Lying Tracks: Anti-rail propaganda

Today, I saw this pathetic piece of so-called “news” – from PBS, to boot – whining about long freight trains and long breakdowns “dividing towns”. This is not just third rate “journalism”, it’s anti-rail propaganda.

NO mention or poor or failing train infrastructure.

NO mention of failure to build bridges or underpasses for cars or pedestrians.

NO mention of inadequate government regulation (except to call for meaningless fines).

NO call to regulate railroads the same way the airline industry is regulated.

They are as useless at reporting issues as the US government is at addressing the problem.  The only thing the mouthpieces in the story call for is minor fines for rail companies instead of addressing the actual issue: Trains are getting longer because it’s more profitable for the rail companies.  Fewer trains equals fewer employees, and with no meaningful consequences (like regulation), they will do nothing.  Especially when they have a pal like Biden protecting them, signing “laws” that force rail employees back to work, denying the right to strike.

The fake news in the video goes on about “children having to crawl between cars on a stopped train to get to school!”, as if safety were the concern.  According to the University of North Carolina, pedestrian overpasses cost up to US$250 per square foot.  To safely build over a single track of rail would take a footbridge six metres high and six metres across, plus stairs up and down on each side of the rail.  Safe pedestrian overpasses could be built quickly for less than $100,000 each, which would alleviate the problem short term and remain there as a long term safe crossing. These mouthpieces pretend to care about children’s safety but refuse to address solutions that work.

The US has a little less than 260,000km of track, and Europe has about 220,000km.  If the standard of regulation were the same, one would think the rates of derailments would be roughly a 5:4 ratio.  Except they aren’t.

According to the Imperial College of London, between 1980 and 2019 (PDF), Europe had less then 300 derailments.  In forty years.  The US averages 1700 per year.



  1. lorn says

    There are things unique to RRs:
    For cargoes greater than the carrying capacity of roads and trucks, roughly 60t, RRs are massively more energy efficient and sustainable.

    RRs are far less favored by governments at all levels. Build a port and governments at all levels will chip in and help make things happen.

    Barge traffic is massively subsidized by the CoE. The Mississippi has been repeatedly rerouted, restructured and otherwise altered to facilitate barge traffic. Dams, locks, and pumping stations are all installed and maintained by government.

    Trucking is subsidized by governments and while cars are allowed to use them all major roads, and the interstates are designed for and damaged most by large trucks. One truck, even if only loaded to the legal limits, puts more wear and tear on a roadway than thousands of trips by lighter vehicles. Yes, trucks pay taxes by way of fuel. But these are pennies on the dollar.

    Airlines are also heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Radar and air-traffic-control are not free. Airports, and associated infrastructure, are typically built with tax dollars.

    RRs are, by far, the most efficient modality but, sadly, they are also the least subsidized mode of transportation.