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

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,302
SoCal
Our political system having been entirely different from the start, checks and balances are a disaster for the efficiency of large scale projects. Passing Internal improvements has always been a royal pain in this country at the federal level and at the state level, the improvements both aren't as sweeping and require too much approval. Much of the development of the US was passed through Congress cause the opposition quit to found their own country. This included the authorization to build the transcontinental railroad. People also attack these sort of projects as "pork" and people don't want to fund things that don't benefit their own constituents, everyone drags everyone else down.
The Interstate Highway System was passed in the 1950s when the US was united. You're talking about the 1860s legislation, though.

Also, it's quite interesting that a lot of people dislike Congress in general but like their own Congressperson. It's as if they think that everyone other than their own Congressperson is the problem with Congress!
 

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,546
Amelia, Virginia, USA
The problem is cost. Most people would rather fly cheaper in a sardine can then pay for the comfort of rail travel.
I’ve traveled from Virginia to Boston many times, by rail, plane, and car. Rail is the most pleasant, though it takes the same time as driving, or about 10 hours. Rail is relaxing, I can read or sleep. However, someone needs to pick you up, you can’t just rent a car. The bathrooms turn disgusting very quickly. Amtrak somehow manages to lose money on the food service, and no wonder. It’s almost as disgusting as the bathrooms. Delays are frequent, as the tracks are owned be freight rail, and freight takes priority. It also costs about the same as flying, with none of the convenience.
So when I go there, it’s a choice of trade offs.
Same time as driving, yet no car when I get there.
Same cost as flying, but takes twice as long. Flying I have no car, but can easily rent.
Driving is cheapest, I have my car. but tiring. Last two times I flew and rented a car.
 
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botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,546
Amelia, Virginia, USA
To add to my post, the distance is around 550 freedom units or about 900km.
For those in Europe who travel a similar distance, what are the choices and trade offs?
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,656
San Diego
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.

Well, first and foremost would be if the major points of interest and population centers were a lot closer together.

Europe enjoys the benefit of having been developed in the age of walking and horse drawn wagons... so cities are much closer and high speed rail a pretty quick way of getting around.
But even a bullet train from LA to New York would still be a 13 hour trip.
From LA to San Francisco would be 2 hours.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,568
Las Vegas, NV USA
Personally I prefer rail to driving or flying. However I can only enjoy this in a few parts of the US. Las Vegas has an overpriced elevated system along the busiest part of the "strip" which I rarely use. I'd rather walk unless it's raining which doesn't happen much in the desert. Driving in Vegas is a dangerous sport with mostly tourist often drinking around the clock. Cops are tough on DUI but out of state drivers often get a.break.There was a passenger rail link between Vegas and Los Angeles but it shut down years ago. There have been plans to build a high speed link but they remain just plans.

I now believe it's too late for passenger rail in the US. Self-Driving Cars (SDCs) will likely eclipse any high speed rail projects There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for SDCs in the auto industry and Nevada was one of the first states to allow them on the roads. But so far I haven't seen many.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,828
So when I go there, it’s a choice of trade offs.
Same time as driving, yet no car when I get there.
Same cost as flying, but takes twice as long. Flying I have no car, but can easily rent.
Driving is cheapest, I have my car. but tiring. Last two times I flew and rented a car.
Seems to me that it's all about interconnected systems. Not having a car when you get there is a hassle if the public transport system where you arrive isn't cheap, timely and well developed. If it is, you don't need a car.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,234
Sydney
there are three type of rail
freight .....very profitable
commuting ...very profitable
inter cities ..... distance shorter than 500 km are time efficient compared to air , rail stations are usually more accessible than airport , air security is a pain
long distance are not worth it , even if they are quite enjoyable for anyone not in hurry