Why can't the US build basic rail?

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
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!
1) Most Americans don’t live in “city centers”; they live in the “burbs”, so getting from the center city to where they live is an additional layer of access; this is slowly changing; 2) Long distance rail travel in this country can be very interesting, but it is also quite slow (real slow), so if you have a lot of time on your hands and don’t mind if freight gets a higher priority than you, have at it; 3) if you’re, for example, in my city and need to get to, say, LA, there are (very few) rail connections, but the better bet is to put up with the enormous hassle of air travel and just bite the bullet;

On the East Coast you find high population densities which makes rail travel a viable and economic option, especially in the Boston-NYC-WashingonDC corridor.

When I was a young man, my family would go to the Houston airport to pick up my Dad (traveling from NYC to Houston) from Hobby Airport. Before going there, we would all “get dressed up” in our Sunday best. I can’t stop laughing at the thought of what happened to people “dressing up” to fly. It was a sweeter but more limited clientele that the airlines served at the time, before the advent of “discount” airlines.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
See my
Have we got any US citizens on here to tell us why the US does not improve it's rail infrastructure?
See my contribution. The “bottom line” is that with a few exceptions, there is no actual need for the US to upgrade its rail infrastructure. Who would it serve? I can’t speak for those who live in the “Northeast Corridor”, but further west, we use cars and rarely think of rail service.
 
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royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
The problem with trying to push something like this through in the U.S. is that all the public dollars are converted into a slush-fund by liberal politicians, which dole out huge sums to companies formed by their cronies for the express purpose, which companies pay out huge bonuses to their "management" and then fold.
This was rather unnecessary...
 
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Jun 2017
2,969
Connecticut
We can practically speaking. The way our geographically based representative government works though means that to get something passed you need to wheel and deal everyone to get track down. The unique issue with a project like this is that politicans can get creative with their demands, they can ask for the route to go through their town/benefit their town, construction projects aren't like programs where you just give people the money you're contracting and subcontracting people to do work and that's the biggest flaw of government, the private sector wants to take advantage whenever a contract is available and if private businesses have friends in government they can. It's also unique from other construction projects in that it isn't at a set location but is spread out meaning these problems multiply the larger the railroad is. This means you're going to have to make concessions to politicians that don't actually make sense either having the train pass through their neighborhood so they can say it benefited their district, give a contract to a local business etc etc. By the time the project gets through it will become so inefficent people will complain and then it will get tabled and the cycle will repeat. But on paper of course we could do it.

This isn't just a modern issue. In the 19th century internal improvement bills on the federal level ran into lots of problems even in terms of getting passed(with us the problems tend to come after that). The Kansas Nebraska Act actually was passed under the pretext of a railroad route which was a secondary battle that got overshadowed by the obvious larger conflict going on. When the South seceded and the Civil War happened Lincoln had the opportunity to pass a massive internal improvements program that rivalled the New Deal because his opponents had basically rage quit from the political system, part of this program was approval of a transcontinental railroad. Also half the country wasn't states just empty so didn't have to go through this same hassle. Americans are also addicted to cars today so the same public will to improve transportation just isn't there and honestly Uber has appeased the people like myself who need alternatives. The transcontinental railroad was also necessary to bridge the gap between what was geographically speaking two countries under the same flag and to make the land in between available for settlement. Not to say getting from point A to point B faster or getting cars off the road in big cities isn't a purpose without merit but it's not a need that has the same urgency. People might(might) agree trains would be superior to the current reality but at the end of the day there are alternatives such as driving and air travel that are an inconvenience but not quite enough of one to light that fire under people. Back in the 19th century, the alternative was going on a very very very very long walk. That being said if airlines are mean enough to their customers for a long enough period anything's possible I guess.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
I mean, go to the Florida Keys. There still are remainders of Flagler's East Coast Railway. If he could do it in 1912, basically in the ocean, why can't we just build a train system in 2019?
If you had a railroad destroyed by a hurricane, would you rebuild it? Get real...
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
I agree with almost everything you say there. USA is about 3000 miles E-W and roughly 1000 mile N-S, around 3 million square miles, excluding Alaska. Flying seems the speediest and most convenient option to get between cities. That was why I was questioning a poster's assertion that new railways would "walk all over the airlines". Even in Europe railways can't make a profit.
Sorry about the 2000 mile thing, but while I have only used long distance trains in Europe, this will probably never fly (lol) in the US. There are some interesting long distance lines in the US but they aren’t very convenient. Given the automobile ownership in this country and given a huge Interstate Highway System, it’s generally going to be an airplane or the Interstate, except in the Boston-NYC-Washington corridor.

I’m a believer in “metro rail” within cities, but that’s not the focus of this discussion. I live in Texas, so the distances are great. Driving up through Amarillo and crossing the Texas-Oklahoma border, by the time I get there, I’m already about halfway to Canada. Traveling West to East from El Paso to Beaumont on the Louisiana border, it is actually shorter to Los Angeles than the distance to Beaumont - groan!
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
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!)
Most major cities, like NYC, Wash SC, Boston, etc, run train lines from area suburbs to the city center. Tens of millions of commuters every day take those trains.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
Arkteia, I may need you for support! Train travelling is not for the few, it is for the masses. Once installed, a high speed train service will walk all over Airlines as they do not get near the centre of a City, nor need some sort of security check. And the overall cost is cheaper and safer. Keep an eye on who objects to a high speed rail link, it may be air related!
How much will it cost? As accurate as you can be.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,644
San Antonio, Tx
We have stated those reasons in the beginning of the thread.
LOL

Maybe there's something called railophobia.;)
Not really. Long distance passenger rail travel in the US is very slow and the distances are quite long. If you’ve got the time to go from New York to LA, have at it, but most people don’t. Pretty much the Interstate Highway System - built over a period of many decades pretty much doomed passenger rail in this country, along, of course, with the domestic airlines. Let’s face it, Malaysia is small and compact; the US is not small and compact.