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Nine Unexpected Benefits of Trains

I’m on my first train ride of my adult life…right now. Actually, the train hasn’t even started moving. As a (ashamed) fairly frequent flier, I’m used to airplanes. And, somehow, I thought they were simply the cheapest viagra prices licensed pharmacies best way to cover long distances.

But I’ve been on this train for less than 10 minutes and cialis online canada no prescription I’ve already spotted about 20 things that make this a much more pleasant experience than flying.

  1. No wait, no security. Amtrak asks passengers to be at the train 30 minutes before departure. If you show up a little late, you simply walk straight on the train and find a seat that looks good to you.
  2. If you want to pee, go pee.. There’s never a time on a train when you can’t stand up and do whatever you want. And that includes having a nice lunch in the dining car, which is what I’m going to go do now.
  3. The seats ACTUALLY RECLINE! Instead of the 1.5 inches if lean that the little silver button will give you on a plane, Amtrak’s big black button gives a recline of about eight inches. I could actually sleep in this chair! If I wasn’t so excited about how much it reclines.
  4. PLUGS! Some planes are starting to finally provide power jacks so we can keep charged through long flights. But all Amtrak trains have three-pronged jacks to keep you electrified throughout your journey.
  5. No NAGGING: It’s a frikkin pleasure not having someone bug me about my seatback and tray tables and whether my electronic device is approved for that particular segment of the trip. And no seatbelts at all! Whether or not that’s technically safe, it’s certainly more comfortable.
  6. Legroom: As a six foot plus guy, I notice a couple extra inches here. And it’s nice.
  7. No beverage cart slamming into your knees and elbows. The beverage cart on a plane absolutely ensures that you never ever ever put any piece of your body into the aisle. Well, the train aisle is considerably wider, for one, and the tramadol saturday cod delivery cart is nonexistent.
  8. Treats: If you happen to want a cheese danish on an airplane, you’re out of luck. Not here my friends…and the cost of said treats is much more modest than the $5 you’ll pay for a snack pack on American Airlines filled with crap you probably don’t even want.
  9. You handle your baggage. If you lose your bags on a train, it’s your fault. There’s no waiting at the baggage claim and no worrying about how the baggage handlers (or TSA) will treat your bags.

And all of the additional, everyday benefits remain. It’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly, you can use cell phones and super cialis there are even some cars with beds.

I'll be excitedly posting this as soon as I have internet (the one complaint I have is that there's no internet on this train) but otherwise, this is an excellent and pleasant way to travel.

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Comments (87)Add Comment
The Way To Go
written by Brian, June 06, 2008
I have always loved trains. I was stationed in Europe for 6 years and really got used to their transport systems. The train systems are great and provide a lot of benefits you simply will never find on airplanes. The cool thing about trains is that you can look out and see the countryside. Sure, you can sometimes look down and see the geography in planes, but with the small windows in planes you never get to see something for long.

The TSA, and idiot regulations for air travel have pretty much convinced me that I'll never step onto a plane again unless I absolutely have to. I have even heard that GE is coming out with some train engines that are far more fuel efficient, so that's yet another benefit.
trains for 250 mile journeys
written by abdul, June 06, 2008
I currently have to drive or take a flight from school to home. Driving is 3.5 to 4hrs. Flying comes out to the same amount of time (driving to airport, security clearing, waiting).

I used to take a bus service in undergrad which was pretty popular ($25/roundtrip).

I would love to have train service.

Supposedly Texas, known for sprawl, is doing this in the coming years. A train service going from Dallas to San Antonio with an intersecting train service from Houston to Ft Hood.

Trains are nice, too bad most US ones ar
written by Earl Killian, June 06, 2008
I agree with your comfort points. Unfortunately two people in a Prius is 121 g CO2e/passenger-mi, compared to 180 g CO2/p-m for Amtrak, and that is ignoring the black carbon emissions I think. (My RAV4-EV is even lower emissions per mile.) The US really needs to electrify its rail lines. Think TGV: comfort, speed, and efficiency.
I totally agree
written by Phillip P, June 06, 2008
As someone who has never flown, but traveled by train numerous times, I love Trains. I even loved my 25hr trip to Florida (From Pennsylvania) because of the reasons you gave. (outlets, seats, meal/snack car) Trains Rock!
written by matt, uk, June 06, 2008
I live in the uk and there is free wifi on a growing number on lines which is nice, and its more relaxing than car travel with no traffic or parking to think about, trains almost always run on time.
I dont know about US trains but you deffinatly lower your carbon emmisions here, it tells you how much you save over a car or plane when you buy tickets.
I suppose its slightly diffrent in uk and europe as the levitra online switzerland distance you travel is less so i would never even imagine taking an internal flight but some people do and i have no idea why, it can often take longer when you include check-in and all that and you can just get on a train and buy tickets on it (although it can be a lot cheaper if you book in advance).
Never been on a train
written by bob bobberson, June 06, 2008
Very funny and informative article. I do want to ride a train some day, I would actually prefer it. Saddly in Atlanta, Amtrak doesn't quite go straight to where I want to go. And most of my 'train' usage has been taking the local subway to the airport. (2nd place train usage might be the mine train at six flags, I know that's sad). I have never been on a real cross-country train ride but I really want to get on one.
written by Rob Chant, June 06, 2008
As someone who travels by train at least once a week, if not more often, from a country where most people travel regularly by train, it's always odd to hear about someone talking about trains as a novelty.
welcome to the club
written by jason Nolan, June 06, 2008
North America has pathetic trains. Perhaps English speaking peoples are just idiots when it comes to transportation. I've travelled across Europe and in Japan on trains, and I have to say, that's civilized. That said, I took the train from Toronto to NYC this spring and loved the cheap 12 hour trip that went from downtown to downtown, with no lineups, or security checks. That was better service than our main lines between Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal due to price.

