Why can't the US build basic rail?

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,983
San Antonio, Tx
what about high speed rail in United States, it seems China despite having smaller per capita income than US has the largest network of high speed rail in the world.
Per capita income has absolutely nothing to do with it. In the US, only about 10% of thr population doesn’t own cars of trucks. West of the Mississippi, few train riders exist.
 
Sep 2012
942
Prague, Czech Republic
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.
I only read that first few pages of this thread, so apologies if I'm repeating something that has already been said. I was struck by how odd the beginning of this thread was. Everyone appears to take the OP at face value and set out to explain the economic and social reasons why there aren't several daily trains between Chicago and St Louis, Seattle and Portland, Raleigh and Atlanta.

But there are several train services a day between Seattle and Portland and Chicago and St Louis
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,983
San Antonio, Tx
By rail I thought it was implied, even obvious, that I meant passenger rail and not freight rail. I've also provided the source for the following:
Low population densities are often cited as the reason why high-speed rail would never work in the United States. While it’s true that typical American metropolitan areas sprawl far and wide, many larger cities are still relatively dense, and a surprising number of our states are as dense as some European nations. California, for example, has just over 90 people per square kilometer (234 per square mile), while Spain has 88 people per square kilometer (231 per square mile). Given the success of Spain’s rail system, it stands to reason that California would be fertile ground for high-speed rail.

Also, WikiLeaks did reveal that US airlines received federal subsidies of $155 billion from 1919 to 1998, not sure how to convert that to modern amount considering we're dealing with multiple years. But definitely well above $155 billion if converted to modern amount: http://3rxg9qea18zhtl6s2u8jammft-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/1998-crs-study.pdf
AMTRACK received about $1.4 billion in subsidies in 2014, the last figures I have.

I would be very curious to know what subsidies the “airlines” received in 1919.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,983
San Antonio, Tx
This goes back to my prior question then. How do you know Americans won't use rail once it becomes available to do so? Under what methodology was this conclusion reached? When the interstate highway was built, how did they know there was a demand for it? Or did they not create the demand using the media like the video I showed above? Or did they just assume there's a demand and went for it, and simply got lucky that they were correct?
As far as I know, the Interstate Highway System was begun under President Eisenhower who had had some knowledge of the German Autobahn. FDR had built a highway that also mimicked the autobahn but at a much less ambitious scale.

Our cities are much less dense than many cities in Europe and our distances between cities are greater as well. When the Interstate Highway System (IHS) was started there were few roads that connected the country in an East-West direction and those roads were not limited access highways as the IHS is. Today, of course, the entire country is connected North-South and East West.

The US already had the biggest rail freight network in the world when passengers began abandoning this network in favor of private automobiles. This was likely also a function of tremendous pentup demand that took off in the postwar period - “See the USA in your Chevrolet” (Dinah Shore). The rail network didn’t evaporate in the meantime; it just became a mostly freight system which I’m sure the train companies much prefer.

The US (and Canada) had no war damage and so were well positioned post war to supply much of the world with its manufactured goods. What this means is that there was no post-war depression following WW2. Industry was working full tilt to supply the veterans returning from the war and its Allies who were digging their way out of the rubble. Americans went out and bought cars to give themselves the mobility that no fixed rail can ever impart. The Marshall Plan was a major driver in Europe’s recovery from the war and it kept US industry supplying goods to Europe while also supplying the local economy.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,983
San Antonio, Tx
What is the reason for not being true?
Well, we were discussing rail transport compared to highway transport and the relative convenience of each in terms of Europe ridership and American ridership. Passenger trains in the US are the past, not the future, from a time when Americans did not own nearly as many cars as they do now on a per capita basis.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
779
San Antonio
Simple answer---we don't want it.

San Antonio is well placed for Amtrak riding--from here I can take a train to visit my brother in Seattle, via LA. I can also take the train to Chicago to see my kids. And then take the train from Chicago to Seattle. Sounds like fun.

I took the train from Chicago to Vegas once. It was nice but took 44 hours, long time. I ate the cost of my return ticket and flew home. The way Amtrak works it's nice if you want to take a train ride and enjoy the scenery and such. But if you just want to get somewhere fly. Or drive.