RE: [WorldTransport-Focus] final on Road versus rail
Facts sheet 5 shows that passenger rail uses 2 to 3 times the energy per
passenger mile as would be needed by express coaches doing the same job.
In contrast rail freight, after allowing for the drag in and out to the rail
head, uses about the same as would road freight all the way. Consequently,
if the rail operation were carried out by buses and coaches, using the
railway rights of way, there would be an energy saving of 30-40%. How that
may impinge on air pollution depends on the relative emissions of road
vehicles compared with power stations.
My thesis is that the railway lines should be removed in favour of a road
surface managed to avoid congestion. If that system were restricted to buses
and lorries alone the cost would be cut by a factor of at least four
compared with rail. Fuel consumption would be reduced see above, and
casualty costs by a factor for 3 see facts sheet 4.
Elaine's worry about congestion in Urban areas would not apply - we would be
using railway rights of way, not the access roads pretending to be a road
system, which is what the nation depends upon.
There would be very large environmental benefits from the removal of lorries
from unsuitable roads in city, town and village. However, the flow would
leave the track very much underused (the current rail use amounts to the
equivalent of only 300 buses plus lorries per day averaged over the
network). So, provided congestion could be avoided, e.g. by road pricing,
the option of allowing cars to use the system would seem sensible. Then the
parallel roads through town and village may be relieved even more and could
be returned to the cyclist and pedestrian, at least in some places.
As to comfort - a motorway coach can provide luxurious or Spartan conditions
as can rail, and a motorway coach is every bit as steady as train. In
contrast a coach on a historic A road alignment, winding its way through
town and village, may give a relatively humpy ride. Certainly some of the
rail passengers I met being bussed from Northampton to Milton Keynes last
autumn said to me that the coach was more comfortable than the train.
Speaking personally, that would apply to me only if they removed one row of
seats, so generating an additional 3 inches of, knee room. Despite that I
find I can read better on a coach than in most trains when travelling to
London - the train often develops an annoying shake, presumably due to wear
an tear on the track.
Elaine also says "buses can not compete with trains unless completely
segregated from cars". I comment that it is not segregation that matters
but the elimination of congestion, best accomplished by road pricing. Bus
lanes lead to valuable road space being scarcely used.
Why Eric Bruun believes the capacity numbers I quote are wrong I do not know
for it is clear for all to see that one motorway lane can easily carry 1,000
buses an hour. Separately from that the nimble bus may very well use
terminal space more efficiently than can the cumbersome train - my notes to
the forum contained illustrations of the fact.
As to Simon's point about people not being prepared to use coaches - I
comment that he would be right if those coaches had to contend with
congestion. However, using congestion free rail rights of way offering
journey times, for nearly all journeys, as good or better than rail at fares
down by perhaps a factor of 3, all seated in the peak instead of crushed
like sardines, the coach would be ever so popular. Allocating motorway
lanes to coaches and lorries would be useful but such lanes terminate on the
outskirts. If that were not the case the Railways would vanish overnight -
beaten by an alternative 4 times cheaper etc. see above.
From: Elaine Fletcher [mailto:Fletch@...]
Sent: 05 January 2003 08:37
Subject: Re: [WorldTransport-Focus] final on Road versus rail
I agree with Eric. Other key issues that are ignored in Paul's analysis are:
1) pollution emissions into the local environment by rail versus roads; the
enormous impacts of rail versus roads on land use. 2) the empirical data on
energy consumption versus transport modes in countries like the U.S. with
high dependency on road modes. 3) land use.
By channeling large numbers of people to defined station locales WITHOUT
their vehicles, rail offers the possibility, at least, of fostering, compact
and VERY IMPORTANT, more non-polluting forms of land use devevelopment.
Road- oriented development of malls and superstores, in contrast, is itself
a tremendous generator of pollution (see California Air Resources Board for
comparisons of pollution generated by suburban and urban shopping malls). It
is impossible, in a road system, to build compactly because tremendous space
must be set aside between functions for parking of cars. It is impossible to
build a safe pedestrian environment.
