U.S. Withdraws Proposed Freight Rail Regulations But Fails to Address Conflict with Future Passenger Service

» Freight companies rejoice now that they won’t have to pay for passenger train delays.

It was inevitable: Distraught by the possibility of having to increasingly open up their tracks to passenger trains, the freight railroad companies have staged an open rebellion against a proposed U.S. policy that would have penalized them if they caused delays.

The rule, which was proposed in May by the Federal Railroad Administration, would have enforced “stakeholder agreements” that went along with funding for new or improved intercity rail routes advanced by state governments. In exchange for a public investment in track, signaling, and the like, freight rail companies would be required to ensure that passenger trains aren’t delayed by oncoming traffic or slowed-down cargo trains.

In the Omaha World-Herald earlier this week, reporter Joe Ruff described some of the opposition to these rules. D.J. Mitchell of BNSF railways, suggested that the situation was stacked against the freight companies since their existing lines simply are not built for trains running at speeds higher than 90 mph whereas the Obama Administration has been adamant in pushing projects that increase maximum speeds to 110 mph along freight corridors. Meanwhile, Ruff quotes Bob Turner of Union Pacific, who argued not only that the passenger trains could delay freight traffic but also that “It’s out land, it’s our rails… This is about the government regulating what happens on our property.”

This was a sad reaction from an industry that could potentially benefit handsomely from the infusion of significant federal dollars. The freight railroads have operated mostly without government help for decades. Yet Washington clearly did not approach this situation with the necessary tact, failing to inform the industry of the proposed rules changes… before they were proposed, which evidently is the way things are supposed to work.

Joseph Szabo, head of the FRA, concluded that the rules were a mistake, and pulled the regulations out of consideration, a move veteran transportation insider Ken Orski dubbed as “sensible.” Orski concluded with a hope that Mr. Szabo “do no harm” to the freight industry, a message most people can agree with but one that provides little sense of what direction the government’s future initiatives need to point. But the decision also seems to suggest that the federal government is unwilling to mess with the freight industry no matter the costs. Is that an acceptable position for the future of the national transportation system in general?

The fundamental problem is that the U.S. government has failed to produce a guiding document that lays out the national goals for the railway system, both in terms of both freight and passenger movement. The national rail plan, whose preliminary draft was released last fall, is by all evidence likely to be a manifesto of vague, uncontroversial ideas, with few specific “plans” for the country’s future mobility. This means that the manner in which the DOT awards intercity rail grants — generally on a state-to-state basis, without much consideration of national needs — is likely to be the way it’s done over the next few years as well.

It also means, in more direct response to the issue posed here, that the government has failed to mediate a compromise between the proponents of freight and passenger rail service. The difficulties raised over the recent proposals by the FRA are only the start of things. For the future of American intercity rail, the government has a responsibility to take further steps to coordinate policy so that it benefits both sides of the rail equation, but it has not done so thus far.

As I discussed last month, despite the fact that allowing trains of different speeds (freight trains are slower than high-speed trains) would (and does) cause problems, there is significant ground for compromise that would allow both services to be improved substantially over the next few years. Notably, were the government to encourage joint use of tracks in city centers by rival freight companies, other inner-city corridors could be devoted to passenger rail without much of a problem.

But that won’t be possible unless the federal government abandons the hands-off policy it seems to be enforcing through its recent decision; at some point, if freight railroads benefit from national investments in their tracks, they should face penalties if they prioritize their trains over passenger vehicles. Freight companies may own the tracks, but if they’re getting funding for improvements, they have to compromise to allow passenger trains to operate effectively.

It’s time to develop a dialogue between freight railroad companies and advocates of improved passenger rail. Improvements for both don’t have to be set in opposition to one another.

Image above: C&NW freight train, by Flickr user vxla (cc)

44 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • Brett

    This has nothing to do with the government taking a hands off approach. The proposed regulations where draconian. They where even stiffer than what states have successfully negotiated with the freights. Washington and California are seen as models for future negotiation. All the FRA did was pull the proposed regulations so they could be further modified. There will be OTP specifications, and minimum requirements in the final regulations. Probably around 80-85% instead of 95%. The real problem is the FRA has no legal authority to do service requirements, such as OTP requirements. Under law (PRIAA), that responsibility falls to the STB, not the FRA.

