The economics of transportation and the politics of transport networks are vital. It has fundamentally changed how we live and how political powers operate.
If it weren’t for shipping, the Roman Empire wouldn’t have been able to maintain the city of Rome.
Today, in the modern world, there are over 11 billion tonnes of shipping each year.
Also, according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), dipping is responsible for the employment and economic welfare of over 3 billion people.
Railroads, in contrast, tend to be forgotten in the public imagination, with cars, roads and shipping lanes taking up all the public attention, with railroads left as the odd redheaded child with children with blonde hair.
Most railway lines are not just created for economic reasons; instead, they are used for power projection.
Russia is the most straightforward example of the trans-Siberian railway used to project military power from Moscow to Russia’s Far East.
Russia is an incredibly flat territory, and building a sophisticated road network is almost impossible, so railways are the only means for Russia to project its military power and political influence throughout its empire.
Without railways, it would be unlikely that Russia could maintain its power of flight’s current campaign in Ukraine.
The United States did the same when connecting its western and eastern territories in the 19th century, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is doing the same today to knit their expansive territories together and unite their political and cultural blocks.
It’s a common mistake to see China as just Han Chinese, ignoring the significant divisions within that ethnic and cultural group; for example, northern Chinese are often whiter and larger than their southern counterparts.
Furthermore, historically, northern China has had to repeatedly reconquer southern parts of China that have broken away throughout its long and bloody history.
While rail might be the redheaded stepchild of the transport industry, it is still an integral part of the economics, political and geopolitical importance to all nations.
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