• Private passeneger rail could've been saved?

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by JohnFromJersey
When talking about the giants of the private passenger (AND freight) companies, the topic of how they met their demise always seems to come up.

The classic reason is the automobile and/or the arrival of practical, affordable, and comfortable air travel.

Not mentioned as much seems to be government regulations. The US government regulated (and, if I'm correct, nationalized railroads during WW1) railroads strictly, due to the fact that they were largely unopposed (railroads were basically the only form of speedy, long-distant mass transit for most of the first half of the 20th century). However, as technology advanced, and railroads started to lose their edge, the government did not loosen up on any regulations until the late 70's/early 80's. Bills such as the Staggers Rail Act allowed freight lines to once again pull profit, but it was far too late to see if these bills could've done anything for the now defunct rail companies, such as Penn Central.

If laws such as the Staggers Rail Act were passed 10 years earlier, could it have saved private passenger rail? Or would it have only slowed down its decline?
  by John_Perkowski
Staggers and deregulation would have resulted in train-offs even faster.

Work rules for employees. Short service districts for T&E crew. Velocity of travel. Convenience of travel. Loss of revenue from freight traffic fiscally allocated to passenger traffic departments (US Mail Railway Mail Service, first fresh fruits), cooking from scratch in the dining car, the list keeps going on.

Read Kratville and Ranks Union Pacific Streamliners. They described the decline of UP service economically, and the counter-tactics they used to stanch the losses.

Remember, the Pullman Company ceased operations 31 December 1968, and then spent the next couple years closing up shop.
  by CHTT1
Jet airplanes and interstate highways were the main culprits in the demise of passenger trains. The loss of mail business, which was a government decision, also dealt a fatal blow to the passenger train.
  by mtuandrew
The last three major railroads providing passenger service on their own account, the Southern Railway, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway, and the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad, had wildly disparate reasons to opt out of Amtrak. Suffice to say none of them were making money on the passenger service per se; it was more a matter of them finding more benefit in not being part of Amtrak.

Moderator's Note: this question has been asked and answered more times than any of us can count. I'm closing the thread, but as a final bit of reading material, see Don Phillips' "The Road to Rescue." Let either Greg or myself know if you need to add something.