U.S. Railways Due for an Overhaul

The train and transportation industry in the United States is headed for an overhaul. Just as both France and Japan overhauled their railways at different time periods not that long ago (see attached table), so does the U.S. need to overhaul its entire train system.

History of Ownership of Japanese and French Railways

History of Railway Ownership in Japan and France
Written in February, 2012. 

For Japan

The U.S. occupied Japan after WWII and authorized the set up of Japan National Railway (JNR) as a public corporation in 1949 in order to be a nimble company. Due to past debts and overbuilding, Japan National Railway (JNR) privatized and split up into several private companies, in 1987, which own, operate and maintain the various HSR routes.

For France

Before 1938, several private companies operated the rail lines in France.

Due to past debts, these private companies sold 51% of its equity share to SNCF, in 1938, the French national railway. That contract lasted 45 years. After 45 years, in 1982, SNCF, the French national railway, bought out the rest of the private companies’ shares. In 1996, an international European Union agency came to own the track due to European Union law that said the EU will own the tracks while the operators will own the trains.

Timing of Railway Ownership

Japan’s track ownership went from public to private in 38 years’ time (1987 minus 1949). France’s track ownership went from public private partnership to being nationalized in 44 years (1982 minus 1938). The French track ownership then went international in 14 years’ time (1996 minus 1982).

U.S. Railway Ownership Structures
Written in February of 2012.

Many people ask: What kind of company is Amtrak? Is it public or private? The answer is bot. Amtrak is a public-private partnership that was created by Congress in 1970 at a time when most of the nation’s privately owned railroads were failing. This new private corporation was formed by the government to keep intercity (example: New York City to Washington, D.C.) passenger rail service an option for travelers. Amtrak would have a board of directors, a president, and an executive staff. It would be owned by the government, but it would not be a federal agency, nor would its employees be federal workers. It would be wholly responsible for its own cash management and liquidity.

New U.S. Agency

If you look at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency was created due to 9/11, and the agency absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and its resultant divisions could be worth a study to see how agencies reorganize. So it’s not implausible to create new agencies and reconsolidate agencies. Agencies or corporations are created to address a need and to expedite decision making processes.

Likewise, I believe train/transportation agencies are overdue for an overhaul as well here in the United States.

Related Links:
TGV System: Luxury Travel at Affordable Prices
Are We To Be Outdone By High Speed Rail Achievements in China?
Trains: Nostalgic Trains to Futurist Trains
“Fast Trains: America’s High Speed Future” Amazon Reviews

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