CityLab Daily: Wanna Buy a Train?

What We’re Following

Hitch in the plan: When Bob Lowe wants to take a train ride, he doesn’t book a ticket for a seat. Instead, he asks Amtrak to hitch his own private railcars to one of their passenger trains. He is one of about 80 people in the United States who not only own their own railroad cars but are certified to operate them on Amtrak routes across the country. Traveling in these cars—relics of the pre-Amtrak era of passenger rail—is “almost like riding in a time capsule,” he says.

Madison McVeigh/CityLab/Shutterstock

It’s never made a lot of practical sense to be a private railcar owner, and these passionate hobbyists are now wondering whether their pricey pursuit is reaching the end of the line. A year ago, Amtrak announced cuts to its private railcar-hauling service, in an effort to boost efficiency and improve its bottom line. “There’s no real villain in this tale, other than the increasingly ruthless economics of American passenger rail,” Andrew Zaleski writes. Today on CityLab: Let’s Buy a Train.

Andrew Small


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What We’re Reading

One year after Uber’s fatal self-driving crash, pedestrians aren’t any safer (Curbed)

The race to be the world’s largest city, over 500 years (The Guardian)

Copenhagen wants to show how cities can fight climate change (New York Times)

Detroit’s drivers spend up to 36 percent of their income on car insurance (Jalopnik)


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