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European countries by electricity consumption per person

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The map data is for year 2012 from the World Bank.[1] Numbers are in kWh per year.

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Let’s face it: trains kinda suck in America. They’re slow, expensive, and just don’t exist in many parts of the country. The simple reason for this is because the US is so sparsely populated. Aside from here, here, and here, cities just aren’t close enough together to make train travel faster or cheaper than plane travel. When cities are within 200-300 miles of each other, it’s often faster to take a train from downtown to downtown rather than driving to an airport, checking in, going through security, flying, then driving downtown. However, as I mentioned, there definitely are regions in the US with cities this distance away from each other, so why do trains still suck? The United States has the geography to support trains in certain areas and yet a train from DC to New York costs at least $49 dollars and takes 3 hours and 29 minutes, only 30 minutes less than driving. A train from Rennes to Paris, France, a very similar distance, costs 27 euros, the equivalent of 30 dollars, and takes only 2 hours and 4 minutes. The US does have one high speed train, the Acela express, but it costs at least $120 dollars for a ride from DC to New York and still takes 2 hours and 50 minutes. Turkey, Poland, and Uzbekistan all have trains that travel faster that America’s fastest train. Alright, so understanding the whole issue requires a bit of background knowledge. Back in their heyday, railroads in America were… amazing. We built our first in 1826 and had a transcontinental line by 1869—only 19 years after California even became a state. Trains travelled almost everywhere and most historians agree that the development of railroads was an absolutely crucial catalyst to the American industrialization period from 1843 to 1860. They even prompted the US to create one of the world’s first standardized time systems as discussed in an old video of mine which you can find here. While passenger trains could sometimes be profitable, freight services were where the real money was so most rail companies basically ran passenger services as a mobile advertisement for their freight services to the executives that would decide which company to ship goods on. Trains were, after all, the most glamorous and efficient way to travel. However, as cars became popular in the 30’s and planes became popular in the 50’s, there was little purpose any more to set up passenger services as advertisements to executives who would be taking the more trendy car or plane instead. At this point, the few profitable passenger services only made money because of their contracts with the US Postal Service. Most trains would have one car that served as the railway post office—an office on wheels where workers would sort letters en route to the destination to save time. In the 1960’s, mail sorting was mechanized, trucks and planes began to transport letters, and railway post offices were discontinued. It became essentially impossible to make money with a passenger railroad. By the end of the 1960’s the only thing keeping the few passenger routes alive was a legal obligation by the Interstate Commerce Commission for the train companies to keep running those routes. But then Amtrak came along. In 1970, President Nixon signed into law the Rail Passenger Service Act which formed the federally funded national rail company that promised to save and make great again passenger rail travel… except it didn’t. In the United States, a nation of 319 million people, Amtrak operates a mere 300 train journeys a day, while in France, a nation of 66 million people, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, also known as SNCF, operates 14,000 trips every single day, 800 of which are high speed. One common criticism of Amtrak is its unreliability. On average, only 72% of Amtrak’s trains arrive on time. The California Zephyr route from Chicago to San Francisco even arrived on time a paltry 31% in June of 2016. So what does Amtrak blame the delays on: freight trains. You see, Amtrak only owns 730 miles of the 21,300 miles of track it operates on. On the California Zephyr route, Union Pacific owns about half the track and BNSF owns the other half. According to Amtrak, only 1.4% of all delays on this route were their fault. The other 98.6 percent were reportedly the fault of the rail companies who own the track. Union Pacific will naturally lend priority to their own trains on their tracks instead of Amtrak’s so Amtrak trains are often told to wait to let a freight train pass. After all, it’s not like Amtrak can go and use competing tracks so there’s little incentive to give priority to passenger trains. Most rail operators in Europe don’t have this problem. In France, for example, the national rail company owns all the track so priority can be given to passenger trains. Also, only 8% of freight in Europe is moved by rail compared to 38% in the United States, so there are far fewer freight trains congesting the tracks. Since Amtrak is so young, they never got the opportunity to build their own tracks. The Northeast corridor—which is absolutely perfectly shaped to have a high speed rail network with five major urban centers located on a straight line—built up it’s rail system in the 1800’s and the railroad had such an impact that towns and people flocked to the area around it. For that reason, this area is incredibly densely populated and there truly is no open space between the cities. Consequently, it would be unbelievably expensive to raze a bunch of houses and build a new, straighter route of high speed tracks from DC to Boston. Amtrak says that it would cost an estimated $151 billion dollars to build tracks up the spec of France’s high speed rail network in the Northeast corridor. Since the Northeast Regional, the train running between DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, is one of the few routes that makes money, there’s little incentive for Amtrak to sink a lot of funds into upgrading the tracks. Additionally, American cities just aren’t built like many European cities. With population densities averaging lower than 15,000 people per square mile, cities in the United States are far less walkable than their European counterparts which can have as many as 55,000 people per square mile. Due to their ancient roots, European cities naturally developed compact urban cores since for all but the rich there was no option but to walk everywhere. Given that, it’s much easier to walk to your destination from a train station in a European city than it is in an American city. It’s believed that since most Americans have to take another form of transport to get to their destination after taking the train in America, they see the train as not that much more convenient than the plane where you also have to take another form of transport to get to your final destination. So what’s the solution? How should America fix it’s rails? Well, unfortunately, we’ll probably never get a big network of fancy high-speed trains like in France or Germany. There are dozens of plans in the US to build high-speed rail lines, however few if any of them will likely come to fruition. There is a high-speed rail line currently being built between Miami and Orlando by a private company called All Aboard Florida, however, with a top speed of 125 miles per hour, the service will only be slightly faster than driving due to speed restrictions on many parts of the route. The state of California is also building a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Anaheim with a estimated transit time of 2 hours and 40 minutes which would be less than half the driving time between the two cities. Despite construction already beginning, phase 1 of the project isn’t estimated to be completed until 2029 and public support is diminishing. Many have proposed that America shouldn’t be concerned with building a flashy high-speed network. Amtrak’s 151 billion dollar proposal for a true high-speed northeast corridor system divides down to $320 million dollars per mile or $60,000 per foot of high speed track. What would be far more efficient would be to upgrade current track to allow trains to operate at their top speeds. On the Northeast Regional route, trains reach a top speed of 125mph briefly, and if they operated at that speed for all of the DC to New York leg, the trip from DC to New York would take only slightly longer than two hours. Small improvements can cut minutes from the journey times which can add up to hours. Unfortunately, Amtrak is stuck in a rut where they have no money to improve anything, which causes low ridership, which worsens the problem of no money. SNCF in France is so great because taxpayers pay for about half of the operating cost of every journey, while Amtrak is designed to be a for-profit yet government subsidized corporation. Right now, Amtrak is kinda like the neglected little brother in the US transit family who doesn’t get any money, and until that changes, we’re still going to have our slow, expensive trains. Thank you for watching! Make sure to click here to subscribe to Wendover Productions. You can also follow me on Twitter @WendoverPro for behind the scenes updates between videos. Aside from that, make sure to check out my last video on Maritime Law here. Thanks again, and I’ll see you soon for another Wendover Productions video.