    • Don

      Brett- you have it exactly right. The problem wasn’t that the frt RRs were/are against public investment in passenger rail on their lines or being held accountable for the on time performance of subsequent passenger train operations. It was the draconian nature of the measures that were proposed. They did not take into account recent and future freight traffic levels and would have penalized them for even status quo operation.

      Interestingly, Washington State and the BNSF came to a recent agreement for improvements to the the Cascade route including measurement standards, but the FRA said it did not meet it’s standard for protecting the public investment. Funny that the two principles had no problem with it but the FRA did.

  • Drew

    It’s time to abandon the notion of private ownership of the national rail lines. This would put railways on the same status as the highways and airports. Governments own the infrastructure and maintains it, and let free movement along them as long as there is room.

    • Bit of overkill. The government could well finance infrastructure and retain ownership, making it available in return for access or user fees, getting around the property tax problem … and of course, if a railroad does not want the infrastructure in its corridor, then the infrastructure can go in a rival’s.

      A win-win deal would seem to be a smoother path than nationalization.

  • Pretty draconian (not to mention Communist) in itself there, Drew? ‘Course, if the Feds were to reimburse the rail companies for taking over the rails, then that’d be a different story. But somehow I don’t see that happening.

    What we’re seeing here is the Catch-22 inherent in using the same tracks for both freight rail and passenger rail. A strong freight rail system takes trucks off the roads, but passenger rail suffers. Meanwhile, strong passenger rail improves people mobility (reducing cars on the road and airport crowding), but impedes freight rail (thereby increasing trucks on the road).

    I’m all for requiring the rail companies to grant concessions to passenger rail if they receive Federal and/or state dollars for rail improvements. But as Brett suggested, this recent approach seemed a bit harsh and untactful. Short of Congress taking up the issue with legislation (which presents its own challenges), pissing off the rail companies is not a good way to get this done.

    • John W

      Not sure how that’s particularly Communist. You can have any type of dictatorial government seize assets, regardless of which end of the economic spectrum it espouses. Heck, you could even have a democratically elected government do that. And you could have a Communist government paying to nationalise something, if I’m not mistaken.

      I still haven’t figured out how public ownership of the roads is completely in line with capitalism but somehow the notion that public ownership of rail lines isn’t. There probably isn’t a logical answer to that.

      As for the passenger/freight thing. What a muddle. It sounds like for low-use freight lines, time-shifting can work; but heavier-use freight lines simply have to be segregated from passenger rail lines or neither can be run properly.

      • Cameron Slick

        Well in reality the predecessor companies of virtually all railroads operating in this country got all their land to build railroads on was granted free by the federal government in the 1860′s, so it’s really public land handed over to profiteers for the sake of the public good.

        It may be constitutional for the federal government to take back land that railroads aren’t utilizing, such as wide ROW’s with only single track and build their own dedicated line.

    • There’s no real Catch-22: the same kind of Rapid Freight Rail capacity that would be most effective at taking trucks off the road would be the capacity that most easily accommodates scheduled passenger rail service.

      Its rather an lack of vision in investing in that infrastructure and trying to do everything on the cheap when what we need right now are big construction projects.

  • poncho

    tracks not built for 90+ mph? i dont get it 70 years ago we were able to run a lot more passenger and freight traffic on these rails, and the passenger trains were faster too. i just dont understand why now we cant get more use out of the rail lines. why in recent times are tracks seen as only for either freight or passengers? they managed just fine to mix them together in the past, and have much more volume.

    and dont tell me because of FRA rules, because they dont need to exist, all the FRA rules do is constrain rail transport in this country. all i’m saying is lets for the most part model our entire rail system after the one the existed in our grandfathers time, with exception of modern freight (i.e stack trains) and passenger equipment.

    • In the 1930s, the tracks were superelevated based on the expected speed of premium passenger trains. As passenger rail traffic decreased in the 1950s, the railroads reduced superelevation to be in line with the expected speed of heavy freight trains.

      While it’s perfectly possible to mix passenger and freight rail on the same tracks, it involves making one of the two prohibitively expensive. European mixed traffic tracks have minimum speeds to prevent freight trains from mucking up passenger schedules. If the line has grades, this limits both axle loads and total train weight, which makes it impossible to use the American cost-cutting technique of running 15,000-ton trains. In addition, the lines must be maintained to modern standards, which raises costs even more. The freight system used in Europe as well as Japan is such that very heavy, low-value goods are carried by sea, leaving rail for higher-value goods, for which those cost increases are more acceptable.