We should get with the 19th C and get some trains!
written by MarkR, June 06, 2008
It sounds good to me. Sign me up for the train that goes where I frequent most from Austin Tx. To Flagstaff Az or the one to Denver or Pueblo Co. Oh wait, Thats right there FREEKING isn't one with out going to California or Missouri first. causing the buy cialis online trip to take 3 days each way and still costing almost $1500 bucks. when I could drive the direct route to Flagstaff at approx 1165 miles each way, lets say in my 4x4 truck and non pescription cialis avg. 18mpg, I'd need approx 130 gallons to get there and back at an average cost of $4 per gallon that comes out to $500 bucks and I can make it in 2 days. So for the train I'd need a 2 extra days to make it work and an extra grand to spend on the train ride and might not need a rental in Flag since I have relatives there. but you see where I'm going. The train has a long way to go before it is cost effective.
Even more benefits to trains
written by John Nalezny, June 06, 2008
I have taken Amtrak around America several times. A few extra benefits: If you re-schedule a train trip, you pay no extra re-booking fees. Try that on an airline. Trains do take more time than airplanes, but that is actually good. After a day in an airport getting through security, waiting in lines, finding food, etc, I feel stressed out and need time to recover. In a day on a train, I have basically no task to perform. Nothing. I eat, nap, goof off, read, write a letter, whatever. When I get there, I am awake, alive, and ready for whatever I traveled for. Sometimes a day on a train is more relaxing than the vacation itself! Amtrak isn't perfect. Things are a bit worn, and the food is only good if you compare it to airport food or highway food. But it certainly isn't frantic, hurried, or stressful. Oh one more thing: every train car has it's own door, so unlike airplanes everyone gets on and off at basically the same time.
written by c1utch, June 06, 2008
You forgot my favorite, you're allowed to BYOB / Handles and noone will say a thing...
written by octopod, June 06, 2008
The worse air travel gets, the better the train system will look by comparison. Maybe they'll start getting some real money in and use it to expand the system...? I'm doin' my part, that's for sure; I pay Amtrak about $60 a month to get to and from my folks' house in Fresno. Come on, Grapevine rail line!
written by Lloyd Alter, June 06, 2008
Just don't cross the border, where the Homeland Security people close the bar half an hour before, throw everyone off the train to stand for an hour in a tiny waiting room in Buffalo, glare at you as if you are a criminal, don't let you go to the bathroom, yell at you to get out of the aisle while they race big dogs down, and generally scare you half to death, ruining an otherwise wonderful trip.
written by nicster, June 06, 2008
Unfortunately, the vast distances and low population densities of the US mean that rail travel will never be up to European or Japanese standards--except perhaps in limited areas like the east- and west-coast corridors. Extremely low spending on infrastructure means that high-speed rail is virtually impossible. And even if it were possible, freight-priority rules mean that passenger trains sit while lumber and grain cars go by. But, I'm hoping that a benefit of high gas prices will be increased focus on improved passenger train service--at least in the higher density quarters.

A side-benefit of increased legroom is that it decreases the amount of crawling-over-neighbors that has to be done. Add to that the fact that trains don't have 3-in-a-row seating and you've made it much easier to move around.

Trains go from city-center to city-center. Limiting the need for rental cars.

It's much easier to take a bike on a train than a plane. Some passenger trains even have bike racks to make it even easier.

Scenery is also better on trains--especially those with observation cars. The Columbia River Gorge (OR/WA), Puget Sound (WA) and Glacier National Park (MT) are all on train lines. On the down-side, trains always go through the most blighted areas of any city they encounter.
Cant get Amtrak to move
written by Det_station, June 06, 2008
I've tried booking a train trip from Mich to the south. Popular trip Michiganders take is to Florida. Can not understand why Amtrak does not see value in setting up a trip. Alot of retires back and forth from New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan look for trips like this. Not to forget college kids in spring time. What is wrong with this picture besides the fact we have ripped out so many miles of tracks it would be hard to bring railroads back to many area. It really leaves us with few options.... sad.
Electrified rails in the US
written by corwin, June 06, 2008
Some of the US routes are electrified, including most of the NE corridor.
Rail in the US, I like it, but...
written by Matthew, June 06, 2008
For shorter trips (LA to San Diego), it's great. It would even be good LA to San Francisco if it actually went into San Francisco (as it is you have to transfer to a bus or other system first).

My biggest problem with rail is on longer trips, to go from LA to Seattle, it's a 24-hour trip, vs about 2 1/2 (5-6 if you include the baggage handling), and the difference is even more severe on cross-country trips, to the point where it can cut significantly into my trip time (plus on LA to Seattle there is a lot more flexibility in time, 2 trips on Amtrak vs. 13 for Alaska Airlines alone).

