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March 08, 2007
Railroad Tycoon

The US has developed a bad reputation because pretty much everybody burns gasoline driving their cars and nobody goes anywhere by rail.  As opposed to, say, civilized Europe, where rail is used so much more.

Well, it turns out that's only the case for transporting people, and the opposite is true for freight.  In the US about 38% of freight shipments go by rail with about 27% going by truck, while in Europe only about 8% of freight goes by rail and about 44% goes by truck.

That's right, the fraction of freight transported by rail in the US is 4.5 times that of Europe.  (!!!)

Many more details, research, references, and a fascinating analysis can be found in:

"Nature or Nurture: Why Do Railroads Carry Greater Freight Share in The United States Than in Europe",
by Jose Manuel Vassalla and Mark Fagan,
published by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Don says, check it out.

Posted by DonTillman at March 8, 2007 08:12 AM

But I'll bet that it you exclude the transcon doublestacks (mile-long double-high container trains from the Port of LA to Chicago), the numbers even out. LA to CHI is 2000 miles with nothing in between. Rotterdam (Europe's busiest port) to Stuttgart (very industrial) is about 300 miles with lots of places in between.

Posted by: DLChambers [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 9, 2007 07:06 PM

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