Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rail ... critical infrastructure and a big global sector

Dear Colleagues

I am encouraged rather than discouraged by the various international media sources that are available ... they carry stories about all sorts of investment possibilities that have the potential to improve the productivity of society in impressive ways. This contrasts with much of the press in North America and Europe which is heavily pre-occupied with the disastrous performance of its banking and finance industry and the essentially bankrupt status of public finance. This link is to webnews from the Gulf

The following link is specifically about rail transportation in the Emirates ... There are many others.

Rail was a huge driver of the economic success of North America and Europe in the past ... and rail is not dead in these places, but it is not anywhere near the center of much dialog.

Recently in the UK's Financial Times there was a big story about the role that rail is going to play in the infrastructure development in China ... but their investment in building rail as infrastructure is also going to be a piece of building a big new export sector for China. The rush into China by corporations with expertise in rail engineering ... including from Germany, France and Japan ... is going to end up with China knowing the best practice from everywhere, and in due course this will be the best practice for a Chinese rail equipment industry.

In the Gulf countries there is money ... and a commitment to major investment. Rail seems to be part of this.

The impression is that the USA is getting completely left out of all of this rail investment potential and a global market ... and the building of productivity into its infrastructure. Maybe this is completely valid, or maybe it is simply the pathetic performance the the modern US media in understanding and writing about important issues.

Maybe the fact of Warren Buffett's investment in the BNSF railroad is encouraging. Maybe the efficiency of the modern GE rail motive power equipment is encouraging ... and the huge freight capacity of modern trans-continental trains in the USA is encouraging. Maybe. But the idea that the US will be a true world leader in rail engineering seems like a very long shot at the moment.

I would like to know a lot more about the rail world ... it is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure, and it is going to be very interesting to see who are the global economic beneficiaries in this sector.

Peter Burgess

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