If US rail was faster (like a lot of large countries have), it would be great...
..sigh.. I really miss Japan reading thi
written by 0x0065, June 07, 2008
Because the land development model is based around building a train line, then retail around the station, then selling off the housing around that... and that they've come to realise that cars are really a pretty absurdly inefficient mass transit system (more a hobby there) prices relate to distance from train stations.. the mobile companies all run their base stations & data networks down the train lines. Mix that with uncapped mobile broadband Internet... sigh ...and trains that run in each direction every 90sec. at peak hour... and it's not just planes that start to look bad. Seriously! car usage is such a waste of life in so many ways!
written by Bart, June 07, 2008
I feel much the same about traveling by ferry. I used the ferry a few times to travel from Europe mainland to the UK:
1. A few hours to board at your leisure
2. All the luggage you can stuff in your car is welcome and no risk of losing it other than through your own fault
3. No threefold security checks including possible cavity checks or people looking at your naked body through a see-through scanner
4. On board you can walk around at your leisure, go to the swimming pool, watch a movie, have dinner in a number of restaurants
5. At night you go to sleep in an actual bed
6. The next morning you leave the ship mostly fresh and continue your journey.
written by Rick, June 07, 2008
Amtrak is still around? Seriously though we have VIA in Canada and it's great.

Too bad I've been on more Rails to Trails in the US I can count. I'll be doing the Washington-Pittsburgh this fall.
9 Unexpected Reasons to Love the Train
written by Darlene B, June 07, 2008
I lov the train ride. My issues are with the Amtrak site. And the circumtuitous routes I must take to get from San Francisco back to San Diego at a decetn hour! I have spent hours on that site trying to book a trip, then have it all evaporate into cyberspace when I try to go back to adjust the format of my phone number to their expectations. Know what? I'm taking my Prius.
written by Hank, June 07, 2008
That Prius that you paid an extra 10,000 dollars for because of its high demand.
written by Johnny Tripwire, June 07, 2008
Trains are really cool as long as they dont derail. Rode a train cross country once and really enjoyed it. Beats flying, at least if the engine quits you jsut stop instead of falling out of the sky.

Trains are great but can be better
written by Brian Zimmel, June 07, 2008
I take the train from Albany to New York City frequently and it is the cialis generic recommended most beautiful ride down the Hudson River. Amtrak pulls right into Penn Station where almost every subway line comes in as well as NJ Transit and LIRR (what I take to visit family on Long Island). But Amtrak really needs to upgrade to high-speed trains/rails (like Acela but better) and provide WIFI access. With just those two improvements along I would take the train from NY to Florida in a heartbeat.
Trains are not all that!
written by Hitesh Sawlani, June 07, 2008
Trains are good but you know what? They are slower than planes. I live in Spain but study in the UK. If I tried to train it from the UK to Spain it would literally cost me a fortune and take days. Within the UK I only take the train because distance wise it makes sense, however there are some annoying things with trains...

· Luggage! In planes you are guaranteed a space to put your bags in. In trains you have to cross your fingers to find space, if you are taking 2 suitcases: Good Luck.

· You are not guaranteed a seat on a train, you might actually have to stand (I've stood for 4hours)

· You get hassled by staff checking tickets, they check tickets after each station so even though you showed them your ticket before they will come around, stare at you for a while remembering if they asked you or not before moving on or asking you again anyway.

Trains in the UK have a good service though (no matter how much locals complain about them).

Trains in Spain are way too expensive and the price is often similar to a national flight.
Hate to disagree, but...
written by Kevin L, June 07, 2008
I felt the same way as the writer at the start of our trip. The comfort and convenience and the best site inexpensive viagra low prices were great. But then it started. Since Amtrak shares lines with freight, we would have to give them right-of-way on the single track sections. Long story short, a 5 hour trip from St. Louis to Kansas City took 7 hours, and coming back, we were 5 hours late getting into the station (having several 1h stand-stills for right-of-way traffic). If is wasn't for that, I would travel on trains way more often.
written by Dan, June 07, 2008
I've used both trains in the U.S. and trains in the UK and the UK ones are so, so much better. Amtrak right now is awful. I took a train from upstate NY to Springfield, Ma, that would have taken 3 hours if i had driven (no car at the time). Train ride took nearly 7 hours, with a 2 hour stop in Albany. The food was as bad as airline fair, if not worse and the seats were uncomfortable with just as little leeway as an airlines.

Taking the train from London to Brighton was amazing, so was the ride to Cambridge on a train. But unless the system drastically changes in America, the only train im going to be taking our the subways
Maglev Train
written by Mark, June 07, 2008
Bush just approved 45mil for a maglev train to be developed between Disneyland and Vegas. Now you can drop your kids off at the park and find a hooker in just 90 minutes!

I think that federal investment should go toward high-speed US trains, not flashy and mostly pointless maglev trains for tourists.
UK Travel
written by Brandon, June 07, 2008
I'm from the states, and my only train experience came about 10 years ago in the UK. It was an awesome 2 weeks. My wife and I went from London through Wales up to Scotland and back down to London. It was awesome, with the rail pass, we basically hopped on when we wanted and discount cialis hopped off. We did a lot of walking, but I have never felt so free. I hope someday trains will make travel in the states as fun.
You lucky guys ...
written by wypas, June 07, 2008
I live in UK but I'm from Poland where trains are awful. They are still in middle of eighties last century. No water, no paper in toilets - soap ? What the hell is soap ? Controllers are rude and arrogant. If you travel to Poland - never by train.
written by Andy, June 07, 2008
By train it would be a 40 hour trip to go from Tucson to Seattle (my usual route) versus a 4 hour flight or a 24 hour drive. The American rail system is still archaic compared to Japan where a trip of the same distance would take roughly 6 hours (or with a new mag-lev train under 5 hours).

