I don't buy this. I see that the amount of effort needed to transport goods at the endpoints of the system depends on how close they are to the final destination. But that's not going to be so close! Look at the extreme case: a rail spur in everyone's backyard. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of a train stopping every couple of houses to pick up or drop off cargo? (Plus, you've essentially recreated the problem, with iron rails instead of asphalt.)Quote:
Originally Posted by Juggernaut1981
It seems more likely to me that the stops will be more widely distributed: at the inside, maybe every few blocks in an urban area? In that case, I pity the human power that has to deliver my new fridge a block or two from the nearest station! (Let alone deliver hundreds of pounds of fruit daily to the local greengrocer, or make any of a thousand different large commercial deliveries.) And a society at the technological level of our own isn't going to use wagons pulled by draught animals for that kind of thing; they're messy, expensive to keep up, and rightly obsolete. As for an "over-glorified forklift", I think you're nearly there: the phrase you're looking for, though, is probably closer to "light cargo truck".
We've been over-exposed to the bad things about automobiles for so long that we tend to forget that they're the best solution to a whole raft of problems; more flexible than rail, faster and more powerful than bicycles, much cleaner than animals (small quantities of diesel fumes vs. great wads of dung dropped sporadically down the street). And while I think that, if the rail system was flexible (and cheap!) enough, it's quite possible that automobiles wouldn't ever move out of light commercial roles, I find it hard to buy that they would never be used. (I bet they'd also find a role in transportation to and from isolated areas that are worth a gravel road but not a rail line.)