Sunday, April 29, 2007

Peace Train

I took my first proper US train ride this weekend. I've been on various trains in America: the Subway, commuter trains to Newark Airport and so on, but no proper long distance adventures.

There were a few things that struck me about the experience.

1. It was quite a slow ride, and the track was pretty bumpy. The train didn't get up to any major speed at all and the track was sometimes so squiggly that I nearly spilt my tea. So far not too dissimilar to the UK. But wait...

2. The train was very punctual, both in terms of departure and arrival. We're starting to see the differences...

3. It wasn't dirt cheap, but it certainly wasn't expensive.

4. You had to sign the top left of the ticket. And provide ID if required. I found this part quite strange until I was reminded of the obvious security threat as trains disappear into tunnels under the Hudson to reach New York.

5. The mainline stations are quite dramatic. You're probably aware of the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal, but Philadelphia's principal station is another art-deco wonder, too.

It looks like a reasonable way to travel short-ish distances. But I think anything over three hours and it's probably worth negotiating the perils of domestic flight instead.

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