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Re: Amtrak

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  • emccaughrin
    ... You break them at major hubs. The airlines switched to hub-and-spoke long ago because it was far more efficient. As long as trains run on time and there
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 7, 2005
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      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Robert James Madison, III"
      <rmadisonwi@g...> wrote:

      >
      > And, suppose you did break up trains into 12 hour segments. Where
      > do you break them? What about people that live on one side of
      > the "break" and want to go just to the other side?

      You break them at major hubs. The airlines switched to hub-and-spoke
      long ago because it was far more efficient. As long as trains run on
      time and there are conveniently timed, cross-platform transfers, it
      is a win-win for both passengers and the rail operator.

      >
      > What do you propose be done with all the baggage, then? People do
      > use Amtrak for transportation, you know.

      Each day, millions rail passengers in Europe manage to travel on
      trains with their luggage just fine without the benefit of baggage
      cars or baggage handlers. Checked luggage means having to support a
      system of staffed stations and baggage handlers -- all of which is
      extremely expensive. All the European operators did away with this
      long ago as it wasn't financially sustainable.

      > And besides, Amtrak has de-staffed many of its smaller stations
      > (as part of its budget crunch of a couple of years ago).

      Amtrak has made only minimal changes. It is still quite horribly
      over-staffed.

      > The answer isn't to close stations or reduce services, but to add
      > more trains so that the costs can be spread over more services and
      > more passengers. One doesn't need hourly service across Montana
      > to make good use of station services. A couple of trains per
      > day would be sufficient.

      Even if there were a "couple" trains per day, no train operator
      (outside the US) would maintain a fully staffed station for so few
      trains. It is a complete anachronism to pay an employee to do
      something that can be easily handled by a ticket machine, web
      server, or 1-800 number.

      > >Metra is "famously efficient"?? Now I've heard it all.
      > >
      > So, then, tell me what's wrong with Metra.

      Antiquated equipment. Slow speeds (by world standards). Need I go
      on? I think you need to spend a bit more time outside the US. SBB
      and DB are famously efficient. By comparison, Metra is a joke.
    • Doug Salzmann
      OK, one more time -- then I m finished with this one. ... Well, that s two ;^) I have no problem with competitive rail service in the west. Indeed, I m a fan
      Message 33 of 33 , Jan 7, 2005
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        OK, one more time -- then I'm finished with this one.

        On Fri, 7 Jan 2005, emccaughrin wrote:

        > > Yes, but we were talking about rail service in vast, unpopulated
        > > rural places.
        >
        > Um, no. The discussion is about rail service to cities in the west,
        > not to some cattle ranch way out in the plains somewhere. There are
        > large metropolitan areas in the west -- Denver, Salt Lake City, to
        > name a few -- with populations large enough to justify rail service,
        > and not so far apart that rail cannot be competitive.

        Well, that's two ;^)

        I have no problem with competitive rail service in the west. Indeed, I'm a fan and have ridden many of the long-haul trains in the region. I'd simply rather spend the subsidy money in more productive ways (I have a list).

        Of course, if passenger service between those city pairs really is competitive, the railroads will be eager to provide it.


        > Norway has 300k km^2 and a population of 4.5 million. If one were to
        > go by a naive interpretation of its 15 persons/km^2 density, Norway
        > has no business running passenger rail because at it isn't "dense"
        > enough -- and yet it runs comprehensive, 140mph rail service that is
        > far better than anything you will find in even the most heavily
        > populated US metropolitan area.

        Come on, now. Norway's rail system is heavily concentrated in the more-populated southern part of the country. To the extent that it does serve the northern portions (does it extend beyond Bodo?), let's remember that we're talking about a long, very narrow corridor.


        To put things in perspective (again), the Norwegian national rail network totals about 2,500 miles of track -- just a little more than the route of our oft-cited, lonely American long-haul, the Empire Builder.

        Not to let this end without further (perhaps naive) reference to population density, the state of Montana, alone, is larger than Norway and, at 2.39 persons per square kilometer, is about *one-sixth* as densely populated.

        I just don't think the arguments for subsidizing rural passenger rail service in the US are persuasive, definitely not in a resource-constrained world. Certainly, there are many other subsidies on which I'd merrily pull the plug, also (autos, airlines, ranchers and loggers, warmongers and arms merchants...), but, if given the chance to divert the handout from Amtrak to a really useful urban project, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

        I suppose I should close by confessing that it would be fine with me if *all* long-distance travel was relatively difficult and (at least) moderately expensive. In a world of six-plus billion humans with an emerging permanent energy crunch, it is dangerous folly to encourage casual gallivanting around the globe.

        -Doug

        -Doug



        =================
        Doug Salzmann
        Kalliergo
        P.O. Box 307
        Corte Madera, CA
        94976-0307 USA

        www.kalliergo.net
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