Unless you’re a real fan of the railways, you probably haven’t spent a ton of time thinking about all the support industries that railroads need to be able to deliver their services. Whether we’re talking about private commercial transit or the publicly-owned Amtrak network, railroads need a constellation of side businesses to be successful.
Support for Passenger Service
There are many places in the United States that don’t have accessible passenger rail service and instead depend on buses, like most of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Like many of those outlying areas, there are huge sections of that part of the state that just don’t have mass transit, leaving visitors to rent a vehicle or see the sights on human-powered transport. That’s because the vital services needed to make a railway to the U.P effective just aren’t there, like accessible accommodation, all hours food service, and the mechanical and technical support industries that maintain railway equipment.
Businesses Supporting Freight Operations
If you are looking at the support services for a freight railroad operation, there are even more needs to meet because you must have the support of cargo handlers, warehouses, and other forms of transportation to carry the logistical chain forward. That means being integrated into a transportation hub that has the industries to service that sector. There’s a reason why trucks are so popular as an end point delivery method, too. Remember how there are a lot of places in the country without direct rail service? Access to the freight carriers who will take your cargo to the customer’s final location is vital for railroad shipping contractors. There are more places with freight service than passenger service, like Michigan‘s northern peninsula, but they are still less accessible in those places than locations on a more direct transport line between major cities.
There are also a lot of mechanical maintenance and support services needed to keep those trains running safely so all the country’s goods get where they need to be on time. One simple service like a railroad adds a lot to a community’s economy.