Analysis: US Railroad System Is Great for Freight

In most of the world’s affluent countries, railroads either were built by the government or eventually claimed by it. Beset by growing losses due to high labor costs, bureaucratic inefficiency and the rise of automobiles and airplanes, those governments began reforming their rail systems in 1980s and 1990s with a mix of privatization, competition and arms-length contracting. In the U.S. the railroads began as private enterprises, albeit aided by massive government land grants in the 19th century and subjected to increasingly strict regulation in the 20th.

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