The real way to bring about change is to abandon policies that hamper eco-friendly transportation and for the government to take initiative to build high speed rail lines, like what is going on in California right now.
written by John, June 07, 2008
Hey abdul, I know you must be a TAMSter: the bus, Texas, undergrad. I was class of '04. Small world, huh?
written by chris, June 07, 2008
Trains are great for shorter journeys, but long ones are a killer. Amtrak trains are schedules are a fantasy as multi hour delays are common. Still, you can take beer on board and ralax in the observation car.
written by a, June 07, 2008
I live in Connecticut and go to school in NYC, and I LOVE metro north. $11 per ride, quicker than driving, and trains leave practically every half hour from the city to New Haven. Whenever I go home, I don't even need to look up a schedule, I just go down to grand central and hop on the next train.

I hope more regional services like this start to emerge; it really is the most amazingly convenient thing
Uh, try riding Amtrak longer than 10 min
written by Eli Goldberg, June 07, 2008
Your sentiments are very typical for someone who has only ridden Amtrak for 10 minutes. I've travelled at least 10,000 miles on them --- and will never ride them again.

Wait until you've seen their darker side -- or Google for the words "my final trip on Amtrak" and you'll see why I would never give those jerks another penny.

Love the trains here in Europe, though. Americans don't know what they're missing by pouring all their railroad money into subsiding 30 mph Amtrak land cruises instead of fixing up their key corridors.
written by Dave R., June 07, 2008
Trains are a great way to travel. Much more relaxing than the plane.

Overnight ferries are the best, though. You get on board, stuff your face, get drunk, go to bed, wake up, you're there.

It's like travelling in a bar.
Shipping costs
written by Levi, June 07, 2008
I work for a building supply business in the United States and we get all drywall and buy branded cialis drywall mud shipments on semi trucks.

Well, with diesel prices the way that they are I almost wish that we would buy some land next to a railway. We could then receive 2 times the amount of drywall for less than what it costs to get one truck in.
Europe's trains
written by Alyssa, June 07, 2008
Two years ago, my family did a European trip, and we took the train from Amsterdam to Paris, from Paris to London, from London to Exeter, and back to London again. All I can say is that it was so easy, and straightforward, and I wish the rail systems in Canada were that great.
written by Greg, June 07, 2008
I've lived in Europe for a while and the train system is fantastic. We regularly catch a 10 hour overnight train in Poland, but with a sleeper you're only aware of perhaps 2 hours of the trip all up. I only wish Australia would put more effort into the train system. Like the US, Aus has built its infrastructure around cars which, with the burgeoning oil crisis, will hamstring the country. If only the cheap levitra uk government had invested heavily in a better rail system 10 years ago.
Some benefits, but not always as rosy
written by Andy, June 07, 2008
Last year during spring break I decided to take my first train ride. From Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA. Overall the trip was pleasent. My trip was booked on the Amtrak Cascades line, which runs between Vancouver, BC to San Diego, CA (roughly).

Going into this trip I knew that it was going to take a long time, but due to delays before boarding we were 4 hours late boarding and 8 hours late arriving. This effectively cut out 1 whole day of my vacation. Kind of sucked.
Second, I booked my trip over the phone because I wanted to verify that the train I was getting on had plugs for my laptop. I was assured that every seat had a power outlet. When I arrive I was disappointed to find that only 1 car on the train had plugs and due to the first come first served seating, I was put in a car that didn't have outlets. The attendants wouldn't let me change places even after the car was less occupied. I was told that car was reserved for families with kids.
Overall I am happy to have the experience of travelling by train, but I am unhappy with the level of services and staff available on the train.

don't like train
written by jim, June 07, 2008
Amtrak services are horrible.
written by Bill, June 07, 2008
Unfortunately, the speed of flying doomed train travel. In the near future, trains will probably make a come back because flying will be no more due to the collapse of the world's currencies. If they are able to stop the train car swaying problem, all will be able to enjoy them. Some people get train sick as a result of this sway.
written by Dad, June 07, 2008
We're riding the train for the first time this summer, from Chicago, IL to Tucson, AZ...59 hours! We've reserved a family sleeper, with 4 fold-out beds. Looking forward to it!
spiderman the hobo
written by spiderman, June 07, 2008
Actually not all amtrak trains have outlets. That is only a few newer trains. And if you can get beyond the occasional freakouts of the other passengers, and the constant stops because your letting other trains by, then it might be a nice time.

