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2021-05-30 09:13:03

Something to think about..

In the early 1800s a train from Manchester to Woodhead near Sheffield took one hour 10 minutes.

Now it takes 2 hours 12 minutes to Huddersfield then 2 buses to Woodhead.

Price 1839 4s 1st class
Today £22.20 1st class

Progress in the 21st century?
How much of the service level decrease is attributable to complexity and congestion?

The 1800s train may have had less line congestion and/or restrictions imposed by speed, safety, noise, or other constraints.
Probably not a so much. More likely attributed to systematic dismatelling of infrastructure over half a century.

I think, in this case here there's not even a direct line any more.
Thanks for the elaboration, @Doc Edward Morbius Very insightful!
@Andy H3 Take that with plenty of salt. It's my own hypothesis, no specific proof or evidence. It seems to have a certain consistency, and I'd be quite surprised if it's not occurred to others first.
Of course there are local differences between the US and the UK (especially in terms of ownerships of tracks). But it makes sense the tenor of your argument that successful infrastructure can undermine itself through rising land prices.

The key issues here are what legal protection are in place, or better the lack of it.

In Britain, rail tracks were nationalised but smaller lines that didn't generate a lot of profits were gradually closed down and the tracks were sold for scape value! Most of the track land in the North of England was abandoned for decades and only in recent times some municipalities converted sections in into cycling lanes or hiking trails. A small part was used of real estate development, but more or less opportunistically rather the main driver of change.

The lesson IMO is that infrastructure should be protected and seen as a common good.

Here the full story.
@Andy H3 Networked systems tend to evolve along similar lines. Physical, digital, virtual, financial, informational.

Eben Moglen's "Invisible Barbeque" (1997) addresses that element, in part:

http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/barbecue.html