Why do you ride the train?

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, gprimr1, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman

Postby gprimr1 » Sat Jun 24, 2006 2:09 am

Being an art guy, I love the view from the train. I also love the feeling of being on the rails.

The fact that there are probally 10-12 large, spacious bathrooms w/o attendents sitting outside (I was flying from Chicago to DC and I got sick on the plane and I felt so uncomfortable trying to use one of two restrooms on the plane w/ both attendents outside.

Lastly, I can hook up my laptop to the AC, plug in my Archos AV400 (plays DIVX files), connect my phone as a modem and talk to friends while watching a movie (works from DC-NYC-Just above Palmer MA then dies until Amherst)

I just feel really comfortable in an Amfleet. I look forward to visiting my grandma this winter on the CZ (I figure if the engine breaks down, I'd rather it be freezing and I can use blankets than 100 degrees)
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Postby sschelle » Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:38 am

I ride the train regularly from BAL to NYP because it's the fastest way to get to mid-town Manhattan. Others must think so too, since the NEC line is so heavily subscribed.

What surprises me about so many of the other answers in this thread is that so few answers are based on time/cost/efficiency and so many answers are along the lines of "I'm a train guy"

Based on this, it's not surprising that so many in the Federal Government (and the general population) are so disinterested in funding Amtrak in any meaningful way because they think there are only a small number of train nuts out there who care.

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:02 pm

I think you have a good point, Mr. Sschelle. But I'll say for me, it's sorta like, "I'm a train guy so I'll actually take the time to consider the train." And generally find it worth it." And when it's not, I'll often fly or drive.

But I'd also say, "I'm a train guy" since on an objective level I think in many cases trains can make sense and with reasonable improvements could make more sense to even more people.

But I do tend to agree, if it's just trains for the sake of trains, Washington isn't going to listen.
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Postby GeorgeF » Sun Jun 25, 2006 11:20 pm

sschelle wrote:What surprises me about so many of the other answers in this thread is that so few answers are based on time/cost/efficiency and so many answers are along the lines of "I'm a train guy"
I imagine if you weren't a "train guy" you wouldn't be on this board! For the most part, anyway.

When I ride WAS-NYP it is for both practical and "train guy" reasons. They aren't in conflict - sometimes! :wink:
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Postby gprimr1 » Sun Jun 25, 2006 11:32 pm

Washington-Amherst is very cost efficient and the train drops me off a few blocks from my appt. I could spend hours at Bwi, fly to Boston, take a bus to Amherst or enjoy the comforts of a train.
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Postby shadyjay » Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:14 am

I try to take the train whenever it fits my schedule. Since I moved to Vermont from CT last fall, I have taken the Vermonter on several occasions. In fact October '05 was the first time I rode Amtrak since around 1998. Since then, I've taken the Vermonter about 5 times, been on a Regional once, and have plans for lots more, including a trip to Florida.

I find the train relaxing and cheaper than driving. My V8 F150 guzzles the gas and costs me about $100 to go r/t to CT from VT, while my next trip on the Vermonter cost under $90. Nothing beats taking the train and letting someone else "do the driving". You can sit back relax and enjoy the scenery and walk around to the cafe, get something to eat, listen to music, read, etc. All these things you really can't do [safely] while driving.

I worked on the railroad for 10 years and have always loved train travel. And I will continue to ride the rails as much as possible!

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Postby FatNoah » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:37 am

I find the train relaxing, and since I live about a 10 minute walk from Boston South Station, it's a convenient way to travel. I frequently travel the NEC to New York and Philadelphia.

On my last trip to Philly, I did drive. Due to a pretty spectacular accident (for those familiar with the road, there were wrecked vehicles in both the local and express lanes) about 500 feet before the tolls at the George Washington Bridge, it took a couple hours longer than the train. I also looked at my gas receipts and realized I saved about $14 by driving.

So I guess I take the train for many of the same reasons people take other modes...comfort, convenient, and price (not necessarily cheapest, but "worth it")
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Postby Jersey Jeff » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:33 am

I travel from New Jersey to Pittsburgh a few times a year, and with r/t airfare from EWR-PIT running in excess of $350, the train is an economical option.

For me, it's 9 hours of relaxation, peace and quiet, or a chance to watch lots of DVDs that I don't get to see at home (my wife has different cinematic tastes that me), Horseshoe Curve, etc. Driving is 3 hours faster, but far more stressful, not to mention dangerous.

I only wish Amtrak brought back an additional train to Pittsburgh.
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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:26 am

The following is adapted from a posting I made at another topic and that I have subsequently edited to avoid unreasonable duplication of material.

The only reason I ride any train today is because I have a need to travel from Point A (always Chicago) to Point B (New York or Florida) and that rail travel is a convenient option for the itinerary. Travel for the sake of travel, be such railfan joyrides or to go somethere 'because it's there' is simply in the memory books for me.

