Why do you ride the train?

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Why do you ride the train?

Postby PDT009 » Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:38 pm

I posted this question about 2 1/2 years ago.
It generated quite a lot of response. In the interim we've had many new members join the forum and new experience in travel for others. I imagine some have had their thinking changed about train travel.
This is not a Congressional investigation. There is no single answer we're going for here. I encourage responsed based on memories, experience, emotion, conjecture, rumor and gut feelings. It's what you think and feel that matters.


Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:50 pm

The most relaxing travel experience that this "retired Type-B" knows.
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Postby mattfels » Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:52 pm

Howzabout we strike "conjecture" and "rumor" from the list? Recall the premise: "It's what you think and feel that matters," not what someone else thinks and feels.

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:32 pm

i ride the train because of the veiw, it is excellent. I don't really know why i love to ride trains, i can't explain it, i find it fun to ride
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Postby CSX Conductor » Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:39 pm

Just like the Army says: "it's not just a job, it's an adventure" :wink:
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Postby hsr_fan » Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:45 pm

There's nothing like riding at train at 100+ mph, effortlessly cruising past cars on the adjacent highway, with the freedom to stretch out and relax or take a walk to the cafe car! High speed trains are fun!

Postby mlrr » Sun Jun 06, 2004 3:36 pm

I love traveling, and it's hard to explain but I guess I can say I just like the utility of it all (If that makes any sense, lol), and of course I love Amtrak. I jump at any opportunity to ride the train (when within' "reasonalbe" limits, lol), I just wish I had the excess cash to take excursion trips on Amtrak.

Just give me my music with my headphones, a window seat, and I'm good!
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Postby updrumcorpsguy » Sun Jun 06, 2004 3:42 pm

I like to read, and I like to meet new people. I love to nap. In my regular day-to-day life, I don't get a chance to do enough of any of that. Hence, the on-board lifestyle suits me.

Also, I like the ever-changing view from the train - everything from beathtaking mountain vistas to gritty rotting industrial tracts (I'm something of an architecture buff). It's far from the homogenized interstate experience, and worlds away from the ethereal quality of the ground as viewed from the air (although that is cool also). Since the railroads were the first mechanized trade routes across the continent, and were originally made mostly by hand, you can really appreciate the effort it took to build this country.

Lastly, I appreciate the freedom: Since the train takes you mostly into the center of town, there's not generally any need for an expensive cab ride. You don't have to worry about parking your car, and whether it will get its window's smashed. Any breakdowns are generally not your problem. You don't need to make any decisions, other than when you want to go eat.

Postby JoeG » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:31 pm

There's something about the motion of a train that I find very pleasant and relaxing. A fast train is exciting but a slow train is OK too. The views are nice, and I can concentrate on them because I'm not driving.
Traveling in a sleeper is a really neat experience. I especially like to turn off all the lights in my room at night and look out the window. There are some other activities that can be specially nice in a sleeper, but I don't want to be too graphic here.
Eating in a dining car is also a special experience. Even eating a sandwich in an Amcafe has some indefinable extra spice to it, but of course eating in a full-service diner with waiter service is better. Although, objectively, I'd say that the food in an Amtrak dining car isn't better that what you can get in a midpriced family restaurant, I enjoy dining car meals more than the $100+ meals I've had in some fancy New York restaurants.
I don't even care if the train is late, although I'd rather it not be so late I miss the last connection of the day.

Postby CNJ » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:42 pm

Look Fels, would you be so kind as to stop being so bloody combative and allow for thread to continue without a diatribe?

If you don't like the question then go read something else here and refrain with the caustic editorial comment...

mattfels wrote:Howzabout we strike "conjecture" and "rumor" from the list? Recall the premise: "It's what you think and feel that matters," not what someone else thinks and feels.

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:17 pm

I ride the train for several reasons:

For one... it's civilized. I'm not crushed in a seat, with no legroom and pretzels handed to me as a meal.

It's cost effective. 1-2 times a month I will commute from ALB to NYC for the day. Flying would be outrageous in terms of price. Driving would end up being as costly or costlier.

