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Passenger Trains > Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.


Date: 02/06/12 16:49
Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: jbaker

Here's a link to a study comparing government support of passenger rail in Europe and the US. You can draw your own conclusions.

http://www.amtrakoig.gov/sites/default/files/reports/E-08-02-042208.PDF



Date: 02/06/12 17:54
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: stash

Conclusion obvious. Amtrak gets very little subsidy. Essentially starvation. If better service is desired, increase the subsidy. In the USA non-rail transport rakes in subsidies. Rail transportation not so.



Date: 02/07/12 04:46
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: timecruncher

During an election year - an important one - who in our Congress would take the time to actually read this stuff? For that matter, considering the [low] quality and lack of useful education of our elected representatives, who would even understand it?

And stash - aside from the 'hidden' subsidies that the highway and airway industries enjoy, I can assure you that public transit in the U.S. is also starved for funding and choked by regulations and unfunded mandates galore!

If our elected representatives don't use it, they don't give a s*** about it unless there is a lot of $$ coming from lobbies to line their pockets.

timecruncher



Date: 02/07/12 05:54
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: ts1457

Before seeing the comparison, my impression was that many European countries were over-invested in rail. I think the analysis only bolsters those thoughts.

On the other hand, the European way of doing business seems to support separating the infrastructure and train operations parts of the NEC.



Date: 02/07/12 07:01
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: shoretower

I'm not sure why this is suddenly news, since the Amtrak OIG report was printed in 2008. In any case, the European subsidy numbers are wldely available. However, European and North American rail networks are so different that it's quite difficult to compare one with the other.

One comparison that can be made is in annual amounts spent for track maintenance (including both operating and capital expenditures). In this comparison, neither Amtrak nor the Europeans look very good. I did the comparison about eight years ago for a client.

1) US freight railroads spend about $1.00 US per thousand gross ton miles (MGT) of traffic
2) Amtrak spends about $14.00 per MGT on the NEC
3) Sweden (the most efficient operator in Europe) spends about $3.00 per MGT
4) Most other European infrastructure companies spend in the range of $10 to $20 per MGT

It might be argued that European track is maintained to higher standards. Well, some of it is (obviously, the high speed lines) but a lot of it isn't. Another factor is that there are economies of density in track maintenance. The more tons you run, the less it costs. By North American standards, tonnage on most European trackage is pitifully low.

So yes, I think the Europeans are over-invested in rail. I also think Amtrak's NEC maintenance is very inefficient.



Date: 02/07/12 11:08
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: jbaker

shoretower Wrote:

> So yes, I think the Europeans are over-invested in
> rail. I also think Amtrak's NEC maintenance is
> very inefficient.


What do you mean by "MGT"?

Amtrak just recently published its Five Year Financial Plan. If you read this carefully and follow the money, it shows a $billion/yr or so over the next five years "to maintain a state of good repair" for the NEC infrastructure. By 2020 the system reaches capacity, requiring a $16-18B investment. This does not include any speed increases or HSR, just maintaining the status quo. Much of the operating budget is undoubtedly dedicated to NEC infrastructure but difficult to separate out. An exception is the Engineering Dept. which is nearly 100% NEC MOW. It has a budget of $300M salary and overhead. A good guess is the total of these NEC costs will run at least $1.5B.



Date: 02/07/12 17:51
Re: Comparison of US and European Rail Subsidy.
Author: ProAmtrak

There's no comparison, the US just doesn't know what a balanced transportation system is, and it sucks they're too stubborn in DC to figure that out with congestion gettin' worse and worse as the years go by while Amtrak's doin' good on ridership, but not enough money comes to them to really expand and improve on a good product!



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