Transportation Deployment Casebook/Alans Assignment

The United States Railway LocomotiveEdit


Describing the ModeEdit

The Railway Locomotive has become an integral part within todays society, as it is a means of moving an abundant amount of people between locations. In current society, most railway locomotives use electricity to operate in order to reach estimated average speeds of 60-70 km/h. The train differentiates itself from other modes as it is a vehicle that travels amongst a set route within a network of other trains. These designated routes run simultaneously and are monitored by an external system to guarantee safety and an ease of flow. Therefore, it provides a significant advantage over road networks as external factors such as human decision making, peak hour are excluded, as a result traffic congestion rarely exist, rather congestion comes in the form of density within a train which results in a slight discomfort as carriages will be very compact. Furthermore, it is advantageous as other activities can be done whilst on the train rather than driving such as sleeping or studying. It also provides a cheap effective means of transportation when compared to petrol (cars) or planes (with sacrifice to time).  Statistically speaking, trains prove beneficial as in terms of accidents and breakdowns, railways are the safest form of transport. The main markets of the railway locomotive is targeted to all groups of society.

Prior to the Advent of the ModeEdit

Prior to the railway, very basic modes of transportation were used, this was accomplished via domesticated animals or by walking. A critical design was the wagon and horse which carried heavy loads across large distances at a very slow rate. Moreover, people also travelled using wagons and carriages. The limitations are apparent as horses were animals, therefore they required constant maintenance and offered limited reliability as they could suffer from fatigue. Furthermore, the use of a wagon could have been faulty due to its wooden foundation. A significant limitation was both speed and comfort, despite being a common and efficient means of transportation during the time it was limited relative to its potential and what we have today. Despite this, the market for transportation was constantly evolving as technology developed, as a result the railway adopted these technology advancements which provided efficient and cost effective modes of transport and led to the birth of the railway locomotive.

The Invention of the ModeEdit

The foundations of rail transport began in 1515, with the introduction of wooden rails used simultaneously with a carriage being pulled by humans or animals. During the time this was an efficient means of transporting people and heavy loads, however its limitations were obvious due to the undeveloped technology. This was later evolved by metalsmiths who utilized metal to make the foundations of the rails, this was a significant improvement as it provided durability and did not require constant maintenance. The evidence of the advantages of this is apparent in modern society as we are still using metal tracks to operate our railway systems. However, limitations still existed as they were still being pulled by animals and hence were very slow. Evidently, the shift from the initial design was altered as technology advanced.

1769 saw the birth of an improved steam engine by James Watt, this invention involved the use of expanding energy from steam generated from boiling water to operate an engine. This steam engine was thus brought together with transport to power trains which allowed for speeds to reach 6-8 mph purely from mechanical means. Early 18th Century sparked the development of commercial passenger railways, notably George Stephenson building the LOCOMOTION No.1 that could pull 90 tons of coal at 15mph. He further trademarked the railway locomotive by developing the ‘Rocket’ which was the fastest train at 30 mph capable of carrying 30 passengers. The intercontinental expansion of railway transport was introduced through the development of railroad bridges, a bridge over the Mississippi river allowed for trains to travel to the west and hence enhanced trade. The railway locomotive saw a significant enhancement with the integration of electricity, which sparked in the United States in 1888 and held advantages over its prior models, with the ability to reach much higher speeds and a more efficient distance/energy used ratio. Electric locomotives were a rather simple and straightforward technology, as they drew power from the power grid and required only a transformer. Moreover, the apparatus was lightweight and did not produce heat or noise, thus more energy was used in the forward motion. The use of electric railway locomotives also had environmental implications as it did not burn as many fossil fuels. Following this, 1914 saw the significant breakthrough of using a diesel-electric locomotive control system.

Early Market DevelopmentsEdit

Initially, the railways were developed in order to transport heavy loads across distances without the use of excessive human work. Furthermore, the rails were used predominately within mining to quickly transport coal to different locations. As a result, the original market niche was targeted towards importers and exporters of local trade, larger businesses and mining companies. However, it was soon discovered that the transportation of large loads (functional enhancement) could be applied to humans, therefore the market niche developed to cater for individuals. Initially, railroad carriage services were targeted towards upper class individuals, however this resulted in limited accessibility to everyone else. Therefore, as technology developed, it allowed for cheaper production and maintenance and overall service thus many classes were able to afford it. The market niche then changed as it approached the 21st century, as railway locomotives were accessible to all groups of society through the implementation of an ‘economy class’.

