summer from Baltimore to DC (commuter trains don't run on the weekends), and it was totally filled. You certainly don't see that anywhere in the world.

It's certainly died in the formerly densely populated Rust Belt, but that's more because cities like Buffalo, Detroit, Gary, ect. all lost 50% of their populations, if not more. But on the West Coast, the car culture is slowly dying, and trains between Seattle and San Diego I've read are suffering from the same overbooking problems that the Northeast Corridor has (hence why the California high speed rail is being built).

Also, unlike elsewhere in the world, America has a very good busing infrastructure. It always had Greyhound, but in the last few years, new express bus companies (some owned by Greyhound) have emerged and become extremely successful. For instance, you can take a Bolt Bus from NYC, DC, Boston, or Philly for like $10-15, or even to some smaller cities like Greenbelt (more of a suburb), Newark and Baltimore. It's now on the West Coast too. And remember that the distances between these cities are far greater than those in Europe, while these buses are also much cheaper than any any train you'll ever find.
Koko the Monkey is offline  
Old December 12th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #17

Epix's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 630

Train travel can get expensive. A plane will get you there faster and no need to sleep all night in your seat. You could rent a room on the train to sleep but that is very expensive. Bus travel is also competitive with train travel. There are plenty of bus companies in the US which take you to towns with no train service. Problem is to sleep since you must sleep in your seat.
Epix is offline  
Old December 15th, 2012, 02:06 AM   #18

caldrail's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,896

Quote:
Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
I was thinking, we probably all know about the Western films like ''once upon a time in the west'' where the railway and locomotives play a central part.

But nowadays I rarely hear anything about the American railway lines.
So did something happen? Or am I just saying nonsense because I have never been to the US?
This is a matter of interest to me as something of a life long railway fan. Unlike europe, railways in America are associated with frontier mentality as such infrastructure was very much part of opening the interior of the continent and this mindset survives

Also, the modern american railway is very freight orientated, a system that sometimes works very profitably, but note that passenger movement by rail has lost appeal to the America. Amtrak is always a lower priority in train movements on rails belonging to other companies and the desire to create new high speed passenger lines is not receiving the support that foreign countries gives such projects. That also points to a lack of dynamism in rail investment and quite possibly a common view that railroads are merely channels of freight run by hairy chested smokers that belong to the Jurassic era. I don't share that view of course, though I have to accept that in America the railroads are a preserve of frontier mentality, which is however being eroded by the realities of economic competition and opportunity (for the better, in many cases)
caldrail is offline  
Old December 15th, 2012, 03:04 AM   #19

infestør's Avatar
Surprise pølse!
 
Joined: Jan 2012
From: Ẍ
Posts: 3,831
Blog Entries: 3

the best railway system in the world they have -as far as i can assess- is in japan. they have the express trunk lines and then the slower local trains to disperse the passengers. shinkansen (nozomi service) is superior to the planes imho (in medium distances, not -say- from los angeles to new york). you needn't check in and the thing travels at 300 kph...and really really on time.
maybe the us can model a new network after this.
infestør is offline  
Old December 15th, 2012, 08:25 PM   #20

skizzerflake's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Mar 2010
From: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 2,138

Quote:
Originally Posted by Epix View Post
Train travel can get expensive. A plane will get you there faster and no need to sleep all night in your seat. You could rent a room on the train to sleep but that is very expensive. Bus travel is also competitive with train travel. There are plenty of bus companies in the US which take you to towns with no train service. Problem is to sleep since you must sleep in your seat.
That's why it's best suited to relatively short distances and crowded areas. You probably won't need to sleep between Philadelphia and New York.
skizzerflake is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > American History

Tags
american, railways


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
South American Civilizations compared with North American one? Pacific_Victory American History 8 July 31st, 2014 05:52 PM
African American contributions to American Music etamaze Art and Cultural History 11 May 9th, 2014 08:33 AM
The Radicalism of the American Revolution & The Creation of the American Republic CloakedMistborn American History 29 August 30th, 2011 12:37 PM
When did the US become... well.. American? Isoroku295 American History 35 March 5th, 2011 09:44 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.