Saturday, May 8, 2010

National Train Day

National Train Day
In the United States it's National Train Day. I like rail travel, and I prefer it to flying or driving.

Train travel in the US has its good and less good aspects. Here are 10 of each:

10 good things about traveling by train:
  1. Great scenery through large windows
  2. Electrical outlets for laptops or other equipment
  3. Lots of room (more in coach than airlines have in first class)
  4. A dining car with good-sized tables
  5. A lounge car
  6. TSA doesn't do trains
  7. Show up 5 minutes before departure and get on easily
  8. No jet engine roar, no seatbelts
  9. Cheaper than cars or airplanes
  10. Much smaller carbon footprint

10 things about train travel that need improvement:
  1. More extensive regional networks that reach more destinations
  2. More scheduled departures
  3. High-speed rail (like France, Japan, China, etc.)
  4. Better maintenance (so tracks aren't closed and passengers aren't shuttled to buses)
  5. Wi-fi
  6. Better synchronization of trains and local transit schedules
  7. Better synchronization with freight trains
  8. More dining options in stations and on board
  9. On-line seat assignments
  10. Public perception
Train travel is comfortable, convenient (within the existing network of stations) and a good value. Train travel is not yet what it could and should be, especially compared to the systems passengers enjoy in other countries, but it has come quite a ways.

VW bus turned into train

Trains were once a key part of our transportation infrastructure. They will be again, but more investment is needed.
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