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(Some Guy)   Apparently there are these things called "trains" run by a company called "Amtrak" which people can ride in and visit neat places. Who knew?   (news.yahoo.com) divider line
    More: Strange  
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11388 clicks; posted to Main » on 22 Dec 2007 at 10:24 AM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2007-12-22 9:29:34 AM  
Amtrak: When you're just a little too good for a bus.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2007-12-22 9:54:27 AM  
I took a train from Boston to Philadelphia once. Definitely better than the bus. That was pre-9/11 so I wasn't considered a terrorist and I didn't have to show ID.

My trip was before the "Acela" campaign. They promised much faster service with faster "Acela" trains. Then they applied the new name to the crappy old service as well as the new trains. Pick an "Acela" train at random and you'd probably end up on the Acela Regional, same old service at same old prices. You needed to specifically pick Acela Express to get the same old service at new, higher prices. (The new, faster trains didn't work right for a few years -- brakes cracked, couldn't safely use the tilt feature for high speed turns, etc.. Maybe they still don't.)
 
2007-12-22 10:30:57 AM  
ah yes. for three years I had to take the overnight "Broadway Express" from Chicago to Pennsylvania to come home from college. damn that trip sucked
 
2007-12-22 10:32:31 AM  
America's railways have not been keeping up with modern train technology. This isnt really a big deal, since there is absolutely no need for "bullet" trains. Not when flights can be had for under 300 bucks.

Now if someone just figured out a way to put trainstations near airports...
 
2007-12-22 10:32:33 AM  
Not this shiat again.
 
2007-12-22 10:32:44 AM  
I took an Amtrack train from Niagara Falls Canada to NYC and it was the worst travel experience of my life. It was post 9/11 so we were on the train for all of 5 minutes and then it was stopped and searched for 2 hours, it would have been faster if i had have walked across the border and gotten a ticket in Niagara Falls NY. After that the ride didnt get much better. I would never travel Amtrack again.

VIA Rail on the otherhand I haven't had a problem with... yet.
 
2007-12-22 10:33:51 AM  
After riding the public transit system in Germany, including the trains, you come to realize that no matter what the call it here, it really doesn't transport you anywhere.
 
2007-12-22 10:35:17 AM  
The only times I've ever taken Amtrak, I really enjoyed it. Once was on Christmas Eve, and there was this blonde in the lounge car, and... um... I'll be in my Pullman berth.

Seriously, though, I've always preferreed train travel to airlines, but living where I live now it's not a valid option.
 
2007-12-22 10:37:30 AM  
everytime I have looked at taking the train anywhere, it costs more or takes 2-3 times as long.

but it beats the bus.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2007-12-22 10:40:27 AM  
KellyLockhart

I took the Greyhound to Ithaca and there was this really hot blonde in the seat next to me...

...going to meet her fiance.

Still a pleasant couple hour's conversation.
 
2007-12-22 10:41:57 AM  
Pocket Ninja: Ah, Amtrack. Thirty-seven straight years of losing money, and still it won't die.

farm3.static.flickr.comView Full Size
 
2007-12-22 10:42:39 AM  
My wifes grandfather was big in the railroads - he wanted to visit his sister in California (from Virginia) - I went and did a little leg work for him and looked up the rates for a train trip.

It cost like $2,000 and took like 5 days.... each way.

I could see maybe a scenic train ride in alaska or something (seen something like that on the travel channel) but as far as getting from A to B - unless you have wads of money AND time to burn its a lost cause.
 
2007-12-22 10:43:42 AM  
One of my patients took a cross country train trip.

In the midwest an old lady passed away on the train. The train had to stop for several hours until a hearse could come and remove the corpse as it is unlawful to transport bodies.

Hundreds of folks were delayed b/c of a stupid law.

No thanks.
 
2007-12-22 10:44:07 AM  
i79.photobucket.comView Full Size



BRILLIANT!
 
2007-12-22 10:44:35 AM  
KellyLockhart: Seriously, though, I've always preferreed train travel to airlines, but living where I live now it's not a valid option.

I'll second that. Train travel beats cattle planes anyday, regardless of the price. I rode the NE corridor (Baltimore to Providence) for years and loved it. Most of the time. Okay there was that one Thanksgiving trip when a freight train derailed and I got stuck in a rail yard for 12 hours, but I'd rather be stuck on a train than strapped into my seat on a tarmac. At least I could go to the snack bar.

For the rest of you, quityerbiatchin and do something about it.
National Association of Rail Passengers (new window)
 
2007-12-22 10:45:19 AM  
Fizpez: It cost like $2,000 and took like 5 days.... each way.

Yeah it blows my mind that trains cost so much.

Planes are faster and cheaper.
 