For me, i'd rather work hard and buy the gasoline for my car. Even if it costs rediculous amounts of money. smilies/grin.gif
not enough trains.
written by peter, June 07, 2008
Trains are nice, too bad most US ones ar
written by Earl Killian , June 05, 2008
I agree with your comfort points. Unfortunately two people in a Prius is 121 g CO2e/passenger-mi, compared to 180 g CO2/p-m for Amtrak, and that is ignoring the black carbon emissions I think. (My RAV4-EV is even lower emissions per mile.) The US really needs to electrify its rail lines. Think TGV: comfort, speed, and efficiency.

did you just say that? really? you're an idiot. do you want to drive 10 hours, 20 hours, 30 hours straight? no. and it's too expensive. sometimes you have to look at more than the bullshit carbon emission. -_-;
written by Ewald, June 07, 2008
The advantages mentioned in the article is exactly what I was thinking about when I was waiting at the airport for 7 hours. Three hours at a security checkpoint, being at the airport two hours in advance and two hours of delays added up to that.
After those 7 hours it took another 2 hours to fly to my destionation. I thought that if I could have taken the train I would have been there by the time 9 hours had passed. And all with more comfort than the whole airport ordeal.
I wish the train system here in America was a more extensive so I had a choice between flying and cialis on women taking the train.
written by Ryan, June 07, 2008
Train stations are normally nearer to city centres than airport are. One anything less then a 4 hour train trip, I pick train over a flight.
You can take it with you
written by Michal, June 07, 2008
In Europe, the nice thing is that on some trains, you can take your car with you. The last 3-4 cars carry autos. Once you show up at your destination, no need for a rental; just drive off with your own.
written by Beelw, June 07, 2008

Why can't the USA have superfast trains like China, France, Japan, etc. Why can't they crisscross the nation like other countries ? Well, it's because we're America and we're #1 in something else, not trains though. Cars, guns, killing, greed, ignorance, work, prisoners, etc.... smilies/grin.gif
written by English Class, June 07, 2008
When I lived in France I loved the train. Don't forget the advantage of seeing beautiful country side. You have the option of renting a sleeper unit.

They are faster for regional travel. Like Chicago to Indianapolis is a 45 minute flight but you have to be at the airport 1 hour in advance and then wait 30 minutes for your bads. So for a 1 hour flight it really takes 2.5 hours. A high speed regional train would be much faster and you would have less wasted time.
Automotive World
written by Thad, June 07, 2008
The problem with America's train system is cars. If you get too far West, cities and what not stop being focused around trains/subways and more around having a car. And by too far West I mean past the Eastern Seaboard, basically.

The dawn of the car was a huge blow to the train industry/system causing many tracks to be discontinued/removed. Some auto companies actually went out of their way to dismantle the railroads by buying them out and destroying them. I can only hope we'll return to the age of trains soon.
Trains are just not convenient.
written by LeberMac, June 07, 2008
Trains are great if you are actually going from some city center to another city center. Otherwise trains suck. That's why Amtrak has required gigantic US Federal Subsidies to maintain operations since its inception.

They require traveling to a station to get on, and then if your destination is not within walking distance of the train stop, what then? Rent a car? Hail a cab? (Bring a BIKE? what are you serious?) More money, more time, more waiting, more lines.

Plus they're definitely more expensive than driving, and sometimes are more expensive than flying.
written by Neo, June 07, 2008
I love the train too. I have to take it when I want to get home from school, its about an 2 hour ride. I enjoy myself.
is train-ing...
written by tangounicorn, June 07, 2008
is train-ing less expensive than moving the equivalent mass by ship?
back in the day
written by gregt, June 08, 2008
I don't think oil prices will come down or the harmful effects of petro based products will simply go away. All we folks in the western half of US complain that trains don't work here, minimal routes, bad times, etc. But, I think it's indicative of a spoiled society. In the 1950's and 60's, trains were my family's transportation between Ks & Ia. Sure we had a car, but the interstate system hadn't been built & there was minimal support along the road to support the numerous problems that cars of that generation would encounter. Plus, I'm a millionaire and have resorted to Greyhound on avg of once a yr while my friends/associates are repulsed by the thought.

We Americans have many adjustments ahead - two important ones - the use of mass transportation and downsizing our wasteful square footage. We can choose to proactively make a difference or bury our head in sand and suffer the link for you levitra sales online consequences. I'm returning to my roots - rail and pfizer viagra for sale 1,000 sq ft!!! smilies/grin.gif
The one downside...
written by Daniel Bachhuber, June 08, 2008
... is that, as far as I know, the freight companies in the US own all of the rail lines. This makes Amtrak quite unreliable for scheduling. Last summer, when I worked in Seattle and my family was in Portland, I took the train to and from as much as I could. I pushed my way through 5 or so delayed trips before one was just canceled outright. If I knew I could arrive within a half hour of the scheduled time, I would take it all the time. Until that point, I'll just take it occasionally.

A lot of comments on this thread! I love how everyone is so enthusiastic about this subject.
It's Sad
written by buddhahands, June 08, 2008
it's a sad day that blogs like this take focus. what happened to our oh-so-free country lol. I grew up in prosperous times, but now pretty much everything is wrong.

articles diverting our focus from the negatives to look at the positives of a slower, older technology in this dire situation makes me feel a lot worse about what's happening. stay-cations, trains, $5/gallon. I guess this gas thing was inevitable but it wasn't even in sight when I was growing up (the 90s.)

wish I was born like 15 years earlier.
Smug Alert!
written by Eric B, June 08, 2008
Earl Killian, I crown thee Sir Smug.