      • Its mix slow and fast traffic on the same track that is expensive: there’s no reason fast freight and passenger traffic would have any more trouble mixing than two different passenger services or two different freight runs.

        • No, even at the same running speed, it’s expensive. The reasons:

          1. When there are persistent grades, heavy freight trains are limited to bicycle speeds. Passenger trains aren’t.

          2. Freight rail is at its most efficient when trains go at constant speed. On curvy lines, this means slowing down even on straight sections between curves. For passenger rail, the gain in speed usually outweighs the gain in fuel consumption.

          3. Heavy freight doesn’t need timetables. Timed overtakes are an unaffordable hassle for UP and CSX.

          Mixing passenger trains at different speeds is much easier, because timed overtakes are easy and desirable.

    • Cameron Slick

      Poncho,

      In a lot of parts of the country, like the Chicago & Northwestern line to between St. Paul & Chicago or the Water Level line on the New York Central, they had one track solely for passengers and another for freight so as to maintain different speed and weight standards. Even as they got into the far-flung suburbs of Chicago CNW would have triple track with one side dedicated to commuter rail and another to intercity.

      • Nathanael

        Four-track rights-of-way included NY-Albany-Erie-Cleveland-Chicago, Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Ft. Wayne-Chicago (on a different route!), et cetera.

        There simply are no genuinely constrained areas east of California and west of Vermont — there are only areas where tracks have been ripped out and need to be reinstated.

    • Say no to gadgetbahn droolers

      I see the usual suspects, er, self-anointed experts (Just ask them! Even when you don’t…) get 5% of the answer and miss the other 95%.

      Several more reasons why BNSF and other freight railroads think 90 mph is the practical limit for passenger and freight trains sharing the same track. The biggest reason has to do with the rapid escalation in the cost and amount of maintenance required above 90mph. Freight trains are longer and heavier than they were 70 years ago. Higher speeds have lower tolerances for error that modern freights can easily knock out.

      The track itself is also quite different. 70 years ago track was jointed rail with basically expansion joints every 39 or 78 feet that were generally easier to twink into alignment. Today the rail is continuously welded for a mile or more at a time and under pressure that can produce kinks. Switches were and still are generally the biggest problems, however back then labor was cheap and the railroads had oodles of maintenance workers who could more quickly respond, tinker, and maintain.

      Safety rules were different so a worker or gang could quickly return to the tracks to work versus the sometimes arduous procedures today for getting track authority over the radio or laptop. 70 years ago was a less anal and sue-happy time where companies and train engineers had more leeway, so track that now wouldn’t be allowed above 90 (even if it is safe) for various reasons might have been ok for 100 or more.

      There are many other factors, but that should give the picture. Apples and oranges to compare railroading and infrastructure of 70 years ago with today. And yes, the FRA is a big factor, whether you like it or not.

  • Jake

    This is a very tough situation. We who are pushing for high(er) speed rail must recognize the fact that the United States, arguably, has the best freight rail system on the planet. While all of us want to see passenger trains being just as efficient one day we must be mindful of this fact. We all support high speed rail for various reasons: the environment, cars off the roads, economic development, etc. Well freight rail does all that wonderfully. The USA has the lowest freight rates in the world and the most reliable freight system in the world (economic development). It also is one of the most efficient ways of moving goods (we’ve all seen the commercials, 400 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel)and it takes the ultra-polluting trucks off our roads. Freight rail is seeing increases right now and efficiency right now that it hasn’t seen in years.

    I’m in NO WAY arguing that because freight is already here and efficiently working that it should take precedent. What I am saying is that we have to not be blinded by our ambitions to fix passenger rail so that in 25 yrs we’re saying “okay, we really need to fix our freight system now.” This could have been handled a LOT better by the FRA, too. Like Yonah said, they failed to even tell the RR companies that this was going to happen. Other than Union Pacific most of the other rail companies haven’t been opposed to passenger rail. This needs to be handled in a much better way. I don’t know the solution or even know if this was the right decision. I am confident that it will be figured out. It HAS to be.

    • The best heavy bulk freight railroad in the world: the Europeans don’t need that as much because of all the canals, many of them already in existence when railroadification started.

      Not the best express freight rail in the world.

      • Inland waterways actually have a higher mode share in the US than in Europe. Europeans and Japanese haul bulk freight by sea, not canals.

        The best express freight rail system in the world is in Switzerland, which builds base tunnels both for higher passenger speeds and for heavier freight train loads. The best heavy freight rail systems in the world are in North America, Russia, and China.

