When it comes to mass transit, nothing is more efficient at moving large amounts of passengers and freight than a train. Because of our manufacturing base, we have a lot of freight trains in Indiana. But because of our low population density, we have a very limited market for passenger trains.
Trains are great for traveling between large cities. But the number of people who travel daily from any two points in Indiana isn’t enough to justify the expense of a rail route. The catch behind mass transit is that its only more fuel efficient if people actually use it.
They can go faster than a car on a highway. But they aren’t as flexible as buses and planes. A common problem with trains in that another train is blocking the route. Ever come to a railroad crossing and notice that the train isn’t moving? Buses have an easier time finding an alternate route, and planes never have that problem. So even though they can go at a faster speed limit than a car, it can still take longer to get to your destination due to delays.
Passenger trains are more practical along the coasts, which have higher population density than the Midwest. Rather than arguing for trains that we do not need, Indiana’s congressional delegation should move to deny federal funding for rail lines that do not benefit us. The high traffic rail lines in New England and California are profitable enough that they can be privatized with no disruption in service.
For more rail bashing, click here.