I came across this video that is a visualization of train speeds through history. Of course, at the end, America doesn’t end up on the top ten fastest trains.
China, German, France, and Japan seem to crush it.
After taking various trains for various distances, it has become my preferred method of travel if available. Travel by train is a mode of travel that can make you feel somewhat like a person and it doesn’t feel like a temporal hell.
In Europe, I enjoyed using trains to getting around. There seems to be many trains that service in many areas and are affordable. Importantly, they take you to the city centers, which is likely where you’ll need to go.
Cross a country? No problem.
Between two major cities? Also, not a problem.
Realizing other people have better modes of getting around? A problem.
Of course, Europe has it going on. They’ve invested in their infrastructure and improved modes of travel.
I hope to one day experience Japanese and Chinese trail travel.
Northeast by Northwest
I have enjoyed taking trains from Seattle to Portland, Boston to Portland, Maine, and from Boston to New York City. They’re perfect for getting you to the heart of those cities with easy modes of travel to get you from the train station to a place you’ll most likely need to get to.
Train rides are scenic, chill, and roomier than air travel.
Crossing the Heartland
Taking a train from Boston, MA to Flagstaff, AZ, as there is no train station in the 5th largest city in the US, Phoenix, Arizona, is an experience.
This is also where trains shine. I caught my train with a few minutes to spare because of a bad ass cab driver and the fact that train stations are in urban centers. This is unlike airports, which require long roads to get from the perimeter to the desired terminal.
Trains highlight that American exceptionalism has not much to stand on.
Passenger rail is at the mercy of freight. Freight is an industry that is full of profit maximization that leads to derailments, environmental disasters, overworked/underpaid staff, and degradation of passenger rail service.
Lastly, which was illustrated in the video above, American passenger trains are slow.
Flying is faster though
Flying short distances is one of the worst travel experiences.
To be clear, I have no business flying to most places I can drive to. Of all the major cities in the neighboring states, I don’t want to hop a flight because in the end, I’m gonna need a car.
A recent and practical example is a recent work trip to a place outside of Los Angeles. The company gave me the option to book a flight, but the reality of that was extremely unappealing.
- The flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles is a short flight. With commuting, airport security, and waiting, that trip will take 4-5 hours.
- The drive from Phoenix to where I was going was a little over 5 hours.
- When arriving in Los Angeles, I’d need to rent a car. A painful experience at most airports that don’t have on location rentals.
- Finally, I drive 2-3 hours to get to my destination.
In the end, fuck that.
We love going 30k feet into the air in a cramped, overcrowded pressurized tube. We love the airport experience and all the airport terminal delicacies like chilis2go.
In the end, airports are good for:
- schools of fish
- enhancing the heat island effect
- providing large amounts CO2 and other gases
- fans of Sysco foods
- noise pollution
I’m tired of air travel and airports. It sucks. It makes sense if you really need to get somewhere far fast, though, who really needs that? Doctors maybe?