What happened to US passenger trains?

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    • #423033
      • Total Posts: 10,623


      Amtrak has only one train between New York City and Chicago. Back in 1953, the New York Central ran seven daily trains between the two cities while the Pennsylvania had six. More trains to the Windy City left from the Erie, Jersey Central and Lackawanna terminals across the Hudson River.

      It wasn’t just jet planes and the interstate highway system that killed passenger trains. The ruling class didn’t need them anymore. Workers couldn’t afford the fare on famous all-Pullman sleeping car trains like the New York Central’s “20th Century Limited” or the Pennsylvania’s “Broadway Limited.” It was the prosperous few who rode these palaces on wheels with delicious meals prepared in the dining cars by Black chefs.

      Capitalists dumped these trains. What did they need Pullmans for when they could jet around the world and stay in hotel suites? The super-rich also went from owning private railroad cars to having their own jets. Ending passenger service went hand-in-hand with cutting railroad employment from 1.4 million workers in 1947 to around 200,000 today. At least 50,000 miles of track have been abandoned.

      For decades the Association of American Railroads attacked safety rules, claiming workers were being coddled. The AAR bosses called these absolutely necessary regulations “feather bedding.” Crew sizes were cut in both the U.S. and Canada. An inevitable result was 47 people killed in the 2013 train wreck in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. A lone engineer was the only crew member on a long train of oil tank cars.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #423036
      Cold Mountain Trail
      • Total Posts: 12,932

      I rode on trains with diner cars pre-amtrak.  It wasn’t the gentry in them & I don’t think passenger rail/dining cars died because rich people stopped using rail.

    • #423061
      • Total Posts: 477

      It’s a bit of “if you build it they will come”

      Europe and Italy in particular have excellent train systems.


    • #423062
      NV Wino
      • Total Posts: 8,485

      To paint it with a very broad paint brush: Detroit killed the passenger train.

      “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
      “Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt

      • #423103
        Cold Mountain Trail
        • Total Posts: 12,932

        Also the oil companies (who definitely killed light rail/trollies, already proven)

      • #423304
        • Total Posts: 1,371

        I think it’s really MOSTLY due to the auto industry.

        Many nations around the world maintain robust passenger rail systems, without offering any luxury services for the super-wealthy.

        If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #423078
      • Total Posts: 6,531

      and saw the rails and trestles removed and semis increase on two lane highways.

      Its also distance – it’s days from San Francisco to New York – OK for freight but harder for people.

      The succeed some places – CalTrain has a lot of commuter and business trains in the Bay Area.

    • #423091
      • Total Posts: 1,603

      The federal government, run by the filthy rich, started over taxing passanger rail road travel and putting Trillions into air travel.  They put just a few million into railways, while delaying and minimizing user fees for air travel.

      It was a tax regime designed to wipe out passanger railway travel. Why? Obviously the filthy rich did it. But why?

      Probably because they thought they could made tons of money if they forced the average person to buy cars, gas and build roads for those things.

      I remember when you could ride a bus almost anywhere. They stopped at almost all rural towns and cities and were very inexpensive. They were clean and safe. Not anymore. Routes are too long and convoluted. Busses are dirty and poorly maintained. Rural routes have been cut out. Cross country bus stations are dirty, run down and in obscure locations. Why? Check federal government subsidies. That is what determines our transportation methods.

      The filthy rich are running the federal government and they are known to be very, very stupid and short-sighted. That’s why cross country passenger trains and our bus system are almost all gone.

      • #423106
        Cold Mountain Trail
        • Total Posts: 12,932

        I was a regular Greyhound rider during the big strike — I rode/commuted to work on Greyhound.

        Government never funded Greyhound/Trailways.  It wasnt the government that killed Greyhound’s usefulness, or turned their buses and waiting stations dirty, it was Reagan-era deregulation + management/owners/finance capital.

        Before 1982, Greyhound was a prosperous company that prided itself on paying the highest wages in the industry.

        Greyhound all but ignored its competition, including  Trailways, its main competitor, which paid considerably lower wage rates than Greyhound.

        Considering Trailways’ frail financial situation and the prospect of losing union members’ jobs, the ATU agreed in early 1982 to a wage freeze at Trailways. Lower wages enabled Trailways to launch a major price war against Greyhound, well publicizing its lower bus fares.

        At first Greyhound ignored Trailways’ discounted fares and price war publicity. During spring of 1983, however, Greyhound began to experience a sharp decline in ridership. Passengers had become more price conscious.  (It was the Reagan Recession, a big one). As a result, Greyhound had no choice but to drop its fares.

        Deregulation of the transportation industry made the competition for passengers even stiffer. New entrepreneurs who paid low wages entered the business and offered fare prices much lower than the more established inter-city lines…The newly deregulated airline industry made things even worse for Greyhound…. In 1984 Greyhound laid off about 1,500 employees, including 400 supervisors, and in 1985 sold 120 bus terminals, terminating 2,000 more employees, and franchised many routes to lower-cost bus companies.



        With prolonged strike action & union-busting in its wake, personnel cut by half, corporate bankruptcy, violence including bombs, and I had it from the horse’s mouth.


      • #423172
        • Total Posts: 6,531

        Now I remember bus stations in small towns everywhere, and riding in younger years.

        In Ukraine, there still are regular buses and trains between towns – something like $2 – $5 for 30 miles between Kamianske and Dnipro. Train is a few dollars more – but a big difference on a Ukrainian salary.

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