• Most successful rail operations in the world

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by David Benton
Continuing a discussion that will probably be declared offtopic in the Amtrak forum, what do you consider to be the best rail operation in the world? Pretty wide open , maybe its just your favorite train/ railway. It would be good to have some facts/rationale to back up your choices though .
  by David Benton
gokeefe wrote: ↑Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:19 am
Given that the FRA regulates the single most successful railroads anywhere on the planet I tend to think they are doing a good job. Nobody else in the world is even remotely willing to contemplate the types of mixed operations they oversee or the train lengths and car sizes.
  by David Benton
David Benton wrote: ↑Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:37 pm
gokeefe wrote: ↑Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:19 am
Given that the FRA regulates the single most successful railroads anywhere on the planet I tend to think they are doing a good job. Nobody else in the world is even remotely willing to contemplate the types of mixed operations they oversee or the train lengths and car sizes.
"the single most successful railroads anywhere on the planet"
Yes, Americans keep saying that. :wink:
  by David Benton
"electricron" wrote,
Here's some data proving it, per......
Railways, goods transported (million ton-km)
Albania 4
Algeria 1,009
Argentina 1,814
Armenia 689
Australia 59,649
Austria 16,052
Azerbaijan 4,633
Bangladesh 710
Belarus 48,538
Belgium 2,888
Benin 36
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,114
Botswana 674
Brazil 9,394
Bulgaria 2,860
Burkina Faso 1
Cambodia 92
Cameroon 1,057
Canada 540,141
Chile 1,935
China 2,146,466
Congo, Dem. Rep. 194
Congo, Rep. 257
Cote d'Ivoire 675
Croatia 2,012
Cuba 1,351
Czech Republic 11,819
Denmark 2,030
Djibouti 118
Egypt, Arab Rep. 1,592
El Salvador 13
Estonia 4,807
Eswatini 862
Finland 10,319
France 24,598
Gabon 2,058
Georgia 2,963
Germany 70,614
Ghana 181
Greece 538
Guatemala 2,207
Hungary 447
India 620,175
Indonesia 7,166
Iran, Islamic Rep. 30,299
Iraq 249
Ireland 96
Israel 1,404
Italy 9,969
Japan 21,265
Jordan 344
Kazakhstan 206,258
Kenya 1,399
Korea, Rep. 8,229
Latvia 9,971
Lithuania 15,414
Luxembourg 189
Madagascar 122
Malawi 33
Malaysia 1,234
Mali 189
Mauritania 7,536
Mexico 73,879
Moldova 971
Mongolia 13,493
Montenegro 169
Morocco 3,896
Mozambique 1,193
Myanmar 885
Netherlands 4,331
New Zealand 4,078
Nigeria 77
North Macedonia 277
Norway 2,395
Pakistan 5,031
Peru 599
Philippines 1
Poland 28,720
Portugal 2,064
Romania 8,563
Russian Federation 2,491,876
Saudi Arabia 1,852
Senegal 384
Serbia 3,288
Slovak Republic 7,008
Slovenia 4,447
South Africa 113,342
Spain 6,649
Sri Lanka 127
Sudan 34
Sweden 11,725
Switzerland 8,492
Syrian Arab Republic 2,206
Tajikistan 165
Tanzania 1,196
Thailand 2,562
Tunisia 664
Turkey 10,773
Turkmenistan 13,327
Uganda 218
Ukraine 191,914
United Kingdom 12,512
United States 2,445,132
Uruguay 284
Uzbekistan 22,940
Venezuela, RB 81
Vietnam 3,574
Zambia 554
Zimbabwe 1,580
If your nation is not on this list, they have never shipped 1 million tons by rail within a year.
Let's repeat the top 10 again, just to show how fast the numbers fall.
1) Russian Federation 2,491,876
2) United States 2,445,132
3) China 2,146,466
4) India 620,175
5) Canada 540,141
6) Kazakhstan 206,258
7) Ukraine 191,914
8) South Africa 113,342
9) Mexico 73,879
10) Germany 70,614
  by David Benton
"gokeefe" wrote
David, our government operated passenger trains almost cover their operating costs and our freight services are all private. Our high speed trains share tracks with fully loaded freight trains and slow commuter services.

It is the single most challenging operating scheme anywhere in the world and it runs pretty smoothly almost everyday.

What about outside the Northeast Corridor? Our cities and towns have preseved, restored and repurposed their passenger rail facilities while still accomodating passenger trains at those with service. Amtrak still provides checked baggage service in many locations.

