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Why Trains are so Expensive

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在开片之前 我想先简单说一句 布莱恩和我在“实际工程学”
Before I start, I want to quickly mention that I started a podcast with Brian from Real
创建了一个播客 名为“休梅克”
Engineering called “Showmakers.”
在已播出的最早一期中 我们居然和汉克·格林在一起交谈
In the very first episode which is out now we chat with none other than Hank Green.
链接位于屏幕下方的简介内 我将由衷地感谢您的试用
I’d really appreciate it if you give it a try and the link is down in the description.
Trains are expensive.
事实上是相当昂贵 在下列三个国家中 有三条出行人次最多的线路
So expensive, in fact, that on three of the most travelled routes in three countries
——美国的纽约到华盛顿 英国的爱丁堡到伦敦 以及法国的巴黎到里昂
–New York to Washington in the US, Edinburgh to London in the UK, and Paris to Lyon in France—they’re
pretty much the same price as the plane.
乘坐这些线路的火车票价分别为 49美元 30英镑以及30欧元 而乘坐飞机的票价
These routes start at $49, £30, and €30 respectively on the train and $52, £13, and
则为52美元 13英镑以及53欧元
€53 on the plane.
在更长的线路上 比如从纽约到芝加哥的线路 两者的差距更为显著
On a longer route like New York to Chicago, the difference is even more pronounced: $59
乘坐飞机花费59美元 而火车花费108美元
for the plane, $108 for the train.
我们知道 铁路运输在几乎所有的国家都享受政府补贴 或由政府直接运营
And that’s keeping in mind that trains are subsidized or government run in almost every
country while airlines are highly profitable commercial enterprises.
华盛顿特区到纽约这条航线的飞机 耗资4900万美元
The planes flying between DC and New York are $49 million dollar machines, while the
trains traveling the route cost no more than $10 million total.
飞机在飞行过程中 每英里消耗1.7加仑燃料(合每公里消耗3.9升燃料)
The plane has to burn 1.7 gallons of fuel per mile flown (3.9 liters per km) while the
而火车的燃料则来源于廉价 清洁的电能
train relies on cheap, clean electric power.
All this therefore begs the question, why are trains so expensive?
现在 我将之前提到的 从华盛顿特区到纽约的票价先定为49美元
Now, I mentioned that fares between DC and New York start at $49, but that’s far from
the average price—$73.
Let’s look at the expenses that go into that fare.
The single largest expense for Amtrak is staffing.
Trains require a lot of people to operate.
美铁每天发送85000名旅客 为此 美铁雇佣了20000名员工
85,000 passengers journey on Amtrak daily, but for that Amtrak employs 20,000 people
意味着 平均每天美铁的一名员工服务四名旅客
meaning that, daily, Amtrak requires one employee for every four passengers.
最重要的是 绝大多数在美铁工作的员工是高度专业化 工会化
On top of that, the majority of those working for Amtrak are highly specialized, unionized
workers who demand high salaries.
Amtrak’s financial reports tell us that they spend $105,000 per employee, but that’s
但是 这并不能说明美铁的每一位员工的薪水都能达到六位数
not to say that everyone at Amtrak is making six figures.
通常 税费和保险金扣除了一名员工薪水的30%~40% 所以实际上
Taxes and benefits typically cost an employer 30-40% of a salary so the actual average salary
for an Amtrak employee is around $75,000.
These salary costs are so high that they account for over a third of the ticket price between
DC and New York—$25.82 total.
对火车运营商来说 人工上的支出过高主要源于火车速度过慢
The cost of employees is so high for train operators largely because trains are so slow.
就华盛顿特区到纽约的航班而言 航空公司只需支付员工一小时的薪酬
For a flight from DC to New York, an airline would only have to pay employees for an hour
of work while Amtrak has to pay their employees for three and a half hours of work.
在长距离的线路中 这种差距更大 以芝加哥到洛杉矶为例
The difference is even more striking on long-haul routes—Chicago to Los Angeles for example.
An airline would have to pay for four hours of work,
while Amtrak pays for 44 hours of work.
此外 火车需要物质上的基础设施建设来满足其运营——铁路
In addition, trains have physical infrastructure to maintain along the journey—the rails.
Airlines also have infrastructure to pay for on each end—the airports—but between those
但在它们之间 他们所使用的天空 是免费的
they just use the sky, which is free.
美铁仅在其使用的21000英里长的铁路中 拥有730英里铁路 但是他们还是
Amtrak only owns 730 miles of the 21,000 miles of track they use, but they still indirectly
通过向铁路的所有者付费租用其使用权 间接地支付了
pay for the employees who maintain those 20,000 miles of rented track through the fees charged
by the track owners for their use.
The next largest cost for train operators is that of the trains themselves.
同飞机相比 火车并不是那么昂贵
Trains aren’t that expensive compared to airplanes,
but they still cost millions of dollars.
The locomotive pulling the train from DC to New York costs $6.5 million dollars and then
each one of the passenger cars costs an additional $400,000.
一列挂有七节车厢的列车 其本身花费940万美元
With a seven car train, that works out to $9.4 million dollars which accounts for $9.67
on this particular ticket.
