Why do you ride the train?

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Why do you ride the train.

Postby bill haithcoat » Mon Jun 07, 2004 7:35 am

Well, first I was hooked on the train at age three with an overnight ride, round trip. Loved them every since.

I enjoy the privacy,if desired, the sounds and noises of the rails and the general operation, the food(usually), the dining car companionship(usually), the ambiance, the ability to kick your shoes off and look out at hte scenery with a beverage in your hand in your p.j.s if you wish.

Once I settle into my priavte room I feel as much at home as in my own home. Usually ride sleeper but coach is great for short trips.

I love everything about it, though I am disgusted with the horrendous delays one often encounters on trains like the Sunset Limited.

I love being in my warm room while the train is stopped at a crossing and the drivers are lined up mad at us, and in the pouring rain.

I love looking out the sleeping car room at night at desolate pastures or plains with an occasional light here or there......wonder who those people are and why are they up....

Enjoy the lounge car and especially the sightseer lounge(or the Pacific Parflor car). Can sit there watching the scenery until the next meal call.....
bill haithcoat

Postby Mudvalve » Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:47 pm

I am going to have to say that I enjoy watching the world move by from a window seat. I enjoy the sounds of the train, which have put me to sleep a number of times. That and i do NOT like to fly.

It took my wife about a year to get me to get on a palne to go on our honeymoon. That never would have happened if Amtrak went to Aruba. :P
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Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:59 pm

What Bill Haithcoat said!!

Rail travel these days is one of my consumer choices, particularly when it's time for leisure travel.

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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 08, 2004 7:48 am

Actually Mr. Haithcoat, one of the few luxuries I always enjoyed during my years at Univ of Illinois, circa 1963, was to forego some suds at Kam's and, when traveling to Chicago to "spring" for the absurdly low fare Parlor on the Panama Ltd.

What was always sport was to be seated in the Panama's obs-Lng watching The Seminole, departing 445P or 15 minutes after the Panama being loaded. The herd, especially at peak student travel periods, was "accomodated" in equipment that, in the words of a frat brother, "looked like something out of Dr. Zhivago".

But, guess what, if any were to "try out" the Parlor, then there would be one less thing to gripe about - the ICRR.

Funny thing, though, is many of those kids down in the herd came from ZIP Codes such as 60043, 60093, and 60614 (look 'em up yourself at www.usps.gov), and were driven down to Central Sta in the family's Bennies or Caddys (Lex still needed 25 or so years to gestate), did they or their families not know of this civilized travel?, More likely neither cared. No wonder when I-57 was complete (this was the last major Interstate to be so - it still had "gaps" as late as 1970) it was "curtains" for the college business along the IC
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Postby jfrey40535 » Tue Jun 08, 2004 8:47 am

In the NE, taking Amtrak is great when going to places like NYC or DC. Although you could probablly drive there faster and the cost is about equal, its nice to leave the car at home and not worry about the highway congestion--especially in places like Manhattan. Who in their right mind wants to drive to Times Square?

I'm still hoping for $5/gal gasoline that might spur some national debate about the importance of public transit. Its time for the automobile to step aside.
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why do I ride the train

Postby bill haithcoat » Tue Jun 08, 2004 9:21 am

Mr. Norman, while I did not specifically watch the Seminole loading from the Obs of the Panama, I nonetheless can imagine what you felt.

Some other good things about the train: I even enjoy the unique awkwardness of changing your clothes on a moving train; of taking a shower at 79 mph(for for a person who is almost blind without his glasses) . In fact, I would contend you have not LIVED if you have not taken a shower on the train.

I even enjoy hanging my clothes up in the room.(as if, really, in a moving hotel).Gilbert Norman and others will remember the old ads which compared pullman travel to being in a moving hotel.

It is good to just get settled in your room. To have your ticket taken(and it be ok) and have a reasonably good first impression of your attendant. For the temp inside to be warm if it is cold outside, or cool if it is hot outside. A note about the ticket being ok;some of us are old enough to remember the days of non-computerized reservations---and how there were more reservation screw-ups then. And here, I am speaking of hotels and planes as well as trains.

It is neat to walk through a train and you or the other person have to back into an opening or a room or something to squeeze by.

It is neat to enter the kitchen end of a diner and smell the food and hear the conversation and the clink of silverware.

And while it is loads of fun to eat in the diner, it is also good once in awhile to have the meal served in your room. You can pick your teeth or whatever and, as always, enjoy the ever present scenery.

It is neat to go to bed with one kind of scenery outside, say forest and trees, and wake up the next morning and it has become armadillos and roadrunners in the desert.

Things like listening to the whistle, the crossing bells, etc.

I could go on, but I think you get the general idea that I love every minute of it.
bill haithcoat

Not a Reason to Ride

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:21 am

While I'm hardly about to suggest that this a reason TO ride the train, it is inspired by Mr. Haithcoat's mention of reservation "screw ups", or "double-sales" (which is a term I recall from "railroad dats".

