snopes.com Post new topic  New Poll  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » SLC Central » Soapbox Derby » Why can't we have decent passenger train service in the US? (Page 2)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Why can't we have decent passenger train service in the US?
Bug Muldoon
The "Was on Sale" Song


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bug Muldoon   E-mail Bug Muldoon   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Q: Why can't we have decent passenger train service in the US?

A: 9,631,420 km˛

Just to be clear, not every train track needs to run coast-to-coast. Connections between major neighbouring cities (especially in areas with a denser population level) would not be impractically long.

For cross-continent travel, planes are probably the better option, but for medium-range intra-state travel trains should be a viable alternative.

--------------------
All along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand.

Posts: 6912 | From: Flanders | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Richard W   E-mail Richard W   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
Q: Why can't we have decent passenger train service in the US?

A: 9,631,420 km˛

Why is this so hard for people to grasp? It's 28 hundred miles from New York to San Diego. That's a 40 hour drive non-stop.

I thought you did have a trans-American railway. Is that not there any more?

Anyway, it's possible to travel by rail from London to Vladivostok, apparently a distance of 12 516 km (7 777 miles) so that's not a good argument in itself.

The furthest station in the UK from London is probably Thurso (or Wick) in the NE corner of Scotland - London to Thurso is 1 104 km (686 miles), so Thurso to Vladivostok would be 13 620 km (8 463 miles)...

Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
MaxKaladin
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for MaxKaladin   E-mail MaxKaladin   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gerard Morvan:
Back in the 90s, there was a plan to bring the french TGV (the fastest commercial train in the world) to Texas. Unfortunately, the plane companies lobbied the governor, and it never came to pass.

It wasn't just the plane companies. Landowners near the proposed route got really upset too because they were afraid they'd have land taken by eminent domain for the right-of-way.
Posts: 716 | From: San Antonio, TX | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
MaxKaladin
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for MaxKaladin   E-mail MaxKaladin   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
I thought you did have a trans-American railway. Is that not there any more?

It is. Amtrak Routes:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674300&ssid=542

Posts: 716 | From: San Antonio, TX | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Richard W   E-mail Richard W   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MaxKaladin:
quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
I thought you did have a trans-American railway. Is that not there any more?

It is. Amtrak Routes:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674300&ssid=542

Thanks! So there's already a rail route from New York to San Diego, by the look of things.
Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Lainie   E-mail Lainie   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
So there's already a rail route from New York to San Diego, by the look of things.

Yes, the rail exists. Traveling 2800 miles by train still takes days, as opposed to the hours required for air travel.

ETA: It's possible to travel from London to Vladisvostok by train, but how many people do it? How common is it, in the UK and Europe, for people to travel 1000+ miles by train?

It is, however, a gross oversimplification to state that distance alone is the reason rail travel in the US is not more popular.

Edited again because I made North America much "wider" than it actually is. . .

--------------------
How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

Posts: 8322 | From: Columbus, OH | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Cervus
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Cervus   E-mail Cervus   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Crossing the continent from, say, Florida to California using Amtrack costs more a plane ticket and takes four days (each way) instead of six hours. Since most working Americans get limited vacation time, we often can't "afford" to spend a week just getting to a destination. The time and the expense are part of the reason train travel isn't popular anymore.

--------------------
"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

Posts: 8254 | From: Florida | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Lainie   E-mail Lainie   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Another thing to keep in mind is that train routes are, by definition, linear. If your intended destination is not within a short distance of that line, taking the train to get there simply isn't practical.

--------------------
How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

Posts: 8322 | From: Columbus, OH | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Richard W   E-mail Richard W   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
ETA: It's possible to travel from London to Vladisvostok by train, but how many people do it? How common is it, in the UK and Europe, for people to travel 1000+ miles by train?

Pretty unusual in general, I would say - but that route uses the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is usually sold as a journey in itself, so it's quite popular with travellers and backpackers. You can buy guidebooks for the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian railways. I have one, because I was planning a trip to visit my brother in Japan and had intended to get the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Ulan Ude, head down through Mongolia to Beijing and on to Shanghai for a ferry to Japan - then the railway to where my brother lives. Sadly I think I've missed my opportunity to do so now. Maybe some other time...

There's a route map here, and reviews of the various guidebooks. Clearly it's common enough for there to be a fair industry based around it.

As far as more usual journeys go, the Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels is very popular, and people do carry on past that too. I went by train from Ipswich to Venice earlier this year, and I've also been to the Dordogne, Brussels, and Paris by train, and to Amsterdam (and the Orkneys) by combination of train and ferry. The only one of those that involved an overnight sleeper-train journey was to Venice - although you can't get to the Orkneys from Ipswich in a single day either; I split the journey with a night in Thurso.

I have to say that most people would probably fly to at least some of those destinations, though.

Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Doug4.7   E-mail Doug4.7   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
The other problem is "adding" rail. For air travel, you don't need to buy up a bunch of land and put in rail. You just fly over it. People want rail, but get very NIMBY when it gets close to their house.

--------------------
And now for something completely different...

Posts: 4164 | From: Alabama | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


Icon 211 posted      Profile for BeachLife   Author's Homepage   E-mail BeachLife   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
Another thing to keep in mind is that train routes are, by definition, linear. If your intended destination is not within a short distance of that line, taking the train to get there simply isn't practical.

Exactly, and with poor public transportation systems in most local areas, it gets difficult and expensive to bridge even short distances. It is usually just quicker and easier to drive a car.

I absolutely love riding the train, but it's just not feasible for most trips in the United States. Distance is a big factor, as others have pointed out. If I want to go to the West Coast for a trip spending a week of a two week vacation in transit doesn't make sense. Maybe after I'm retired it will be different.

I have looked in to taking the train to Chicago for a weekend. It actually seems like a good idea since public transportation isn't a problem and I would save on parking. The cost is high (for three of us) and the schedule makes it almost impossible to maximize time in the city.

Beach...loved train trips in Alaska and Peru...Life!

--------------------
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Jack Dragon, On Being a Dragon
Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

Posts: 12094 | From: Michigan | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Elkhound         Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I've known people who have been to or worked at WVU and/or lived in Morgantown, and they love this. Why haven't more cities built them?

--------------------
"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

Posts: 3307 | From: Charleston, WV | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
birdman
We Three Blings


Icon 1 posted      Profile for birdman   E-mail birdman   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by chillas:
There have been vague rumblings on and off over the past several years about a light rail system in Ohio, probably connecting the 3 Cs (Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati). That would be a fantastic thing, I think, but it's never even gotten into the "serious idea" phase. Not something I think we're likely to see. Pity.

I remember reading about it in our local paper a few months ago: All Aboard Ohio. The Ohio Hub Plan shows rail routes to the three Cs plus Dayton and Toledo, and linking up with Detroit, Erie PA, Pitt, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Toronto. I would love to be able to hop a train to Toronto. I highly doubt any of that train business will ever be implemented here though. There isn't enough public clamor for it, and even those who do clamor aren't willing to pony up the money (or private property) to implement it.

(Aside: I find it amusing in Sid Meier's new game, Railroads!, where the city buildings magically move around no matter where you place the railroad tracks. Sometimes I'll delete a track and place a new one just to diabolically imagine the citizens moving the skyscrapers around on flatbed trucks.)

A friend of mine is getting married in Chicago next year. I looked at train options, but it's either $44 (each way) leaving here at 4 a.m. or $55 leaving here at 3 a.m. and a 6-hour ride. Plus, coming back would be even more difficult since I'd have to leave the wedding reception early to hop the train and get back home early Sunday morning (or else come home Monday and take another vacation day at work).

Or, I could drive there in a mere 5 hours, but then I'd have to hassle with the Chicago traffic, of which I have no interest. Instead, I'm flying Southwest from CLE to MDW for $117 including taxes and fees and will be departing and arriving at reasonable times. I like the idea of leaving Cleveland at 5:00 and arriving in Chicago at 5:10... local time, of course. [Big Grin]

The other thing to factor in when comparing train to air travel is how early one must get to the airport vs. the train station, and wait times for luggage afterward. Even taking that into consideration, air travel wins in my situation.

Too bad; I was kinda looking forward to riding the train, especially since the Amtrak station is 2 minutes from my house, whereas the airport is 25.

I would, however, like to someday take a cross-country train trip as a vacation. One of my friends has done this. With the right train package, it's like taking a cruise. Camera, laptop, and audiobooks optional.

[zombie voice] Traaaaains..... TRAAAAINS!! [/zombie voice]

-birdman

Posts: 1104 | From: near Cleveland, Ohio | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Archie2K
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Archie2K   Author's Homepage   E-mail Archie2K   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Europe has InterRail. I don't know anything about it because I'm a big meanie car driver, but I know other who have used it to travel between European cities. Useful for backpackers since most European cities hate cars. Amsterdam is something of an exception and has four well positioned out-of-city car parks which are cheap. I know this because in about a week I am driving from London to Amsterdam via the channel tunnel. Estimated driving time is six hours.

Alas I digress, European train travel is used a fair amount. Getting the Eurostar from London to Brussels or Paris is easily faster than flying. European city-to-city travel works because there are large cities within close proximity to one another.

--------------------
Vox populi vox canem

Posts: 1985 | From: Reading, England | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  New Poll  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2