Last: Introduction to Sustainability
Maintenance, repair and durability of rail systems and the rolling stock of heavy rail, light rail, subways and other steel-wheeled, steel rail systems represent the operational phase in the development of passenger rail services; with the acquisition and assembly of rights of way, construction of railway structures and laying of track accounting for the majority of time spent, and debt encumbered in the process of implementing new rail services. Notwithstanding the costs of maintaining rail systems and rolling stock, passenger rail services do not generate anywhere near the revenue required to service the debt incurred to acquire their rights of way or construct their rail infrastructure; and are typically subsidized with grants, long term bonds and dedicated tax revenues.
With government at all levels facing fiscal and long term revenue shortfalls, credit rating downgrades and general insolvency, the sustainability of public mass transportation development programs, and the maintenance and debt servicing of currently operating services have become seriously jeopardized. Short-term remedies and adjustments to funding shortfalls typically involve service reductions and elimination of service routes, but extended or chronic underfunding can curtail expansion, and lead to delayed maintenance and potential premature obsolescence of transportation systems.
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