2007-12-22 10:49:22 AM  
Fark Amtrak. The cost of a business-class airline ticket, at one-tenth the speed and luxury. If I want to enjoy the scenery, I'll rent a car; that way, I won't be forced to endure the extortionate food and drink prices, and I can sleep when and where I like.
 
2007-12-22 10:50:28 AM  
Fizpez: It cost like $2,000 and took like 5 days.... each way.

Now do some more leg work and find out why.
 
2007-12-22 10:52:19 AM  
pambanana.comView Full Size

Trains go places!
 
2007-12-22 10:53:07 AM  
Ok, what about needing $1.53 billion subsidy for a service that handles 24.3 million passengers? And that's the whole system--the Northeast Corridor between Washington DC and Boston (and there may be other places too), so some places must be subsidizing to a large extent. Where there is population density--like in the Northeast US or Europe, rail makes sense. Why not stop subsidizing LA to New Orleans trips that don't make sense and focus on upgrading travel in places that make sense?

Oh yeah, you can't alienate congresspeople in the boonies. Oh well.
 
2007-12-22 10:53:29 AM  
I enjoy Amtrak in its way. What I don't understand is the pricing structure. What's the marginal cost of adding the 101st passenger to a 100 seat plane? It's either rejigger your fleet to get a bigger plane or a whole other plane. The cost of getting a few dozen more people on a train? Well, they can squeeze for a while. Then, add another coach... eventually another attendant... maybe an extra slave locomotive (no extra crew) if you get too heavy. The marginal cost... very low. I'd think they could lower prices, and get more riders to make up the difference.

Other things I'd change... it's time to give up on the diner. On most trains, it's now a TV dinner for $10. This sucks. What I'd do is sell advertising on trains for enroute restaurants and let people know when they were 45 minutes from, say, Lincoln. Passengers could then cell-phone up and order trackside delivery. Shouldn't take that long.

Oh, and figure out some way to get checked luggage at more stations.
 
2007-12-22 10:55:28 AM  
I've taken Amtrak a number of times between Washington DC / Philadelphia / Baltimore / New York / New Haven / Boston. It definitely beats flying from NYC to Boston or Washington, DC. It's a little better than driving, IMVHO.
But if the train ride is more than a few hours, it's a different story. I once looked into taking Amtrak to Kansas City. It would take 24 hours, much of it waiting for connections in Pittburgh and Chicago. Fark it, I'd rather fly Midwest.
 
2007-12-22 10:55:51 AM  
On the other hand, Terrurrists would have a hell of a time hijacking a train and crashing it into any tall buildings.
 
2007-12-22 10:56:33 AM  
homevideos.comView Full Size


Who the HELL are you?
 
2007-12-22 10:56:50 AM  
This may blow some minds, but NOT EVERYONE DRIVES A CAR. Some people don't even like cars!

As for flying, ha ha ha. No thanks. not all of us want to be considered a terrorist until proven innocent by a min-wage GED-gettin' TSA drone (via strip search no less), and some of us actually CARE ABOUT the environment enough to PAY MORE. The train is great. If the oil industry hadn't brainwashed everyone, there would be better train options than the farce that is Amtrak.


/takes the train, often.
//Did you know you can bring whatever you want on a train? Including nail clippers, beer, lighters, shampoo, leave-in conditioner, vodak, mixers, I could go on and on
 
2007-12-22 10:57:13 AM  
We happily piss away $150 billion annually to maintain the interstate highway system.
 
2007-12-22 10:57:40 AM  
Their routes farking suck...if I want to go from Atlanta to Kansas, I would have to ride to DC, then to Chicago, then on to Kansas.

Fark that.
 
2007-12-22 11:01:27 AM  
It seems ridiculous to keep these services afloat, if they are not going to upgrade. If the numbers of passengers are not there, why keep it going on tax dollars?
 
2007-12-22 11:01:38 AM  
If I can take a train rather than a plane for long journeys in Europe (eg London -> Paris/Brussels/Edinburgh) I definitely will - it takes a bit longer, and is a little more expensive, but there's much less waiting around before and after the trip, and more importantly I can be productive on the train, when I never can on planes (especially for 1.5 hour flights where you start the descent as soon as you reach cruising height).

I can't imagine I'd ever take a train from the east to the west coast in the US though, unless they get a lot faster, but Boston/NYC/Philadelphia/Baltimore/DC seem to be pretty much perfect cities to connect up with a decent train service.
 
2007-12-22 11:01:47 AM  
I live in Europe and people take trains everywhere.

Why does it work here and not back in the States?
 
2007-12-22 11:02:19 AM  
The Illinois cornfields whizzing past Mark Hardacre's view from the Amtrak cafe car had nothing on the memorable splendor the Australian had already taken in on his trans-America adventure - the Pacific Ocean so vast and blue off California's coast. The emerald green of the Northwest forests. The majesty of the snowcapped Rockies.


