Why can't the US build basic rail?

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
33,154
T'Republic of Yorkshire
One other advantage of rail travel, from a business point of view is that you can spend the travel time working - you can easily whip out your laptop, whang it on the table and type away, or make phone calls. You can't realistically do either on a short haul flight, and while driving, you can really only make phone calls unless you;re prepared to pull over.

Of course, it's a lot easier if you have a reliable wifi or mobile connection. Both are sporadic on UK mainline trains, worse on local services. Never had a problem in Japan, even underground. I have yet to fly a short haul service that has wifi.

I did once leave my phone on by accident during a long haul flight without switching it to flight mode. It was amusing checking it when I landed, I had text messages on it from various mobile networks saying "Welcome to Germany", "Welcome to Poland", "Welcome to Ukrain", "Welcome to Russia" etc...
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,586
Eastern PA
I did once leave my phone on by accident during a long haul flight without switching it to flight mode. It was amusing checking it when I landed, I had text messages on it from various mobile networks saying "Welcome to Germany", "Welcome to Poland", "Welcome to Ukrain", "Welcome to Russia" etc...
I'm quite sure that was a costly amusement.
 
Jun 2013
481
Connecticut
I wish, no one loves trains and avoids driving (for various motivations) like me, we pay 3 times for our Metro (Local Taxes, Federal Taxes, and fares) yet it gets worse despite increased funding and fare-hikes, station managers do not really care and seem bothered when people ask them questions, maintenance people forged reports and only few got fired ( and this is their LOVELY union response), ..etc.

People KNOW these things will happen, it creates a big dent in any potential support.
When i first read your post I thought you were talking about the MARC system. Then I realized you were talking about the Washington Metro.
The original post was concerned with electrified surface rail passenger rail.
The Metro you bring up falls more in the realm of commuter rapid transit which is more "local", e.g. NYC subway, Boston subway, PATH light rail from NJ to NYC, SEPTA (Phila.) "el" and trolleys, etc.
Yes, yes, yes there's also plenty to complain about with the NYC subway. LOL.
 
Jun 2013
481
Connecticut
Silly question - it has.
I think you're right. In post #28 I showed how such rail is alive and well in just the NYC metropolitan area.
If you go north there's the Boston area system; south is the Philadelphia system and further south is the Baltimore-Washington, DC system of commuter electrified heavy rail. Each WORK WEEK these systems carry almost 1.5 million people. So yes I think rail is alive and doing a fairly good job for the massiveness of lines and people served from Boston to VA, from the Jersey shore to SE PA.

An there's plenty to complain about. We pay more and more but demand immediate service, not 5 minutes early; not 3 minutes late; immaculate cars and restrooms; no trespassing on the rail lines to cause disruption; no weather problems with electric lines, rails, cars, etc.

Allt the while the systems mentioned in this post and the other are moving 2.4 million plus people a work week.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,383
San Antonio, Tx
I don't quite get why the ownership - or not- of the rail track is an important issue in this. If a private company is contracted to run the trains only, it has no liability or cost of keeping the actual track maintained, that is theoretically done for it. In practice, of course, it may be that the track owner, being at one remove from the provision of service to the customer, may be a bit of a laggard in ensuring the track is functional, but surely they have to pay penalties for any failures?

The mandatory investments and such that come with rail contracts are a feature of British railways too. In the case of Virgin, they had to do many things, above all pay hundreds of millions to the government, for running the East Coast Main Line (Scotland to London) route. They found they couldn't do it and withdrew. At the bottom of all this, though, is the cost of running the railways; it needs billions of pounds of subsidy, at least in Europe, and I would like to know why.

If, in the USA, the train companies could run at a profit, but there are all sorts of costly impositions by government, you can blame government for that.
Rail service in the US has become mostly a freight service. Passenger service in the US (except on the east coast) has mostly disappeared except for a few long lines.
 

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