General Motors destroyed the electric commuter railroads which flourished in the USA in the 1920's and '30's. They did this by insisting, as one of the largest shippers, that the railroads replace their electric locomotives with diesel units. Problem is diesel pollutes, the engines cost three times as much as an electric and last half as long. In 1935 there were seven times as many electric units as diesel, by 1970 there were ten times as many diesel as electric. (1)
But this was only the tip of the iceberg. After WW2 there was increasing pressure on the rail roads to convert from steam to diesel, as well. In 1945 almost all freight was transported by steam or electric.... This conversion process was a layer cake of disasters for both rail and the public.
First off, the expense for the railroad companies. Steam locomotives have a working life of about 50 years. Most of the engines were built in the 1930's, and those that weren't were from the 1920's or 1940's. Thus, we are looking at equipment that needed to be replaced from 1970 to 1990, yet they were all cut up for scrap metal by 1955! Locomotives were not the only loss. All the infrastructure created around steam, such as coaling stations, water towers, repair shops etc. either was scrapped or needed a complete and costly re-vamping. The destruction of all these locomotives and equipment is a loss that would run in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Even if much of the loss was written off in taxes, the expense was passed on to the tax-payer.
Now, while destroying all that perfectly good equipment, the rail lines would had to replace it with highly costly diesel units. Furthermore, these engines are not as durable as steam, are more complex, thus cost more to repair and need to be replaced more often....
At the very time rail made the highly costly switch over, it was losing both freight and passengers. Government built air ports were helping the airlines steal passengers. Government built highways were converting medium haul freight to trucks and train passengers to bus passengers. Thus rail was caught in a pincer - costly investment on one side, loss of revenue on the other. Note how the state helped to destroy rail. Consider the amount of tax-payer wealth that had gone into building the lines in the first place - land grants, cheap loans, cash gifts, tax-write-offs - all of these would total to hundreds of billions of dollars of OUR money. Yet our money, once again to the tune of hundreds of billions was being used to destroy this investment!
All this may seem insane, but this was planned to happen this way. The oil companies and the auto manufactures found another new way to pillage the public and using their mouth pieces in government destroyed rail. We do not live in a free market economy and we never have. We live in a planned economy, one that is organized not for the benefit of the people, but for a tiny wealthy minority.
corporate welfare , railroads , subsidies , transportation , airlines , highways ,