The other part of infrastructure—rails—costs Amtrak an additional $3.66 on this ticket.
铁轨的造价非常高昂 通常每英里的造价超过一百万美元
Railroad tracks are extraordinarily expensive to build—typically more than $1 million
但是像华盛顿特区到纽约这种线路 使用的频率过高 以致于均摊到
per mile—but on routes like DC to New York, they’re just used so much that the per train
or per ticket cost is negligible.
美铁是一家企业 所以它需要为公司的运转支付费用
Amtrak is a business, so it also needs to pay to run the business.
这张票里的2.15美元用于支付管理费用 而另有1.31美元用于支付广告宣传费用
$2.15 of this ticket goes to administrative costs, and then another $1.31 to advertising.
接着走 火车同汽车相比 安全系数要高得多 但是乘坐火车的
Moving on, trains are extremely safe compared to cars, but you’re still more than 3 times
as likely to be killed on or by a train than a plane.
火车确实偶尔会撞车 它们同样会撞人
Trains do occasionally crash, and they also crash into people.
当此类事件发生时 美铁需要向受害者支付赔偿金 而这笔费用
When this happens, Amtrak often has to pay a settlement to the victims, and the fees
associated with that account for $0.79 of the DC to New York ticket.
这就意味着在从华盛顿特区到纽约的这段旅途中 实际上 你支付的0.79美元
That does mean that when traveling between DC and New York, in essence, you’re paying
$0.79 in order for Amtrak to kill or injure people.
这些是运营铁路的主要支出 但是车票内仍然还有5.91美元
Those were all the major costs to run a train, but there’s still another $5.91 on that
ticket that just represents other minor costs.
所以 美铁运营这趟列车的总花费是50.14美元
So the total expense for Amtrak to run that train is $50.14.
The remaining $22.86 is pure profit.
这趟从华盛顿特区发往纽约的东北区域列车 是美铁少数几条
You see, the train from DC to New York, the Northeast Regional, is one of the few Amtrak
routes to make a profit.
这趟列车的需求 速度以及频次
The demand, speed, and frequency of the train
帮助它在其他列车失败的财务状况上 取得成功
helps it succeed financially where other routes failed.
美铁在东北区域内的低速列车上 平均每人每英里获得8美分的利润
Per passenger per mile, Amtrak makes eight cents of profit on the northeast regional,
the low speed train, and 29 cents per passenger mile
on the Acela Express, the high-speed train.
These profitable routes help pay for Amtrak’s unprofitable routes…
and there are a lot of them.
某些线路 如往返新奥尔良和洛杉矶之间的日落快车 平均每人每英里
Some routes like the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Los Angeles lose as many as
亏损21.7美分 而当乘客在这条线路上乘坐2000英里时
21.7 cents per passenger per mile, and when passengers can travel 2,000 miles on that
route, that’s a lot of loss.
正如我提到的 49美元的定价并非是这张华盛顿特区和纽约之间单程票
As I mentioned, that $49 fare is not the average ticket price
to travel between DC and New York.
49美元是美铁在这条线路上的基准售价 但是当运输高峰临近时
The $49 fare is the price at which Amtrak starts selling tickets, but as the date of
travel nears, the price can increase to hundreds of dollars.
That might seem like price gouging,
but its actually a way to make sure everyone can afford a ticket.
That’s not to say Amtrak and other train companies are these altruistic organizations
试图让大多数人都能支付得起出行的费用 它仅仅是希望赚更多的钱
trying to bring travel to the masses—it just makes more money.
特别是列车无论是运送5名乘客还是500名乘客 其经营的成本
Especially with trains where it costs the operator roughly the same to transport 5 passengers
并无不同 运营商自然希望上座率越高越好
as it does to transport 500, the operator always wants to have as many seats as possible
filled, even if that means selling cheap tickets.
运营商在理想状况下 可以询问每一名潜在顾客
In a perfect world for the operator, they could ask every potential passenger what the
maximum amount they’d be willing to pay for a journey is.
如果他们将票价调整为每一名旅客所愿意支付的最高票价 之后他们便可以
If they adapt the ticket price to every passengers maximum price then they can fill each seat
在满座的同时 获得乘客所愿意支付的最高金额
with passengers paying the highest possible amount.
然而 在实际生活中 没有人会真诚地回答这个问题
However, in practice, nobody would ever answer the question truthfully
so it would never work.
但是 售票系统却试图下意识地询问这个问题
Ticketing systems, however, try to ask this question subliminally.
回到爱丁堡到伦敦这条线路上来 运营商 维京东海岸铁路
Going back to that route from Edinburgh to London, the operator, Virgin Trains East Coast,
出售三种类型车票——预售票 淡季票和通票
sells three types of tickets—advance, off-peak, and anytime.
使用预售票去任何地方 票价都在30~140英镑之间
The advance tickets range anywhere from 30 pounds to 140 pounds, the off-peak fares cost
淡季票的价格为137英镑 通票为148.50英镑
137 pounds, and the anytime fares cost 148.50 pounds.
