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"The 21st century ain't so bad" Topic


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601 hits since 10 Jul 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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JAFD2610 Jul 2019 7:44 a.m. PST

Got an email from Amtrak while still in my pj's – the 11AM from Philly to Lancaster was cancelled – 'equipment problems' – but here's your ticket for the 1PM train.

So can stay in pj's a bit longer ;-)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 8:08 a.m. PST

Amtrak is still a thing?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 9:46 a.m. PST

Only in the northeast, EC. My parents used to catch it for vacations. Actually, Amtrak WAS the vacation--three or four days to the left coast, three or four days back. But they had to drive to some small town north of here and leave the car by the railroad tracks. And there is exactly one eastbound and one westbound train each day. Functioning passenger train service in the US is about Fredericksburg VA north to Boston, and from New York or Boston west to the Philadelphia suburbs. Lancaster is near the outer limit.

rmaker10 Jul 2019 9:56 a.m. PST

Wrong Bob. Amtrak is still operating nationwide.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 12:41 p.m. PST

I took Amtrak from Wisconsin to Maine to go to Huzzah this year. It was a 24 hour ride each way. I did so consciously as I wanted to take the time to enjoy the ride while doing some work- free wifi and an electrical outlet with nice scenery and I got to get up and walk around whenever I wanted. I could have flown, but sometimes the journey is the goal as much as the destination.

US rail service is definitely poor compared to other countries, but our population density makes rail viable only in a few areas.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 12:51 p.m. PST

Indeed they are, rmaker, AS I SAID--if you count one train each way each day, stopping in the middle of nowhere as an operating train service. I've done operating train service--Korea, the UK, Germany and the US in the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Amtrak ain't it.

TGerritson's right, of course. The overall population density and competitive air travel makes it impractical for passenger traffic in most of the country, and US freight rail does a higher percentage of overall shipping than Europe. But there's no point in pretending we have what we don't.

And my name is not Bob.

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

I have taken some nice vacations by train. One notable trip was a sleeper train from Harper's Ferry, VA, to Chicago. The kids still have fond memories of that trip.

The geographic scale of the US makes rail often impractical, and we don't subsidize AMTRAK to the extent that passenger rail is subsidized in most other countries.

As rail travel is "green" and free of the melodrama that provides the illusion of security in airports, I would love to see more investment in rejuvenating our passenger rail system and installing VERY high-speed rail for "long haul" traffic. The problem with most high-speed rail proposals has been that too many towns want a stop so the frequent acceleration and deceleration works against the high speeds -- you just don't get to high speed very long if you have to stop frequently.

I see the train as a good alternative to planes in many cases, particularly getting to a wargaming convention if you plan to run a game or getting home with your loot after the convention.

Lucius10 Jul 2019 5:02 p.m. PST

The USA has a great rail system, and we use it more than the Europeans use theirs. We just use it for freight instead of people, which is a far more efficient use of resources.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 5:20 p.m. PST

That's the problem, Buck. All the passenger rail types in the US want me to subsidize a system, but a system which was actually of use to me--Fort Wayne to Chicago, South Bend or Lancaster--somehow turns out to be impractical. So we get local service in the northeast--where it really is almost practical--and a continual run of proposals for "investment" in a train which will take the New York and DC crowd to San Francisco and Los Angeles with one stop at Chicago. That's a hard sell in Indiana and Ohio, and I really wouldn't want to go back to voters in Nebraska and tell them I was spending their tax money on it.

When my parents took Amtrak to the southwest, the train would stop once or twice so the Indians could try to sell handicrafts to the tourists. That's actually more then anyone within a two-hour driving range of me would get out the the "high speed rail" the people in the northeast want us to pay for.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 6:16 p.m. PST

The Car and airline industry lobbies will always keep the funding for Amtrak down. I would love to take Amtrak rather than the airlines. But from the Southwest part of the country, to go back east, you catch the only train available at 4:00am. The Train takes you part of the way then they put you on a bus to connect to the next Amtrak station and it is slow.

Back in the 70s I loved to fly but since 9/11 flying has been a horrible ordeal. It's like moving cattle and we are the cattle. The seats are too small. The airlines haven't served meals in decades. SWA stopped serving peanuts! It was the one small thing I looked forward to and they even took that away.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old the family took the Santa Fe Super Chief and it was so much fun. So clean and a great dining car. When we flew we all dressed up, everyone did. We went on to the tarmac and went directly into the plane. We were served a meal. The seats were comfortable.

Bowman10 Jul 2019 8:44 p.m. PST

The Car and airline industry lobbies will always keep the funding for Amtrak down. I would love to take Amtrak rather than the airlines.

I hate flying and love taking the train.

I don't know about the current POTUS but every other administration in recent memory has slashed Amtrak's funding in their budgets. That's a shame.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 3:36 a.m. PST

Passenger ship in the old days :

picture

Today :

picture

Early Airplane travel :

picture

Today :

link

You'll get a super-fast train network as soon as somebody figures a way to cram as many people onto a train as possible.

link

picture

Bad Painter11 Jul 2019 8:35 a.m. PST

On the way to Lancaster from NY Penn Station on Amtrak at this very moment I realize that not everyone has convenient rail access, but it works for me.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 9:59 a.m. PST

The best business trip I ever took was a train from
Raleigh NC to Rochester, Minnesota. I'd had airline
tix, but a blizzard was forecast and I did not relish
spending time in O'Hare waiting for the weather to clear
so I took Amtrak to Winona, Minnesota, rented a car
and drove the rest of the way (about an hour).

The trains were comfortable (I had a sleeper), the
food (outbound) was Amcafe (tolerable, but only just)
but homeward the train was the Empire State Limited,
full service dining car with great meals !

The folks who were to accompany me opted for the
flight – they spent Sunday night 'til Thursday
morning sleeping at the airport in Chicago.

And we all arrived back in Raleigh Thursday evening !

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