Dear JIM SUHR, AP Business Writer,

YAHOO! News does not equal literary license. Oh, and your writing sucks donkey balls. Sorry that dream of being a novelist never panned out, keep on cranking out that purple prose you sassy contrarian, you.
 
2007-12-22 11:02:36 AM  
The more expensive gas gets, the more powerful Amtrak becomes!
 
2007-12-22 11:03:33 AM  
I've always been a big fan of German Rail, and wished the US had something like that. Unfortunately, "something like that" only works if you're in a country as small and as densely populated as Germany, which for the US means basically the Eastern seaboard. Train travel isn't very practical when a cross-country trip takes four days.
 
2007-12-22 11:03:36 AM  
Oh and if you live in the NE corridor, there are always price codes available online that bring the ticket cost down to within 10$ of the bus. if you travel with an associate, there is usually a companion fare reduction, too.


the rest of the country is pretty SOL though, like Crude said, that's what happens when you let the car companies buy the goverment.
 
2007-12-22 11:12:27 AM  
Brick Top: I live in Europe and people take trains everywhere.

Why does it work here and not back in the States?


Uh, the states are a bit bigger than Europe. I'm just guessing but I think Chicago to DC is a longer trip then anything Euro-rail does. I spent 10 years in Europe and appreciate their public transportation system but I don't think it scales nearly well enough to deal with the US of A.
 
2007-12-22 11:13:22 AM  
They underfund Amtrak and then complain that it sucks. Give it enough money that it can become a real decent system it will suck less. Most of the other countries run their rail systems as a public service not a for profit business so they run in the red. We need to stop looking at Amtrak as the red headed step child and start treating it as a national asset. We have unused major train terminals all over the country that have been turned into museums and shopping malls, turn them back into decent terminals.

We need a President with the brains and backbone to kick off decent national rail.
 
2007-12-22 11:20:47 AM  
Brick Top: I live in Europe and people take trains everywhere.

Why does it work here and not back in the States?


It's not just the fact that the US is bigger. It is mostly because the auto industry bought our government and then caused our rail system to be dismantled-- under the guise of installing the highway system.
 
2007-12-22 11:21:28 AM  
I'm an Amtrak GuestRewards member, but only for those times when I'm going in or out of DC and Maryland's MARC train (same route to Penn Station, but for $7) isn't running/isn't convenient. Though I'm thinking of raiding their weekend special to get to NYC next month...it's faster and cheaper than going to BWI.
 
2007-12-22 11:21:30 AM  
I don't get how this hate for Amtrak has come about.

But I guess any absurd opinion can take shape, in the lesser minds of republican sheep, when both the auto and oil industry lobbyists get together to smear.

We want as many cars on the roads as possible, burning as much gas as possible. Is that the best thing for America, or just the best thing for Exxon and General Motors?
 
2007-12-22 11:23:45 AM  
Amtrak is required to maintain it's own rails. Imagine how profitable GM would have been over the past 50 years if they had to maintain the roads.

I work in a german company with a bunch of folks that came over to open the office. They were trying to figure out a trip from Chi-town to Florida and thought it was ridiculous that it would take 24 hours each way. Until they realized that the trip was about the same distance as northern Germany to the southern tip of the boot in Italy.
 
2007-12-22 11:24:44 AM  
My wife loves to take the train from Minneapolis to Boston to visit our son, and does it often. With the senior citizen discount, it is about the same price as flying, and it does take more time ( 30 hours vs. 3 hours ), but it is enjoyable, she catches-up on her reading, and even watches a few movies on her DVD player.

After she's there a week or two, I'll fly in on AirTran for $99 bucks, spend a few days, and we come back on the train. Eating in the dining car is enjoyable, and about what you'd pay in a family restaurant. Because they have to use every place at every table, you wind-up being seated with interesting strangers, and the conversations are generally very enjoyable.

Don't worry about the government subsidies, the airlines are subsidized, as are all the highways, in a society like ours this needs to be done, and the trains provide transportation for everyone, people with or without cars at home, with or without the means or desire to fly.

When I lived in Colorado, people used to fly into Denver and take the train to Las Vegas, winding through beautiful mountain passes, enjoying some great scenery on the way.

I sell airplanes for a living, but love the train. Take one instead of flying next time, and you might get hooked on it.
 
2007-12-22 11:28:43 AM  
naveline: Brick Top: I live in Europe and people take trains everywhere.

Why does it work here and not back in the States?

It's not just the fact that the US is bigger. It is mostly because the auto industry bought our government and then caused our rail system to be dismantled-- under the guise of installing the highway system.


Really? It has nothing to do with the fact that going to Chicago from New York on a plane takes 2 hours in the air versus overnight on a train. Or going to LA takes via train takes days?

