Have you ever ridden on a train? Not the type like in a theme park or county fair, but a real train to get from one city to another. Many have, but most utilize other modes of transport… in homage to the classic John Hughes comedy starring John Candy and Steve Martin, most travel on Planes, (not on) Trains and Automobiles.
So, how does train travel compare and where does high-speed rail fit in to the national transportation discussion?
Amtrak- the government chartered passenger rail operator in the U.S.- runs more than 300 trains daily across more than 21,000 miles of tracks to 500 destinations across 46 states and the District of Columbia. On the highly profitable Northeast Corridor- the fully electrified route that takes travelers from Boston, through Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore to Washington D.C.- taking a train oftentimes beats the time it takes to travel to the same destination along the main Interstate (Route 95)… sometimes substantially! The Northeast Corridor is the busiest railroad in North America with more than 800,000 trips taken daily on 2,200 daily Amtrak, commuter and freight trains.
To note, Amtrak carried more than five times as many riders between Washington D.C. and New York City as all of the airlines combined and carried more than twice as many riders between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined. Amtrak also carries more riders than all airlines between Chicago and Milwaukee, amongst other routes. Counting the time needed to get to the airport, through TSA and then out of the airport upon arrival, the travel time on a train, featuring a station departure already in the downtown of the destination city, compares favorably.
In addition, the train is 34% more efficient than domestic air travel and 46% more efficient than traveling by car. Additional high-speed rail routes are expected to only increase the discrepancy.
Favorable travel times become more so when utilizing the high speed Acela trains, which go up to 150-mph. New Acela trains expected to be introduced next year will carry more passengers in greater comfort at 160-mph. While these are impressive speeds, we should keep in mind that high-speed train travel in other parts of the world is much more prevalent, with over 28,000 miles of track in over 20 countries, with the fastest trains traveling up to 220-mph.
In addition to the upgraded Acela fleet from Amtrak, several other high-speed rail proposals in the works should prove to be just the start of the high-speed rail story in America. Enjoy this piece below about a new line proposed to whisk travelers along a privately operated route between LA and Las Vegas at speeds up to 180-mph.
Have you ever ridden on a train? Check in with your thoughts. All Aboard!
~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix
P.S.- Did you see my last Leadership Matrix post- Bigger May Not Be Better for Active Mutual Funds
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