U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-14-2014, 10:52 PM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,857,480 times
Reputation: 1439

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post

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 ....
I wouldn't totally say that. Railroads began to loose some passenger traffic as early as the 1920-30ies. As routes like route 66 make it possible to drive longer distances and air travel began to siphon off some high end travelers in the 30ies.

The late 40 thru 60ies are the time when Steam locomotives are replaced by diesel electric an major improvement. Granted diesel had been invented before the war and was used in rail yards. This also means new rail cars to go with the diesel trains since they develop more horsepower(and can pull heavier cars) and can supply their cars with electricity as well as steam for hot water and heating. Steam train cars produce their own electricity and heat.

What hurt the trains was many fold.

1. Jets turned trips that could take days by train into trips that could be done in an few hours. Jets lowered the cost of air travel enabling more people to be able to afford to fly. This hurt long distance train travel and pretty much got rid of an lot of demand for sleeper cars.

2. Automobiles may not be faster than the train in terms of outright speed, but they offer the freedom to depart when you want to and mobility at your destination. You can even do side trips on your way to your ultimate destination which by train would be an pain in the neck(i.e. Needing to get back to the station before the next train departs, having to haul your luggage to/from train to hotel, needing transportation from station to hotel or attractions.). Automobiles are also an very reasonable choice for short distance travel(say under 4 hours.). Motels and gas stations near major routes and the interstates made long distance auto travel very practical. Sure an train with an sleeper car could be faster overnight but you are still tied to the schedule of the train and the rails it runs on and the train's schedule might not be convenient on either the trip to or the return.

3. Busses opened up towns that lacked direct rail service and are better suited for transporting small numbers of people. Buses are also cheap to charter(if need be) compared to chartering an rail car. With the highway system they could bypass just shuttling people from train stations to going from town to town directly. They are also more economical for smaller numbers and sometimes can turn this advantage into offering greater frequency. Sure it may be an overnight bus trip, but at least it actually arrives or departs from the place I wish instead of stranding me at some station an hour away.

Last edited by chirack; 06-14-2014 at 11:18 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-15-2014, 01:56 AM
 
20,724 posts, read 13,734,475 times
Reputation: 14393
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirack View Post
I wouldn't totally say that. Railroads began to loose some passenger traffic as early as the 1920-30ies. As routes like route 66 make it possible to drive longer distances and air travel began to siphon off some high end travelers in the 30ies.

The late 40 thru 60ies are the time when Steam locomotives are replaced by diesel electric an major improvement. Granted diesel had been invented before the war and was used in rail yards. This also means new rail cars to go with the diesel trains since they develop more horsepower(and can pull heavier cars) and can supply their cars with electricity as well as steam for hot water and heating. Steam train cars produce their own electricity and heat.

What hurt the trains was many fold.

1. Jets turned trips that could take days by train into trips that could be done in an few hours. Jets lowered the cost of air travel enabling more people to be able to afford to fly. This hurt long distance train travel and pretty much got rid of an lot of demand for sleeper cars.

2. Automobiles may not be faster than the train in terms of outright speed, but they offer the freedom to depart when you want to and mobility at your destination. You can even do side trips on your way to your ultimate destination which by train would be an pain in the neck(i.e. Needing to get back to the station before the next train departs, having to haul your luggage to/from train to hotel, needing transportation from station to hotel or attractions.). Automobiles are also an very reasonable choice for short distance travel(say under 4 hours.). Motels and gas stations near major routes and the interstates made long distance auto travel very practical. Sure an train with an sleeper car could be faster overnight but you are still tied to the schedule of the train and the rails it runs on and the train's schedule might not be convenient on either the trip to or the return.

3. Busses opened up towns that lacked direct rail service and are better suited for transporting small numbers of people. Buses are also cheap to charter(if need be) compared to chartering an rail car. With the highway system they could bypass just shuttling people from train stations to going from town to town directly. They are also more economical for smaller numbers and sometimes can turn this advantage into offering greater frequency. Sure it may be an overnight bus trip, but at least it actually arrives or departs from the place I wish instead of stranding me at some station an hour away.

You might not say it (RRs were treated badly by federal government post WWII) but I will, and do.

