You are absolutely right that trains are the workhorses of the infrastructure. But how will you decide how many freight railroads are enough ? I think one of the key features that will decide this answer is "Is the current rail systems are being utilised efficiently". If they aren't there is lot of scope to improve them. Because excessive infrastrcutre building might hamper the efficiency and might turn counterproductive.
An additional thought--passenger railways would go a long way in setting up a better infrastructure should the US ever realize job growth. Would I set up a business in an area where driving is the main transport and roadways are always congested? There are many outlying areas in the US that, if there were transit systems, would be very cost-effective for setting up a business. Any manufacturing enterprise would also need a way to move their products efficiently in and out of these areas.
I don't see things improving in the air transport system anytime soon. Between security issues, fees, and fewer flights, it is not a dependable system on which to base a supply chian.
Dennis, you're right. Resident on Long Island, for example, usually rely on a car to get around, but they still tend to take a train for a commute to a job in the city. Both the subway system and rail system were affected by weather. As the NYC subway extends into sections that are above ground, the heavy snows that hit made service unavailable in some areas. The LIRR didn't run at all for a day or two after the first major snow storm of this winter season. After another snow, many trains were suspended, though that information was not getting out to the commuters. The website was down at the time, and even the announcements at the local station did not correspond to reality. Trains were listed as on time when they never arrived at all, and the train that was announced as suspended surprised people by showing up. I know that MetroNorth and NJTransit also has experienced problems when faced with challenges like the weather we've had. It is possible to design trains that can push through snow, but that is not what is currently in place for many commuters.
Yes Barbara, it’s the time to look for some alternate path for both passenger and goods movement. Even though we have a good network of rail across the country, most of us preferring flight because of its convenience and speed. But under certain situations like natural calamities, bad weather etc; this service (air) may get disturbed either by delay or cancellation of service. If time is not a constrain, we can consider rail as the best alternate mode, for both passenger and goods transportation (cargo). When compare with air, rail is more economic and saftey. I think the rail goods transportation can play an important and vital role is supply chain building.
Bullet trains, High speed trains and NON stop rail networks can be used for faster access between cities. Similar way for better goods transportation, railway can think (strengthening the existing corridor path) in similar line, like goods corridor with dedicated path and rails for faster movements of container between the source and destination cities.
US investment towards railways is a good initiative. With inter city rail networks, the travel time between the cities has to bee reduced in order to attract more passengers. The railways is best alternative way of transportation in northeast and mid west especially in winter seaon. In near future , we can see much advanced and high speed trains on US tracks.
Regional mild weather was giving a boost to build airports and establish air traffic. Additional problems for long stretched railway system are continues small earthquakes.
In Southern California and it is very rare for people to take trains. Popularity is increasing. Now there are plans to build a bullet train connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco Bay Area. There were also plans to off load heavy truck traffic near Long Beach by using freight trains to East Los Angeles and there reload to heavy trucks for local distribution. I hope these plans will be materialized.
Given the subject matter of this site, I very much doubt any of us is going to argue against the importance of freight railroads in the U.S.: there is really no getting around the fact that it is and will remain a very important part of our economy for many, many years to come.
I think the debate around passenger rail is more interesting. Also, there is some crossover with freight, because -- in the northeast at least -- there are many instances of passenger rail sharing tracks with freight, which sometimes causes logistical difficulties.
Anyhow, I'm a big fan of passenger trains and have not flown in about a year. However, the main reason for this is because I live in NYC, and where I travel to most of the time is easily accessible via rail.
When I lived in Southern California, I never even considered using rail.
And that's where the disconnect lies: certain pockets of the country are well-suited for a passenger rail system, but outside of those pockets the utility of them is often very, very limited.
I don't think this situation will change all that much long-term. Areas that have successful passenger train service will upgrade their systems, areas that have very limited or no passenger train service will largely not even attempt to build a new system.
The U.S. railway system is a life blood of the American infrastructure that most people overlook. I agree that we are way behind many developed countries when it comes to fast people movers. With the size of the U.S. many people just don't realize all the cost advantages of using railroads to haul freight over the use of semis.
There is a large increase in the number of semis on the road to haul freight from manufacturers to suppliers to retailers. All this increased traffic is clogging the roads and adding to the pollution with all the diesel smog and causing roads to be destroyed by all the excess weight. Freight trains can carry large amounts of materials over longer distances for less cost.
When nasty winter weather hits and the highway systems get shut down, product sits. This causes delays in shipments throughout the supply chain. All of this ultimately affects the customer.
The US is long overdue for an overhaul of its railway system especially high speed railway. The US is way behind the rest of the world when it comes to high speed railways. Any upgrade to our railway system would be marvelous.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.