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40 % of US cargo is shipped by train, which is just as large a share as it was 30 or 40 years ago. But then they only allow trucks to carry 36.000 kg on roads, while it's 44.000 kg in the EU and 60.000 kg in Sweden and Finland.

US train freight is ten times as big as EU train freight, measured in ton-kilometres and it's run by profitable, publicly traded private companies.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Apr 10th, 2007 at 07:51:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However,

  1. no passenger transport is run on most of their lines;
  2. correspondingly, their infrastructure is rather run-down;
  3. the US railways could increase the cross section and axleweight of their cars (and thus carry much more cargo with the same length trains) and run longer trains with relatively little difficulty: less buildings than can be torn down more cheaply if they are in the way, less long and old tunnels to widen, already historically higher axleloads, less problems with stations and block lengths;
  4. railfreight is more profitable over longer distances, and in Europe, borders (both in regulatory and technical sense) pose big problems;
  5. the US settlement structure further suits railways: most transport is along longer routes between a few large centres, while Europe is more decentralised.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 04:40:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and one more thing, much of the transportation work, several tens of percents (especially in ton-kilometres) is really optional as it is coal that is shipped across the continent, from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming(?) where coal is low-sulfur to the consumers in the Northeast and Midwest.

In France no one needs to ship coal...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 05:06:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
5b. Since railfreight dominates transcontinental and ports-to-major-inland-cities transports, the very long distances involved boost the ton-kilometre numbers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 05:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised by that, but I suppose my shock is largely attributable to the miserable state of passenger rail in America.  Thinking about it, though, I suppose it would be difficult to imagine major inland cities like Atlanta and Dallas surviving with it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 03:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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