Don't get me wrong, I am broadly in agreement with the notion that regulated private railroads 'work' in the highly competitive context of early 20th US, but a whole lot of the terrible-things-done-to-the-industry were the product of the fact that the public wanted to get away from powerful unaccountable railroads, to the long term detriment of the economy and environment. Gotta kill off proto-containerization to prevent the rich roads from squeezing out the poor roads. Gotta set rates high enough to keep the weak roads alive and cross-subsidize. Gotta build freeways to get away from the traction and railroad's service deficiencies. So man things could have been avoided had the railroad's interests been more strongly aligned with the public interest. And other features, like heavy railroad property taxes or full crew laws or mandatory, unfunded passenger services that helped drag much of the industry down when it faced road competition could have been reduced or mitigated by federal pre-emption and as-desired federal subsidies.
Re-privatization, however, put us on the pathway to badly-regulated private operation that we saw in the following 60 years, and it's attendant disinvestment and the downgrading of an efficient, universal transportation system into a lowest-cost, lowest value conveyance mechanism
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations