Monday 18 December 2017


The train investments in the US started in the mid 1800s reached market
saturation in about 1890, and continued past sustainability till 1916 when it
peaked and started to collapse. If passenger trains offered the highest
transportation VALUE (benefits/costs) they would have maintained the 90%
market share of intercity travel they enjoyed in the year 1910. Now, a
hundred years later trains carry less than 1% of Americans between cities
because the market proved that cars and jets offer a quantum improvement in
transportation value.

Some facts about km of active railway:
Rank country (km)
1 United States 226,427 (was 450,000 km in 1916!)
2 Russia 87,157
3 China 77,834
4 India 64,015
5 Canada 46,688
6 Germany 41,896
7 Australia 37,855
8 Argentina 31,409
9 France 29,213
10 Brazil 28,857
11 Japan 26,435
12 Poland 22,314
13 Ukraine 21,655
14 South Africa 20,872
15 Italy 19,729
16 Mexico 17,516
17 United Kingdom 16,454
18 Spain 15,288

If you see how fast Shanghai built its subway network it is no wonder they
also could build a maglev line. They simply could afford an experiment with
maglev and the funding of other project was not endangered by maglev. The
budget for the whole US is smaller than for some single Chinese cities.
Even small Dubai built more rapid transit than the US the last few years.

The fact that China is wasting money on trains (maglev or otherwise) is one
reason the standard of living in the US is so much better than in China.

NOTE: the US has more km of UNUSED railway than the COMBINED TOTAL of: China, Germany, France, Japan, UK, and Spain! Why would we want to build more???
AFTER we led the world in train implementation, we led the world in roads and

Roads (paved and un-paved)
Rank country (km)
1 United States 6,465,799
2 China 3,583,715
3 India 3,320,410
4 Brazil 1,751,868
5 Japan 1,203,777
6 Canada 1,042,300
7 France 1,027,183
8 Russia 933,000
9 Australia 812,972
10 Spain 681,224
11 Germany 644,480
12 Italy 487,700

Rank country Airports Date of Information
1 United States 15,095
2 Brazil 4,000
3 Mexico 1,744
4 Canada 1,388
5 Russia 1,216
6 Argentina 1,130
7 Colombia 992
8 Bolivia 952
9 Paraguay 798
10 Indonesia 683
11 South Africa 607
12 Papua New Guinea 560
13 Germany 550
14 United Kingdom 506
15 China 482
16 France 475
17 Australia 464
18 Ukraine 425

This is one reason for the high productivity of the US.
Rank country GDP (purchasing power parity)
1 United States $ 14,260,000,000,000
2 China $ 8,789,000,000,000
3 Japan $ 4,137,000,000,000
4 India $ 3,560,000,000,000
5 Germany $ 2,811,000,000,000
6 United Kingdom $ 2,149,000,000,000
7 Russia $ 2,116,000,000,000
8 France $ 2,110,000,000,000
9 Brazil $ 2,025,000,000,000
10 Italy $ 1,760,000,000,000
11 Mexico $ 1,482,000,000,000
12 Spain $ 1,368,000,000,000
13 Korea, South $ 1,356,000,000,000

And if you fund what would be the longest maglev in the world you would dry
out the US transit budget for years. The discussion about which mode is
irrelevant as long as there is no money to spent for anything. To implement
some up to date transit in the US the transportation budget would be needed
hundred times higher than what it is now. I don’t see this to come anytime

This is NOT TRUE, there is plenty of money! The time is ripe for maglev (BUT
Watch this YouTube Video:

In the US, the private sector still rules — the mostly free market still
prevails — just as early trains, (and today’s cars and aircraft) were built
by private investment, so will the next paradigm in transportation.

The next shift in transportation will be VALUE DRIVEN, and not politically
driven. Money is the most common man-made commodity in the world. The world
is awash with money, and money naturally seeks the greatest return and
minimum risk. THAT IS WHY THERE IS NO $ FOR PASSENGER TRAINS — the rate of return on the investments have been negative for over a hundred years!!! All
the foolish investors in trains are broke (except the governments — but they
are close).

