Trains 101

Trains emit so much emotion of joy and adventure.  Do you remember your first train ride?  I can remember in the late 40’s going to the train station in Louisville, KY to meet my grandmother coming from Chicago. It was the newest and largest of diesel engines (at least to this 7-year old girl.) My children enjoyed my reading to them “The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Piper. Do you remember it? Today’s trains can be a joy to ride.  Taking my grandsons Dillon and Daniel on their first train rides was very special. Maybe my third grandson, Sammy Jo, will get his first ride this summer.

The Acela is the Amtrak high speed train from Boston to Washington DC. The ridership in the northeast corridor is up significantly and the fares are down. Acela produces half the revenue for Amtrak countrywide. It is such a civilized way to travel.  There are no security scans, you can arrive just a few minutes prior to departure, no need for seat belts and there are far less weather and congestion delays than air travel. The Acela’s first class provides you with a meal and beverages at your seat when you want it! How genteel! The long haul trains have sleeper and actual sit down dining cars. These routes have names like the ‘Lake Shore Limited’ from Boston/New York to Chicago.  I have taken the ‘Lake Shore Limited’ and then the ‘City of New Orleans’ to guess where? Each was an over night ride.

In Europe, where cities are closer together, trains are the most popular method of travel. The Train a Grande Vitesse, (or TGV as it is known) is a very high speed train between most major cities. There are regional and local trains to the smaller towns. Many of the high speed tracks were built above the land rather than on the land.   So there are no roads or highways to cross.  This allows the trains to continue at a rapid speed.

It is advised that for both Amtrak and TGV you purchase tickets in advance.  Now you can have an electronic ticket for both!  The trains allow you to check luggage and there is no weight limit! There are porters in both the US and Europe to assist you both upon departure and arrival.

Then there are wonderful specialty trains. One of my favorite is the Rocky Mountaineer. It is a two day ride with an over night stop between Vancouver and Calgary. Therefore you ride in the daylight and can see all the magnificent Canadian mountains. There are luxury trains all over the world. The Blue Train in South Africa goes from Cape Town to Pretoria.  The Orient Express now has trains all over the world; The Royal Scotsman  and Hiram Bingham in Peru for example. These trains not only provide the grandeur of wealthy days gone by, but for the same today.

There is a train ride for every person and every budget. To where would you like to ride? Call me and let me help you figure it out.

About alwaysharriet

With thirty years experience in corporate and leisure travel consulting, Harriet Ahouse has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and worldwide. An avid scuba diver, she understands the requirements of travelers both on land and in the water. On the European scene she has offered traditional and personalized travel itineraries throughout the continent--Italy, France, and England are some of her favorites. As a Virtuoso Agent, she also has extensive resources to enhance her expertise in designing individual destination travel itineraries--and honeymoons--worldwide!
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