就预售票而言 这里有确定但不对外公布数量的车票
For the advance fares, there are a certain unknown number of tickets at different price
它们促销时价格不同 一旦售出 这种类型的车票便没有了
levels on sale and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
比如说 这里可能有票价30英镑的15张车票 一旦它们售出
For example, there might be 15 tickets at 30 pounds and once they’re sold, the price
票价将上涨到35英镑 之后是40 45英镑等等 逐步上升
would increase to 35 pounds, then 40, 45, and so on a so forth.
这鼓励了那些可以早购票的人 尽早购票
That encourages those who can buy early to buy early.
Normally that means tourists.
游客倾向于早做计划早安排 而且自从他们开始支付自己的费用之后
Tourists tend to plan far in advance and are more budget conscious
since they’re paying their own costs.
They’re also more likely to travel down to London on the often cheaper plane since
they’re less attracted by the convenience of the train.
这些预售票仅在指定线路 当日当时有效
These advance fares are only valid for the exact route, day, and time bought which is
这对悠闲的游人来说很划算 但商务旅客通常希望更加灵活一点
fine for leisure travelers, but business travelers typically want more flexibility.
对于商务旅客来说 购买预售票通常意义不大
Buying advance fares often doesn’t work for business travelers since their plans are
因为他们的计划仅仅提前数周或数日安排 而且并非他们自己支付车票的费用
only made a few weeks or days in advance and, since they don’t personally pay for their
对他们而言 为火车的便利性
tickets, its no problem for them to pay for
而购买一张时间灵活的车票 是再好不过了
the convenience of taking the train on a flexible ticket.
That’s why they often pay £148.50 for an anytime ticket.
有了通票 你就可以在任何时间搭上一趟列车——
With these, you can just hop on a train whenever—
it doesn’t matter if its in 10 minute or 10 days.
You just step on the train and take a seat.
在以上两者中间的便是淡季单程票 拿着它你可以乘坐任何
The middle ground between those two is the off-peak single which lets you take any train
11:17之后抵达伦敦的列车 或是周末班车
that arrives in London after 11:17 am or is on the weekend.
这种车票仍然针对的是商务旅客 但是将乘车时间
These fares are still geared towards business travelers, but by restricting against the
排除在早晨之外 他们对那些
early morning trains they give a discount
for those who can avoid the busiest morning trains..
对于票价而言 它们等同于预售票中的一等座的价格
For each of these fares there are equivalents in first class—the advance first fares range
除此之外 儿童 残疾人以及老年人
On top of that, young, disabled, and elderly people
get up to 1/3 off their fares with a rail-card.
This all means that there are essentially 12 different types of tickets for sale and
一个前往伦敦的人可能只需支付20英镑 而坐在他旁边的人
that one person heading to London might be paying 20 pounds while the person sitting
可能支付200英镑 但是他们真正支付的是便利性
right next to them is paying 200 but what they’re really paying for is convenience.
现在回到美国 如果美铁只运作盈利的线路 那么它们的线路图将会变成这样
Now, back in the US, if Amtrak only operated profitable lines, their route map would look
like this, but the routes that don’t make money are the ones that really matter.
Amtrak serves over 500 destinations in 46 states—many of which are small towns with
no other means of public transportation.
尽管火车在通常情况下是比较昂贵的交通方式 但是它们
While trains are normally the more expensive means of transport, they are less expensive
为小型社区服务时 价格较飞机更为低廉
than planes to service small communities.
The small airports in the rural parts of America are extraordinarily expensive to operate.
即便这里每天只有两三班航班 它们仍然需要跑道 航站楼
Even if there are just two or three flights a day, they still need a runway, terminal,
安保以及空中管制 但是一座偏远的火车站
security, and air traffic control while a rural train station
needs barely any infrastructure or maintenance.
事实上 从芝加哥飞往伦敦的票价(741美元)要比从蒙大拿州的哈佛
In fact, it’s cheaper to fly from Chicago to London ($741) than it is to fly from Havre,
飞往芝加哥(5月17~22日 811美元)更为低廉 而搭乘美铁列车从哈佛
Montana to Chicago ($811 May 17-22) whereas Amtrak brings passengers from Havre to Chicago
前往芝加哥只需数百美元——就预算而言 更加适合
for only a few hundred dollars—much more in budget for the average resident of Havre
who makes only $22,000 per year.
当然 这是一个政治问题 但是火车出行昂贵的一部分原因便是
Of course this is a political issue, but a part of why trains are so expensive is to
allow train operators to fulfill obligations to serve small communities
who need solid transport links.
研究表明 交通便捷对于 从一个人是否比他的父母挣得更多
Research has shown that ease of access to transport has a stronger influence on whether
someone will earn more than their parents did than the level of crime in their area
再到他们是否会在一个完整的家庭中成长均有很大影响 所以在偏远地区
or whether they grew up in a two-parent household and so keeping trains running through rural
America is incredibly important.
下一次 你从华盛顿特区搭乘火车前往纽约时 只需要记住 22.86美元的利润
Next time you take the train from DC to New York, just keep in mind that that $22.86 of
profit goes to making sure that someone from Havre
能够在比你飞往欧洲花费更少的情况下 到达芝加哥
can get to Chicago for less than you can fly to Europe.
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