I just, that means a few hours ago, got back from my annual train trip with my brother. Over the past few years we have traversed the country together as a kind of male bonding thing. My brother is a genuine train enthusiast who knows the names of all the equipment and the routes. I like looking out the window and listening to what people have to say.
More after the jump.
If you travel on Amtrak’s long distance trains and eat in the dining car, the arrangements are very democratic. First come, first served and you are seated with whomever is before or after you in line. This leads to conversation with people on a non-selective basis. It is fun and informative.
Our last trip ending today was from Portland, Oregon to New York, changing trains in Chicago. We flew to Portland to make this work in the least amount of time and thanks to JetBlue that was affordable.
The passengers fell into two or three general categories. I say this because the coach passengers were purely into transportation. The balance were senior citizens on extended tours of the country and folks that don’t fly, period.
The particular train we took (Amtrak’s Empire Builder) started in Portland merged with its counterpart in Spokane, which started in Seattle, and continued cross Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin to end up in Chicago where many pasengers, like us, transferred to trains going to their final destinations.
I was paricularly intersted in teh discussion with the Red Staters which have little if any air transport opportunities and rely heavily on the trains. Kansas, especially has virtually no airline service,
and none from the capital. In Montana, would be totally isolated without the train, especially in the winter months when the roads are often impassable, but the trains can get through better. The folks I spoke with from Nebraska, said the situation was similar.