The Feds Put the Brakes on High-Speed Trains |
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 07:21 AM
 
Location: I live wherever I am.
1,935 posts, read 3,738,259 times
Reputation: 3235
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adi from the Brunswicks View Post
I wonder why sleeper train services are obsolete in the US. On busy routes, why doesn't Amtrak run overnight sleeper trains to ferry people. For example, wouldn't it be nice if one could board Amtrak in the evening, enjoy a comfortable night sleep, and arrive at my destination the next day morning. These service could be used in routes like Boston-DC, NYC-Montreal, Raleigh-Atlanta, San Fransisco-LA, or any other pair of cities within 400 miles of each other which people frequently travel between. Why has Amtrak decided not to start any new sleeper train services in recent times, when it has the potential to improve ridership on busy routes and increase revenue.
They're obsolete due to the cost per ticket when compared to air travel.

That being said, I think that rail transportation will become more popular in the future as fuel prices continue to increase - that will hit airfares much more than it would hit train fares.

Let's face it - if you could pay $500 for a train ticket to get you from point A to point B in 24 hours, even if it would include a bed so you could get a good night's sleep, would you do it if the alternative was $500 for a plane ticket that would get you there in three hours? (That's plenty reasonable. The train might go 60 mph average even if it never has to stop. At that speed you cover 1,440 miles in 24 hours. An airplane will average 500-600 mph, which enables it to cover that same distance in three hours.)

Plus, Amtrak doesn't go everywhere. There aren't Amtrak stations all over the place, but there are airports all over the place. I've looked into Amtrak for my travels and I just wasn't impressed... though I probably will use it at some point just to say I did. I love riding old historic trains at train museums and the like.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 08:15 AM
 
Location: CA
922 posts, read 720,376 times
Reputation: 682
I use an Amtrak credit card to earn points. About every 2 years, I can take a sleeper from CA to Chicago, get a real pizza at Lu Malnatis, rent the car in the station, and drive to Cleveland to visit my family. I take one or all of my kids. Points pay the entire trip. I've done this using the all three trains that go west to east. It's not always perfect, but I love this method of travel. In Ohio, there is no Amtrak that travels north and south. I am convinced that this is due to the automotive industry's influence back in the day -many car makers were there. Also, I have heard stories of oil companies buying up bus companies in the 60's and then shutting them down. Profit over logic. Our culture has been made to think you need a car, or you need to be there in 4 hours. When I'm on the train, I relax and look out a window, take photos, get off the train at stops and walk around. On a plane, I just want to get to point B ASAP. I will day that I've had great experiences on Virgin America and it's the only airline I'll fly. I plan to take Amtrak again this summer- Boston and back all on points.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Oregon, formerly Texas
5,450 posts, read 3,756,859 times
Reputation: 9257
Quote:
but calling it works well is a stretch by any reasonable standard.
I'm talking American standards here, so a pretty low threshold of convenience.

Personally I get fatigued of driving after about 5 hours. I'd much rather have someone else do the driving. To me, the bigger, more comfortable seats on Amtrak in the NEC beat the more cramped greyhound and the time & cost is cheaper than flying the same route, especially if you need/want to be downtown, can avoid taxi fares.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Northville, MI
11,882 posts, read 11,158,942 times
Reputation: 6316
My aunt uses Amtrak while heading up to Cambridge, and dad has used it while going to Boston and Schenectady for meetings. Noth nevrr had an issue with late trains. For these routes, Amtrak is able to compete against car and plane travel.

A question for nei, do you use Amtrak while going to Boston or Cambridge. In my experience, the two cities are quite difficult to drive around.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 03:00 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
6,558 posts, read 3,656,219 times
Reputation: 12322
I hear a lot of complaints about train travel. What are your personal expectations of rail travel?
-- Safe travel with attention to comfort?
-- Leave on time and arrive on time whether 2 hours or two days?
-- Offer travel options with corresponding costs ....coach, business class, sleeper service, etc.?
-- Provide food service options with corresponding costs.....café car, lounge car, dining car?
-- Luggage and personal property handled safely and efficiently?
-- Offer suitable accommodations for disabled travelers?

Speed of travel isn't really an expectation. With current equipment and rail limitations, trains can only go so fast. They use rail lines that give priority to freight. If you have to go cross country in a day, a train won't do it.

