David Burns


David Burns has been a Railroad Industrial Engineering Consultant for 34 years. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of London and completed his BS degree in Industrial Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. His career began with 5 years as a diesel engine development engineer. He then he spent 8 years as an industrial engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad, where as Manager of Industrial Engineering he was responsible for IE activities in all departments of the railroad.

Since 1977 he has been an independent consultant. In this capacity he has worked extensively on many aspects of railway industrial engineering and analyzing rail's role in the freight and passenger logistics chain. His clients have included the World Bank and other aid agencies for whom he has undertaken assignments ranging from identifying investment and training projects, performing financial and economic analysis and justifications, and auditing projects to determine if they achieved what had been projected. He has undertaken assignments on 44 national railway systems, written and published numerous articles, and co-authored books on various aspects of the rail industry. Among his analyses and publications has been a comprehensive analysis of the world market, by country, for locomotives, and passenger rolling stock. Recently at the request of the Inter-American Bank, a multilateral development bank, he undertook an analysis of the future of the passenger train, which is the subject of this presentation.


There is increasing worldwide interest in expanded use of rail as part of a balanced, integrated and sustainable passenger transport system. The reason often quoted by the proponents is that trains are, 'environmentally friendly'. In addition passenger trains can be time competitive with car and bus travel for short and medium distances and with air travel for medium and, to a point, longer distances. However, passenger trains, especially on new routes are expensive to build and operate. In order to justify the necessary investment, there must be confidence in projected demand. By looking at the historical trends of passenger transportation, the desire for personal mobility, and the few self-sustaining passenger operations around the world, it is possible to make suggestions and recommendations for creating viable urban and intercity rail passenger services..

Is there a Future to the Passenger Train?