Trains vs Cars Facts and Physics

Many factors come into play when deciding which is better: Trains or cars. Cars oftentimes get a bad rap because of the fact that lots of them are on the road but sometimes trains are just as bad if people don’t choose to utilize them. Constructing railways costs and uses many more natural resources than constructing roads. It takes more energy to get the steel needed to make the wheels for the train than the rubber for the car.

When considering the facts in the debate about trains and cars, the materials needed to make the car, materials used to make a road, and even whether the roads need weatherization because of ice, need exploration. And while the roads may last for many years, in time, they will need repair or further construction. When you start thinking about train travel, the infrastructure matters even more, since constructing a rail line requires lots of work and materials.

A US Berkley study found that riding the train impacts the environment slightly less than riding in a car. Trains produce more emissions than cars do. The study says a car would need to have about three passengers—double the average—to break even environmentally with the typical train. However, this does not take into account the new electric cars that cost only $.03 to operate and manufacturers make some of them from recycled water bottles. These cars make driving much better for the environment as reported in Popular Mechanics in October 2010.

A reason trains exist is to reduce the amount of cars on the road. However, many times the fares are much more than the round trip in a car so commuters will drive regardless of whether the train exists or not.

Some interesting facts about trains follow. George and Robert Stephenson built the first safe train in England in the year 1829. The railway in America didn’t exist until 1868.  In the 1950s, electric trains and diesels made their debut. Amtrak has the fastest electric train in the United States. Worldwide the fastest train is the German Intercity. It can run at 243 miles per hour.

It is interesting to note that the first cars did not have steering wheels, drivers used a lever. In 1916, 55 percent of car owners had Model T Fords, an unbroken record. Gas gauges didn’t appear in cars until 1922. Before 1923, cars did not have carburetors or engine starters. They did not have electric turn signals until 1938. The world recycles car parts more than anything else.