For my recent trip to New York (I'm still working on a more complete trip report, folks) completed two weeks ago, I had originally intended to use auto for the trip. However, when a Friday June 9 Class dinner at School reunion got the "lack of interest cancellation" and the need to get from Albany to Kent CT 'absolutely positively' by 6PM was obviated, the train was "on the table'. When I found that the fare of $758.80 (it is historical; that's OK) plus auto rentals was quite competitive with auto travel costs, I 'laid the plastic down" (well, entered the account number @ dotcom).l

In short, my trip was definitely not of the "train travel for the sake of train travel' genre. I think I last did that some twenty years ago along about when I last took a rail photo.

Air travel?, I'm not afraid, I simply have no need for it, save any future family emergencies (I had several flights during '01 when my Father died). Now that my family is all "stateside" (at least for the moment) I have no need to travel overseas, . It is further analagous that I have no need to drive in rush hour traffic or for that matter to ride rush hour METRA trains....why do it?...I'm retired!!!.

My last air travel was during 2002 when I had intended to make a trip during October to Sacramento to meet a possible 'little sister' for my Newfoundland (deceased 9/03). I was still working and a week to ride the Zephyr out and back was simply not on the table. However, the proposal 'flew South' before I could "fly West", and I exchanged the ticket for one to New York during November. The flights were without incident...but I simply haven't been back for more.
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Postby drewh » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:33 pm

When done right, rail can be easier, faster, more convenient, and more comfortable than any other mode. However, removing one of those four components from the equation and I re-evaluate which way to go.

For example, I will drive from NJ to parts of Queens and Bklyn rather than train and subway because it is more convenient but I always take the train to Manhattan.

I always take the train to DC but will fly to RIC. I fly to OH and CHI, but would prefer a train that could make it in 5-8 hours.

To BOS & New England, I will fly up in the morning because it is faster but take the train home at night because it is more reliable (and often faster).

Though I have been on many Amtrak routes and continue to earn Select Plus status for my frequent travel, I now completely limit my Amtrak travel to the NEC, HAR, and ALB. Other Amtrak trips (outside of Calif where I dont currently find the need) have proved to be most un-desirable.

All in all, the train would be preferred, but in NA there are just not many places where it makes sense, other than for nostalgia.
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Postby sschelle » Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:02 pm

Well said

Postby David Benton » Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:22 pm

I'd like to remind Mr Norman that we're still waiting for his trip report , especially his verdict on the new dining arrangements ! :wink:
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The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.
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Postby Jersey_Mike » Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:27 pm

Unlike flying its not an unpleasant experience.

--The seats are the size of first class on a plane.
--You can arrive 5 minutes before departure
--There aren't any enforced luggage restrictions, this includes blades and other prohibited items
--Tickets are easily exchangeable and/or refundable
--Most trains aren't usually filled to capacity
--I enjoy the trip as much or more than the destination
--I am a railfan
--Its easier to BYO food and beer
--You can open the windows/doors and/or stand in the vestabule
--The photo angles are better
-etc etc
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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:01 pm

Jersey_Mike wrote:--Its easier to BYO food and beer
--You can open the windows/doors and/or stand in the vestabule

To our readers not intimately familiar with Amtrak affairs, it should be noted that there are Amtrak rules and then there are Mike's rules.

Officially, "private' alcoholic beverages may only be consumed by passengers holding Sleeping Car accomodations. Private food and non-alcoholic beverages are OK in Coach.

Secondly passengers are strictly forbidden to open any exterior door or window except in an emergency. Honestly, I am at loss to know why anyone would want to.

Otherwise enjoy Mike's often humorous postings.
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Postby EastCleveland » Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:53 pm

Transportation-wise, I've spent virtually my entire life in the 19th Century.

My parents never owned a car. Neither have I. Next to crawling and walking, railroads of various kinds (intercity, commuter, subway, elevated, light rail) have been my primary way of traveling from Point A to Point B since I was 6 weeks old.

I rode trains each day to get to high school and college. I rode trains to go out on dates. I rode trains to visit relatives who lived halfway across the country. And I rode trains to see my mother and my father when both were dying.

In other words, traveling by rail has never been a mere diversion for me. It's essential transportation. Taxis are a once-a-year luxury. City buses are slower than walking. I won't take Greyhound or Trailways if the trip is more than two hours. And I fly only when I absolutely have no other choice.

Naturally, I also have other, less practical reasons for going by train -- at least when it comes to traveling on Amtrak. I love looking out the window at America. I find it serene, almost hypnotic. Best of all, traveling by long distance train today still feels remarkably similar to the way it did forty or more years ago.

For me, it's the next best thing to stepping into a time machine.

Last edited by EastCleveland on Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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