Cowford wrote:But remember, railroads were subsidized through land grants, etc. when they started up, and air travel has prevailed not because of subsidies, but because of one thing: comparative transit time.
Land grants? Not all railroads received land grants and those that did were obligated to provide discount service to the government until the value of those grants had been paid-in-full.
Transit times over long distances do favor air travel, I'm not denying that, in fact I have taken advantage of it. But I do believe that rail passenger service does have (or had) a role to play in shorter distance travel except the economics became badly skewed. Forced to compete with modes that did not
have to earn the full cost
of providing their service, railroads were forced to compete by keeping fares unrealistically low. That meant they failed to earn enough in order to maintain the investment.
This is what the roads and the AAR were talking about in the 1950s. They used the huge profits from WWII to re-equip their passenger fleets, but where was the money coming from when that equipment needed replacing? From a freight service that was competing with truckers that were reducing their transit times and costs courtesy of the Interstate Highway system?
My point about Albany Airport not paying taxes? You stated the airport earns all
of it's costs, both operating and capital. I was paraphrasing someone who once said about the New York Port Authority, 'It's easy to look good when you don't have to pay taxes.'
As for Amtrak, take a look at the subject line of this thread. Why RAILROADS lost passenger traffic. IMHO this isn't about Amtrak, it's about how we got to Amtrak.