The table uses 2012 data from the World Bank.[2] Numbers are in kWh per year.

Country 2010 2011 2012
Albania Albania 1 947 2 195 2 118
Austria Austria 8 347 8 390 8 507
Belarus Belarus 3 564 3 629 3 698
Belgium Belgium 8 369 8 021 7 987
Bulgaria Bulgaria 4 560 4 864 4 762
Croatia Croatia 3 814 3 901 3 819
Cyprus Cyprus 4 623 4 271 4 057
Czech Republic Czech Republic 6 348 6 299 6 305
Denmark Denmark 6 328 6 168 6 039
Estonia Estonia 6 506 6 314 6 689
Finland Finland 16 483 15 707 15 687
France France 7 736 7 217 7 344
Germany Germany 7 264 7 146 7 270
Greece Greece 5 318 5 380 5 511
Hungary Hungary 3 876 3 895 3 919
Iceland Iceland 51 440 52 374 53 203
Republic of Ireland Ireland 5 911 5 661 5 665
Italy Italy 5 494 5 515 5 398
Latvia Latvia 3 230 3 265 3 588
Lithuania Lithuania 3 471 3 530 3 608
Luxembourg Luxembourg 16 830 15 586 14 696
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 3 521 3 825 3 626
Malta Malta 4 171 4 689 4 761
Montenegro Montenegro 5 420 5 752 5 416
Netherlands Netherlands 7 010 7 036 6 871
Norway Norway 24 891 23 510 23 658
Poland Poland 3 797 3 880 3 899
Portugal Portugal 4 959 4 848 4 736
Romania Romania 2 551 2 639 2 604
Russia Russia 6 410 6 486 6 617
Serbia Serbia 4 359 4 490 4 387
Slovenia Slovenia 6 521 6 806 6 778
Spain Spain 5 707 5 599 5 573
Sweden Sweden 14 934 14 030 14 290
Switzerland Switzerland 8 175 7 928 7 886
Turkey Turkey 2 498 2 709 2 794
Ukraine Ukraine 3 550 3 662 3 641
United Kingdom United Kingdom 5 701 5 473 5 452

See also

Plotted maps


  1. ^ "Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)". The World Bank. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)". The World Bank. Retrieved 11 August 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 April 2018, at 03:50
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