I mean, seriously... Oh, with your Prius you blah blah blah. No one cares.
city center to city center
written by aaarf, June 08, 2008
Has anyone mentioned that the train takes you closer to where you're actually going? It's often quite convenient to arrive at Penn Station rather than at La Guardia, for example.
written by Domagoj, June 08, 2008
Last year I spent a month zigzaging across France and Benelux. The best thing were night trains. I would fell asleep in one city and get teleported to another.
written by Marilyn Terrell, June 08, 2008
Good for you, Hank! I hope the rest of your trip is as enjoyable as the first 10 minutes. You're right about all the advantages over air travel. I love the extra room, reclining seats, and the mobility (you really ARE free to move about the cabin), and you can look out the window and actually see things. And as another reader pointed out, the convenience of traveling from city-center to city-center. Another advantage I discovered last year: Amtrak's unaccompanied minors program is free (airlines charge $99), and sometimes the conductor will put your kid in Business Class:
you must live in a large city
written by Tom, June 08, 2008
every year I try and figure out how to use a train to go from North Carolina to Kansas.

every year we drive, or fly.


it takes 42 hours to go from NC to Kansas.

It costs $2800 to take four people

The departure time is 5:40AM. The arrival time is 3:30AM, not very child friendly.

I'm sure it's great in Philly, NYC, or a few other areas where the population density is good. But anywhere else, it's horrible.

I would love to use a train, I would. My kids would probably enjoy it to no end. I'm a model railroader and really like the stuff. But $2800 and taking two days? forget it.
written by Sib, June 08, 2008

Reading this, I'm glad I live in Europe, and not in the US. Although it would be nice to have Wifi (like in the uk), our system is quite good.
Except for the occasional delays. I travel by train each day (to school and cialis online in usa back), and due to the overload of traffic, it's easier to travel around The Netherlands by train, instead of by car.
written by tc, June 08, 2008
Mostly true, except:

1. The TSA is starting to add some security theatre to train stations. It's not 1/10th as bad as airports, but it's not non-existent, as it was 5 years ago.

8. Food selection is lousy, and it's expensive. I've given up eating on Amtrak, because it's not worth $6 for a small tasteless sandwich.

The other (big) downside:

It's slow. If your route happens to go by the freeway, you get to watch the cars pass you. It's also intermittent: the freight companies own the rails, so if there's freight coming through, you pull off onto a side track and wait. The schedules are listed to the minute (!), but you don't know how many 30-minute unscheduled pauses they will include.

You'd think for being so slow, for charging so much for extras like crap food, and for being government-subsidized, they'd be ridiculously cheap (at least until you remembered how much the government subsidizes all the other forms of transportation). For example, the route I used to ride frequently was over an hour faster by car (4 hours, versus 5 , assuming no waits), and the fuel cost for my car was less than half the Amtrak ticket price.

I could drive 2 hours, stop at a reasonable restaurant, then drive the other 2 hours. It'd still be faster, cheaper, and have better food.

I love trains, and I wish we had great trains in this country, but the economics just aren't there, unless you need to get something done on your laptop and you have a light/quiet enough route that you can get work done there.
I Love Train rides
written by Mukesh, June 08, 2008
Having had enough of the flights from Minnesota to Baltimore, one year I decided to travel with Amtrak. So, I was in the train from Minnesota to Baltimore. It was almost a 42 hour ride because since Amtrak doesn't have too many trains, the same train kept going to different places to pick passengers. It was comfortable, and smooth. I absolutely loved it. I even started getting mad imagining how good the Europeans have been traveling. Their trains are more high-tech, more comfortable and safer than Amtrak trains. Plus, most of their trains are electric or magnetic.
there's another side too...
written by thesparker, June 08, 2008
I used trains quite a bit in central (east) europe and found them to be nice... especially with most cars having multiple cabins (nice to be in groups or have room to lay out if the train isn't full).

But AmTrak has a long way to come. We took a 13 hour delayed train (coming from California, during the winter, so I understand the reason for a delay) from Denver to Chicago and I found a couple things to be quite annoying:

1. The "snack"/bar/restaurant service. They will make you aware of their presence from 6AM to late into the night - using the intercom. Some of these bulletins came in 15 minute intervals. The breakfast announcements were the worst. Can't you just leave those of us who like to travel alone, in peace, with no intercom announcements, so we can sleep?

2. I don't want to pay extra for a sleeper, so we had to go in the "hold" with 40 people in one car. It would be much nicer if each car had small cabins that fit 6-8. I don't like hearing the baby cry at the other end of the car, and I don't like to hear the guy 5 seats in front of me snoring.
written by PCJ, June 08, 2008
I'm taking Amtrak from NYC to Pittsburgh in a few weeks. On the same trip a year ago, we actually arrived 15 minutes early, thanks to Norfolk Southern letting us out of Harrisburg, PA ahead of a couple of their freight trains.

A good place to learn about passenger rail activities is

Check out their newsletter and newsletter archives to get a better handle on goings-on within passenger rail, be it light rail, subway, commuter and cialis tadalafil canada Amtrak.

You'll also learn about the hurdles, obstacles and roadblocks that keep passenger rail from playing a bigger part in the US. For example, did you know that for the past 30 years Amtrak has never had a dedicated source of funding? Like a child asking for its allowance, the carrier had to go to Uncle Sam every year to ask for money to operate for another year. It seldom gets approved without a fight. Can you imagine trying to make any long-term plans to improve services without knowing if you're going to exist a year from now?

