10.2.17

LET'S AT LEAST UNDERSTAND THE RAILROAD NETWORK.

At the Asia Times, Railways pose biggest challenge in Trump’s infrastructure plan.

The article starts with a misleading picture of passenger railroading.


Arcade Station, Los Angeles, 1891, retrieved from Asia Times.

The slide-valve American Standard is already obsolete, and robust Pacifics, Northerns, and seven-foot-drivered Hudsons are thirty years away.  But to the casual observer, deficiencies in Passenger Rail translate into deficiencies with the railroads.
US railroad infrastructure went into a long decay after World War II as highways overtook trains as the most convenient and cost-effective mode of public and commercial transport.  Many diesel/electric locomotives on US tracks today suffer from parts shortages and maintenance issues.
Really?

Yes, the freight carriers have downsized, but they've also rebuilt.


Passengers waiting at Lewistown, Pennsylvania.  The priority stacks are moving.
Lindsay Lazarski photograph retrieved from Keystone Crossroads.

The empty space in the foreground is where the westbound passenger main was removed.  Double-stacking?  That's been going on for thirty years.

Where there are regional rail operators, the plant and the rolling stock, as at Downers Grove, can be phenomenally productive.


And here's a spectacular new rail bridge in Iowa.  Intermodal trains can fly across the Des Moines River at 70 mph.  The old bridge at right was good for one train at a time, at 30 mph.


Trains weblog photograph.

Perhaps it has been better for the investor-owned railroads that their capital spending plans are approved by boards of directors, rather than appropriated by fractious Congresses.

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