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Old 06-14-2014, 07:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chirack View Post
Not really. Trucks were critical to WWI and trains did play an role in WWII. Cars, buses and airplanes are much more flexible forms of travel and airplanes are faster. A train is tied to it's rails and to an degree to it's schedule. An car or bus could take you door to door(or much closer to were you need to be). Buses are smaller in capacity making them ideal for routes and towns that can't support an rail stop or are far from one.

The development of the jet made air travel even more affordable. Jets produce more power, require less maintenance and use an cheaper fuel source than the piston engines of old. This opened up air travel to the masses. Air travel previously was for the well off.With more power you could carry more passengers(which allows costs to be spread over more people), and use cheap kerosene(instead of high octane aviation fuel--sorta like gasoline but more refined).

With the advent of the highway system allowing long distance driving the train could not compete. Buses don't require rails and this means the stop could be in multiple places. For instance there in an main bus terminal downtown in Chicago, but also two stops elsewhere off CTA el stations both to the north and to the far south side.
Despite whatever problems going on in the background between RRs and the federal government in the run up and during WWII American railroads stepped up to the plate with vast support for the war effort. Something like most of all troop movments within the USA and nearly all materiel was moved by rail. The United States was fighting a war in Europe and Asia which meant the ports on both East and West coasts were busy not to mention those in the South.

American railroads ran their staff, locomotives, equipment and ROW into the ground in support of the war, and in return were badly treated by the federal government in the post war era. Washington D.C. promptly threw it's money and weight behind automobiles and building out the Interstate Highway system. Railroads continued to be subject to various rules and laws not to mention the ICC that strangled their business and killed innovation.

As post war Europe rebuilt itself from the war one of their top priorities was the railway system. On these shores you had just the opposite. By the 1960's and early 1970's what was left of passenger rail service in the United States was often dirty, slow, and otherwise unappealing to many Americans. What did manage to survive was commuter railroads. This was mainly because of the effects of "white flight" to the suburbs. Persons needed to get the 815 from Greenwich Conn to Grand Central ....
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:56 PM
 
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Sorry for the fluff but I think sleeper cars are very "romantic" as in: black and white movies, dining cars, mystery... I checked into them once but they were too expensive. The train is running anyway, throw an extra couple of cars in there and what's the problem?
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:03 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post

Regional rail just became relegated to freight in the US. Rail is something like ten times as energy efficient as trucks at moving freight per ton. If it doesn't need to get there very soon and is going a long distance, that's a pretty big advantage. As you saw fuel prices go up the demand for freight rail increased dramatically. In contrast, the energy efficiency of moving passengers by rail is not significantly greater than air.
Flying is rather energy intensive, got a source for that?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
The airplane just makes much more sense, maybe not for freight but for passenger service, especially at the time. The Western US is very spread out with means better suited for air travel than train travel. Rail became irrelevant for regional travel. 1960 to 2000 saw regional rail travel fall by more than two thirds. During the same time, air travel grew by more than ten fold.
The Northeast US is rather similar in size and population to France, with most of its population clustered on one corridor. The difference is less investment in rail, and the cities are more sprawling. For any trip outside the region, very few would take a train, but most trips are within a region. I'd guess similar is true for California.
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:21 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Energy efficiency in transportation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And I should have said interregional travel there.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by redguard57 View Post
Just to defend Amtrak travel -- it works extremely well in the northeast corridor. I've made the trip between Boston and Washington, D.C. many times. It gets you from downtown to downtown in about 6.5 hours for about $120 one way. The Acela cuts the trip by about an hour and is nicer, but costs $200. That's cheaper and faster than flying when you consider the 2 hours early you need to arrive at the airport, AND it gets you directly downtown. Definitely faster than driving through New York traffic. It's so convenient I've encountered people who went on evening dates from NYC to Boston or vice versa. Providence, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore... all the points in between are really fast.

Outside the Boston-DC corridor, however... not so good.

The gov't runs Amtrak but it only owns the track in that northeast corridor. Everywhere else RR track is privately owned and freight has the right of way. I've sat on Amtrak for a good 2 hours outside a city like St. Louis waiting for freight to pass. That combined with speed limits on trains so they can't go fast enough to make the trip competitive with flying makes it a poor choice unless you just don't care about your time.

I always check Amtrak when I plan travel, but for the cost weighed against the time, it's never worth it. If I'm going to travel 40+ hours it better damn well be half the cost of flying and it never is. Greyhound is often faster and cheaper than Amtrak - beating Amtrak by half a day or more on long distance trips.

UNLESS I'm travelling btw DC and Boston, in which case Amtrak is the best deal by far.
its highly subsidized also.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Adi from the Brunswicks View Post
If you think southwest is bad, then fly American cross country next time. They only offered beverages once during the entire trip, and when my 85 year old grandpa asked for more water they served him with frustration .
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:36 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
its highly subsidized also.
Operating costs are about break even, they're not highly subsidized. Infrastructure costs are subsidized for all transportation.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
Quote:
Just to defend Amtrak travel -- it works extremely well in the northeast corridor. I've made the trip between Boston and Washington, D.C. many times.
its highly subsidized also.
I don't think so. I've been hearing for years that Amtrak clears a profit on the Northeast Corridor. The Surf Line (basically L.A. to San Diego and perhaps some points north*) still registers a loss but comes closest to being profitable, after the NEC route.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:53 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 42,008,719 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redguard57 View Post
Just to defend Amtrak travel -- it works extremely well in the northeast corridor. I've made the trip between Boston and Washington, D.C. many times. It gets you from downtown to downtown in about 6.5 hours for about $120 one way. The Acela cuts the trip by about an hour and is nicer, but costs $200. That's cheaper and faster than flying when you consider the 2 hours early you need to arrive at the airport, AND it gets you directly downtown. Definitely faster than driving through New York traffic. It's so convenient I've encountered people who went on evening dates from NYC to Boston or vice versa. Providence, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore... all the points in between are really fast.
The Northeast Corridor is usable, but calling it works well is a stretch by any reasonable standard. It's slow and overpriced for a high-speed rail corridor. Paris to Marsielle is about the same distance and is about $100-$120 one way but takes 3hr20min. Naples to Milan, similar distance, and 4hr 40 min. Both slightly cheaper if you book ahead (found a $50 fare for the French trip).

The NYC to Boston leg is so slow that buses can be almost as fast but much cheaper.

Quote:
The gov't runs Amtrak but it only owns the track in that northeast corridor. Everywhere else RR track is privately owned and freight has the right of way.
A few offshoots of the Northeast Corridor are Amtrak owned (NYC to Albany, Philadelphia to Harrisburg, New Haven to Springfield) as well. And not all the Northeast Corridor is Amtrak owned. Connecticut west of New Haven is owned by the Connecticut DOT, which sets the speed limit to 79 mph for the convenience of local trains.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
You would never know it by today's sad state of affairs, but prior to WWII the United States had the fastest and most technologically modern passenger rail system in the world. Indeed concept of HSR was invented by American railroads with trains like the Hiawatha running between Chicago and the Twin Cities reaching speeds at or near 100 mph under *STEAM* power.
Some long distance schedules are about the same as they've always been, though. Hasn't it always taken close to two full days to travel from L.A. to Chicago, for example? According to Amtrak's website, the trip takes about 43 hours today.

That said, the Coast Starlight from Seattle to L.A. is notoriously slow, even when it stays on schedule.
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