"Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Manager. I thought that hole in that there safe
was for relieving myself into."
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian,
or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up
to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
If we had a better, more efficient rail road system, we could move goods by
rail. Electrified, nuclear powered rail. It's a human choice we made to
put roads in, and as so many choices, some were right, and some were wrong.
Maybe now we can go back and put in really safe nuclear reactors ...
You're correct in thinking that nothing is more efficient that steel wheels
on a steel rail. The problem is, however, that there are very few railroads
that go to WalMart, the bodega down the street, and none at all that come to
In fact, I'd be surprised if more than 10% of the towns in this country
actually HAVE rail service. Also, rail cars are not like the UPS truck. Each
car's contents go entirely to one destination. Then, too, the efficiency of
railroads is built on scale. It takes time to load 200 rail cars, get them
all lined up and ready to go. Several days at least. I don't want to wait
that long for my donuts.
Never happen - too many deaths directly attributable to the prospect of
That is, the environmentalists would self-immolate or get so exercised over
the thought that they'd begin stabbing each other - berserker fashion.
True, although at one time our cities (and larger towns) enjoyed
neighborhood rail service in the form of streetcar lines...
Fair enough, but I remember Railway Express moving packages around the
country without cumbersome delays - and that was before there were
computers to help optimize loading manifests and help train masters make
The efficiency is not simply a matter of scale - it has a lot to do with
the ability to organize and plan the movement of goods, and there was a
/lot/ of merchandise moved very efficiently in LCL (less than carload)
I remember REA as a pathetic mess in the early '60s.
All of my PO's carried a paragraph:
Ship: United Parcel Service
Any shipment made via REA will be refused.
UPS was just coming up to speed after WWII while REA was not
considered a growth industry by the railroads.
By the early 60's, UPS was the big winner.
In large part due to federal intrusion into the management process
(which appeared to be the result of some really effective lobbying by
Detroit interests) and featherbedding, by the 1960's the railroads
weren't exactly a growth industry by any standard.
The /real/ winner produced the trucks that replaced the trains.
The interstate highway system provided major assistance to UPS
becoming what it is.
Should read about the systematic destruction of the trolley system
here in SoCal back in the 20's.
GMC, FoMoCo and Firestone were major players.
Should see the "Unit" trains leaving the port of L/A headed east
across the California desert.
200 car trains are not uncommon.
Of course it could be done much better in today's world. Much more
efficient dispatch, even more efficient locomotives, many could be
replaced with electric engines. Get those damned 747 Boeing Freight
planes out of the sky and those transcontinental trucks off the roads.
They send full truckloads of stuff coast-to-coast. Those are full van
loads. None of those truckers stop along the way to drop off a parcel
to Mrs Jones. The railway does what it does best, big loads, long
distances. Leave the micro stuff alone and set up a hub & spoke system
to feed it. Just like UPS does now, except feed the hubs with trains.
That would be a start.
FWIW, Europe, which railfans hold up as the poster child for rail
service, has trouble getting businesses to use rail for shipping. Their
passenger service is popular, but not their freight service.
In the US, there is no real hope for intercity passenger service, since
passenger trains are required (as part of the deal by which passenger
service was nationalized) to wait for freight trains. There's no way to
fix that except by abrogating the deal with the owners of the
infrastructure, which opens up a huge can of worms, or running the
passenger service on its own infrastructure independent of the freight
carriers, which would involve immense expense.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.