Monday, September 18, 2006

Does U.S. Passenger Rail Compare to Anything?

We'd like to thank Christopher Parker for his thoughtful comments on or previous post Conservative Logic on Passenger Rail. We once had a long discussion about this with a railfan and patriot who spent time working for SNCF, the French national railways. He saw absolutely no comparison to French rail anywhere in the United States.

But it got us thinking. Is there a comparison to U.S. Passenger Rail anywhere in the world? We are not talking about comparing Amtrak to anything else. We are talking about track, route miles or potential route miles, structure, demographics and potential for growth.

Right out of the gate, the comparison would have to be in a developed country with a Western or westernized society. This would leave out most of Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, much of Central Asia and all of Antarctica and Greenland. As island nations go, most would also have to be eliminated, but England, Japan and New Zealand would continue to qualify for this round.

Next, the comparison would have to have lengthy coastal areas with population centers clustered on the coasts and inland only in areas of high commercial/agricultural interest. The island nations no longer qualify. Neither does most of Europe. Russia and China still fit, as do Australia and Northern Europe - Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden.

Let's talk track. The gauge has to be Standard Gauge. Anybody want to guess which of the above are disqualified? Russia and Finland are out. Many other potential candidates would have been out on this one, too.

China and Australia are the only comparisons left with enough route miles or potential ones for Passenger Rail. We are stretching the term "westernized" for China. We also don't see a demographic comparison for Australia. Large portions of the interior are still primitive. Nothing like the U.S.

Oh, Canada, you say? We saw you in the back of the room with your hand raised. We thought you needed to go to the bathroom. Canada has less than half the route miles and it has a virtually useless northern coastal area with absolutely no population centers. No, Canada doesn't fit.

We would like to hear from readers on their opinion as to a comparison for U.S. Passenger Rail anywhere in the world.

©2006 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com


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