Why Trains Are So Expensive (Sometimes More Than Flights)
Articles,  Blog

Why Trains Are So Expensive (Sometimes More Than Flights)


Have you noticed, when shopping for travel
tickets, you occasionally come across prices that defy logic. All the time! For instance, you can get to your destination
in 1 hour by plane or take a train for 7 hours and pay way more money! How are these fares fair? And how would you fair with these fares? I think it’s fair to say that there’s
a bigger question about un-fair fares: how do these passenger rail companies stay in
business if air travel is faster AND cheaper?! Well, trains do have their perks. The obvious benefits are catching it right
in the city versus having to fight traffic all the way to the airport. You can also take as many liquids with you
as your heart desires, you don’t have to worry about bad weather delaying your trip,
and there’s no stress at all if you’re afraid of flying! Environmentalists will also say that using
clean electric power is much better than spraying exhaust fumes across the sky. All this sounds great and justifiable, but
the real explanations behind why train tickets cost so much have less to do with comfort
and emotions and more about practicality… When you travel by plane, it takes off at
a certain airport and lands at another. These planes need maintenance, and airports
are packed with staff, no doubt. But the journey itself, no matter how long
it is, happens up in the air, which needs no physical maintenance. Trains, however, run on tracks. Duh! And to be able to move on those at high speeds,
or even move on them at all, the tracks need to be in good condition. This maintenance includes changing sleepers,
adjusting switches, tightening any loose components, and keeping straight parts straight and curved
parts curved within limits. There’s even the little yet important job
of spraying the ballast with herbicides so that weeds don’t grow through it. From time to time, sections of tracks and
ballast need to be renewed. While most of this work is now done by specialized
machines, the materials and those machines don’t come cheap! Taking care of a small section is already
a lot, but think of how many tracks a national railroad service has! Amtrak, for example, owns 730 miles of its
tracks and rents an additional 20,000 miles. That means they have to pay the owners for
any maintenance costs. Expanding the route network and building new
tracks is extremely expensive as well – just 1 mile costs over a million bucks! The trains themselves come with a hefty price
tag too. Just 1 locomotive traveling from DC to New
York will run you about $6.5 million if you’re interested in buying! Not nearly as expensive as a plane, but still
a lot! Add 8 passenger cars worth $400,000 each,
and you’ll see that this train costs nearly $10 million buckeroos! No one wants to travel in old cars with broken
door handles or other parts, so every now and then, they have to be fixed and eventually
replaced at some point. The largest expense, however, is not the tracks
or the trains – it’s the people servicing them. Now, think about it: when you’re traveling
by plane, depending on its size, you’ll usually be accompanied by about 5 friendly
flight attendants and 2 pilots. They’ll be taking good care of you for an
hour and a half on a flight from LA to San Francisco. Of course, they get paid for that time. Amtrak workers on the same route will work
for 9 hours and get paid accordingly. It gets even more interesting if you look
at a trip from LA to DC. You’d spend 5 hours in the air but 2 whole
days on a train! I’d opt for the plane in this case, but
what would you choose? Any long train-ride fans out there? Let me know in the comments below! Anyway, that’s a huge difference in pay hours. Now multiply all those hours by the number
of people working for rail companies. It’s not just the train attendants, but all
kinds of jobs that come together to make your railroad experience smooth. Amtrak has 20,000 employees. Together, they service the 87,000 passengers
that travel on more than 300 trains every day. That’s about 1 staff member for every 4
passengers. And because they’re all highly skilled professionals,
they expect good money for their work. Wouldn’t you? So, while they spend lots of money on great
staff and vehicle maintenance, how much do passenger train companies actually make? Let’s see… One of the most popular routes in the US is
the commute from DC to New York. You can get a ticket for $75, give or take
depending on how far in advance you book the trip. – One-third of this price goes to staff salaries. – Another 12% is train car costs. – Maintenance of rails makes up another 5%. But all this stuff I’ve talked about so
far is just half of the ticket price. Where does the rest of the money go? Is it pure profit? Nope, there’s more! – Like any company, and in this case a huge
one, Amtrak needs to pay someone to run the business. So, 3% of the ticket price is used to cover
administrative costs. – Even though everyone knows their name, Amtrak
still has to advertise good deals and new rides. That’s another 2% of the cost. – There are also settlement fees the company
has to bear. Yes, trains are an incredibly safe kind of
transportation. But accidents still happen, and around 1%
of that ticket cost would go to those who get affected by them. – Different minor costs eat another 8% of
the ticket value. In the end, you can see that the profit for
the company is roughly 35% of the average price for this ride. And that’s just on one of the most popular
and profitable routes. The more passengers it gets and the faster
and more frequently it travels, the more profitable the route is. But not all of the company’s 500 routes
bring in big bucks. There are other less bustling destinations
that operate at a loss. Charging more for a ride in one of the busy
routes doesn’t help compensate for that difference either. So despite those fares that seem crazy expensive,
Amtrak has operational losses every year. Things are easier for railroads in Europe
because they have smaller territories to cover and connect with tracks, and much more passengers
and trains traveling on those lines. The same is true for Japan. The whole country is about the size of California,
and they keep building high-speed networks that are a profitable business. Now, if your regular train fare still seems
overpriced to you, then you might feel a little better after hearing about a few of the most
expensive rides in the world! – The Maharajas Express Luxury Train, India
The name says it all! This luxury train travels across Northwest
and Central India and goes through most of the major tourist spots of the country. It consists of 23 cars and is basically a
temporary palace for 88 guests. And for those who somehow get bored of the
gorgeous views on the outside, there’s an LCD TV and Wi-Fi in every cabin. If you feel like experiencing the life of
a Maharaja (that’s an Indian prince!), then be prepared to pay a princely sum of $3,800
per person for a ride that lasts 4 days and 3 nights. – The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express,
Russia This ride fit for Russian tsars starts in
Moscow and goes all the way across the world’s largest country to the eastern city of Vladivostok
in 15 days and 14 nights. Passengers can choose between Imperial Suites
and Gold and Silver Class cabins. Suites have king-sized beds, a vanity, and
a private shower. Cabins that are a bit less luxurious still
have air-conditioning, a wardrobe, music, and videos to keep guests entertained. Even though prices start at roughly $13,000
for the entire ride, trips must be booked well in advance. – Royal Scotsman, the UK
Unless you’re friends with the royal family and get personal invites to their festive
receptions, you’ll definitely be amazed by a ride with the Royal Scotsman. The shortest possible tour lasts 3 days, and
costs start at around $3,000 per passenger. There are just 16 double cabins in the sleeping
cars and 4 single ones making the entire train a temporary luxury home for 36 guests. There’s a private bathroom, proper wardrobe
and vanity, and, of course, super comfortable beds in each of the cabins. The observation car with an open deck is an
added bonus to enjoy the scenery in style. Do these fares seem fair to you? ha Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other cool videos I think
you’ll enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay
on the Bright Side of life!

100 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *