Re: [OPE] Railways

From: Gerald Levy (
Date: Sun Jun 08 2008 - 06:44:10 EDT

> The railways do not require such large capital expenditures as you might think, by the fact that they are already there. 

Hi Jurriaan:

I guess I should have been clearer: I was referring to the *expansion* of rail service by increasing
the amount and routes of tracks, land used, and infrastructure.  Public transportation in the form 
of new rail lines, especially for urban areas, is needed in many areas from an environmental
perspective and would in other ways also be a progressive change since the working class
would be the class that would most directly benefit from this. But, that type of investment in 
railways would require massive capital expenditures.  Just _maintaining_ existing urban rail systems
is enormously expensive (a major reason why in some of those ureas, services are being cut
back and fares increased).

> If large capital expenditures are required, they could be obtained in all kinds of ways by the state 
> or by the private sector. 

In theory, yes. In practice, states have been avoiding taking the path of expanding urban 
rail systems for many decades. In part, this reflects the bias by the state and capital (especially
in the US) towards the auto rather than alternative forms of transportation.  There are also land use 
('private property' vs. acquisition of land via the principle of eminent domain)  questions which could 
impact whether and when the state would move in this direction.  It just doesn't seem to be a priority
for capital and the state at the present time.

In solidarity, Jerry

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