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Re: Amtrak

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  • murdoch
    This isn t the same issue. I was trying to raise the issue of a Eurail-style go-anywhere pass, suitable for a wanderlust-style vacation valued by so many in
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 28 9:49 AM
      This isn't the same issue. I was trying to raise the issue of a
      Eurail-style go-anywhere pass, suitable for a wanderlust-style
      vacation valued by so many in using their cars (not just a
      point-to-point monthly pass), and the fact that it is for sale by
      Amtrak, but only to non-Americans. I see zero reason for this
      restriction, and I have always seen it as an example of throwing money
      away. Amtrak provides a great service, and it's a pity when they
      don't design it so that more can take advantage of it and enjoyably.

      They do offer some passes which are half of what I am saying. For
      example they seem to offer a very attractively-priced pass (under
      $200?) for 21 days of travel to most spots in California (7 days of
      actual travel maximum I think). I don't know how the bus figures into
      this (they commonly use bus routes to supplement where trains don't
      go)

      But the go-anywhere thing, so prominent in my plans on one or two
      trips to Europe in my youth, is apparently something that we Americans
      are good enough to fund (such as through our subsidies to Amtrak) but
      not good enough to buy or use.

      On Mon, 28 Apr 2003 11:41:36 -0400, you wrote:

      >My monthly fee lets me get on and off anywhere between the 2 points listed
      >on my pass any time I want as many times I want in a month.
      >
    • murdoch
      It sounds like a fantastic trip. I ve done some shorter ones like that, say from Kansas City to Chicago, or Chicago to Washington DC. Never regretted it. I
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 29 6:37 PM
        It sounds like a fantastic trip. I've done some shorter ones like
        that, say from Kansas City to Chicago, or Chicago to Washington DC.
        Never regretted it. I agree that the food left something to be
        desired, but on the whole I have really enjoyed the few liesurely
        trips I've taken. This makes it all the more a pity that Americans
        don't seem to have access to the type of ticket that you seem to have
        bought. Given that lengthy summer car trips are so common here as to
        drive up the price of gas, I wonder if we couldn't take a few of them
        by train, strengthening Amtrak's position, lessening the dependence on
        gasoline (a little, though diesel is required for the trains) and
        letting folks relax and see the country vs. driving.

        One thing that comes up once in awhile is the annual toll at train
        crossings, and although it's a known issue, it does never seem to get
        solved fully. What always bothers me when I run across one personally
        is that they don't seem designed to perfectly prevent accidents. I
        run across several urban crossings and almost all of them seem to
        allow for a driver to accidentally be left stopped somewhere in or
        near the middle of the crossing. Then I have to read these lectures
        from train industry people about how drivers aren't paying sufficient
        attention to the dangers of train crossings. But while doubtless many
        drivers are not sufficiently respecting the dangers (choosing to go
        around barriers, etc.) I also think they need some better design, to
        prevent well-intended drivers from accidentally finding themselves in
        a bad situation.

        > I didn't. Flew into LAX, caught the train in San Francisco to
        >Denver, Denver to El Paso, El Paso to New Orleans, New Orleans to
        >Chicago, Chicago to Los Angeles, flew back to Australia, all in one
        >week. Great way to see the country although the seats and food
        >leave a bit to be desired ;)
        >
        > Andrew
        >
      • Yoder, Chris
        Last Fall we were in Europe. Flew to Amsterdam, got a rental car, then took the train to Provence, got another rental car, train back to Paris, didn t want
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 30 4:25 PM
          Last Fall we were in Europe. Flew to Amsterdam, got a rental car, then
          took "the train" to Provence, got another rental car, train back to Paris,
          didn't want to attempt driving in Paris, then flew back.

          Our experience on the train was generally wonderful. :-) I don't
          remember seeing any train tracks and roadways cross at the same level. The
          grades were always split. Views of the countryside were very nice.

          I've taken Amtrak up the coast (Union Station in LA to San Jose) and
          back. Once. I'm not certain I want to repeat the experience. This trip
          was the length of the Paris / Provence trip, but took *LONGER* than the
          entire Amsterdam -> Provence trip. Oh sure, once you get to the coast the
          view is nice, but if I want to look at the coast I'll go stay there.

          European trip:

          At Shipol airport (Amsterdam), the train station is *UNDER* the main
          terminal. So we just returned the rental car to the airport and were right
          there at the train station. We managed to miss the fast Thalys that we
          wanted to catch (unanticipated morning drive traffic), so instead we took a
          standard inter-city train to Brussels.

