Monday, May 5, 2014

The Romance of Train Journey


  1. It's been too long since I traveled by Amtrak and this makes me want to do it again! Last summer I enjoyed trains in Great Britain, France, and Germany; all over Europe, train travel is very well developed, largely because the population density makes it practical and driving is very expensive.

    Good to see you posting again.

    1. Thank you for your comment Richard. For me train journeys have been always enjoyable since childhood and being a train/rail fan helps!! I am planning a couple of more Amtrak long distance trains this year and under consideration are the Coast Starlight (LA-Seattle) and Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle). Facility and amenities wise Amtrak provide them that will rival any major airline. The coach seats have enough legroom that cannot be found even in the business class of the domestic airlines. This is not to say Amtrak long distance trains are without issues. Most of the trackage in the South, West and North are owned by freight railway companies like Union Pacific, BNSF etc, and Amtrak trains on those routes often get delayed as freight trains are given priority over the Amtrak passenger trains. The other issue that I noted on SouthWest Chief long distance train is that restroom conditions deteriorate rapidly by the second day and there are no facilities en route to clean them, perhaps it would be a good idea to have the restrooms cleaned and stocked where the train stops for crew-change. In the North East Corridor (NEC) where Amtrak runs on its own tracks, the services are good, fast and reliable and more and more people opt for Amtrak travel than flying and it is no wonder that vested interests (promoted by airline industry) have been trying to close down Amtrak citing subsidies it receives.

      In Europe, the various governments are making several efforts to take the traffic off the road and on the rails, be it passenger or freight and they have actually made commitments to reduce the carbon footprint by 2025, which I think is a good step to protect the planet from pressing problems of pollution of all kinds.

      I hope you take an Amtrak journey soon!

    2. Thanks for your reply. Years ago I took Amtrak from Chicago to Oakland. It was beautiful -- they time it so that you pass through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada during the day. You can just sit by the window and enjoy the great scenery.

    3. The train you took has to be the "California Zephyr" that plies between Emeryville (Oakland/SFO) and Chicago. I took this train up to Truckee, CA early last year and it was a beautiful experience to go up and through the Donner Pass in the midst of snow-laden trees and the mountain side. When coming in from Chicago, it climbs up the Rocky Mountains after it leaves Denver, CO in the morning, which I have heard is the best stretch on that journey.