An interesting story about industrial rail in the United States. About 20 mins. From The Economist.

commercial railways in the United States

  • Europe has an impressive and growing network of high-speed passenger links
  • America’s freight railways are one of the unsung transport successes of the past 30 years.
  • Before deregulation America’s railways were going bust. … By 1980 a fifth of rail mileage was owned by bankrupt firms.
  • Since 1981 productivity has risen by 172%, after years of stagnation. Adjusted for inflation, rates are down by 55% 
  • Coal is the biggest single cargo, accounting for 45% by volume and 23% by value.
  • since 1990 the average horsepower of their fleet has risen by 72%
  • [since 1990] the number of ton-miles per (American) gallon of fuel [rose] from 332 to 457—an improvement of 38%
  • But the fastest-growing part of rail freight has been “intermodal” traffic: containers or truck trailers loaded on to flat railcars. The number of such shipments rose from 3m in 1980 to 12.3m in 2006, before the downturn caused a slight falling back.
  • one freight train can carry as much as 280 lorries can

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