Post by John Levine
We have no way to tell, because for most people in the US, there's no
train for them to like. Despite what you might have heard, at least
until the pandemic most of Amtrak's long distance trains are full, and
if they reversed short-sighted cuts and restored 3x week to daily,
they'd probably recover more costs proportionally since they could
spread the fixed costs across more passengers.
Before the virus, Amtrak could've easily carried three
times as many passengers as it did if it had the rolling
stock and track to run trains. There is a demand
in developed travel corridors. Highways and airways
are very congested and Amtrak would be great for short
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, certain political
elements despise passenger rail and go out of their
way to demonize it, despite its cost-efficiencies.
Those element impose all sorts of inefficiencies
on Amtrak which hurt service quality and waste money,
and then serves as an excuse to criticize it.
(Like what they're doing now to the post office.)
Post by John Levine Post by J. Clarke
As for subsidies, the rails are owned and maintained by the freight
lines which are making profits without any subsidies, so why should
passenger rail get subsidies.
Because passenger everything else gets subsidies. Roads and airports
don't pay property taxes, and airports only appear profitable because
they're not charged for the opportunity cost of what else might be
using the land. One of the greatest unappreciated subsidies to cars is
free parking, vast amounts of land given to car users at no cost.
Yes. Look at an aerial shot of a building complex and notice
how much land is devoted to parking. Parking lots are not
cheap. They need to be maintained and that's expensive.
Post by John Levine
Freight and passenger rail are completely different businesses these
days. A 50 MPH freight train is fast, while a 100 MPH passenger train
is slow, making it hard for them to share the same sets of rails.
Comparisons with Europe are hard to make because distances in the US
are much greater, to the advantage of trains here, while Europe has a
whole lot of rivers and canals where containers on barges are
competitive to rail.
While ideally psgr and freight should be separate, with
good planning and some passing tracks they could share
the same tracks.
Unfortunately, railroads are hell bent to reduce their
trackage to the absolutely minimum. I don't get it.
Isn't there a high cost to starting and stopping
a freight train to enter and leave a passing siding
on a single track line? To wait for clearance on
congested track? Don't shippers want faster delivery?
In several places, they took a fluid double track railroad
and put freight on one track, psgr on the other. Runs
far less efficiently due to delays of single track.
Real stupid, but they wanted the segregation.
Computer note: Railroads were pioneers in the use
of data processing to track freight trains, first
punched cards, then computers. see