Mad Fast Trains

I grew up in a household where train travel was in my blood, with my father working in the field, and often taking detours for potential train spotting. I rebelled for years, until I first studied in Europe with a Eurail pass and fully discovered the glory of traveling by rail. As I continue to plan my future travels, they never involve a car. In fact, I’m in the midst of planning to trips – one to Sicily and one to the US, where I’m making an effort to go out of my way, slow down and take the train to get just where I need to be. In the US, trains have a stigma (read here and here), with a main argument “it’s not Europe,” but still I see that as no excuse (and part of the reasons I want to plan my rail adventures). But I’m not the only one getting in the spirit, Pete and Harry from Mad Men, are talking trains c. 1965 in a special piece to encourage people to contact their senators to support high speed rail and mad fast trains. See below!
{top map: Amtrak routes; above: Rail Europe route map}

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  • That’s so cool! My friend Alexandra and I are going to travel around Europe for a bit with Eurail passes this year, too…
    I have yet to experience serious train travel (not counting the subway and the commuter train I took to school) that hasn’t made me feel a bit sick, though…
    Still, this post makes me think more about it! Thank you!

  • With all the wonderful things to see in the US, it is a shame we do not have more train options. I think it would open up a whole new world for people who don’t have the money to fly, but the willingness to slow down and look out a window.

  • Anne! Great post! I too grew up in a family that reveres trains and train travel. I am upset with Wisconsin’s governor (for more reasons than one) for crapping on the high speed train that was going to cross the state. I agree that trains offer a unique way to travel and get to know an area. I have HUGELY enjoyed all the train trips I have been on, long or short! Excellent topic, I really enjoyed reading your words, Anne! : )

  • The US has a long way to go before reaching the point where they can even begin to compete with European rail but I DO support it. With the amount of money peopel spend on cars and buses in the States (though even buses are a dying from of transportation), they could put their money toward a much more ecological method. I hope we see it develop to its full potential in our lifetime!

  • I always wanted to do Eurail, somehow missed that back in youth-dom. But I have taken Amtrak cross country on two occasions, and it’s definitely my favorite way to go up and down the east coast. Hope to see you when you pass through Bmore, Anne!

  • We *never* should have abandoned trains and light rail systems in favor of freeways and cars. One of our dumbest, most short-sighted moves on record.

    Train travel is one of the many things I always look forward to on my trips and travels through Europe.

  • Ditty – We traveled from Boston to Michigan this Christmas. We were feeling nostalgic for Switzerland and wanted to support rail travel in the US. It was an experience! Our biggest issue was that people still treat rail travel as a novelty experience. It’s not nearly utilitarian enough. We will continue to travel by rail when possible, but Michigan-Boston may be a little too far for us to attempt again any time soon!

  • Dad will love this one….and YES he is boarding a train today from Chicago to DC…and I get to pick him at Union Station. And yes, we already have our rail passes for our next European trip!

  • Anne,
    Thanks for the shout out. I’m really pleased you have become an advocate for trains.

    At this moment I am on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited going through Cumberland, Maryland. There are 350 passengers on the train. Breakfast in the diner was great. Wish you were here.

  • March 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm // Reply

    This is great! Have you seen the kickstarter page for the new documentary Trains-Forming America?
    I really want to make this film and start a real dialogue about train travel in America. Maybe we could interview you!?!

  • This is a fabulous conversation starter! My husband and I have been living over here, and have likewise thought about trains in Europe vs. the US: It seems, though, that we have a long ways to go in America before we can support high speed trains, mainly because the local infrastructure isn’t there yet in many cities. Certainly, in some regions it makes sense, though, and I hope support for them will continue to build.
    p.s.- I really love reading your blog; it has been a wonderful accompaniment in our move to Paris..thank you!

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