As it stands. Amtrak could carry a lot more people than it does now, but it literally doesn't have enough passenger cars and locomotives to do it, and not enough guaranteed funding to even go shopping for fleet expansion, up until fairly recently, perhaps even this year.
Amtrak and Freight Railroads
written by Trainmaster, June 09, 2008
Upgrade the rail system. Want to make our planet green and save the enviorment. Here is your link to tell your congress person to get off there duff and build more rail then roads.

A single intermodal train can take 280 trucks off the highways.

1 ton of freight can go 436 miles on average with train with 1 gallon of fuel on a truck with 1 ton of freight that is on a whopping 54 miles.

We don't need to pump more oil we have to think more wise on how we ship items. If this country made a massive update in the freight railroad this would benefit 2 ways. More freight by train and added speed for passenger. But as usual the big lobby guys don't want this. So when you vote this year think about who is not only going fix our economy but also our infrastructure. We the United States people should not tolerate anyone who does not see we need our infrastructure fixed. This means power, rail, roads and city services.

Want to be green lets lead the way like we did in the 1940's and 1950's. When great idea's came from here not imported from oversea's
In Italy... it's impossible!
written by PiccoloSocrate, June 09, 2008
I'm an italian blogger.
Railroad system is too poor even if Italy is just a small country (less than 1500km).

Train's condition are fatiscent, rich in... rubbish and we like it lowest viagra price always in late!

My Amtrak horror story
written by Danno, June 09, 2008
Back in the 70's, my family decided to take the train from Portland, OR to San Jose, CA to have Thanksgiving with family. We spent most of Wednesday sitting on a boring train only to have it stop about 2/3 of the way there because another train derailed on the tracks ahead of us. Amtrak was so incompetent we spend all Wednesday night on the train, and Thanksgiving morning on an unmoving train. They finally bussed everyone around the train to another train on the other side of the holdup. We missed Thanksgiving and spent it on a terrible train. It's an experience I will never forget.

In spite of my personal trauma, I've actually considered taking a train twice in the past year, once from Boston to upstate NY, and another to D.C. Both times I concluded that it was both CHEAPER and FASTER to drive or take a plane! There's no way I'm spending 12 hours on a train each way when I can drive there in 5, or fly in less than 2. Hell, I can even catch the Fung Wah Bus from Boston to NY for less than $40, if I'm willing to be a bit ghetto.

The bottom line is that trains will never find an audience in American until trains are just as convenient and as inexpensive as other modes of transportation.
obviously you've never tried Amtrak in t
written by Todd Bradley, June 09, 2008
Kevin L hit the nail on the head. I think Hank (the author of the original post) must have never tried taking Amtrak to or from Denver. If the train varies from 2 hours late to 6 hours late arriving, then what's the value of only arriving 30 minutes before departure?
written by Rebecca, June 09, 2008
# 10? Trains could help reduce sprawl by concentrating development in cities....

The Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail had to form in order to advocate for new commuter rail service in CT-MA. We're on our way...
cost prohibitive
written by Sherri E., June 09, 2008
I would love, love, love to be able to take the train to see my parents in east Texas from where I live in northern Virginia. But even with the currently awful airline prices, flying is still far cheaper than the train. We simply cannot afford the train because Amtrak is FREAKING EXPENSIVE. It really comes down to cost for us-- I would not mind taking two days rather than three hours to get there if we could do it for less than the cost of air travel. But unfortunately we can't. smilies/sad.gif
Air American
written by Frank J, June 09, 2008
Just think how far some of the nearly $2 Trillion we are throwing away in our occupation of Iraq that could be going into OUR OWN alternative transportation and infrastructure and subsidizing Amtrak.
written by Sarah, June 09, 2008
Nope, gotta say I agree with the commenter who said try riding for longer than 10 minutes and see how you feel then. I've taken the train across country several times, always a bad experience. There are never any direct routes to whatever city I'm going to, so I always have to go through Amtrak's hub which usually adds at least an extra day of travel. (Would be much faster to drive, but okay.) Coach seats are more expensive than airfare would be, and beds are totally unaffordable, but can't actually get any sleep in coach because the train makes stops every couple of hours all night. Expensive food. On my most recent trip I had a delay of four hours -- conductor told me that was nothing, the week before that same train had been delayed 12 hours -- because Amtrak doesn't own the rails so freight lines have the right of way. I would love to travel by train but so far I haven't found one single advantage to it.
Recently took first Amtrak trip
written by Clara, June 14, 2008
Here in Michigan, we were bused to Toledo where we boarded the Capital Limited. We loved it! One thing I really liked that you didn't mention was the leg rests. It was great to get the full effect of a recliner. We were delivered to Union Station in DC where we experienced other train benefits. We hopped a commuter train south to within less than 10 miles of our daughter's home. smilies/cheesy.gif We were able to take that same train back to DC earlier enough that no one had to be late for work after we were dropped off. We had a long wait in DC, but who cares! There's so much to do there that we checked our bags and hopped the Metro - another train! I loved all three trains.

