I’m talking trains. I have always loved trains as most boys do. I have many trains myself. I bought property that was in ear-shot of trains whistles for its soothing affect. Trains get a bad rap for derailments, slowness, and lack of effective access. We had businesses in Vienna, Herndon and other places that use to rely on freight trains for their business. That’s right–the W&OD line, which functioned up to the mid-seventies. What happened? Trucks having more access and being cheaper, some bad management in railroads, and actual petitions to reduce/stop train traffic as suburban “sprawl” occurred. The lines were left with more priority passenger runs and bulk minerals and agriculture which, as of yet, has no equal in any other transportation mode. But those woe-be-gone days seem to be at an end. Rail is making its comeback.
We, as a nation, transpired to an economy of “I need it now”, which translates to accommodation by business/industry and the costs associated with those accommodations. Rather than utilizing all facets and modes in transportation, businesses became site specific where trucks and planes carried the load. Even the shipping industry showed a reduction is certain goods as they could be transported quicker by air. Quicker. That doesn’t equate to economically but the contrary. Do we really need most things now or is a day or two okay? And the way that rail customers are demanding more of railroads in the aspect of “on time” deliveries, railroads are structuring to accommodate. That means the cost savings is transmitted to the end user. It lessens the demand in some other transportation modes (mostly trucks) but that also comes to a cost savings to taxpayers since the over burdened roads won’t need as much repair as before, and commuters/travelers will have fewer trucks to worry about.
Another thing I have noticed is the increase in planning/building of more inland ports. These terminals accept long haul freight and then disseminate it for local distribution, which is a much better and economical usage of transporting goods. Now I believe that trains need to take some of the load in transportation. No one is being left out of their share of the pie and all modes have their distinct use and purpose. What will come with increased train usage are track problems, frequency of crossing waits due to larger and more frequent trains, and mishaps/derailments. Safety and preventive maintenance only goes so far which is why there are sometimes “accidents”.. The only issue stopping this long awaited and necessary comeback would be the fed. They have a habit of stifling and ruining anything good.