The ONLY reason passenger trains continue to survive is because railroaders
convince governments to SUBSIDIZE the market failure of trains. The
governments TAKE value from car and jet owners (in the form of massive fuel
tax and other fees and taxes), in order to prop up passenger trains (because
those who still use trains would not stand to pay the real direct cost). So
it happens that the vast majority who pay for their own cars and jets, and
also pay for the roads and airports through tax and fees, ALSO PAY FOR MOST
OF THE COST OF TRAINS that they cannot use!

NOTE: Maglev trains have most of the disadvantages of trains, and only offer a
small improvement, so it is not worth replacing the existing rail network to
achieve only small gains. Trains displaced muscle power transport in the mid
1800s in the US because they offered MUCH better transportation VALUE. In
the 1900s cars and jets displaced trains (again through much better value).


Bob, Have you lived in Beijing, or Chengdu China? I have, and the pollution
and grid lock is MUCH worse than in any US city i have been in. Bart of the
reason is that they are still wasting money on antiquated passenger train
systems that have proven unsustainable compared to cars and jets. We have
the best transportation in the world. And it is true that the use of cars
and jets are reaching market saturation just like trains did in the early

Then if we should decide to fix something, NO NEW TAXES. We create laws
and regulations that sound like we are concern about people and our
environment, but mostly they are laws and regulations to stop growth. This
does not include the in-fighting among us.

Can we agree it is time for a NEW transportation paradigm, not returning to
an old one like trains? New transportation modes are almost never
implemented by government. In fact history proves that most transportation
technology advances are initially resisted by government, but private
investment in modes offering a major improvement in VALUE eventually win even
the status-quo dominated halls of government.

We can hopefully agree that maglev is a core technology in the next
transportation shift. Those who investigate the facts will see that maglev
will not be applied to trains on a wide scale. The reason is the private
sector is value driven — investors want a low risk and high return —
investing in high speed trains (maglev or otherwise) is PROVEN to be a big
loss — a loss that only government is prone to repeat.

We say why maglev is better than steel-on-steel, but both passenger rail is hurting. Last year, it sounded so go that at last we are going to fix Amtrak, now this year congress has already reduced Amtrak’s budget by almost a billion dollars.

Government represents the status quo. Trains are the old status quo,
displaced by cars and jets. Trains are only given token subsidy in the US to
prop up the old toothless elder who once ruled by building much of early
America. Government will receive increasing pressure to support roads and
airports because the present status quo (car and jet industry) will have to
face sustainability issues of energy, environment, and economy, and the
resulting marginal returns of future investments in the status quo.

But we don’t want to join groups that are promoting other means of rail transit to try to get sensible laws and regulation, we just fight among ourselves.

What is sensible is to stop funding modes that have a negative return on
investment. This is clearly trains, (and increasingly roads and airports).
In this way, private investment in innovation will not have to face the risk
of being taxed to support what they seek to replace! Since government is the
status quo, this will not likely happen. The old train hogs fighting for
space at the trough of government will continue to fight each other for a
diminishing subsidy, the car and jet pigs will feel the hunger pains, learn
there is a feed trough for marginal value technology — and horn in on the
slop (the train lobby will not stand a good chance against a starved auto and
jet lobby).

The passenger rail industry lies about ecology and efficiency are increasingly
apparent. People will eventually realize that future generations can be
enslaved by laws, but no productivity can happen before they are born. More
will come to understand that we cannot tax the unborn to solve our economic
crisis; and since transportation is the master key to survival and the
cornerstone of the global economy, a quantum level improvement in
transportation value is the only way to return to prosperity.

Innovation of transportation value will most likely take place as far from
government as possible, as have past transportation innovations of a
disruptive nature. The only innovations that stand a chance of displacing
the status quo will be those that offer a 10 fold improvement in
transportation value. This is maglev — but not maglev trains.


If you really represent the train lobby, enjoy your last few $B worth of
Pablum before it runs out and/or you have to fight the range hogs (car and
jet industry) for it. I can imagine how the rail industry could leverage
their holdings in unused ROW, and partner with true value innovations like
PRT and ETT, to beat the car and jet lobby, but it will surprise me if it


How long do you think that law will last with the Chinese offering a 25%
discount on HSR because there costs are 50% less? Walmart has erased many of
the protections enjoyed by unions — and the unions are now strangling them
selves by forcing the innovators to overseas markets.


