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Why Freight Rail Pays and Passenger Trains Flunk

Shlomo O'Kelly Wrote: Apr 03, 2013 1:12 AM
While the notion of a long distance passenger rail is romantic, it simply can't compete with an automobile that can go from a given departure point to an eventual destination point. That may not be true for municipal light rail. However, both it and Amtrak have the same curse: government involvement.
Forty years ago, American railroads were in trouble. The Penn Central, the largest railroad, had recently gone bankrupt.

American freight rail was technologically obsolescent and hamstrung by union rules and government rate regulation. American passenger rail was unprofitable and unreliable.

Freight rail was losing business to trucking firms. Passenger rail was losing out to cars on the new interstate highways and airplanes on long routes.

The past 40 years have seen a laboratory experiment on how to revive railroads. Government has gotten out of freight rail, while passenger rail has become largely a public sector function.

We've had a chance to...