Finally, Paul's discussion of pedestrian/cycle safety in roads versus rail
makes the point that if the "segregation" of the rail system were
discounted, then safety impacts would be about the same in terms of accident
rates. But this "segregation" of the rail system from pedestrian and cycle
transport functions is precisely rail's great advantage. In the case of
rail, pedestrians or cyclists aren't forced to comete with the motorized
network in the same way that they may on most road systems. There are
dedicated uses for each function.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Bruun" <ericbruun@...>
Sent: Friday, January 03, 2003 7:51 PM
Subject: Re: [WorldTransport-Focus] final on Road versus rail
> I think that this has been a largely fruitless exchange. You are very
> certain about your positions to the point of smugness and have conceded
> virtually nothing to the respondents. Yet I think your analysis does bear
> some scrutiny. You ignore the difference between way and station capacity,
> the speed/capacity tradeoff, acceptable safety regimes for public
> operations, the need for tunnel operations and other considerations,
> your capacity and performance figures unrealistic, both for urban and
> intercity public transport.
> Eric Bruun
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Paul Withrington" <p.withrington@...>
> To: "World Transport" <email@example.com>
> Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 11:25 AM
> Subject: [WorldTransport-Focus] Road versus rail
> > This is the last of it
> > Facts sheet 13 - Summary
> > The previous 13 Facts sheets show that, very much against political
> > sentiment and public expectation, there is an overwhelming case for
> > converting the UK's national rail network to a network of motor roads
> > managed to avoid congestion. That is to say the rubber tyred option
> > offer 3 to 4 times the capacity at one quarter the cost of rail while
> > 30 to 40% less energy and reducing casualty costs suffered by rail
> > passengers by a factor of 3.
> > The problem with the case is that (a) it is indeed very much against
> > expectation (b) the numbers are so overwhelming as to inspire disbelief
> > rather than belief (c) few people have ever seen a motor road managed to
> > avoid congestion - The UK road network is a collection of access roads
> > designed for motor traffic. (d) rail is so romantic.
> > Certainly it took me months to come to terms with the data back in the
> > 1960s, so I sympathise with other's disbelief.
> > In support of the propositions, all the statements were tested at the
> > Inquiry into the West Coast Main Line Modernisation Programme. There,
> > Railtrack's immensely expensive Inquiry Team could do in the face of the
> > facts was to quack and Moo. Any person who doubts that may have copies
> > my and Railtracks's Closing Inquiry Statements.
> > Here are a selection of the main points and a list of the facts sheets.
> > Capacity and use
> > 1. Rail has one third to one quarter the capacity to move people
> > compared with motor roads managed to avoid congestion - go look at
> > 2. National Rail carries an average flow per track equivalent to only
> > 300 buses plus lorries per day. It is difficult to find a minor road
> > anywhere in the country so lightly loaded in terms of vehicles.
> > 3. The density of use achieved by the National Rail system is one third
> > to one fifth that obtained from the Motorway and Trunk road Network.
> > Energy consumption
> > 4. The energy consumption of passenger rail per passenger-km in 1990
> > was 2 to 3 times as high as required by express buses capable of doing
> > same job.
> > 5. In contrast rail uses half the fuel per Tonne-km required by road
> > but only if the drag in and out is ignored. When the latter are
> > freight by road and rail appear to have similar energy consumptions.
> > 6. If the National Rail function were carried out by buses and lorries
> > on motor roads managed to avoid congestion there would be an energy
> > of 30-40%.
> > Journey lengths, speed and fares
> > 7. 50% of passenger rail journeys are less than 25 miles long, the same
> > as by express bus. 90% are less that 80 miles long. For all those
> > the express coach would match the train for journey time particularly
> > taking account of a service frequency up to 12 times that of the train.
> > 8. Fares by express coach are generally a fraction of those by train
> > despite the coach paying taxes and making a profit. If rail were to
> > without subsidy fares would have to double at least without loss of
> > passengers.
