Railroads are Public Services


By Noel T. Braymer

Going back to the earliest days of railroad service, railroads were legally treated as utilities and not as a typical business. Utilities are natural monopolies. What that means is it is not practical for a town to have 3 or 4 water systems, natural gas pipelines, electrical suppliers and cable companies all with separate infrastructure competing for the same limited number of customers. But because utilities don’t have competition to control prices and quality of service, they are usually regulated to some degree to protect the public from unreasonable prices and poor service. In the past it was regulations that often required providing passenger rail service at a loss that railroads didn’t like. Today there is increasing interest in communities around the Country for improved and expanded rail passenger services. This will likely only happen with agreements with the railroads to at least share their rights…

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