If you’re going to be flying this holiday season, then you may be dreading the hassles–taking off shoes and belts, cramped seating, and now fees for everything from baggage to peanuts.
But you might be able to avoid the unpleasantness of flying by taking the train. The train is spacious, offers plenty of leg room, and the seats are comfortable. You don’t have to remove clothing, pay extra for your suitcase, or worry about how much liquid you are carrying. And trains, at least in the northeast corridor, have an excellent on-time record.
If it hadn’t occurred to you to take the train this holiday season, who can blame you? Train service in America has for many years withered for lack of federal support. Last year, for instance, Amtrak received just $1.3 billion in federal funds, compared to $14.5 billion directed to the airline industry.
Over several decades of neglect by the government, passenger service on trains diminished dramatically, and most people lost the habit of even considering traveling by train.
But the train industry is coming back, in spite of a lack of federal support. A record 26 million Americans traveled by train last year. And even though many cities and towns have little or no train service, there are many places you can get to by train.
I was pleasantly surprised by my own recent experience. It would not have occurred to me that I could travel by train from Washington, DC to Amherst, a small town in Massachusetts. But I learned from a friend that she had made just such a trip by train. And it turns out that that same train makes many other stops in New England as well. While the northeast is better served by rail than are other parts of the country, I am sure there are other such pleasant surprises to be found by checking Amtrak’s website, www.Amtrak.com.
So I took the train. And my first train trip in many years was just great! I was comfortable. I could relax. I could work. And since train tracks don’t always run parallel to roads, I had the pleasure of watching forests and fields pass by.
But the most important advantage of train travel over air travel is its minimal environmental impact. Air travel is the fastest growing contributor to global warming, emitting 10 times more climate-warming gases than train travel, according to some estimates.
So even if you assume that the train is not an option for your upcoming trip, I encourage you to find out for sure by visiting www.Amtrak.com. You may be pleasantly surprised.
I also invite you to click on the link below to view a short video about train travel in the U.S. today.