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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Train Perspective

The NYT has a nice article on riding Amtrak coast-to-coast. The author makes a point that I've made before about traveling by train -- that the perspective that you get of the scenery is very different when riding a train compared to driving. You see the old parts of developed areas that came up with the trains, and you also see landscapes uncluttered by all the stuff that comes along with roads (gas stations, billboards, strip malls, etc.). Because trains are self-contained, their presence tends to only alter the places where they stop, not the entire route.

I also noted, in the Post today, an article entitled "High-Speed Rail Drives Obama's Transportation Agenda." This seems like an overstatement, but more funds are flowing to rail after a long period of neglect.

I've actually never ridden Amtrak outside the Northeast Corridor. But my parents are going to Hilton Head next month...I'll be hitching a ride down with them to spend a long weekend, and taking the train back to DC from Savannah (with my folding bike in tow). I'm looking forward to seeing the Carolinas and Virginia from the train.

3 comments:

ReeD said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I used to take the train to Minneapolis from Champaign, IL 2 or 3 times a year back in college (the Empire Builder and the City of New Orleans), and I loved it. I've taken a train from SF to Denver and Denver to Iowa a year ago, as well as a train from Minneapolis to Baltimore over spring break in college. It's an entirely different way to see the country indeed... you end up seeing a lot more junkyards, loading docks, abandoned factories and warehouses, etc. and a lot less "commercial" development. And of course, when a train cuts across the rockies, you notice immediately the effect of a rail vs. a modern road on the landscape, which is to say, the rail blends in almost like a worn foot path, hugging the curves, and riding the hills. Along I-70 in Colorado, you get an impressive view of the interstate, the bike path just below it, and the rail on the other side of the Colorado river. Guess which one is the most technically impressive and naturally obtrustive? :)

ReeD said...

p.s. thanks for posting the NYT & Post articles!

Matthew said...

We'll wave as you cruise through North Carolina. Also, the train from Seattle down into Oregon we took last summer was pretty spectacular.