Oh yeah, it's the oil companies. General Motors dismantled the streetcar systems in major cities, but passenger rail died due to market forces.
 
2007-12-22 11:29:23 AM  
"It seems ridiculous to keep these services afloat, if they are not going to upgrade. If the numbers of passengers are not there, why keep it going on tax dollars?"

As others have noted, it's a chicken-and-egg question...if we spent on our rail system what we spend on our highways, we'd all have individual locomotives.

Which would put SUVs in their proper place on the manliness scale...
 
2007-12-22 11:29:23 AM  
Yogimus: America's railways have not been keeping up with modern train technology. This isnt really a big deal, since there is absolutely no need for "bullet" trains. Not when flights can be had for under 300 bucks.

Wow. How monumentally stupid and shortsighted.

For trips of under 700 kilometers (500 miles), trains are more cost effective AND they take you right to the city center. Bullet trains in Japan run at around 330km/h at similar energy usage as airlines.

Plus:
- your $300 includes the fact that taxes on jet fuel are slim to none.
- trains are much more environmentally clean.
- trains are safer, or rather, should generally be safer (non-sucicide deaths on japanese bullet trains in 40 years: 0)
- you can stand up on a train any time you want
- you can get more room on a train for similar energy usage.
- you can get to the city center
- you can see more scenery.

etc.

the issue with trains is that they are part of network economies - they work best if more people use them. this is the reason why amtrak is a perennial loser. but high speed trains, including

- USA Eastern Seaboard. This is a no brainer. This could be done today for profit if there were the governmental balls to do what was necessary to get a decent right-of-way
- Possibly NY to Chicago. Few people would go the whole way, but if it stopped in enough intermediate cities it could be viable.
- Poisslby california SF-LA/SD, but i'm not convinced of this one.

This would be particularly easy to do if amtrack did the right thing and bought foreign trains (used ones, even) rather then trying to invent a complex technology from scratch as they did with Acela. Sure, acela had some minor novelty factors (tilting), but at acela's modest speeds, this could have been easily sourced (the Japanese are masters of this - the Acelda train is no better than an already retired JR East E351 tilting set.
 
2007-12-22 11:30:03 AM  
Mr. Xhin: in the lesser minds of republican sheep

WTF?

The smartest folks I have known are Republicans or at least NOT Democrats.

Once you have a set of real brains you do not need the gov't to guide you.


/ actually a Libertarian


//back to the thread
 
2007-12-22 11:30:30 AM  
heywood jablomi: Amtrak is required to maintain it's own rails. Imagine how profitable GM would have been over the past 50 years if they had to maintain the roads.

I work in a german company with a bunch of folks that came over to open the office. They were trying to figure out a trip from Chi-town to Florida and thought it was ridiculous that it would take 24 hours each way. Until they realized that the trip was about the same distance as northern Germany to the southern tip of the boot in Italy.


Um, did you read the article? Amtrak doesn't own the rails, freight companies do. They pay access charges, but don't own and don't maintain.
 
2007-12-22 11:32:38 AM  
shooosh: Brick Top: I live in Europe and people take trains everywhere.

Why does it work here and not back in the States?

Uh, the states are a bit bigger than Europe. I'm just guessing but I think Chicago to DC is a longer trip then anything Euro-rail does. I spent 10 years in Europe and appreciate their public transportation system but I don't think it scales nearly well enough to deal with the US of A.


I make it under 600 miles if you go via Detroit and Pittsburgh, which is roughly Berlin -> Paris, which is served by CityNightLine AG taking about 8:30 hours and costing around 170 euros one way.
 
2007-12-22 11:32:44 AM  
Mr. Xhin: I don't get how this hate for Amtrak has come about.

But I guess any absurd opinion can take shape, in the lesser minds of republican sheep, when both the auto and oil industry lobbyists get together to smear.

We want as many cars on the roads as possible, burning as much gas as possible. Is that the best thing for America, or just the best thing for Exxon and General Motors?


I love the idea of a national railway system, and it would be great if we had one that operated in a way that was similar to European ones; low fares, high-speed travel, punctuality and decent amenities. Unfortunately, since government is beholden to the auto industry, I fear we'll never see such a thing. I agree with the poster who said that national rail should be seen and run as a national service, not as an attempt at a profit-making venture. If the past thirty-seven years show us anything, it'll never be that.
 
2007-12-22 11:33:03 AM  
It's been a long time but I took Amtrack from Dallas to Las Angeles and had a blast. Of course I was smoking bowl after bowl so that helped. Spent most of the time on the observatory car stoned and drunk out of my mind watching the desert go by. Memories.
 
2007-12-22 11:33:18 AM  
brap: We happily piss away $150 billion annually to maintain the interstate highway system.

I wonder if the highway system is used more than 24 million times annually?
 
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