The list of expectations is my list and I have to say that they have generally been met or exceeded. I frequently travel 1,000 miles by train and often arrive as much as an hour early. I have never lost my luggage. I've not had a safety issue or have ever been as uncomfortable as flying on a plane. Food service and travel options have always met my expectations or better. I'm not disabled but I've seen Amtrak staff go out of their way to cater to disabled travelers by bringing them meals or offering special services or accommodations. They even have smoking stops for folks who can't make it otherwise.

Sure, I wish there were more trains so the schedule would be better and I wish the routes would expand to other cities but that won't happen any time soon.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 04:32 PM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,857,480 times
Reputation: 1439
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
I hear a lot of complaints about train travel. What are your personal expectations of rail travel?
-- Safe travel with attention to comfort?
-- Leave on time and arrive on time whether 2 hours or two days?
-- Offer travel options with corresponding costs ....coach, business class, sleeper service, etc.?
-- Provide food service options with corresponding costs.....café car, lounge car, dining car?
-- Luggage and personal property handled safely and efficiently?
-- Offer suitable accommodations for disabled travelers?

Speed of travel isn't really an expectation. With current equipment and rail limitations, trains can only go so fast. They use rail lines that give priority to freight. If you have to go cross country in a day, a train won't do it.

The list of expectations is my list and I have to say that they have generally been met or exceeded. I frequently travel 1,000 miles by train and often arrive as much as an hour early. I have never lost my luggage. I've not had a safety issue or have ever been as uncomfortable as flying on a plane. Food service and travel options have always met my expectations or better. I'm not disabled but I've seen Amtrak staff go out of their way to cater to disabled travelers by bringing them meals or offering special services or accommodations. They even have smoking stops for folks who can't make it otherwise.

Sure, I wish there were more trains so the schedule would be better and I wish the routes would expand to other cities but that won't happen any time soon.
I love trains and am an rail fan, but my experiences with Amtrak have been different.They can be bad at arriving on time and bad at offering an competitive price vs. other methods of travel like flying.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,061 posts, read 16,070,870 times
Reputation: 12636
Expectations with Amtrak:

Overpriced
Slower
Inconvenient schedule
Poor on time performance
Expensive food

They usually do pretty well at meeting my expectations, although last time I took it to Seattle we were delayed for six hours after a train in front of us derailed.

The big advantage is that it's not subject to the stupidity of the TSA that thinks 3.2 ounces of shampoo will blow up a plane. No such stupidity with Amtrak. My solution would be to just get rid of the TSA.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-15-2014, 05:47 PM
 
20,724 posts, read 13,734,475 times
Reputation: 14393
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Expectations with Amtrak:

Overpriced
Slower
Inconvenient schedule
Poor on time performance
Expensive food

They usually do pretty well at meeting my expectations, although last time I took it to Seattle we were delayed for six hours after a train in front of us derailed.

The big advantage is that it's not subject to the stupidity of the TSA that thinks 3.2 ounces of shampoo will blow up a plane. No such stupidity with Amtrak. My solution would be to just get rid of the TSA.
All the reasons given were nearly the exact same complaints persons had about RRs back in the day. However seeing as that form of transport was often the only way to travel in relative comfort and security much less speed, people put up with conditions on the ground as they were.

Train travel could and often was maddening for many reasons. Frequent stops especially when steam locomotives were the main source of locomotive power (for water and fuel), crew changes, feather bedding rules, mechanical problems, problems with another train on the line, and so forth.

Remember when a train breaks down or there is an accident, anything that blocks the line you've got trains backed up left sitting for what could be minutes or hours and sometimes even days. There are only a few options: clear the blockage or get trains behind somehow around it if possible. In NYC you see this often on subway trains where suddenly locals go express and vice versa. Indeed many of the lines were designed with set places that trains could switch tracks.

Now, yes there are often stretches of double and or even triple tracks (often in each direction) for railroads but more often than not you had single tracks with switch overs miles away (if any).

Consider also while air travel is subject to poor weather conditions rail suffers more. Planes can fly above bad storms most often. Trains have been stopped by everything from heavy snow to floods.

Case in point for all this just look at the NEC especially the tracks near or under the Hudson River. Just one accident or disabled train, signal or wire problem and you can have trains backed up past PA .
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top