Development of Operational Speed for Major Transport Modes, 1750-2010 (km per hour)
Technological developments have two significant consequences over transportation modes. The first involves the emergence of new modes and the second concerns an improvement of their operational speeds. Many modes follow a similar pattern where a significant growth of their operational speed takes place in their introduction phase. Once technical constraints are solved and modal networks expanded, operational speeds reach a threshold which remains until the mode becomes obsolete and is abandoned (stage coach, clipper ships and liners) or a new technology is introduced and a new wave of technical improvements incurs (jet planes, high speed trains). Once operational speed has been reached, the focus is to improve modal efficiency, particularly energy use, to reduce the operation costs and expand the market reach of the mode.