The Role of Policy in the Birthing PhaseEdit

Railway development owes its foundations too pre-cursor modes, namely the use of a canal in which it allowed for the adoption of pre-designed routes, business and operational aspects, . A member of parliament, John Lambton required constraints on coal tariffs to be trans-shipped in London, as a result Pease, set per unit distance rates on London coal. As a result, costs were lowered to a non feasible rate, and the common carrier format was adopted. The design of a train was influenced by the act of 1844, where the public required the right to travel, thus set a minimum level of service availability in the form of Parliamentary trains, these trains provided weekly services in each direction and stop were to be made at each station, a maximum fare was set and running speeds were not to be less than 20km/hr. Evidently, this policy was embedded as it is what is implemented in todays society. Policy changes were also evident in the differentiated service standards in first, second and third classes, where in 1912 low fare services grew very rapidly. Moreover, the turnpike model was associated government ownership, in which it was recommended that new railroads become the property of the government after 21 years alongside a compensational payment.

The Growth of the ModeEdit

The Growth of the Mode, as previously mentioned can be attributed to the simultaneous development of policy, technology and public values. The federal government provided an abundance of land to railroad companies in order to run their tracks. The initial stages of railroad development in the United States was prominent

·       45,000 miles of track laid prior to 1871

·       Another 170,000 miles added in the proceeding 20 years

This growth was attributed to the construction of transcontinental railroads which was granted by the Pacific Railway Act in 1862. The Congress authorized the construction of transcontinental railroad and hence accelerated intercontinental travel and trade and overall growth of railway systems. By 1900, four transcontinental railroads connected the eastern states with the Pacific Coast. Conflicts arose from private sectors as smaller railroads had to purchase land in order to lay tracks on private lands, which was difficult as land owners objected to railroads and refused to grant a right of way for small compensation offers. As a result, this effected growth negatively as large sums of money were required to proceed with efficient track laying, ultimately slowing the process. The Transportation Act of 1920 ultimately returned the railroads to private ownership.

Development during the Mature PhaseEdit

The changing market of railroad locomotives adapts to the growing demands of the market, with individuals seeking faster commutes whilst taking into consideration comfort/cost etc. This notion is embodied in Japan’s development of the Shinkansen bullet train in 1964, further modifications included the use of computerized crew training systems, double decker cars, regenerative brakes to conserve energy, lighter and stronger infrastructure, electronic maintenance of mechanical systems, tilt trains and aerodynamic train design considerations. Evidently, these adaptations enhance comfort, capacity, energy efficiency, speeds and the overall levels of service of railway locomotive. Furthermore, the present day embodied a significant technological advancement with the introduction of magnetic levitation trains where it utilizes super conductivity to levitate and propel a train to eliminate friction. Maglev trains pose advantages as they can accelerate and decelerate much faster than conventional trains, despite being expensive to construct, simple construction makes them cheaper to manufacture and maintain. Furthermore, the current trains in Sydney possess large amounts of congestion during peak hours (4-6pm), therefore new designs of trains are proposed where limited seats are provided and imitate traditional American subways where majority of commuters are standing and there are retractable seats along the side.

An Overall AnalysisEdit

The figures provide a curve about the Rail lines (total route km) in the United States, with a reported 228218 in 2014. With reference to figure 1, it clearly denotes the birthing, growth and maturity phases. The first chartered and built railway system was the Granite Railway of Massachusetts, running a distance of 3 miles in 1826, however this was horse drawn cars running on tracks used to transport goods. It wasn’t until 1830 when the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company established the first mechanical passenger train that established the birth of the railway which is where the graph begins in figure 1. This sparked the demand for other railways and hence established an exponential growth pattern due to the recognition of the potential of a dense railway network. This growth can be attributed to the merging of a dozen small railroads in 1850 to form the New York Central Railroad Company as well as the granting of land by the government to lay tracks. We see a noticeable increase around 1870 with the occurance of the Civil War, despite production decreasing, the use of railroads increased significantly as they were used to quickly travel across the United States to battle. For example, railroad cars were used in the Battle of Bull Run to ensure victory as reinforcements were shuttled in.

