Why can't the US build basic rail?

Nov 2014
248
ph
#1
Not even speed rail, just a reliable garden variety electrified rail service with a minimum average speed of 65mph at least, I mean would could have multiple trips a day between cities like Seattle and Portland, or Atlanta and Raleigh, or Chicago and St. Louis, this is a lot cheaper than high speed rail, and should be easier to build.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,485
Dispargum
#2
It's only cheaper if people actually ride these trains. Americans prefer to drive their cars or to ride airplanes. In the past there were trains operating between the cities you mention and other cities, too. These trains no longer operate because no one was riding them. Railroad ridership really fell off once the interstate highways were built circa 1960.

At airports there are car rental agencies so that you can move around in your destination city. I've never seen a car rental agency at a train station.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,188
Eastern PA
#3
Prior to WWII, bus and rail were primary transportation options. There were numerous changes in the two decades afterwards that rapidly diminished the number of intercity riders on these carriers. Less riders resulted in reduced services which led to even fewer riders and by the 1970's, commuter rail was virtually the only remaining train service in the nation.

After the war, suburbs became the preferred residential option for city dwellers. City residents did not require cars because they were able to rely on intra/inter city transportation services. A huge number of people actually were able to walk to work! Suburbanites needed cars, which proved less expensive and more convenient to transport families beyond the immediate location.. Then the interstate highway system was developed for both commercial and military transportation justifications. Additionally, there was a corresponding decrease intra city ridership, which started the death spiral for that service across the nation. At the same time, air travel became much less expensive and it offers a vastly quicker travel option compared to rail.

By the 70's passenger rail was a memory. At the same time, manufacturing implemented "just in time" delivery practices which greatly diminished rail freight tonnage. Then the railroads began to remove track and sell the right of ways. This step created the insurmountable hurdle to reinstating rail traffic, the prohibitive cost of reacquiring rail routes. Add in the lack of extensive public transportation at rail destinations, and passenger rail does not have a light at the end of the tunnel. (See what I did there!)
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,381
Iowa USA
#4
By the 70's passenger rail was a memory. At the same time, manufacturing implemented "just in time" delivery practices which greatly diminished rail freight tonnage. Then the railroads began to remove track and sell the right of ways. This step created the insurmountable hurdle to reinstating rail traffic, the prohibitive cost of reacquiring rail routes. Add in the lack of extensive public transportation at rail destinations, and passenger rail does not have a light at the end of the tunnel. (See what I did there!)
Shipping by air freight rather than rail was a result of deregulation of air carriers. The earliest part of that process was in the late 1970s, so the J.I.T. manufacturing rules referred to by our contributor above hit industry a bit later than he implies. Agree with the impact on average weight and value of shipments in the supply chain.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,188
Eastern PA
#6
Shipping by air freight rather than rail was a result of deregulation of air carriers. The earliest part of that process was in the late 1970s, so the J.I.T. manufacturing rules referred to by our contributor above hit industry a bit later than he implies. Agree with the impact on average weight and value of shipments in the supply chain.
JIT started in the automotive industry and was exclusively truck. Air freight, even today, is prohibitively expensive for large and/or heavy components.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,381
Iowa USA
#7
JIT started in the automotive industry and was exclusively truck. Air freight, even today, is prohibitively expensive for large and/or heavy components.
send me a PM please so I can read more about Detroit, thanks. Wasn't the industry close to my experience. Makes sense that auto would be the most important civilian industry for rail freight.
 
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Iraq Bruin

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
4,845
DC
#8
Amtrack is decent for that NYC to DC corridor... 'Decent'. LOL.
I actually prefer that rail route to Penn Station over flying from DC to the hellish NY-Airports. (and the traffic to lower Manhattan from said Airport)
---
I had a discussion with my in-laws the other day about driving from DC Suburbs to downtown K-street , the time and parking cost of driving into the city mean I would have to leave home even earlier than my normal. The whole irony of the situation is that I prefer the "decent/Back to good" WMATA (metro) over driving.
 
Likes: Niobe
Jul 2016
974
Dengie Peninsula
#9
The US of A is deciding whether it wants to build high speed railtracks. Currently it is in an impasse as your beloved President thinks it might be a bit pricey to build trains which run about 225kph, as opposed to the new Chinese trains which run at 400 kph.. With the price of Airlines, trains might seem dearer but, they deliver from city centre to city centre! Add the the times spent to travel from airport to airport and the difference will be negligable. Just build the lines!
 

Iraq Bruin

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
4,845
DC
#10
The US of A is deciding whether it wants to build high speed railtracks. Currently it is in an impasse as your beloved President thinks it might be a bit pricey to build trains which run about 225kph, as opposed to the new Chinese trains which run at 400 kph.. With the price of Airlines, trains might seem dearer but, they deliver from city centre to city centre! Add the the times spent to travel from airport to airport and the difference will be negligable. Just build the lines!
The problem with said projects is they usually end up a nightmare in the USA, between:

1-Those who have an interest to lobby against them. (Oil, Auto, Environmentalists, Local residents..etc)
2-Those who end up inflating the building and maintenance costs. (UNIONS)
3-Those who lead to post-completion performance issues due to lazy staffing (UNIONS)
4-People who use all of the above to squabble over the funding
A-Cutters because they hate the projects, the unions, and are in cahoots with lobbies.
B-Adders who believe throwing money is a solution and having these projects as "job programs" for otherwise unemployable and unfire-able people.

5-the delays of implementation, the guaranteed discovery of fatal mistakes in the construction that need to be fixed (further delay).
6-The Gender/Racial quota complaints in hiring individuals and/or companies in building or running.

By the time anything is done, those who wanted it would be either dead or retired (or close enough).
 

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