What changes in US history or culture are necessary to make rail travel as popular as in Eastern Europe?

Nov 2014
335
ph
#1
What are the changes necessary in US history after the 19th century to make rail ridership in the US per capita as high as say, Russia, Poland, or Spain? I know that low population density for the US has often been cited as a reason, but this does not explain low rail ridership for Amtrak east of the Mississippi, where the population density is relatively high, and where population density resembles Russia East of Urals, or countries like Spain, Poland, and the Balkans, which also have relatively low population densities compared to Western Europe, but have significantly higher rail ridership per capita compared to the Eastern part of the US.
 
Oct 2014
1,227
California
#2
Trains are fun to ride... but for daily travel needs they do not go where we need to go... we all don't live and work next to a train track. Henry Ford created the affordable automobile allowing more people the freedom to live and work almost anywhere.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,642
Dispargum
#3
What are the changes necessary in US history after the 19th century to make rail ridership in the US per capita as high as say, Russia, Poland, or Spain?
1. Make the US a smaller country so that points are closer together.
2. Don't give the US any domestic oil sources
3. Don't invent the car or the airplane
4. Give the US a social and political philosophy so that we love paying high taxes and having the government subsidize unprofitable industries like railroads
5. Don't allow the development of suburbs - keep all of the people living in cities so that they all know how to ride public transportation

If you could implement all of these changes we wouldn't be the USA any longer. We'd be a completely different country.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,460
Eastern PA
#4
There are two types of train travel; long distance and daily travel. Long distance train travel has been permanently supplanted by air travel for virtually everyone and is dead and buried barring a catastrophe of some sort.

Daily travel has two requirements: jobs are located along the rail corridor and there must be an extensive public transportation system around each train station that will transport passengers on a timely and affordable basis within a few blocks of their jobs.
 
Jan 2010
4,364
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#5
1. Make the US a smaller country so that points are closer together.
2. Don't give the US any domestic oil sources
3. Don't invent the car or the airplane
4. Give the US a social and political philosophy so that we love paying high taxes and having the government subsidize unprofitable industries like railroads
5. Don't allow the development of suburbs - keep all of the people living in cities so that they all know how to ride public transportation

If you could implement all of these changes we wouldn't be the USA any longer. We'd be a completely different country.
I think 1 and 3 would do it. Maybe just 3.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,699
SoCal
#6
1. Make the US a smaller country so that points are closer together.
2. Don't give the US any domestic oil sources
3. Don't invent the car or the airplane
4. Give the US a social and political philosophy so that we love paying high taxes and having the government subsidize unprofitable industries like railroads
5. Don't allow the development of suburbs - keep all of the people living in cities so that they all know how to ride public transportation

If you could implement all of these changes we wouldn't be the USA any longer. We'd be a completely different country.
Railroads are unprofitable?

Also, I thought that a larger country ironically creates more of a need for railroads, no?
 
Likes: duncanness
May 2017
136
Monterrey
#7
Railroads are unprofitable?

Also, I thought that a larger country ironically creates more of a need for railroads, no?
Transporting goods was always the main driving factor behind railroads. Metros etc are extremely popular for public transport, but for longer distance the metal beasts offer no advantages over cars or airplanes.

I believe most waterways in USA are relatively underdeveloped when compared to Europe, which might play a role too(more transport hubs).
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,699
SoCal
#8
Transporting goods was always the main driving factor behind railroads. Metros etc are extremely popular for public transport, but for longer distance the metal beasts offer no advantages over cars or airplanes.

I believe most waterways in USA are relatively underdeveloped when compared to Europe, which might play a role too(more transport hubs).
You might be right, but the interesting thing is that I still see railroads carrying goods within my area (as in, within several tens of miles from my area). Thus, it looks like railroads haven't completely fallen out of use in regards to this--at least not here in southern California.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,642
Dispargum
#9
Railroads are unprofitable?

Also, I thought that a larger country ironically creates more of a need for railroads, no?
Railroads were mostly unprofitable in the key decades 1950-1990 that coincided with the growth of suburbs and the interstate highways. With the rise of free trade in the last 25 years or so, railroads have made a comeback hauling freight. They have not recovered the passenger market that they lost to cars and airplanes.

In the US, railroads are only slightly cheaper than long-haul trucks. Trucks are more convenient since they only have to be loaded at the factory and unloaded at the destination. If you're shipping by train, you might have to load your cargo onto a truck at the factory, then transfer the cargo to a train, then transfer the cargo back onto a truck, before unloading the truck again at the final destination. All of that extra loading and unloading makes trains inconvenient. Also, if you own the trucks, the cargo moves when you want it to move. If you don't own the railroad, the cargo moves when the railroad decides to move it. Trucks are more compatible with the rise of zero-inventory manufacturing and retailing.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
126
maine
#10
You might be right, but the interesting thing is that I still see railroads carrying goods within my area (as in, within several tens of miles from my area). Thus, it looks like railroads haven't completely fallen out of use in regards to this--at least not here in southern California.
Nor here in Maine. In fact, rail service has been increasing.
 
Likes: Futurist

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