Rail transport

track-bound transport

Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on. Track usually consists of steel rails installed on sleepers/ties and ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves.

Railroad in Macon, Georgia circa 1876


  • The old Great Western Railway shakes,
    The old Great Western Railway spins;
    The old Great Western Railway makes
    Me very sorry for my sins.
  • RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.
  • Every person of any experience in Courts of justice, knows that a scintilla of evidence against a railway company is enough to secure a verdict for the plaintiff. I was once in a case before a most able Judge, the late Chief Justice Jervis, in which I was beaten, I dare say rightly, in consequence of an observation of his: "Nothing is so easy as to be wise after the event."
    • Bramwell, B., Cornman v. The Eastern Counties Rail. Co. (1859), 5 Jur. (N. S.) 658; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904).
  • Cases before the Railway Commissioners must not be cited as authorities to us.
    • Bramwell, L.J., Great Western Rail. Co. v. Railway Commissioners (1881), 50 L. J. Q. B. 489; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904).
  • a TEN-YEAR-OLD lad in Indianapolis who was arrested for picking up coal along the side of railroad tracks is now in jail. If the boy had known enough to steal the whole railroad he would be heralded as a Napoleon of finance.
    • Chicago News, reported in Locomotive Engineers Journal: Volume 33 (1899), p. 69. This quote has been variously modified and reported with the general sense that a poor or uneducated person may steal something trivial from the railroad and be punished for it, while a wealthy or educated person may steal the railroad itself and be praised. See, e.g., Mary Harris Jones, Autobiography of Mother Jones (with Mary Field Parton; 2004), p. 46: "I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator." The origin of the sentiment is often erroneously attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.
  • If the workers took a notion
    They could stop all speeding trains;
    Every ship upon the ocean
    They can tie with mighty chains.
    • Joe Hill, reported in David Burner, Virginia Bernhard, Stanley I. Kutler, Firsthand America: A History of the United States (1998), p. 709.
  • France had more than 11,000 miles of railway track in 1869. In the previous three decades the railway had transformed the nation more than any other single invention. It had stimulated the economy, created new social relations, and transformed the urban environment as metropolitan life began to revolve around the train station more than—as previously—the church or the town hall. The railway had likewise influenced artists, in particular landscapists, by bringing... destinations... within easy reach of their Paris studios. It had also, like photography, caused a shift in visual perception by altering the relationship between the viewer and the physical landscape, across which one could suddenly travel at speeds in excess of fifty miles per hour. It could be argued that the hasty-looking landscapes of Monet and Pisarro owed something to the brief vistas glimpsed as they loomed and then dissolved in the window of a train carriage. One [Albert Wolff] critic of the Brignolles painters complained... that Monet "paints as if from an express train."
    • Ross King, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism (2006) pp. 250-251; citing Theodore Zeldin, Taste and Corruption: France 1848-1945 (1980) p. 289-292, and John Milner, The Studios of Paris: The Capital of Art in the Late Nineteenth Century (1988) p. 102.
  • Man denke an den Bau einer neuen Eisenbahnstrecke.  Soll man sie überhaupt bauen und wenn ja, welche von mehreren denkbaren Strecken soll gebaut werden?  In der freien Verkehrs- und Geldwirtschaft vermag man die Rechnung in Geld aufzustellen.  Die neue Strecke wird bestimmte Gütersendungen verbilligen, und man vermag nun zu berechnen, ob diese Verbilligung so groß ist, daß sie die Ausgaben, die der Bau und der Betrieb der neuen Linie erfordern, übersteigt.  Das kann nur in Geld berechnet werden.  Durch die Gegenüberstellung von verschie-denartigen Naturalausgaben und Naturalersparungen vermag man hier nicht zum Ziele zu kommen.  Wenn man keine Möglichkeit hat, Arbeitsstunden verschieden qualifizierter Arbeit, Eisen Kohle, Baumaterial jeder Art, Maschinen und andere Dinge die Bau und Betrieb von Eisenbahnen erfordern, auf eine gemeinsamen Ausdruck zu bringen, dann kann man die Rechnung nicht durchführen.  Die wirtschaftliche Trassierung ist nur möglich, wenn man alle in Betracht kommenden Güter auf Geld zurückzuführen vermag.  Gewiß, die Geldrechnung hat ihre Unvollkommenheiten und ihre schweren Mängel, aber wir haben eben nichts besseres an ihre Stelle zu setzen; für die praktischen Zwecke des Lebens reicht die Geldrechnung eines gesunden Geldwesens immerhin aus.  Verzichten wir auf sie, dann wird jeder Wirtschaftskalkul schlechthin unmöglich.

    Die sozialistische Gemeinschaft wird sich freilich zu helfen wissen.  Sie wird ein Machtwort sprechen und sich für oder gegen den geplanten Bau entscheiden.  Doch diese Entscheidung wird bestenfalls auf Grund vager Schätzungen erfolgen; niemals wird sie auf der Grundlage eines genauen Wertkalkuls aufgebaut sein.

    • Ludwig Mises, "Das Wesen der Wirtschaftsrechnung," §2 of "Die Wirtschaftsrechnung im sozialistischen Gemeinwesen", Archiv für Sozialwissenschaften 47, no. 1 (Tübingen: Verlag von J. C. B. Mohr, 1920), pp. 86–121.
    • Translation:

      Picture the building of a new railroad.  Should it be built at all, and if so, which out of a number of conceivable roads should be built?  In a competitive and monetary economy, this question would be answered by monetary calculation.  The new road will render less expensive the transport of some goods, and it may be possible to calculate whether this reduction of expense transcends that involved in the building and upkeep of the next line.  That can only be calculated in money.  It is not possible to attain the desired end merely by counterbalancing the various physical expenses and physical savings.  Where one cannot express hours of labour, iron, coal, all kinds of building material, machines and other things necessary for the construction and upkeep of the railroad in a common unit it is not possible to make calculations at all.  The drawing up of bills on an economic basis is only possible where all the goods concerned can be referred back to money.  Admittedly, monetary calculation has its inconveniences and serious defects, but we have certainly nothing better to put in its place, and for the practical purposes of life monetary calculation as it exists under a sound monetary system always suffices.  Were we to dispense with it, any economic system of calculation would become absolutely impossible.

      The socialist society would know how to look after itself.  It would issue an edict and decide for or against the projected building.  Yet this decision would depend at best upon vague estimates; it would never be based upon the foundation of an exact calculation of value.

  • The Erie railroad kills 23 to 46; the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man each; and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds! You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds. The railroads are good enough for me.

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