I always wanted to write a travel blog. Well, not "always". Because I was around before blogs were invented. When I was your age, I had to walk two miles in the snow to send a postcard. But actually I would prefer not to walk, or drive, or fly...I like public transit. Thus ends the short introduction to my travel blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cross Country Travel by Train

When I first started riding Amtrak across country in 2003, the trains were almost empty. I ride coach, and I almost always had the seat next to me empty for sleep in a fetal position. Every year since then I've noticed more and more people taking the long distance trains. With gas prices what they are now, crossing the country on Amtrak is cheaper than driving. Now almost all the seats are taken, and it's harder to sleep in coach.

How long does it take? Believe it or not, our trains today run slower than they did a hundred years ago. In the age of steam engines, they ran up to 150mph on routes that today are limited to a maximum of 79mph. Today the fastest route across country is from New York to Los Angeles. It takes 3 nights. You can leave New York on a Friday afternoon and arrive in Los Angeles on a Monday morning. Add extra time for destinations like San Francisco or Boston, and you have a 4 day 3 night trip.

Most cross country trips require a transfer in Chicago. If everything is running on time, you'll have a few hours to wander around downtown Chicago while you wait for your transfer at Union Station. Chicago is by far the longest stop you'll have with time off the train. So one way to think of it is, two nights from the west coast to Chicago, and one night from Chicago to the east coast.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
Dr. Richard S. Wallace formed the ALICE A. I. Foundation in 2001 to promote the development and adoption of Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) and ALICE free software. Dr. Wallace has a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon.