Four States in Four Hours - the Case for Train Travel

On Tuesday, I took the Amtrak from Boston to New York, as I went from one analyst event to another � Dimension Data to Dialogic. I�ve never taken Amtrak before, and I just have to say what a great experience it was. I�m not a heavy duty traveler, but we all know what a hassle air travel can be.

Sure, 4 hours is a long time to spend on the train, but I�ll take the trade-off any day for a short haul trip like this. And I�m not alone, as this topic came up a few times during my travels this week.

Without giving this too much thought, here are just a few things that really jumped out at me as I made this old-fashioned journey.....

- No Customs clearance

- No security hassles

- Just show up a few minutes before train time

- Takes about 30 seconds to get your ticket

- No baggage to check

- Just walk on board � and pick any seat � and you can move around later if you want to move

- Seats are wide, tons of legroom, great window view if you like that sort of thing

- Tons of space to store your luggage

- Wide aisles � can walk around any time

- No seat belts

- Spacious washrooms

- Power outlet � for me, the best part of all

- Can use your cell phone and Blackberry the whole trip � whoa! � sure, there�s no WiFi, but you can still get a lot done

- Easy environment to work in � got lots of writing done � didn�t get done in or crushed by the person in front of me reclining to the max just as I�m powering up my laptop

- Get on right away, and the train leaves right on time � no conga line waiting for takeoff or de-icing delays

- Can get food any time � don�t have to wait for the carts, or get stuck behind one trying to get back to your seat from the washroom

- No problem getting out of your seat even if the guy in the aisle seat falls asleep!

- Train arrives on time, and you just get out

- Train stations are right downtown � no long commutes or expensive airport parking � pretty much within walking distance of the hotels � how great is that?

- Can sleep in � don�t have to get up at 4am for an 8am train

- Elapsed time is probably negligible door-to-door

- The price is right - $50 and change � what�s not to like? And a AAA/CAA discount to boot!

- It's a green way to travel - last night we sat on the runway at La Guardia with the plane idling almost an hour, waiting for 30 planes ahead of us to take off

- Finally, for an old school guy like me, the trip was just really relaxing. New England is so compact, so the train passes through four states in four hours � I think that�s really neat.

Amtrak has my business on this one, and obviously lots of others too. It�s a way of life in this part of the world, and it�s not hard to see why.

I'd love to hear from you if you want to add to my list - any time!

I had some nice photos showing how the landscape changes passing along from state to state during the trip, but as noted on my earlier post, problems with my Nokia N81 have led to these pictures being either inaccessible or hopelessly ruined. Ugh!

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Posted by jonarnold at April 17, 2008 12:06 PM


Thanks for this Jon. I've often thought that Amtrak could be a really viable substitute for air travel, which has become such a grueling ordeal the past few years. I've wanted to try it out, but find I more often elect to drive (sometimes with the 5th wheel in two) rather than fly. Hearing your experience gave me the impetus to give Amtrack a spin next time the chance arises.

Posted by: Ken Camp at April 17, 2008 02:57 PM