View Single Post
Old Posted Jan 14, 2022, 4:58 AM
electricron's Avatar
electricron electricron is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Granbury, Texas
Posts: 3,424

Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
Definitely, there needs to be construction of new passenger railway corridors to really make a difference and you provided a list of examples. There needs to be more of this. Yet despite the problems, passenger rail has been on the upswing anyways. Why? Increasing highway and urban congestion and a generational change in which younger people have a lower desire for the expense of car ownership and car dependency in general.

This is still not contrary to what I said earlier. And I would further argue that the interstate highway system was not the primary cause of passenger rail decline. This was already well underway by the time of the main period of interstate construction in the 1960s.

I believe it was the smaller things that you dismissed that were bigger factors, the paving, straightening and widening of roads that started by the end of World War I. This can be correlated with the decline in passenger rail ridership that had already begun by the 1920s. Already cars could travel faster than trains and with declining ridership and private ownership, there was no incentive to improve right of ways or rolling stock for passenger trains.

By the time of the passing of legislation that produced the interstate highway system, most interurban railways, municipal railways, intercity passenger railways and the manufacture of passenger railcars in North America were in rapid decline or wiped out entirely. The interurban rail lines which mostly operated for passenger service in their own right of way were simply abandoned. Improved highways replaced them. Municipal railways often had private right of ways but were replaced by buses in mixed traffic simply because it was too costly to renew the rail infrastructure that was often over 50 years old.

You couldn't even buy a new electric streetcar after the early 1950s in North America.

It took Ike and his company of Army convoy 62 days to travel from DC to San Francisco in 1919. 62 days.
Train passengers, even with multiple changes of trains, could do so in less than a week. Heavyweight coaches and Pullman sleepers pulled by steam locomotives were at least 8 times faster than driving over dirt and gravel roads.
As you suggested, trains did not get faster, but driving vehicles over improved paved roads did by WW2. Even then, drivers could only drive fast in the rural highways between cities and towns, because the speed limits for vehicles dropped in them. On the east coast, with towns averaging around 5 miles apart, most likely you would have 3 miles of high speed highways between towns, with 2 one mile stretch of low speed roads into or out of a town. So average speeds were still not so great. The Interstate Highway system bypassed all the cities and towns with high speed highways, so one could maintain high speeds seemingly forever.

The truth remains is that railroads are no longer 8 times faster than driving, most likely not even 2 times faster than driving anymore.
I repeat, if you want trains to be more competitive, they will need to go much faster. More of the same will not make them go faster.

Please debate the issues, not personalities. I do not expect everyone will agree with me, but I am writing truths as I see them, and can often link news articles to back them up.
Reply With Quote