I am also going to go out on a limb and venture a guess that Amtrak likely operates more sleeping car accomodations every night than the rest of the Americas, Europe and Africa combined.

On top of all that ... Amtrak has reinvested in sleeping car services and with the Viewliner II order and now appears likely to maintain these services for years to come.
  by David Benton
A partial list of Sleeper trains in Europe.
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/e ... ght-trains
I would say you could safely triple that number of trains, outnumbering Amtrak's sleeper trains. Of course Amtrak western services cover multiple nites, so each could count as double , or possibly triple night-beds.
  by ExCon90
Without a specific definition of success you could have a variety of different rankings, but I think the Swiss Federal Railways and the many non-Federal operations would be near the top. They mix express passenger, local passenger, through freight, and local freight on a physical plant which is tightly constrained by topography. I was once surprised to realize that of the four passenger lines serving Lucerne (from Basel, Zurich, Bern, and the St. Gotthard) all but one (Basel) are single track--the St. Gotthard line doesn't become double track for some distance south of Lucerne. Up until the completion of the St. Gotthard highway tunnel they also had to shoehorn in the auto-carrier trains from Goeschenen to Airolo (or wherever the southern terminal is). I was once told by a stationmaster at Zurich that owing to the complexity of their rail network their rule of thumb is that a significant delay (approaching 10 minutes or so) will cause cumulative delays that will reach the borders of Switzerland in four hours if they don't get a handle on it--so there is a culture throughout the country that delays must not happen, and when they do every effort is made to cut dwell time at each stop. If you can save 20 seconds at three stops you've gained back a minute; keep up the good work. "Late trains get later" is not the rule there. The passengers are entirely with it--it's not uncommon to see passengers running--running--along the platform to catch a delayed train because nobody wants to the last one aboard that everybody else had to wait for.
  by David Benton
I was thinking Switzerland must be up the op as far as punctuality goes , The only country that may be close is Japan.
Back in the 80's , I read of a Swiss single track line, that was handling more trains per hour than a convential double track automatic block line. I guess with close headways , and running meets you could do it , but it would require timing to the seconds.
  by andegold
What is with this persistent idea that passenger trains are covering their costs now? To say that Amtrak is covering its costs is one thing but it is deceptive at best. Amtrak could cover 100% of its costs and then some if it could get the states to pick up the bill. That doesn't make the train any more profitable than when Congress was covering the cost. The only metric that should be considered is actual farebox revenue. Source of subsidy, local, state, or federal shouldn't matter - it's all a direct subsidy. Yes, yes, all other forms of transport have government subsidy also. I'm not arguing they don't and I'm also not arguing that Amtrak shouldn't be subsidized - it's a public good and should be subsidized out of gas taxes because the more people that ride the rails the less money needs to be spent maintaining the roads. None of that changes the basic fact that if it doesn't come out of the passenger's wallet directly it's still a subsidy.
  by trainviews
Switzerland is a really good candidate.

I would put Sweden in the running too.
The freight network is pretty robust, especially the iron ore transports from the mines in the far north. The run to the ports is relatively short though, so many tons but fewer ton-km. There's significant intermodal transports too and unlike the ore trains they generally run mixed in on some of the busiest passenger lines.

The winner however is the intercity passenger network. Ridership has doubled over the last 25 years and continue to grow at approx. 7 % a year. The state owns the rails, but the trains themselves are operating in a free market. National operator SJ is still dominant, but receives no subsidy for operations (a few trains to/in the sparsely populated far north might be the exception), and is able to finance new rolling stock themselves. On time performance is decent.

Local and commuter operations are subsidized/tendered out by regional authorities. The national government merely finances investments in the network itself, which on the other hand has been comprehensive, targeted and prioritized in a long term planning revised every five years or so. Severe capacity constraints have resulted in new tunneling in all three of the largest cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö in the last decade and the first stretches of a new high speed network has started operating. All main lines are electrified and the state of repair is excellent.

Incidently the Swedish geography is maybe the European country mostly resembling a mini version of the US. The population density is almost the same (low), the population is very unevenly distributed with the bulk centered around the largest urban centres, all located in the southern third of the country and even there, there's long sparsly populated stretches in between them. The freight network is driven by a large mining industry with the main difference being that end destinations (ports) are reached within a few hundred miles. The same goes for many of the intermodals, though some run over land through Denmark.