Motivation for traveling by train?

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Rizla Ronnie

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2022
Messages
19
Location
UK
I used to commute 3 hours a day by train for years and absolutely loved it.
A chance to start the working day with a coffee and newspaper and finish it with a few cans of beer and a cigarette in the smoking car ( ask your parents ! )
These days we're not in any rush to get anywhere fast and flying is such an unpleasant business we've decided to do SF-Chicago on the Zephyr for fun this summer.
Rattling through the countryside while eating and drinking in the dining car and then retiring to our Roomette for the night seems to us a great way to travel.
We paid less than $800 for two for the journey and think it excellent value for money.
Given that passengers are currently experiencing queues of up to four hours at the departure airport we leave from to get to SF we'll be looking forward to letting the train take the strain.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
799
Location
Lubec, ME
I am both a train and a plane fan after growing up next to a busy rail track and flying from London to Toronto at age 7 in a DC-6. Although I admit between the two, train wins out. I am always fascinated by all the details of a train journey, the stations along the way, how the tracks are arranged at the approach to major stops, the various rail served industries, etc. Also after having experienced the Western LD trains I can appreciate the "rail cruise" aspects of a trip such as the traditional dining and the sightseer lounge. It is also true that although I enjoy flying it has become less pleasant with the TSA theater, more crowded planes, the nickel and diming of paying for baggage or seat selection, the end of meal services, etc.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2022
Messages
5
Travelling by plane or automobile is stressful. Travelling by train is relaxing. For shorter distances, for example SJC<->LAX when you add in all the time of travelling to the airport, waiting for security, waiting to get on the plane, waiting for your bags, travelling to your end destination, you've still used up a whole day, and you've not gotten any rest. For long distances, I enjoy the extra time with little to no cell service to decompress and disconnect and with a roomette, it's not much more than you would pay for hotels, food, and gas, that you would be getting along the way if you drove.
 

crescent-zephyr

Engineer
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
4,186
I use the train for 'medium' to LD business travel. Yes, apparently the lone Amtrak passenger to do so.
Same. It can work out quite well and I agree it can be quite productive!

I think a properly marketed “express train” from Chicago to NYC could do quite well if it was created for the modern traveler.

For me, my reason for traveling by train varies. Many times I can use trains to get much closer to my final destination than other forms of transportation. Ideally, airports would be better connected to commuter and region rail but that’s rarely the case.

On single overnights, the total travel time is comparable if I was going to need an airport hotel anyways.

For the western trains, it’s taking a day to enjoy traveling across the country and relaxing.

If someone doesn’t enjoy train travel at all, they really shouldn’t consider trips more than a single over night.

A single overnight and less can potentially be as convenient and more relaxing than flying - depending on several factors.
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,403
Location
Gator Country Florida
My answer to the plane would be "I don't fly!" Can't stand heights. Haven't ever flown and don't plan to start now.

As for the time, I tell people that the train is some much more "casual". You can relax. You don't have to rush to your seat and belt in before the train starts to move like you have to do in a plane.

You can get up and walk around during the trip. You can bring your own food and drink as well as a plethora of other things you can bring along. You don't pay extra for luggage (at least, not yet). You can see what the land looks like as you pass through it instead of over it.

BTW - I am a coach rider, even overnight - so the high cost of a sleeper has not been a factor.

When I was younger, I drove (or shared driving) when I went somewhere. I still look back fondly on those trips. But now, no thanks. I don't want to drive for hours on end trying to stay awake and navigate while negotiating traffic and paying exorbitant prices for gas and a room.

The train gives me the ability to continue the trip even if I fall asleep. It keeps going all day and all night without me getting tired from driving or feeling cramped in a car wearing a seatbelt.
 

DonNewcomb

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
107
If someone says it is a waste of time and you could get to where you're going faster by plane, what would you tell them?
I'd say that for long-haul trips they are correct. Also, it costs as much as a business-class air ticket, if you get a roomette. For shorter trips, or just about anywhere in the Acela Corridor, the math is more in the train's favor.

Last time I took a long-haul train trip was from Hattiesburg, MS to DC and back. The trip was very pleasant and all but it cost about twice what a flight from Gulfport to Reagan National cost and took about 20 hours longer, when you add in the drive to Hattiesburg. In each case you connect directly with the DC Metro. It was really only possible because my wife and I had recently both retired and had not traveled by train in many years. The next time we decided to visit DC, we flew.
 

amydeg

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
28
Location
San Diego
I enjoy the slower pace of train travel and the ability to see the world outside my window. There's something very calming about it. Sometimes flying makes more sense, but if there's time, I'll take a train.