The birthing stage then continued to grow due to J.P Morgan helped the reorganization of railroads and pushed for greater efficiencies. He further developed ‘public, reasonable, uniform and stable rates’ that appeals to a community that shared common interests. However, we see a very distinct gradient change that can be attributed to the Panic of 1893, an economic depression in U.S history. The event was the byproduct of railroad overbuilding and careless railroad financing, as a result a quarter of U.S railroads failed by mid 1894 which contributes to the slower (yet increasing) growth of railway systems.  

Early 20th century saw the first signs of a negative gradient change which is the result of World War 1. The war resulted in a decrease in industrial activity, with a 4% decrease in 1914 and overall congestion and trafficking. 1920 saw the Esch Cummins Act which prepared and adopted a plan to consolidate railroad companies into a limited number of systems. Moreover, 1930’s Great Depression saw the failure of many small railroads.

A drastic decrease in the maturity phase is evident post World War II due to the introduction of airlines and interstate highways, which provided a quicker and efficient means of transportation. Therefore people naturally gravitate away from railways as they were seen as insufficient. Moreover, the inability to adapt to a changing market was restricted by the ICC as they continued to regulate railroad rates and other elements of operation. This decline ultimately led to bankruptcy in major railroad lines which further added to the decline.

The heavy decrease approached a neutral gradient in 1980 as restrictive regulations were removed by the Staggers Rail Act to compete with the trucking industry. We see a significant change in the early 21st century in figure 2 as a result of intermodal freight transport, bridge and tunnel improvements to ensure an efficient railroad system. Moreover, small scale improvements were funded by the federal government and land was also granted to enable a network of train systems that emulated cost and time efficiency.


The data was collected from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in which it provides data on the amount of Ton-Miles travelled by railway transports within the scope of 1960 to 2015. This dataset looks at the distance travelled by a railroad with a load of one ton within the United States.

This particular set of data was estimated into a three-parameter logistic function to formulate an S-Curve, in turn it produced a visual analysis on the life cycle of the railroad locomotive, including its birth, growth and maturity phases. This equation is given by


S(t) = Number of ton miles by railroad locomotives at year t

t = time (years)

t0 = inflection time

K = Saturation Status Level

b = Constant Coefficient

Finding K and BEdit

We can then compute the coefficient k and b, using an Excel Spreadsheet.

First we must predict the first value of K, where it is the largest value within the datasheet. In this instance, we have 1851500. We can then increase the value of K linearly, by a factor of 1000.

In order to find the optimal K value, we must look at the corresponding RSQ value, in which the greatest value denotes the most accurate value of K.

Evidently, a K value of 1866500 produces the highest RSQ value of 0.78812. However, it is apparent that as K grows, we will produce a much more accurate model as RSQ approaches 1. (A value of 10,000,000 was used, where a K value of 0.954 was achieved, however this was outside the scope of the dataset, the value is way to large).

The calculated results are therefore

Calculated Coefficients
Variable Value
K 1866500
b 0.073657
t0 1979.68

Regression AnalysisEdit

From this, the goodness of fit model is represented by the R-Squared, in which its accuracy is governed by its proximity towards the value 1.0. Evidently, the R-Squared Value equaled 0.788, which highlights there are some differences with the actual data . Despite this the K value is much larger than the maximum data available, and despite being almost half a centuries data used, it can be said that the model is somewhat accurate in a sense.

Calculated DataEdit

S-Curve Graph (Birth, Growth, Maturity)Edit

Evident in the graph, the birthing phase of the railroad locomotives was during 1960-1990 due to the interstate highway network growing, therefore the acquired of increased freight businesses. Moreover, the rapid development of technology, namely the use of electric and diesel powered locomotives resulted in a much more efficient means of energy use, in turn it resulted in larger distances being able to be covered for smaller amounts of energy. The S-Curve accurately depicts the significant increase in efficiency from 1960-1990 as it saw a 100,000 ton-mile increase, moreover the growth and maturity phase shows a slightly less increase due to the current limitations of technology development.

Currently we are within the maturity phase of the railway life-cycle, namely the future prospects of higher speed travelling through mag-lev trains etc. The use of railways has become an integral part of the United States (as well as the entire globe) and therefore the steady increase in ton-mile is expected to grow aswell.

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ReferencesEdit (2018). Class I Railroad System Mileage and Ton-miles of Freight: 1960, 1965, 1970-2015 | Bureau of Transportation Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2018].

ReferencesEdit (2018). Class I Railroad System Mileage and Ton-miles of Freight: 1960, 1965, 1970-2015 | Bureau of Transportation Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2018].