I, too, hope that higher gas prices will put more attention on improving the long distance trains. They aren't perfect, but a great way to travel if you can take the time.
More Reasons
written by Derek, June 15, 2008
Airplanes don't have a real replacement for aviation fuel. Oil prices are only going up, so airfares can only go up.

Trains can be powered by all sorts of means, including (especially) electricity, and they can be adapted for any new power system that comes along. Unlike planes, they can use batteries, and heaviness isn't much of a problem for trains.

Planes are essentially flying bombs that can be suicide-flown into buildings. Trains...not so much. They make poor terrorist targets, so you can save a lot of $ by foregoing a lot of security.

We don't have a sufficient infrastructure in place to replace the majority of planes with trains. But...there's a wide grassy median running down the middle of most freeways. How 'bout running a line up them?

Trains are not business friendly...
written by C, August 05, 2008
If you want to take a train round trip from reading to birmingham in the UK, it's about 50$. Then if you need to reach clients outside the city center you would have to get a taxi. These costs add up. Get a car at 50mpg highway and you save money and maintain the freedom to set your schedule. I think trains are good for travelers who are going form city to city, or commuters who take the same route every day. Otherwise it's impossible.
Swiss trains
written by Owen, December 15, 2008
The Swiss train network is, from my experience, one of the best. There is one main company (SBB CFF FFS, each for German French and online pharmacies Italian) and, somehow, the trains don't just run on time, they run so that interchange time between any two trains is almost always under twenty minutes and over five! They also seem to cope with the snow without breaking down (unlike trains in the UK). They even have tilting trains. The final advantage is the price. There are loads of discount cards that can half the price of tickets or more so no one has to pay full price if they know what they are doing.
Only in America
written by Stephen Rees, December 18, 2008
is this type of post necessary. In the rest of the world (with the possible exception of much of Canada, I concede) people know all about trains and use them - a lot. And once high speed trains are provided airline us falls - as it did in France when TGV wiped out Air Inter.

If we are to survive electric passenger trains are going to be needed everywhere. Only the North East corridor has anything like what is needed across the country
More than that...
written by Spuffler, April 07, 2009
IIRC, CSX is advertising something like they are hauling 1 ton of freight 423 miles on one gallon of fuel.

Hijacking a train is nearly impossible.

I traveled from NH to LA to Yosemite via Amtrak Vacations (defunct), loved every minute of the 3+ trip, despite the lurching of the tracks in some areas I traveled. At night, we picked up a couple non-passenger cars (boxcars), so the train method is easily reconfigured mid-route for express cargo, try that with a 747-400.

As badly as Amtrak compares to rail travel nearly anywhere else in the world, I would STILL take the train for a (2 week or longer) vacation over driving, flying or busses.
written by العاب, May 02, 2010
Everything you said is correct, and if we are looking at the numbers today we can see that people are preferring to travel by trains rather than by cars, traveling by trains today is like going out for a trip.
written by David, May 14, 2010
Aaaaahh, it's nice to read that after a rather dreary day - i want to ride the trains again! Here in the UK they have a much more important role to play but i have to say, your image of the Amtrak trains is very appealing! Over here, our trains may be suffering a bit from being one of the most popular means of travel - they are loosing a bit of that relaxation and becoming much more high-pressure and less user-friendly. Baggage can be a problem as there isnt much room for it and certainly no luggage van or equivalent so if you have a suitcase and can't get it in the tiny luggage rack you are pretty much doomed to keep it with you. And they can also be very busy sometimes. But even so, it is still a vast improvement on flying! Trains really are the luxury way to travel!
written by Phillip O'Shea, March 13, 2013
My first train ride was in August 1946. My father worked for the Union Pacific and we went to California from Kansas to see my older brothers who were stationed there during WWII. My most memorable part of that trip was the bathrooms or smokers as I recall my dad saying. Strange to remember that, but the toilets emptied directly onto the tracks underneath the train and you could watch the rail ties go by underneath the train. Being only 4 years old at the time I did not want to use that toilet because I was sure I was going to fall through the hole and discount generic levitra online onto the tracks and everyone in the car was suddenly quite aware of the fact much to the embarrassment of my folks. Certainly things have changed over the years and I still enjoy riding the train very much and do so every opportunity I get. I also remember one trip from Kansas to Washington where the ride was so rough over the Rockie Mountains that the cream in the pitchers on the dining car tables actually started to turn into butter. That was when they served real fresh cream had real silver on the trains and really super great service. That has diminished over the years, but the service is still good, just not as personal as it was back then and sometimes certainly not as friendly.
written by Spuffler, July 02, 2013
But Amtrak runs over tracks owned by freight railroads... a bit of uneven track isn't a big deal to a few dozen hoppers of coal in a freight lashup, but the same track will set a walking passenger on the floor. In some segments of the Southwest route, trackage rights don't offermuch for passenger comfort. I did do a cross country trip in a sleeper, 2 nights, 2 different cars, and I'd do it again any time I could afford it. Every air traveler should try an overnight if it seems at all likeable.
written by, July 23, 2013
I really like the idea of traveling on a train. Its been an awesome reading, really had a great time. Also thanks for sharing this information, which is pretty valuable to me.
written by Jenny, July 25, 2014
I agree with you about nagging. For me, I don't want to be disturbed by a flight attendant and will say to me that I cannot play music even though I am just fixing my things in the bag. I am happy that there are less restrictions on train when we went to China from HK.

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