Saturday, June 03, 2006

The parallel universe of train travel

Making train reservations for M. and me to travel to AAR-SBL in November, I discovered that there were already no basic sleeper rooms left to reserve for one part of the trip--outbound from La Junta, Colorado, to Chicago.

Who says Americans don't like train travel?

Every time I take the (always politically threatened) cross-country trains, I am amazed at how full they are. And yet when the news media talk about travel, it's always airplanes/cars/airplanes/cars.

Train travel is like a parallel universe. You see America passing outside the window, the crew members and most passengers are Americans, you pay and tip in American dollars, and yet you feel somehow sort of invisible.

Forget your Lear jets. If I were rich, I would have my own rail car. Some people do. If I were merely well-to-do, I would rent one. If I could not have my private rail car hauled to my destination, I would have a member of my staff meet me with an automobile at the nearest railway station.

Why do air travelers put up with being jammed into tiny seats after being groped by TSA agents, only to be dumped at an airport many miles away from their destination?

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Blogger gl. said...

why? alas, because it only takes 2 days to get there & back rather than 6, and the cost of sleeping compartments (which is really the only way to go, in my opinion) are outrageous for that period of time.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

If by "there and back," you mean Oregon to Colorado, you are right. Travel from here to the Pacific Northwest by train is a problem, although I have some friends hardcore enough to ride to Sacramento (or Los Angeles!) and then to Colorado from there.

On the other hand, getting from Colorado to most Eastern locations is easier, going via Chicago or Kansas City.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Hecate said...

When I have to go from DC to NY, I always prefer the train. You leave from the middle of the city and arrive in the middle of the city. Much nicer. Once, after 9/11, I took a sleeper car from DC to New Orleans. I was glad when the trip was over.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


The trick to sleeper travel is bringing a laptop computer (for writing or viewing DVDs), a good book(s), and a bottle of champagne.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Sojourner said...

I have traveled by train frequently in the past and have noticed the same thing you have mentioned - the sleeper cars are usually fully reserved. One thing that I love about train travel is that people are more laid back and are willing to converse more with other passengers.

8:05 PM  

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