Amtrak, America’s passenger rail service, is often chided by politicians as a waste in a country obsessed with automobiles, but current economic pressures and the incomparable luxuries of rail travel may finally be getting the attention it deserves. The rail system in the US pales in comparison to European counterparts, mostly due to lack of public funds, but a writer for Triple Pundit recently tried train travel on California’s Coast Starlight route from LA to San Francisco.
The trip cost $72, $50 less than a flight would have been, though the trip took an extra eight hours or so. However, unlike most air trips, train trips are an entire experience. No baggage fees, plenty of legroom, incredible views and as the author discovered, could be exposed to treats like wine tasting and crab cakes in the parlor car. He also found that people were much more willing to chat with strangers and the general atmosphere was more relaxed.
For those of us who don’t need to be somewhere as fast as possible, train travel is a fantastic alternative. Maybe sometime soon Americans will consider investing again in their rail system. The author James Howard Kunstler once wrote that American trains “would be the laughing stock of Bulgaria,” but maybe that can change soon with renewed interest.