      • Danny

        US and European mode shares used to be almost identical in terms of split between sea, inland waterways and railroads. We both plunged from our rail modal highs in the 1940s and 1950s, plunging in unison until the late 1970s when we passed the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act and the Staggers Act.

        Since then, freight rail modal shares have continued to decrease in Europe and have had a near mirrored increase in the US. And this is despite the fact that containerization has resulted in consolidation of ports which should have made Europe even less dependent on water based transportation methods and more dependent on rail, like it has done in every other country in the world.

        The idea that Europe doesn’t need railroads like ours is a convenient excuse for continuing their flawed subversion of freight in favor of intercity passenger railroads.

        From a Nash Equilibrium perspective, it is a horrible policy for reducing the ill effects of transportation energy use. Considering that rail has a limited capacity and is almost unparalleled in energy consumption, we should be transporting our most difficult-to-transport items by rail instead of our least difficult. We should be using waterways and rail for heavy freight, and use it for passenger service when capacity permits.

        I am in no way opposed to passenger rail…but when capacity is constrained, it is far better to accommodate heavy freight than it is to accommodate lightweight passengers. If you really want more passenger service, the solution is simple: INCREASE CAPACITY…not sacrifice freight capacity for passenger use.

        • In the US, the sea modal share has been plunging for decades. If you look at sea mode share instead of rail mode share, you’ll see the opposite picture: in Europe it has held steady, while the US it has been losing ground. (US freight rail has approximately the same mode share against trucks today as it did in 1980; the change has been that both rail and trucks have been gaining mode share from shipping.)

          What you say about Nash Equilibria is just wrong. The reason is that the main way Europe consumes less energy than the US is not by having a higher transit mode share; it’s by having each vehicle travel less per year. A transit-oriented urban planning can reduce the amount of driving that drivers do. Nothing comparable can be achieved for freight transportation.

          • Danny

            So you think that the better option for the US is to sacrifice freight capacity for passenger capacity when that capacity is limited?

          • I think it’s a false choice. First, the issue is not capacity; it’s operating costs. I think Europe actually runs more freight trains than the US, but they’re much shorter.

            Another option is to realize that the vast majority of freight rail transportation is intercity, and the vast majority of passenger rail transportation is intracity. The US could go for a situation like Australia, which runs heavy freight trains on transcontinental mainlines, with an 80% mode share, while maintaining modern electrified suburban rail networks.

          • Nathanael

            It’s definitely a false choice. On the very few routes in the entire country which are “full up” with freight and where passenger service is interesting, there’s plenty of room for four or more tracks, allowing for separate passenger and freight service in the same ROW. Occasionally a nearby abandoned ROW must be used. There are a couple of chokepoints in LA and a couple in Chicago which would require a little use of eminent domain, but nothing significant.

            Unfortuantely, a bad attitude on the part of UP and CSX has been causing hostility to the rebuilding of those additional tracks in many places. Demands for gigantic distances between tracks or concrete walls between tracks are simply not reasonable.

  • Allen

    “tracks not built for 90+ mph? i dont get it 70 years ago we were able to run a lot more passenger and freight traffic on these rails, and the passenger trains were faster too” -poncho

    @poncho, Passenger trains were faster but there was a lot, LOT less freight traffic on the lines being used. US Freight railroads have 3 times the ton miles than they did in the 1950s (http://www.aar.org/pubcommon/documents/abouttheindustry/statistics.pdf). In the last 30 years alone, since the Staggers act, volume has doubled and rates to ship have been halved. And all that freight operates on @140,miles of track. And at that much of that is not CTC controlled nor sees more than a train or three a day.

    So yes, the CNW and Milwaukee Road both operated passengers trains that ran between the Twin Cites, Milwaukee and Chicago 20-40 minutes faster than today. But the freight traffic they carried was much less than today. The CGW and others operated similar trains on their own routes, too. But they did so with 1/3 of the freight traffic and at that what freight traffic did exist was split between the Soo Line, CNW, CGW, Milwaukee Road, Great Northern, Chicago, and the Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

    @poncho, also please keep in mind that for young adults today the railroads of their grandparents day were bleeding money on passenger service and shutting it down whenever regulatory allowed.

    • mulad

      More like 60-90 minutes for Twin Cities to Chicago. For Milwaukee to Chicago, you’re about right.

