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As for the length of trains, I think US trains are limited to about 1.2 miles. This is for safety reasons – longer than that and they become difficult to stop in an emergency. Canada allows longer trains, up to 4 km (2.5 miles) long, but trains of that length have to have auxiliary locomotives every kilometre or so to provide traction and (more importantly) braking.
I believe Australian iron ore trains regularly run over 5 km in length. The longest one i can find note of was over 7 km (nearly 4.5 miles) long and weighed over 80,000 tons.
A 7 km train going at 50 km/hour will take over 8 minutes to pass you.
(edited for spelling)20 Sep 2019
Similar situation in ZA. Apart from the Blue Train, the other passenger services seems to have very low priority and the services between CPT and JNB/PRY usually set off on time and then lose time throughout the journey, regularly arriving 3-6 hours late.
It is not always due to other trains having priority, it is often due to theft of cables or other peripherals, or tracks being deliberately blocked or sabotaged.20 Sep 2019
The Sishen-Saldanha ore trains in ZA are 3780 metres (2.36 miles) long, use 8 locomotives and 342 wagons. The longest and heaviest train that carried ore from Sishen mine to Saldanha Bay, was a 7,5km (4.69 mile) train of 660 wagons which carried 68 640 tonnes of ore.
It’s quite impressive watching them pass.20 Sep 2019
The Railway Passenger Service Act (sec305) passed by Congress in 2000, does grant Amtrak the right of way (I was curious about the ownership of tracks and just used Google.) I wasn’t aware that Amtrak didn’t own the tracks. Thought it did. Interesting.20 Sep 2019
Thank you. Interesting. I wonder what “right of way” means to both sides – whether it means merely “right to use the tracks” or also “priority in using the tracks”. I suspect the former, though clearly on some routes, time will be more important than others.20 Sep 2019
My interpretation of the document, is that it gives passenger trains right of way. Clearly that didn’t happen on my trip from Chicago to San Francisco so I would be interested to find out, how this is monitored or even if it is…21 Sep 2019
It is quite impressive watching one pass as long as you are not on a train that had to pull aside and stop to allow one to pass. 40 minutes of waiting for the train to actually show up and then a year before all the wagons have passed. That makes no sense to me.21 Sep 2019
I agree, but purely of academic interest, the Sishen-Saldanha is a dedicated rail route only used by the ore trains. There are a couple of level crossings though where you wait …. and wait … and wait!21 Sep 2019
Too risky pre departure to aim to arrive in SFO same day tho…we loved the San Diego to L.A. coast runner, sat upstairs. Great ride, seeing the marines training on the beach at Camp Pendleton.Then passing LAPD giant dept, homeless evident also. Our train stopped for 4 hrs, broke down, thus l would have been v anxious if flying that day. So had booked an LAX hotel room nearby w pool etc.
NYC to Rhode Island is a good ride too.
Def recommend trains stateside.
1 user thanked author for this post.21 Sep 2019
Rather than flying, I’ve taken the Acela Express from Boston to New York a few times – The train continues from there to Washington DC.
The journey time is around 3hrs 45 minutes which on the face of it seems quite a bit longer than flying.
But, when you factor in getting to/from Logan or La Guardia (longer if it’s JFK/EWR), not to mention if you have to check in/pick up luggage, I’ve found it to be much less hassle and on a par with flying time wise, as the train takes you to Penn Station right in the heart of Manhattan22 Sep 2019
@martynsinclair – Just like in the UK there are a range of rail fares – Saver, value, Flexible, business, and premium(first)
The Acela trains are slightly more expensive than the NorthEast Regional trains, but the journey times are around 30-40 minutes shorter
Standard class fares will vary from around $80+ to around $160 one way, with business/first costing between $130 and $300, depending on time of day, how busy the trains are on the day, and how far in advance you book.
Here is the link for Amtrak – Boston/NYC https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/tickets-reservations.html23 Sep 2019
I travelled on the same service last year. Might suggest next time I do it, doing the last sitting for meals so can stay longer and not cause a delay to other people sittings.24 Sep 2019