Why do you think the rail industry GAVE the passenger train infrastructure to
the government back in the early 70s? — It was NOT out of charity! It was
because the return on investment was negative. Over $40B in subsidy later,
and the 99% of Americans who can’t use Amtrak still have little clue to how
they are being ripped off. Cargo at 14mph doesn’t care how rough the rails
are (unless the train derails).


Only one HSR system in the world makes more than the operating expenses
(Japan), but the operating profit is less than the inflation on the capital
investment, so the ROI is still negative. If anything, outdated regulations
are in favor of public transpiration. In fact one of the reasons the Japan
HSR trains are able to recover operating costs is that Japan regulations are
VERY oppressive to automobile owners. Even so, cars are about 70% of the
passenger miles of passenger travel in Japan. It is true that protective rules eventually destroy a market. In the case of trains, this has helped our economy. It has also accelerated the demise of the automobile industries in the US; hurting our economy in the short term.
In the long term it may prove to be a blessing if it accelerates car and
aircraft collapse for us, we could be the first to make a leap to innovative
modes and once again lead the world (instead of following those who follow

Yes, electric HSR was invented in the US by Weams. In 1889 he demonstrated
an electric train in Maryland that was tested at 120mph by an electrical
engineering journal (other witnesses said it had operated at 150 to 180mph).
Steam power ruled in the US, but the work of Weams was copied in Germany and
by 1904 had taken the electric train speed record to 130mph. Japan and
France were next to copy HSR and extend the records — and now China. One
cannot lead by following the leader, why would we want to follow the
followers who are just following our 120 year old lead?


You can blame rules and regulations all you want, it does not change the truth
that trains are outmoded by cars and jets. (Just as steam boats and trains
outmoded sail and muscle a hundred years earlier.)

If trains were as wonderful as the rail industry is claiming, why did they
fail to maintain the 90% market share of intercity passenger travel they
enjoyed in the US in the year 1910?


Yes, and unfortunately for the global economy such “experts” have caused
untold damage to the global economy by convincing governments to grossly
subsidize the old status quo — this stifles innovation.

In Europe and Japan where rail is still in a growth phase, government taxes
cars and aircraft to the point of marginal ROI, and uses the value to prop up
the old status quo — this has a chilling effect on investments in
innovation. If the failed technologies of old were just allowed to fade
away, innovative transportation technologies that maximize value would again
flourish– as they did in the US in the early 1800s through the mid 1900s
with innovators such as Fulton, Ford, the Wrights, and Curtis.


Dinner trough not as full as you would like? How about using the tried and
true method of bringing enough value to the market place to attract
investment looking for favorable ROI potential — like Ford did. Instead of
using schmoozing skills to convince politicians to take from tax payers and
line the pockets of the train industry, you could use your skills to focus on
technology that maximizes value for the global economy.


Good point, and we can agree that maglev could be a “good guy” and quicken
transportation. If anyone has been “stabbed in the back” it is the tax -payer. And the train industry is really not to blame — they are in survival mode with their last dying gasps. The bad guys are the politicians who succumb to the “wine and dine” trips to EU and Asia where they are invited to ride luxury HSR and maglev trains. They don’t want to acknowledge that trains must ride over the backs of the value producers with a very heavy load, and they turn a blind eye to any true innovation that is not able to
put on the glitz or fund their campaigns.


Don, it is proven, first here in the US, and then throughout the world, that
trains cannot compete with cars and jets except in a few niche markets. In
most cases, cars and aircraft are not “the right system for the job”, yet
they are much better than trains. Other countries are following the US,
let’s continue to lead, and not be seduced into falling for “smoke and
mirror” tactics of the railroaders who dress up antiquated trains with maglev
tech — it is like putting lipstick on a pig — the pig is still there under
the makeup.

Don, even the shiniest maglev train is far from modern — it is still a 170 year old train

and subject to the gross limitations of trains; including the

limitations that allowed cars and jets to displace trains to niche markets.

If you are not anti-modern, then you should stop supporting trains and put
your skills to better use and help implement the maglev innovation that
offers the highest benefit/cost ratio.

Best regards,
Daryl Oster
et3 team
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