SETTING UP A RAILWAY SERVICE
Military forces operating in a theater generally use existing
railways because constructing new ones is both timeconsuming and
expensive. What existing rail lines are selected for use? The
tactical situation naturally influences the selection; for example,
those leading into or running parallel to the rear areas of
battlelines are extremely valuable for rapid troop and supply
movements, but how vulnerable are they to enemy penetration? The
selection of a rail line also depends not only on its strategic
importance to an operation but also on its technical or physical
characteristics, such as its yards, shop facilities, and track.
This chapter describes why one rail line is selected before
another. It ends with an explanation of how the transportation
railway service (TRS) has solved the problem of finding enough
skilled men to operate and maintain the trains and all the facilities
required to keep them running.
1.2. STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE
If a theater of operations has a highly developed rail net,
selection of certain lines over others is made on the basis of their
strategic importance to the military operation. First, what is the
planned strategy of attack? And what is the probable objective of
the operation? The answers to these questions will certainly help
the planners select the railways most important as support lines.
Second, where will the lines of advance be? Rail lines leading
in the general direction of the lines of advance are selected as the
primary supply route. Third, what are the enemy dispositions?
Before making a decision, those responsible for selecting the best
rail lines want to know the strength of enemy forces, where they are
located, and what types of units they have at strategic locations.
Rail lines are vulnerable to enemy penetration. For instance, if you