Can someone explain the benefit of purchasing either the Arlbergbahn and Semmeringbahn? They don't at all give you a better chance of becoming president of the VB or SD. In fact, your opponents are actually encouraged to start those companies to stop you from getting the revenue from the privates.
So, why do I want to fund what could potentially be someone else's company? Is there something I'm missing?
Free shares. You get 20%, plus some cash (for one payout) for 170. This has a minimum value that's near the face value of the company.
Also, if you don't buy it, and everyone passes, there's an OR where privates pay out. If this is bad for you, buy it.
There are several privates in several games that are actively bad: part of the goal of the private auction in such games is to avoid taking them. I can't say offhand if 1854 is one of those games, but it's not a given that all things are good to own: there are lemons out there.