Sunday, September 25, 2011

Some Serious Business - Proposition 2

Proposition 2:  The business plans for the freight railroads do not include Passenger Rail.

If we are talking about the major players, I think this is a fallacy.  Sure there are some railroads, probably mostly short lines, where you could say there will never be a scheduled passenger train.  And you'd be right.

If I were running a major railroad, however, I would want to have a business plan in place that includes contingencies for carrying passengers.  Even for carrying a lot of them.  Given the current world political and economic climate, I can imagine many scenarios where Passenger Rail could become very strategically important, both economically and militarily.

So I cannot believe that the people running the major, Class One railroads, are not smarter than I am.

So the next question becomes this:  Would operation of passenger services by modern freight railroads make Passenger Rail better, or worse?

Does anyone see where I'm going with this?

Next time:  Proposition 3.

©2011 - C. A. Turek - 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some Serious Business

Starting with this post, I want to try to shed some of the politics and get back to the roots of this blog.  I started it because I like trains, and I like passenger trains even more.  While I find freight trains and their infrastructure fascinating, and while passenger trains never would have existed as they did in the United States during the golden age - between about 1939 and 1959 - without freight rail, I still find nothing more pleasing than the thought of riding, dining, and sleeping aboard a passenger train.

So, I've been thinking.  What could we actually do in America to get back to those thrilling trains of yesteryear, with just enough of the modern and innovative thrown in to make everybody happy.

The first thing I thought about was not so-called high-speed rail.  The first thing I thought about is a reverse Amtrak.  What does that look like, you ask?  Well, it may take several blogs to lay it out for you.

The thought arises from the fact that railroad deregulation via the Staggers Act did not take place until after Amtrak was formed.  But we've never deregulated Amtrak.  The freight railroads have thrived under deregulation, and, unless the heavy-handed progressives get their way in congress, will thrive even more in an economic recovery.  Much of freight rail did not even lose money during the recession and is not losing it now - even if whether or not the recession has ended can be debated.  Could the same have happened for passenger rail in an era of deregulation?

Proposition One:  The profitable freight railroads could probably absorb short-term losses on passenger rail, still make a profit,and possibly turn passenger rail around for the better.  All of the innovations that make freight rail profitable today did not come about because of government regulation, but because of the profit incentive and competition for routes.  (Government please listen:  Your only function should be to make sure there is a level playing field for private enterprise, and then get out of the way.)

Next time:  Proposition Two.

©2011 - C. A. Turek -