Scraponomics Episode 121: Comparing the US and Japanese Train Systems

Feb 25, 2016, 02:00 PM

“Accomplishment will prove to be a journey, not a destination.” — Former President, Dwight D. Eisenhower

Last week, we talked about the potential resurgence and use of the rail line that passes through Old Town, and how Friedland may even ship by rail again in the future. We also discussed the convenience of shipping by rail, in that you can ship more material at a time and cut down on truck traffic. After all, the scrap industry has always shipped by rail.

All of this reminds me of when I lived in Japan. I couldn’t get over how top-notch the train system was. It’s interesting to look at the differences between the US and Japanese trains systems.

First, passenger trains are much more prevalent in Japan. There are certainly freight trains, but their frequency pales in comparison to the massive amount of passenger trains.

In the US, people tend to see freight trains more than passenger trains. It isn’t too difficult to understand why if you look at the history of it.

The interstate highway system in the US, created when President Eisenhower was in office to help encourage and continue the development of the auto industry, is nothing short of amazing. It starts to make sense that that system would take precedence over rail considering what the country was trying to encourage.

There has since been more of a push in the US to bring our train system up to par with other countries, but to me, it will be even more interesting to see how it affects shipping scrap material. Could it ultimately help us keep our costs down? We’ll see.

The same way the scrap industry evolves with time, so do railways. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for train systems, and how they and the scrap industry will continue to affect each other.

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