When people prepare to travel long distances, they usually decide to go by car or plane. However, the train is also a good, if often overlooked, mode of transportation. Traveling by train offers many benefits over both cars and planes, although there are some drawbacks as well.
Amtrak currently offers trains throughout most of the United States. People traveling to or from towns that lack Amtrak stations are often able to take an Amtrak bus to the nearest train station. Reservations are required for most train rides, especially the longer ones.
As mentioned, there are many benefits to traveling by train. First of all, Amtrak rides are fairly inexpensive, at least when compared to plane rides. With the current gas prices, not to mention all of the extra costs associated with cars, such as maintenance and insurance, the train is an economic choice when compared to traveling via car, as well. Group rates are available for groups of twenty or more. Passengers do pay extra for food, and the food is somewhat expensive. However, passengers can bring there own food and avoid this extra cost.
Train rides provide an excellent opportunity to view the countryside. Of course, people traveling via car can also appreciate the countryside, although the driver will not be able to enjoy the scenery as much as other passengers. Some Amtrak trains include sightseeing cars, in which the seats face the windows.
The level of comfort of an Amtrak train depends on the length of the trip. Trains that make long trips are equipped with extra amenities, including water dispensers, pillows, and the aforementioned sightseeing cars. Dining cars and lounge cars are also provided in many trains. Movies are sometimes shown.
Seats recline and provide ample leg room, about equivalent to first class airplane seats. Sleeping cars with bedrooms are also available on many trains, although these rooms do increase the price significantly. The price increase does include meals and extra amenities, however.
While riding a train, passengers are allowed to move around from one car to another. The ability to move around certainly makes the length of trips more bearable. Cell phones are also permitted, and most trains are equipped with a payphone.
Of course, trains do have there drawbacks; otherwise, they would be much more popular. Train rides can be very long, especially when compared to plane rides. Trains are often late. On one trip from Los Angeles to Seattle, the train was nine hours late. Because that train ride is normally about 36 hours, the lengthy delay was certainly not appreciated. Although a
nine hour delay is rather extreme, delays of a couple of hours are not uncommon.
Train rides can also be quite bumpy. Individuals who are prone to car sickness may prefer not to take the train. When the train is moving, passengers should be very careful while walking from one car to another.