Who is drawn to slow train travel?

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Cal

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Let me share some things I saw on my most recent trip (thst I am still on).

There were all kinds of passengers; families, elderly, younger people, millennials, everyone. On both rides there have been a (small - sometimes only two) group of people who aren’t from the US, whether they are immigrants or tourists, I’m not sure, but there were people from asia, I believe India, Europe, and a Spanish speaking country (I assume South America). One person was talking about how the scenery is nice, and the small carbon footprint.

So really, all types of people take Amtrak for whatever reason.
 
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May 25, 2006
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Central Florida
When I first rode CNR between Edmonton and Vancouver, BC there were three transcontinental trains to choose from and there were two CPR trains paralleling. There were segments of gravel road parallel, too, as well as some winding segments on the Trans-Canada Highway. People made travel choices based on that.
How well I remember that gravel road. As I high school graduation event, I took an ultimate transcon camping road trip with 3 buddies. It included a segment from Banff to Seattle and a very long and bumpy drive along the Columbia River to Revelstoke while the CP had a much more direct route. I was miserable in the back seat with an intestinal ailment. Seeing the NP/GN trains in Seattle revived me somewhat.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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How well I remember that gravel road. As I high school graduation event, I took an ultimate transcon camping road trip with 3 buddies. It included a segment from Banff to Seattle and a very long and bumpy drive along the Columbia River to Revelstoke while the CP had a much more direct route. I was miserable in the back seat with an intestinal ailment. Seeing the NP/GN trains in Seattle revived me somewhat.
I wonder if there are enough high school graduation trips to start a long thread?
 

jpakala

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Jul 13, 2014
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Train is more spacious & relaxing than flying or driving or taking a bus, and I am dangerous both to myself & others when driving long distances, owing to distractions, road conditions, serious drowsiness, inability to have caffeine, and difficulty dealing with too fast & too slow drivers and with big rigs.
 

justinslot

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May 25, 2014
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"retirees or others with a lot of time to spare" --> Now I don't have a lot of time to spare, but I do work entirely online, which means the slowness of train travel does not mean I am losing work days to my trip. It does mean I am less effective at work than usual due to the annoying gaps in 4G coverage in certain parts of the country.

I am primarily in the "hates air travel" camp though.
 

DonNewcomb

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Jun 11, 2019
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People on vacation who just want to see the country. In Spain we rode the narrow gauge line that runs across the northern coast from Ferrol to Gjion. I've ridden the train from Narvik to Stockholm and continued on to Oslo. Have good memories of both trips. All I recall of taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Fukuoka is that the lampposts just flashed by in a long continuous blur.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Who is drawn to “fast plane travel”?
That topic was spun off into its own thread...

 

crescent-zephyr

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Oct 21, 2015
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When I choose a mode of transportation it’s not because I fit into some category.

When I choose to walk to the coffee shop I don’t want someone writing a paper on how I must be a liberal who cares about the environment. Maybe I just wanted to take my time and walk? I don’t need to fit into a box to choose to walk to a coffee shop nor choose to a mode of transportation.
 

Todd

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I was involved in materials management on the shop floor for the first Amtrak locomotive development in the early 90's at the GE plant in Erie, PA. I spent 9 months on special assignment doing this and seeing the locomotive come together and be assembled in Building 10. I left GE and moved into another career, but something now makes me want to ride Amtrak and maybe one of those GE locomotives. I'm doing Buffalo to Seattle (LSL/Empire Builder), Seattle to LA (Coast Starlight), LA to New Orleans (Sunset Limited) and NO to Buffalo (CONO/LSL) in April, my first trip on Amtrak (4 nights in bedroom, 4 nights in roomette) plus 2 nights in Seattle, LA, and New Orleans. For me, the impulse is primarily being involved in the assembly of the first GE locomotive...
 
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crescent-zephyr

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I’d probably classify Amtrak passengers into the following categories.
  • people who do not like to fly (or are afraid to, or cannot for religious or cultural reasons, such as Amish)
  • people with a love of train travel
  • retirees or others with a lot of time to spare
  • people who live in remote towns served by train but not by air
Would you say this is accurate? Am I missing anyone? Or am I oversimplifying something that is really way more complex?

In short.. yes I think you are oversimplifying this.

For a start.. you are saying "Amtrak passengers" - that right there is pretty complex. The Wolverine, Acela, Pacific Surfliner, Maple Leaf, and City of New Orleans are all very different types of trains and serve different types of people.

If you are talking about long distance only.. even then the East coast trains you've got people that are traveling by train vs. flying or driving and have similar cost / time when factoring in hotels, etc.

So I THINK you are wanting to narrow it down to people who take 2 day trips on the Zephyr or maybe even a cross country trip on the Zephyr and Capitol? ( I once went Atlanta - NYC - Toronto - Vancouver - Anaheim by train...)

In that case you should add -

People who can't fly for medical reasons
People who dislike TSA style security
People who live in large cities where the major train station is easier to get to than the airport (NYC and Chicago for example)
Remote workers who can use the time on the train for work.
People with a love of all forms of travel and enjoy the train along with other modes and choose what makes the most sense or what is most appealing.
People who are not railfans but have always wanted to take a train for fun or adventure.

That's just the start.... and of course once we get into single overnights and day trips we get into business and leisure travelers.
 
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Train travel can be slow but its our first choice as we find it a more relaxing less stressful journey. We enjoy getting off in the middle of the city, not waiting long for our luggage and in most cases either having a rental car there or being picked up by the car rental company. You are also allowed a decent amount of carry on luggage food, a small cooler with drinks, and don't have to be scrutinized like a prisoner. We also appreciate the social aspect, being able to move about the train, the nice scenery, and getting off to stretch our legs at extended stops.
 
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