> > Safety
> > 9. The death rate to passengers per passenger-km by rail is
> > historically higher than the corresponding rate by buses and coaches on
> > non-urban roads.
> > 10. The casualty costs attributable to deaths in Train accidents amounts
> > to about 4% of all casualty costs to passengers on rail.
> > 11. The casualty cost suffered by passengers per passenger-km on rail is
> > 3 times as high as suffered by passengers in buses and coaches on
> > roads.
> > 12. System wide, including trespassers on rail and pedestrians etc. on
> > roads, the death rate by rail is 0.36 per billion passenger-km compared
> > 0.46 for all roads. Of the deaths on the roads nearly half were
> > pedestrians' cyclists and motor bikers. If those are removed from the
> > on the basis that rail enjoys a largely segregated system then the road
> > environment would offer the lower death rate.
> > 13. Sir Robert Horton said in Railtrack's 1998/9 annual report that rail
> > was "27 times as safe as roads in terms of fatalities and serious
> > injuries.........". Sir Robert forgot to tell us that the roads carry
> > times as many passenger-km as do the railways. Hence, form the start,
> > Robert was exaggerating the relative safety of rail by a factor of 17.
> > Robert also forgot to say that over 40% of road deaths are to
> > cyclists and motor bikers, classes of people singularly absent from
> > rights of way.
> > 14. The £6 billion to be spent on rail safety systems is equivalent to
> > £435 million per year for 30 years. The corresponding value of the life
> > limb likely to be saved is less than 15 billion per year, or some 30
> > less than the annual capital cost - illustrating what must surely be the
> > grossest misapplication of resources on offer.
> > Widths and headroom
> > 15. A two track railway typically offers room for a UK standard 7.3
> > metre carriageway with one metre marginal strips but no other verges.
> > 16. On the approaches to towns and cities there is often room for a dual
> > two or three lane highway.
> > 17. Where there is overhead electrification headroom would often be
> > adequate for a triple decker
> > Costs
> > 18. The annual capital cost of rail passenger rolling stock is 3 times
> > as high as is equivalent floor space for express bus
> > 19. Track maintenance costs per tonne/passenger-km for rail are at least
> > 10 times higher than for equivalent road transport.
> > 20. The cost per track-km of the West Coast Main Line Modernisation
> > programme is 10 times higher than the cost per lane-km of building the
> > from scratch including the cost of land.
> > 21. The rail Modernisation Programme is to cost £70 billion. Its target
> > is to increase passengers by 50%, e.g. from 6% to 9% of current
> > passenger-km, and to increase rail freight from 11% to 17% of tonne-km.
> > That will have a negligible effect on car traffic and a small effect on
> > freight. Hence the £70 billion will have been almost entirely wasted -
> > equivalent to burning the residential accommodation for a city of 1.5
> > million people.
> > 22. In contrast, replacing the railway lines by a road surface managed
> > to avoid congestion would cost at most £12 billion. The effect would be
> > offer faster journey times for all but the longest journeys at fares a
> > fraction of those charged by rail.
> > Facts Sheets
> > 1. Flow, density of use and capacity.
> > 2. Safety, definitions and unit costs.
> > 3. Death rates comparisons
> > Extra 03 - proportion of road casualty costs attributable to
> > cyclists and motor cyclists.
> > 4. Casualty cost comparisons
> > 5. Fuel consumptions
> > 6. Cost escalation for railway projects in the UK.
> > 7. Track costs
> > 8. Track maintenance costs
> > 9. Passenger Rolling Stock costs
> > 10. Rail safety costs, value for money?
> > 11. Journey Length distributions/Speed and fares
> > 12. Costs of conversion and rates of return
> > See also
> > Railways Myth and Maths: A paper read to the British Association for
> > Advancement of Science and to a fringe meeting of Friends of the Earth
> > Nearly endless Inquiry evidenced.
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