      Amtrak’s Empire Builder is scheduled at 8 hours for that run, though it can easily pull it off in 7:30 because there’s an extra half-hour of padding built in to the schedule between Milwaukee and Chicago (relative to the Hiawatha Service). In comparison, the Milwaukee Road’s Morning Hiawatha (which ran the same route as today’s Builder) reached an optimum schedule of 6:15 — but again, that timing had a fair amount of padding built in. I’m still amazed that the pulled it off with a steam locomotive on point…

      Unfortunately, you can’t directly compare schedules between St. Paul and Chicago, because the station has moved. Amtrak’s Midway station is 15-20 minutes farther down the tracks than the old Union Depot.

  • OceanRailroader

    A lot of the frieght railroad tracks where abondoned though the 1960′s and into the 1980′s the goverment could start going around and buying up the closed down rail lines for the passanger trains. Also a lot of freight railroads also ripped up their second and thrid railroad tracks to cut down on cost. The State of Vrginia is giving Norfolk Southern to restore their second set of abondoned pair of rails that run though the mountains of Vriginia.

    If the Federal goverment does pay money to up grade a rail line then they should have some rights to it but not take the place over unless they pay for more of it.

    • Don

      There is some of that, but most RR ROW in mountainous areas is not suitable for higher speed passenger – to many curves. The best and most useful examples of where abandoned ROW might be useful for passenger rail are in Indiana and Ohio, where things are generally flat and straight.

      Also, there are locations were double track has been cut back to single track where a restored second track might be useful for passenger rail, but “many” is an overstatement.

      The best example I know where the “what-ifs” fizzle in reality is Charlotte to Atlanta. A natural market – good sized cities with lots of population in between – good extension of existing route (NY to Charlotte). It’s former double track, now single, with not too much frt traffic on it. It has easy grades, too. Generally cooperative owner (NS). Now, here’s the rub. It was built with a huge number of three degree curves. It takes 5″ super-elevation just to keep the existing Amtrak train going 70 mph. Even raising the max speed to 90 mph doesn’t get you more than a handful of minutes reduction in running time.

      The proper solution is ALWAYS going to be very, very route specific.

  • walt veit

    There should be a moratorium on all abandoned rows to preserve them for future passenger service. The passenger rail system should have its own tracks as in most of the rest of the world. A commitment to rebuilding a rail net similar to the interstate highway system should be a no brainer. That act in ’56 helped pull us out of a recession by putting people in jobs while at the same time increasing economic efficiency.

  • Mike Skehan

    A national investment in the US is long overdue.
    Letting the Class 1′s rip-off the govt for extortion money, on a mile by mile basis is nuts (BNSF just sold 30 miles of access for each of 4 trains for $45,000,000 each in Seattle).
    Just as nuts as privatizing the ROW and track, would have the FRA trying to run an efficient dual-use rail system. “Federal Rail Traffic Controllers”, anyone?
    There has to be a coordinated national plan that puts trains on existing or new tracks, or ‘trails to rails’ provisions enforced, with proper separation when warranted, and fairly compensates the RR’s for dual use operations. This must be a national goal, but implemented in a logical, rational way, with the railroads, states, SEPA/NEPA rules, and all the trimmings agreed to for the betterment of transportation and the environment in our country.

  • OceanRailroader

    What they could do on former four track wide railroad rows would be for Amtrak to build it’s own privet set of double tracks next to the existing freight tracks on the four track wide right of way.

    One of the worst things thatw went wrong with the privet railroad companies and the privet railroads was when Amtrak started to over charge Conrail for use of their eletric lines for their eletric locomtives. What they should have done was offer to let Conrail add their own static conveters to the system to pump power in to it like a giant bank acount such as Conrail puts 50 megawatts in of power flow then they would be allowed to take 50 megawatts out anywhere on the system. But instead the federal goverment made them pull down their catenary wires by over charging them.

  • Tom West

    The freight companies shoudl run their trains at 110mph. They’d certainly gain traffic from trucks that way, and costs per train-mile would be lower.

    What I want to know is that if freight company A is running trains on freight company B’s tracks, and B delays A’s trains, can A claim any money back?

    • Don

      No. Fuel and MOW maintenance costs would quadruple at those speeds, wiping out any crew cost savings and overall transit times would not improve enough to matter much. In the long haul lanes where trains and trucks compete directly, rail transport is already winning the day with 30-40 mph avg speeds. Pushing the max up to 110 would do little as much of the network is not constructed to support those speeds and transit times tend to be governed more by bottlenecks and getting in and out of terminals, than by track speed.

