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Industrial Rail

Would a FREE market passenger rail system beat a FREE market highway system in efficiency?

*Highway is 13x as expensive as railroad
*Scale = efficiency
*The capital cost is the only real question I see, because people who already have a car won't pay it, but they don't own the rail-cars...but then again rail car capital investment is long term...
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Clearly Gov. intervention has ruined passenger rail...blatant evidence of that is our efficient unregulated industrial rail system, and what it was when it was regulated
@ Dr. Phil can you really base anything on that joke Amtrack
@ Dr. Phil its an example of a socialized transportation system...& before that it was over-regulated.
@ Scott, why not just build a smaller rail car?

There really is no one answer.

You can't just look at the capital cost of building a mile of railway vs. a mile of highway, and decide from that which is most "efficent"

Rail systems work best when you've got large population centers with a lot of people travelling between them. Think Philly-DC, NYC-Boston, that sort of thing.

That's one of the big reasons that rail travel in Europe works much better than in most of the US. Germany has 10% less area than Montana, but _82_ times the population. That makes an extensive rail network doable.

However, when the population numbers drop, rail becomes a less efficent way of moving people. Make that rail line Casper, WY to Cheyenne, and the ongoing efficiency of rail craters, because there just aren't enough people to make the train (which does cost more per mile to run than cars) worthwhile economically. You either take a loss on each trip, or make the rail fares so high that nobody will ride it.

Edit for additional info: Building smaller rail cars won't get it done, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it really doesn't save all that much. A rail car that holds 1/2 the number of passengers as a standard car probably costs 80% of the price of a standard car. The big expense in buying the cars isn't materials, it's assembly, and you're really not going to save much at all there (it's the same reason that a small soda at McD's is like $1.50, but the one four times as large is $2.50. Most of the cost is in the labor).

And you've still got the locomotive pulling the cars. While it wouldn't take quite as much fuel with a lighter load, again, it's not really that big a savings. To get any sort of real fuel savings, you'd have to go with a smaller engine, as well.

The other problem is in the realm of having rolling stock the right size in the right location at the right time. Airlines use a "hub and spoke" system so they have small planes that shuttle just between smaller communities and the hub, and larger planes to go longer distances. At least in the US, there isn't really a set of Amtrak hubs, so the cars that are on the Casper-Cheyenne run might go on to Denver, and then to Chicago. If you use smaller cars to make the first part of the run a little more efficent, then you have to use more of them for Denver-Chicago, which is _less_ efficient. Either that, or have enough full size "hot spares" sitting in Denver to make up the Denver-Chicago run, plus extras to allow for maintenence. That means you've got a bunch of rail cars sitting around not generating any revenue.

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Industrial Rail 7793 50 Freightcar Southern 43261 Boxed 1160 N Scale
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Bachmann Industries E Z Railer Rail N Scale
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N SCALE INDUSTRIAL RAIL 50 Foot Boxcar Great Northern GN
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