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In US, Why are there not more passenger trains?

Why there are less passenger trains in US?

The passenger rail network in the United States is essentially a shell of what it was a few decades ago, with large portions of it either abandoned or given over to freight. The United States has invested in and changed its priorities over the past century from passenger rails to automobile and aircraft travel. If your conception of quick, simple, common, and even glamorous train travel comes from films like “Before Sunrise” or “Bullet Train,” which are based in Europe or Asia. America moved on trains. A bustling transcontinental network of 254,000 miles of rails at its peak a little over a century ago.

It looks like that’s about to change. A recent initiative to reduce emissions has sparked efforts to bring railway travel back to life in the US. The Northeast Corridor, which connects Boston and Washington, D.C. on Amtrak, is the busiest rail line in the country. The Biden administration stated earlier this month that $16 billion will be allocated to its improvement.

Privately Owned Train

The first privately owned and run intercity railway in the nation. The three-hour run reduces driving time by approximately one hour. California has made significant investments in a Los Angeles to San Francisco link. Perhaps now is the opportune moment for a railway comeback. The Swedish “flyskam” movement, which means “flight shame,” has gained popularity among those who want to reduce their carbon footprints all around the world. Out of all US industries, the transportation industry generates the most greenhouse gases. The US Department of Transportation has stated that rail may be crucial to lowering emissions.

In the US, taking the train is still somewhat of a trend. The majority of intercity rail service is currently offered by Amtrak. A government-owned network that spans more than 21,400 miles across 46 states. Experts assert that the United States still has a ways to go before it can rival nations such as France, Japan, and China in terms of high-speed rail and extensive train travel.

Up and Down of US Trains

Trains transformed transport in the 19th century, with the US setting the standard. Several of the biggest fortunes in the country, including those of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and JP Morgan, were established on the rails. By the 1860s, private US corporations began building the nation’s first transcontinental railway with funding from the government and land concessions. In 1869, it completed the connection between the United States’ eastern rail network and San Francisco. Railway expert Christian Wolmar claimed in his 2012 book, “The Great Railway Revolution,” that at the time it was the longest railway in the world and that it contributed to the westward migration of the US population.

Rail carriers had to offer passenger service in return for government subsidies. According to Wolmar, rail travel spread widely, and by the 1900s, nearly all Americans lived close to a train station. Nowadays, goods trains only occupy a large portion of the rail tracks that were formerly used by passengers. And for many Americans, taking the train is not even an option.

US Government

In the 1920s, the US government started pressuring states to spend money on highway construction. President Dwight D. Eisenhower oversaw a rapid acceleration of these activities. As per the United States Senate website, which offers a legislative history, Eisenhower’s fascination with the US highway system began when he took part in the Army’s inaugural cross-country vehicle convoy in 1919. He has firsthand knowledge of how bad American roads are as a result. He defended his proposal for an American interstate highway system as a national defence initiative in his 1954 State of the Union address. In the event of a nuclear strike, the routes may be utilised to evacuate cities and carry troops.

Though the US was not the first country to promote automobile travel, “the US differs from other countries in that it essentially allowed the private passenger rail companies to slowly disappear into irrelevance.”

Amtrak is taken over by the Government

In the early 1970s, low traffic, ageing infrastructure, and increased competition from automobiles. Aircraft had made passenger train service a financial burden for private enterprises. The train Passenger Service Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, did away with the necessity that private train firms offer passenger service. Amtrak was founded by the US government. Amtrak serves nearly 20 million passengers a year, despite being far smaller than comparable government-owned organisations in many other nations.

However, passenger trains are no longer available in many American towns and cities. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ route maps show that numerous routes have been abandoned since 1971, mostly in midwestern states like Ohio and Indiana. Given that private freight firms own and share ownership of more than 70% of the rails it operates on. Amtrak also has limited control over schedule delays and on-track maintenance.

Federal monies will be used to upgrade the trains’ safety features, increase passenger capacity, and replace deteriorating infrastructure, such as a Baltimore rail tunnel that was constructed during President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration.

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