The Footprints of Rail Transit

If you properly assess the financial and ecological sustainability of train travel vs. auto travel, you will find the present conventional wisdom that almost exclusively prefers train transportation is possibly misplaced. The idea that bullet trains are more efficient conveyers across long distances than airplanes, for example, is rarely accurate. Similarly, developing light rail transportation, other than in very large urban areas, instead of widening existing freeways, is usually a more wasteful option. Here are examples of ”footprints” towards a more comprehensive set of criteria with which to examine rail transportation vs. road vehicle transportation.


(1) Greater Risk of Mass Casualties: With systems as big as passenger trains, an operator failure or systems failure leading to a catastrophic accident will necessarily result in more casualties than with individual cars or even busses. Moreover, with road vehicles, with ever advancing new designs, it is possible to eventually nearly eliminate the probability of fatal accidents, whereas with the size of trains and the necessity to maintain the rails, train transportation will always be like air travel – impossible to operate without risks of accidents with mass casualties.

(2) Greater Risk of Disease Transmission: Compared to the cocoon of one’s own car, there is a greater risk of spreading communicable disease when humans are packed together in trains. Will trains even operate during severe epidemics or pandemics?

(3) Greater Risk to Personal Security: Again, compared to one’s own car, there is far greater personal insecurity a [...] Read More