It's time effective. 2:20 and I'm in Manhattan. Now, admittedly the metric has changed since I now have to then go to NJ which adds about 20 minutes to my commute, so driving might actually be a bit shorter. However, I think the other drivers would be quite upset if I started napping in the car or working on my computer as I do on the train. So even if it takes a bit longer, the time is used far more effectively. Flying would be faster to the city, but then I have the haul from the airport (most likely by train anyway), which would eat into that time.

Even for longer trips it's cost-effective and time-effective. Especially if one can arrange for a trip where much of the travel time is done at night. In that case no time is really lost in a sense.

On longer trips I can shower before arrival and arrive quite refreshed. Try that on an airplane. :-)

For me, a better question would be, "why don't I take the train?" Sometimes it's not just the best option. Yet, even given the rather small size of Amtrak's system compared to "yesteryear" it often is the best option or part of the best option.

(To elaborate on that point for a second, I'll mention again my "Planes, Trains, Automobile business trip.) Pressed for time on several fronts, a co-worker and I flew from Albany to BWI, rented a car, got the Tyson's Corners, packed up a data center, returned to BWI, boarded the train to NYC, beat the servers to the new data-center, set them up when they arrived and took the train back to Albany that night. Each method of travel was optomized for its respective segment.)

BTW, on a related note, in the past year I'm personally somewhat responsible for at least one family (and perhaps a few others) including train travel in their itinerary, including a family trip from Maine to Walt Disney World. They had not previously seriously considered the train until talking to me. Once they looked, they realized for a family of four it was cost effective and quite enjoyable.

Oh and I left out all the other reasons I take the train... the scenery, the people, etc.
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Postby Irish Chieftain » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:53 pm

Since I'm Irish, I'll answer with a question: What kind of train are you talking about? I'm sure one gut reaction is to rejoin with "Well, what forum are you in after all"...but Amtrak runs all sorts of trains. Not to mention "The Train" doesn't specifically refer to Amtrak.

Highest-capacity land-based transportation out there, which also has the inherent potential to be the fastest. Smoothest-riding one too, plus one where you can get up and stretch your legs whenever you feel like it (try that on a bus). Not to mention cleanest.
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Postby trainfreak » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:53 pm

I take the train for the scenery. Its nice to be going over a long bridge high in the air over a forest and being able to look down on the tops of all of the trees. Plus you can talk to who ever you are with because when driving one of them has to be focused on that.
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Postby PDT009 » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:06 pm

Irish Chieftain wrote:Since I'm Irish, I'll answer with a question: What kind of train are you talking about? I'm sure one gut reaction is to rejoin with "Well, what forum are you in after all"...but Amtrak runs all sorts of trains. Not to mention "The Train" doesn't specifically refer to Amtrak.

When I started this thread I thought about keeping it specific to Amtrak.
But, I really wanted to give responders wide open freedom to answer with whatever they felt. If they want to speak specifically about Amtrak trains, that's fine. Or if they want to relate something about the time before Amtrak or maybe a European or Asian experience that's fine too. I know that I'll probably have it pointed out that this thread should be over in another forum but, I felt since the proponderance of rail travel in this country is by Amtrak, this forum was appropriate. I'm just interested in what forum members think and feel about rail travel.

Postby Mr. Toy » Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:00 am

The question really involves two possible definitions. 1) what do you take the train to? (i.e. trip purpose) or 2) why do you choose the train over something else?

The purpose of every train trip I have taken in recent history has fallen into the category of visiting family or attending to family business. To be more specific, visiting my mother and attending my niece's weddings. Earlier trips (1970s) were to shuttle between home and a private boarding school.

During my school daze I rode the train (overnight coach) because it was cheap. No other reason. I actually preferred flying back then.

More recently, we've chosen the train primarily to let someone else do the driving. The trip that reintroduced us to Amtrak was to go to a wedding in Colorado. We really wanted to see some of the country between here and there, and in August driving across the hot desert wasn't an appealing option for us coastal fog worshipers.

On trips to see my mother it has simply been a matter of convenience and comfort. The Standard room for two is cheaper than flying to an airport that is still over 60 miles from our destination. The train takes us on an easy overnight trip to within five miles of my mother's house. It saves money, it is easier, and it is more comfortable. If we didn't take the train we'd probably drive (as we often did in years past).

On such trips sightseeing, socializing, and the like are wonderful bonuses, but not the primary reason we choose the train. But one of these days we may take one just for sightseeing.
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