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8644Re: [carfree_cities] Cost per mile of Road, vs Rail

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  • Andrew Dawson
    Jun 11, 2005
      J.H. Crawford wrote:
      > >Don't forget 5: Rail (if built properly) is going to last many times
      > >longer, with less overall maintenance, than the roads. What's the cost
      > >of building a highway twice vs. building a railroad once?
      >The cost of maintaining rail rights-of-way including track
      >is a long way from insignificant. Rails wear and must be
      >replaced, ballast needs augmenting, ties rot or break down
      >under intense pounding, brush must be trimmed, the many
      >rock cuts require frequent attention. Where the savings
      >come is from the fact that often a single track is enough
      >to move all the traffic moving across a national railroad
      >in both directions. I saw last night regarding Canadian
      >Pacific that they now run trains 2 km long with 3 locomotives.
      >The trains weigh 14,000 tons and are pulled by only 18,000
      >horsepower with crew of just two. Now, lets do the numbers
      >for trucks. The payload of a this train is probably about
      >10,000 tons. The payload of a 40-ton truck is about 25 tons,
      >so we need 400 trucks with a crew of 400. The trucks have
      >engines around 400 HP, so we have a total of 160,000 HP
      >on the job, nearly 10 times as much.

      I was in Alberta & British Columbia back in March and I must say that it was
      quite impressive watching CP trains crossing the rockies. What's too bad for
      both Yoho and Banff national parks is that there is next to no passenger
      service through them. No wonder they're four laning the Trans Canada highway
      through the park to handle all the tourists.

      >The only reason all freight is not already moving by truck
      >is that the trucks pay a small fee to use the roads while
      >doing great damage to them. Railroads pay their full costs
      >of operation and at the same time pay hefty real estate taxes
      >on their rights-of-way. Their climate-change emissions are
      >a fraction of road freight, per ton-mile.

      All the money that railways have paid in property taxes starting back in the
      1920's should have gone into some form of a railway maintenance trust fund.

      >The cost of maintaining one track, capable of moving as
      >much freight as you're likely to need, is fairly small
      >in comparison to maintaining a huge fleet of expensive
      >trucks with limited life spans, to say nothing of the
      >cost of rebuilding the roads beat to cinders by these
      >If you want to talk "free market economics," the long-haul
      >truckers couldn't survive without their subsidies. The
      >railroads in the USA still manage to make a profit despite
      >the highly adverse market in which they must compete.

      What's needed is an "open market" so we can get a fair market value of goods
      & services.

      Till later, Andrew Dawson
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