Sunday, April 11, 2010

Riding the Rails

So far I'm enjoying traveling by train. It's so different from traveling by airplane. It's very casual, no id, no security, no scans, no xrays, no showing your laptop, no taking your shoes off. No endlessly repeated lectures on seat belts and electronic devices and earphones. 

There haven't been many people, in the stations or on the train. That suits me fine.  

It's very slow paced. No one exhibits the slightest signs of urgency. The train crawls out of the station and then stops 500m down the track. Inexplicable slowdowns and stops are frequent. But when you're in for the duration and you're not worried about connections, it's no big deal.

Relative to a plane, there's lots of legroom and the aisles are spacious. There's even space to turn around in the bathroom.

The passengers are a motley collection of tourists, young people, seniors, and strays like me. No high powered business types. No one in a suit. And so far, no families with kids.  

It's a bit like traveling by car. You can watch the scenery go by and you've got lots of time to think. But you don't have to drive! Or worry about road conditions or crazy drivers. Kind of nice. I like it.

I'm traveling by train because I don't think airplane travel is sustainable. It burns too much fossil fuel and so far no one has any idea how to get around that. We can have electric cars (powered by renewable energy) but electric planes aren't too feasible. Trains are more efficient and even though they currently burn fossil fuels as well, at least they have the potential to be powered by renewable energy (unlike planes).

As with most individual "green" choices, my taking the train will have little or no effect on the big picture. But as Gandhi said,  "You must be the change you want to see in the world." 


  1. Having worked in the railroad industry I can state that trains are indeed a form of "green" transportation. That is, when transporting freight. When transporting people, especially in the Western Hemisphere, it is incredibly inefficient in both fuel and money. US taxpayers pay billions of dollars to support public rail travel that could be spent in much better ways.

  2. Now that sounds like my kind of travel!