(translation of Ein Gleis alleine genügt nicht)
Building and maintenance of transportation routes is often considered to be a responsibility of the state. It is assumed that everybody can then use this routes.
For transportation of persons this is only partly true. A highway can be used by individually owned means of transportation, like bicycles or cars or motorcycles.
- Longer trains and bilevel trains can transport more people with only one railroad engineer (motor man) and one trains path. Less energy per passenger is used in this case.
- If trains operate more frequently, the system gets more attractive for travelers.
- If many trains are operated, more connections can be offered without transfer.
- If many trains are operated, some of them can skip part of the stops and still leave a high level of service for all stops. This can be used for shortening travel times and saving energy that would be needed for acceleration. An example are the New York subway lines 1, 2, 3 and 9. Lines 1 and 9 combined serve all stops, with about 1/3 of the stops only being served by line 1, 1/3 only by line 9 and the remaining 1/3 by both. Lines 2 and 3 are express lines that skip about 3/4 of the stops. All 4 lines are bundles throughout most of Manhattan.
- If many trains are operated, it is possible to provide stops closer to the real source and destination of the trip, this shortening the „last mile“ of the door-to-door connection.
To make full use of these advantages, the railroad operator must be well run, like for example in Japan or Switzerland.
I makes some sense to have a government controlled organization that does not only build and maintain railroad lines (or has them built and maintained by some companies), but that also provides a scheduled operation. This could be a well run federal railroad operator, like in Switzerland, but it could also be an organization that plans the whole system with all schedules and lets companies operate the trains as subcontractors.
It can be seen that this system works quite well in Switzerland, while the attempt to leave passenger traffic to private companies has generally failed in the United States.