MÄRKLIN & RAILROADS
www.trains-and-trains.dk : A personal view by Christian Vinaa
USA : Pennsylvania : Modern Railroad
Unfortunately modern railroad in Pennsylvania is a mere fraction of what it used to be.
Granted that the arrival of the diesel locomotives cut the work-force, given that where it before took perhaps 10 employees to run, service and maintain a steam locomotive, it now only takes perhaps 3 employees to run, service and maintain a diesel locomotive,
Remote-control of shunting locomotives and the way several locomotives can be coupled together and controlled by the front locomotive, also cuts the work-force.
This cannot explain that the passenger trains, today AMTRAK, seem to have vanished completely compared to i.e. 1950. Domestic flying has taken over a big part of the passenger trains; for better or worse.
The problem is that when the interstate passenger trains disappear, so does the regional passenger trains within a state. What is left are a few commuter-trains around the mega-cities on the east coast.
That gives passengers only 2 options; the airplane or the car. The result is pretty obvious.
Freight-wise I think its only fair to say that the railroads never had it any better than today. Intermodal and especially the double stacking of containers, and the federal projects to finance the freight corridors, expanding these to accomodate double-stacking, is a huge success.
Even then there are a lot of trucks on the highways in the USA; hopefully they are used as part of the intermodal system.
USA has never been a country where public (passenger) transport flourished. There are initiatives; especially on the east-coast; to re-new that with "socalled" high-speed trains, but compared to what the european countries has produced high-speed wise, the USA is still in the stone-age.
One thing that continues to amaze me, is the way that level crossing function in the USA. Level crossings in the USA generally starts signalling, compared to those in Europe, VERY late. You'll often be able to actually see, let alone hear, the on-coming train before the level crossing starts signalling.
I know that many car-drivers try to beat the train by crossing even though the signals have started. No doubt that the long freight trains is a reason; you can sit and wait for quite a while waiting for the freight train to pass slowly by, - but still - it is just plain stupid to try to beat a train.
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