However, the reason I chose a train for my upcoming trip was mainly due to health issues. I'm immunocompromised and the thought of getting on an airplane right now really does not appeal to me. I like that I can isolate myself in a roomette and still get to where I need to go, whilst also enjoying the journey. It will help lessen my stress levels which is ultimately good for my health.
 

SarahZ

Quality Control
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,420
Location
KAL
I used to take LD trains because my ex-boyfriend was terrified of flying. Now that we're no longer together and I've seen all of the major routes, I no longer use LD trains (they take too long, sleepers are too expensive, and they eat up all of my vacation time).

I do take the train to Chicago frequently, though.

Many people I work with had no idea Amtrak travels between Kalamazoo/Battle Creek and Chicago. I always tell them it takes around the same amount of time as driving, costs about the same, and you don't have to worry about parking if you're staying downtown. Plus, if you leave from Battle Creek, the station has free parking.

Additionally, you don't have to worry about snow, construction, or holiday weekend traffic. I've already converted a few, and I have a couple others who are planning trips this fall. :)
 

TheCrescent

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
394
What is your motivation for traveling by train?
If someone says it is a waste of time and you could get to where you're going faster by plane, what would you tell them?
The time on the train is much more productive, so the amount of wasted time in transit on the train is actually much lower than the amount of wasted time on the plane.

I can walk from my office to the local train station, board into my sleeping car room immediately, work almost without interruption during the whole trip, and then walk home from my destination train station. So the only "wasted" time is the time walking to and from the train station, and the minimal time dealing with the ticket checks and meal orders on board.

I usually fly, but the only productive time is (1) a short period in the airline lounge before boarding and (2) once the plane is at cruising altitude and before descending. Time going to the airport, boarding, taking off, landing and taxiing around the airport, and walking through the airport, is all unproductive.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
470
Location
East San Diego County
This radio commercial sponsored by the American Association of Railroads originally aired in 1949 at a time when railroad passenger service was starting experience serious competition from the airlines and from people using their personal vehicles for long distance travel. Even 73 years later, most of the points it makes regarding the advantages of taking the train over flying or driving are still valid:

“Think of what you get when you buy a railroad ticket. A ticket on a railroad train buys for you a lot more than just transportation from one place to another.

It buys you, for one thing, comfort and relaxation. You don’t have to keep an eye on the traffic light. You don’t have to watch out for other drivers on the highway. The conductor and the engineer will run the train and all you have to do is to relax and ride and watch America roll by your car window.

And your railroad ticket buys you spaciousness. On the train you don’t have to keep your seat, stay in one place, or even in one car. There are lounges inviting you to a sociable visit with your fellow passengers . . . and dining cars where you may enjoy a snack or a regular meal.

And when night comes, there are sleeping cars with berths and rooms inviting you to slumber . . . all as you ride.

And when you buy a train ticket, you buy dependability, for the trains run in all kinds of weather.

Most important of all, your ticket buys you safety. Safety to a degree which, year in and year out, is not even approached by any other form of passenger transportation in America.

So when you buy a railroad ticket, remember what else you are buying besides transportation.

You are buying relaxation and enjoyment. You are buying a look at your country as you travel through it. You are buying a chance to read or to write . . . to work or to talk with your fellow passengers. You are buying spaciousness and reliability and safety . . . all for the price of a railroad ticket”
 

Winecliff Station

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
171
Location
Hudson Valley
As someone who spends a significant amount of time explaining why I prefer to sail an ocean rather than fly over it, this is a much easier task. Those who know me aren't surprised I'd rather take a train than fly. In fact, once hubby and I are both retired and don't have to fit vacations into tiny boxes, our plan is for surface travel only, with no flying unless there's an emergency. Airlines never seem to disappoint in finding more and more ways to make flying unpleasant, and adding the latest cancellation disasters over the past month just seems to confirm that speed isn't everything.
 

Trollopian

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Messages
303
Location
Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA
As someone who spends a significant amount of time explaining why I prefer to sail an ocean rather than fly over it, this is a much easier task. Those who know me aren't surprised I'd rather take a train than fly. In fact, once hubby and I are both retired and don't have to fit vacations into tiny boxes, our plan is for surface travel only, with no flying unless there's an emergency. Airlines never seem to disappoint in finding more and more ways to make flying unpleasant, and adding the latest cancellation disasters over the past month just seems to confirm that speed isn't everything.

