The Decline of the American Passenger Railroad

Topics: History of Rail

Nevertheless, despite this planning and investment, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) still notes that much of the NEC’s infrastructure is beyond its useful life. According to ASCE, “U.S. rail still faces clear challenges, most notably in passenger rail, which faces the dual problems of aging infrastructure and insufficient funding.” As stated by the Northeast Corridor Commission (a Congressional organization established to develop coordinated strategies for improving the NEC’s rail network), “…the NEC has hundreds of miles of aging track bed, hundreds of century-old small bridges, over a dozen century-old major bridges and tunnels, and power supply and signal systems that still rely on 1930s technology… we must bear in mind that future work to replace these assets will require more sacrifice in the form of disruptions to existing train services.”

Railroad officials and employees celebrate the completion of the first railroad transcontinental link in Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. The Union Pacific's Locomotive No. 119 (right) and Central Pacific's Jupiter edged forward over the golden spike that marked the joining of the nation by rail. | Andrew J. Russell creator QS:P170,Q4757433 Restoration by Adam Cuerden, East and West Shaking hands at the laying of last rail Union Pacific Railroad - Restoration, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

The Golden Age of Rail in the USA

Topics: History of Rail

A century ago the United States was a world leader in railway deployment and use. While freight rail remains a productive enterprise in the U.S., American passenger rail today has not kept pace with Europe and Asia. What happened to the great American railroad? Recent high-speed rail developments in California, Florida, Texas and superconducting maglev train technology along the Northeast Corridor indicate that a comeback is in the works.