My last, and likely most embarassing, "double sale" vignette occurred during May 1990 traveling from Berlin (Zoo) to Aachen. At this time East Germany still existed "on paper", as did the DB(West) and the DR(East) railways.

At about midnight, I boarded the "Schlafwagon" First Class sleeper; with great "Socialist Teutonic' courtesy, the Attendant (known as Conductor) pointed towards my room; his "grunt' roundly said "find it yourself" (forget "bitte". So I did; and opening the door there was a "thirtysomething" lady traveling with a child who was "in a bit more state of undress" than decorous. Evidently, she was "aus dem Osten" and had boarded at Hbf. (History Channel devotees have likely noted its trainshed survived WWII). After opportunity for a little "redress', a comparasion of our hand written tickets showed no mistake in either. Since the frau's was issued before mine, the space was hers and I was facing the dread of a "couchette' at best (incidentally, that was always the Pullman rule regarding double sales; first issued ticket wins). Finally the DSG condictor appears, and I'm pointed to a (at the moment and fortunately for the journey) vacant room that actually was more center car than that first assigned.

In short, be thankful that the Amtrak reservation system along with machine generated tickets has "erradicated" the "plague of the double sale".
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Postby mattfels » Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:55 am

Better say "greatly minimized" rather than "eradicated." Where handwritten tickets exist, double-booking is still possible. Scenario:
  1. 7:21p CT: Train 5, the westbound California Zephyr, leaves Ottumwa, IA, last staffed station stop before Omaha, with 1 standard bedroom unsold CHI-EMY.
  2. 6:30p MT: Customer at the Denver ticket counter, seeing a sleeper space available, books it DEN-RNO, pays with a credit card and is issued a ticket. (According to amtrak.com, this station is staffed until 9:00p MT).
  3. 9:10p CT: Husband and wife board the Zephyr at Creston holding CRN-SAC coach tickets. In a quick conversation with the conductor, they learn that there one standard bedroom left, which the conductor sells them.
Result: The same bedroom has been sold twice. Valid scenario? If no sleepers become available at Denver, what happens the next morning?

Comment Noted

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 08, 2004 11:20 am

Indeed noted, Mr. Fels--

I guess so long as sales can be made from sources other than the "Arrow" system (isn't that the current incarnation of such) there will be the possibility of a double sale.

Hopefully, hand written tickets only arise when the "system is down". Since Amtrak is a member of the ARC, I think an Amtrak ticket can be issued by a travel agent's airline ticket printer.

The real "bug-a-boo" will remain on-board sales; I believe I have learned here at the Forum, that Conductors are expected to use their Amtrak issued cell phones to verify the space is open before the sale is made. However, there can be a "fog of war" to the process and I don't think it takes too much imagination to conjure up scenarios when this could occur.
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Postby SCL 4900 » Wed Jun 09, 2004 10:33 am

I have never heard the rail travel experience captured better than Steve Goodman's phrase from the "City of New Orleans" -- "ride [their father's] magic carpet made of steel."

To me, the onboard experience of the train is a unique suspension of ordinary time and place. Welded rail helps this illusion of suspension, just above the ground, almost flight-like, as the world rushes by.

Add to that, the endless twin steel rails, literally tying cities and towns together -- a link to the past, and the future.

There is nothing like a train. It just doesn't get any better than that.
SCL 4900

Postby jdelgrosso » Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:30 pm

Well, I like the part where I am on the platform and watching the train just kind of eat the rails as it glides across them. I also like how the door is so close tothe platform. I also like the noise it makes, and I also like how they just kind of stand out. I like RIDING because it is smooth (most of the time), quiet (most of the time), comfortable (if smooth), and how you do not have people telling you to sit down and fasten your seat belt all the time. I also like not having any seat belts getting in the way, and being able to use electronic devices while the train is in motion, slowing down, and speeding up. I also feel 100% safe in the train, no train is gonna come crashing down from 40 thousand feet high, trains don't go that high.

Postby CNJ » Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:55 pm

Because its there.........

Postby shortlinerailroader » Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:04 pm

The train is a great place to meet women. There are plenty of venues to interact with the opposite sex on the train--the lounge car and the bar area below (Superliner cars); the coach; the private room and the diner. Of course it is nice to be able to move about the train as you wish, as opposed to staying in your seat with your seatbacks and tray tables in the fully upright and locked position. Amtrak has the best-smelling hand soap I have ever used. But it really IS a great place to meet women.
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Postby jdelgrosso » Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:30 pm

Oh yeah, and I don't have to worry about what I am ccarrying in my pocket, about security and getting completely searched, waiting in long lines for security and a bunch of annoying people asking you questions because they think your suspicious or something. Along with the time you only need to be at the station 30 minutes before the train departs unlike 3 hours at the airport.

Postby CNJ » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:59 pm

Here's an appropriate topic that I discovered and dusted off from the Amtrak forum archieves:

Any contributors what to take a stab at this?


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