Friends of mine traveled around the world in 2015 without taking a single airplane. Really. The single biggest transport challenge was finding a cargo ship willing to take them across the Pacific. Lots and lots of trains, of course. "We had some 25 different train connections in the nine countries we visited in Europe, Asia, and China. Every one of them was on time to the minute." Until they boarded the Empire Builder in Seattle on the last leg of their journey.

 
Joined
Jul 8, 2022
Messages
3
Location
Vancouver, WA
I utterly hate giving my money to the airlines. The seats are more comfortable on the train. I don't have to fight attendants in the aisles just to use the bathroom. I can knit all day in the observation car and not even notice the time. I'm short, so can sleep in a two-bank of seats and get a good eight hours' sleep in even on the worst nights. But mostly, it makes me happy that the airlines aren't getting my money.
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,968
Location
Socal
I don't have to fight attendants in the aisles just to use the bathroom.
Hm, I've never experienced this. Most flight attendants I've encountered have been friendly, some even very friendly and cheerful. However I don't fly domestically very often or on US carriers.
 

Bembidion

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2021
Messages
26
Location
Meriden, CT
Friends of mine traveled around the world in 2015 without taking a single airplane. Really. The single biggest transport challenge was finding a cargo ship willing to take them across the Pacific. Lots and lots of trains, of course. "We had some 25 different train connections in the nine countries we visited in Europe, Asia, and China. Every one of them was on time to the minute." Until they boarded the Empire Builder in Seattle on the last leg of their journey.

Here is a positive experience with timeliness. Last Summer my wife and I went from Connecticut to Florida on Amtrak. We then took it to South Carolina to visit friends. Then we went Back to Connecticut. This involved quite a few connections because we had no thru trains. All of the trains were on time.
 

ScottR

Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
177
Location
Monterey
I’m like many others here. When I fly, the vacation begins when I step OFF the plane. Everything leading up to that is simply a ball of stress. Because my job requires my to fly…a lot…it is generally business or sometimes first, but even THAT gets tiresome.

I think a train just gives you an entirely new attitude. Life slows down, you look at the country you are traveling through, you interact with the people on the same journey. Plus you see life being lived. I cannot count how many backyard celebrations and parties I’ve seen from the train, wishing I was there, or beautiful gardens, thinking I should do that in MY backyard, or OTOH the tents and camps, thinking “ there but for the grace of God go I”

By the way the gloppy ravioli dinner I got in United Polaris class last week was far worse than my braised short ribs and my omelet on the Crescent the next day. Flex meals are not that bad compared to airline food…really the same but with better plating On the airlines…And of course the western train’s diner trumps them all!
 

Bembidion

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2021
Messages
26
Location
Meriden, CT
It’s pretty hard to get motivated to take a train if you need to get to a destination now. In most cases.
I'm always motivated to take a train. I live in Meriden, CT and my daughter lives in Milford so it's a straight shot on Amtrak/CT rail and Metro North. I can walk to the station or have my wife drive me. It beats battling traffic through New Haven. We have taken a lot of LD trains and plan on taking it to Florida for her wedding next year.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,705
Location
Los Angeles
I'm always motivated to take a train. I live in Meriden, CT and my daughter lives in Milford so it's a straight shot on Amtrak/CT rail and Metro North. I can walk to the station or have my wife drive me. It beats battling traffic through New Haven. We have taken a lot of LD trains and plan on taking it to Florida for her wedding next year.
I can certainly see how that works for you.
 

danasgoodstuff

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2021
Messages
357
Location
PDX
Trains take me to a place other modes of transportation don't even get close to. They also go to the places others go, like Chicago and Saskatoon and so on. But the place I want to go only exists as seen from the tracks. It's beyond space and time. It's my happy place. And when I go, that's where I'm going to.
 

Winecliff Station

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
171
Location
Hudson Valley
Trains take me to a place other modes of transportation don't even get close to. They also go to the places others go, like Chicago and Saskatoon and so on. But the place I want to go only exists as seen from the tracks. It's beyond space and time. It's my happy place. And when I go, that's where I'm going to.

Some places I didn't even know I cared to see.....besides the obvious natural landscapes, I found that just going in and out of a small town was interesting, such minor things as intersections with cars waiting for the train to pass, or the way the downtown business area would appear and disappear, almost like riding in a model train set. I'll follow with my Apple map and when we pass boarded up prisons and other historical buildings I didn't know existed, I'll often look it up and learn something. There is also the clear but somewhat depressing realization of just how badly winter takes its toll on the northeast. I was on the Silver Star in 2019 and noticed how much cleaner and better maintained the stations and surrounding areas were as the train went further and further south. Between the damage to concrete from freezing over time, and the shorter season available for painting and repairs, it was a very noticeable transition.
 
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