      There are some passenger markets were 110 mph along frt RR ROW is practical and can be accommodated, but few will be attractive for freight operation.

      The future state of mixed operation, high frt traffic mixed with passenger at 110 mph, would have a new single, 110 mph track along the existing ROW, connected at interlockings every so often to the existing frt trackage. It would be dispatched by the owning frt RR. The single track would be used nearly exclusively for the passenger trains with the frt tracks used only by the passenger trains for meets.

      Don’t look for panaceas. Passenger rail expansion in the US is in niche market mode…which is an improvement over the old “no market” mode!

      • Say no to gadgetbahn droolers

        Don’t look for panaceas.

        Best statement on this whole thread. But that goes against the entire simpleton leftist Utopian worldview dominant here, where if they wish it then it should happen. Don’t bother them with pesky details, this is the Red Transport Politic website! If you want it, confiscate it.

    • Say no to gadgetbahn droolers

      The freight companies shoudl run their trains at 110mph. They’d certainly gain traffic from trucks that way, and costs per train-mile would be lower.

      You should quit sleeping more than 5 minutes per day. You’d have 50% more time and thus surely be 50% more productivity, right? Gov’t should force you to stay awake 23’55″ per day. For the good of the country and your own good.

  • Eric G.

    It seems obvious that this particular instance of attempted regulation was poorly handled. That being what it is, there is still a need to come to some sort of amicable solution addressing inherent conflicts between freight and passenger rail without degrading either. Perhaps an fiscal incentive for freights to promote on time performance of passenger service would be better received than a regulation enforcing it?
    No one has mentioned so far that the freight companies were relieved of thier responsibility to provide passenger transportation when the government created Amtrak. We could just go back to requiring them to provide passenger services and let them figure out how to do it. I’m not suggesting that. It’s draconian and probably not in anyone’s best interest, but CSX, UP etc… need to remember that they were granted ROW (and powers of eminent domain equivalent to States) with the caveat of providing a Public good (passenger transportation). They were relieved of that responsibility as a courtesy and for thier fiscal salvation, by the grace of the American taxpayer who now funds Amtrak, rather than having it subsidized out of freight profits like such service was in the past. Anyway, now that we remember our history, we aren’t going back to that, so let’s move forward…
    These challenges seem very amenable to solution by good engineering. The basic problem right now is as pointed out by Yonah. We don’t have a comprehensive National Rail Plan that lays out a vision for the future of passenger and freight services. It is difficult to know where resources and engineering talent should be directed and what types of solutions (shared track, separate ROW, realignments, new sidings, better signalling) should be pursued without some basic knowledge about the goals and vision that we are pursuing. When we have a clearer picture of the destination, It will be easier for all parties to recognize the steps necessary to get there. The Plan is a critical first task and it is long overdue.

  • Though the FTA wanting to force the hand of freight carriers to accommodate passenger rail is admirable, I’m glad they withdrew their punitive requests. The ICC made the same mistakes in regulating passenger rail carriers 60 years ago. Granted that those carriers were the fathers of the current freight companies and tried to carry passengers AND freight under one business model – which ultimately failed – heavy regulation did play a part in the demise of pre-Amtrak passenger rail.

    We also want to get more trucks off the road – which means operating freight at speeds which are profitable, but not necessarily fast.

  • The development and improvement of rail transportation, not to mention (non-existent) high-speed rail transportation, will hinder future u.s. economic growth and quality of life: Mind the Gap: We’re so behind in rail transportation

  • Well it’s great to see that you’re using proper grammar.

  • Allen

    “The basic problem right now is as pointed out by Yonah. We don’t have a comprehensive National Rail Plan that lays out a vision for the future of passenger and freight services.” -Eric G.

    @Yonah + Eric G.

    What exactly would need to be in this plan to make it “comprehensive”? And how can those parts of the plan have meaning when the federal government has no direct control over any of these lines and nearly no indirect control?

  • Jake

    http://www.economist.com/node/16636101

    I would suggest reading this article. It’s a lengthy article about the United States’ freight network and the coming correlation that will be needed between passenger and freight. It’s really good article.

    Sorry in advance, Yonah, if there are any rules about posting links that I don’t know about.

  • This bruhaha about freight companies paying for passenger delays is just silly. They use a single line of track. Would they pay for freight delays. Intentional infliction of harm or negligence maybe fined but if they want build a track for passenger trains only.

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