The main idea
For those who want to test the limits of public transportation, it is possible to go by train in many places. Going back to the golden age of steam engines, it is possible to link many cities by railway. The goal of the exercise is to test if worldwide transit routing is possible. The logical answer should be yes. The reality is not so bright. Human civilization has developed along the coastlines of Europe, Africa, Asia, America, and even Australia. did I forget somebody ? A, yes, Antarctica. For the moment being we can skip Antarctica.
But how to travel from two coastline cities many thousands of clicks apart, on two different continents, when it is necessary to cross the inland of the continents. Sometimes, there are vast deserts, or countries which preferred roads in stead of the rail. There is always the option of following the coastline as much as possible. This makes the voyage longer, and I mean a really long journey. Still, it is possible to go almost everywhere without planes. By almost I mean to skip the Bering strait. No, it is not possible to cross it. Best alternative is the ferry from Japan to US.
There are several planning engines that help to schedule such long voyages. One of them is rome2rio. There are two mega continental structures:
- Europe-Asia-Africa (> 80 million km2)
- America (> 40 million km2)
It is theoretically possible to travel by train (and bus) from any coastal city of one of the aforementioned super continents to another coastal city of the same continent. So far, the Diomede islands are the closest points between Far-East Asia and North-Western America. If one day a bridge will span across the Bering Strait, it will definitely go over the Diomedes.
Other projects, like the Amtrak Coast-to-Coast, limit their offer to a single continent, which is still a good choice. The picture nearby illustrates the whole concept of civilization. Densely populated coastal areas and several transportation corridors, most of the time along a big river or a mountain pass.
The lack of rail in big cities
It seems that while the railway brings the solution, sometimes, due to lack of profitability, the network stops serving people in a specific area. Cities like Dudley and Gosport in the UK have forsaken the rail, the latter with the excuse of the ferry alternatives. US has also relatively big cities without rail, the biggest of which are Las Vegas and Columbus. I am a bit surprised for the city of casinos. But there is a reason for everything. There used to be rail in Las Vegas. The economics dictate the future of cities. Maybe the hi-speed train developing in neighboring California will trigger the return of the rail. Who knows …
Rail lives and dies according to the needs of the people. While airplanes are the preferred choice for trans continental travel, distances below 1000 km are battlefields for train companies as well as for air companies. The future is not yet written and maybe one day, that bridge over the Diomedes will be build. After all, history mocks of people and their excuses. Communication is the only way to advance the human civilization and rail is part of that communication.