          In general even that was moving faster than the traffic on the roadways
          we paralleled. (My guess was that it was doing up to 150 kmh / 95 mph.)
          Only took a couple of hours. Since I hadn't boarded a fast train yet, I was
          impressed and thought it was pretty quick.

          In Brussels we managed to get our reservations straightened out, only
          had to wait an hour to pick up a Thalys to Paris (the Dutch equivalent of
          the TGV). OMG!!!! That train was *FAST*. 300 kmh (180 mph) is fun. :-)
          We even got a nice meal (they even had a *GOOD* vegetarian meal on board
          without us preparing them ahead of time.)

          In Paris we had to change train stations. We took a taxi from Gar
          d'Nord to Gar d'Lion (*LATER* in the trip we discovered the Paris metro
          system... but the experience confirmed my desire to *not* drive in Paris!)
          and then we boarded a TGV for Provence. 2 hours later we stepped off the
          train in Provence. Total travel time ~ 8 hours.

          The trip back from Provence to Paris was also on time, quick, and fun.

          Amtrak:

          We actually started in Claremont, not LA. It's a 45 minute drive in to
          Union Station, but we wanted to take the train for the entire trip. 3 hours
          after we left Claremont we left Union station up the coast... (1 hour trip,
          2 hour waiting.) On Amtrak on the Coast Starlight from Union Station in LA
          to San Jose it's *10 HOURS*!!! I don't remember passing any cars, except if
          they were stopped waiting for the train to go by.

          All I can say is: No wonder Americans don't take the train. On the LA
          -> San Jose leg the train averaged 35 mph. I seem to remember somebody
          doing the trip faster on a bicycle!

          -- Chris Yoder Smog, Just say NO!
          Director of Information Services Drive electric today.
          for Institute Relations
          chris_yoder@... http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rcy/

          "Power corrupts, but we need the electricity" - Unknown
        • murdoch
          I have taken trains for some European destinations, but it s been awhile. I don t think I took the TGV or something from Nice to Paris, I think it was more
          Message 4 of 6 , May 1, 2003
            I have taken trains for some European destinations, but it's been
            awhile. I don't think I took the TGV or something from Nice to Paris,
            I think it was more sort of a normal train. In any case, they were
            good traveling.

            When I grew up we took the Amtrak from Albany, NY to New York City
            several times a year. It was a fine trip and it was only years later
            that I read in an Almanac that this is one of the faster routes in
            North America. So I guess we got used to 70-80+ mph.

            I did take an Amtrak from San Diego to LA some years ago and found
            that the station in LA is so out of the way that some folks either
            don't know where it is or have to take nearly an hour to get there.
            It's a good looking old-school station.

            Generally, my experience with Amtrak in the U.S. has been better than
            yours, and if you can find a route where things add up to take it (the
            speed, etc.), I'd look into it, and if not then so be it. We have a
            lot of choices here. But I don't like to see them needlessly fail to
            push those points where they have a lot to offer and if one of them
            could be a solid deal for Americans to travel around on these
            vacation-style-go-many-places trips, then it would be nice to see them
            *wake up* to that sort of ticket, rather than needlessly blowing off
            dozens of millions of dollars in business every year. As I said,
            maybe there's something I don't understand as to why they don't seem
            to be able to offer this type of deal to Americans.

            On another point, I think I'll suggest to Bill Moore that it would be
            nice to have an article or two in Evworld.com as to Amtrak, perhaps
            what technologies they're exploring, or the experience of riding it,
            etc. I do think they've been in the webzine before though.


            On Wed, 30 Apr 2003 16:25:20 -0700, you wrote:

            > Last Fall we were in Europe. Flew to Amsterdam, got a rental car, then
            >took "the train" to Provence, got another rental car, train back to Paris,
            >didn't want to attempt driving in Paris, then flew back.
            >
            > Our experience on the train was generally wonderful. :-) I don't
            >remember seeing any train tracks and roadways cross at the same level. The
            >grades were always split. Views of the countryside were very nice.
            >
            > I've taken Amtrak up the coast (Union Station in LA to San Jose) and
            >back. Once. I'm not certain I want to repeat the experience. This trip
            >was the length of the Paris / Provence trip, but took *LONGER* than the
            >entire Amsterdam -> Provence trip. Oh sure, once you get to the coast the
            >view is nice, but if I want to look at the coast I'll go stay there.
            >
            > European trip:
            >
            > At Shipol airport (Amsterdam), the train station is *UNDER* the main
            >terminal. So we just returned the rental car to the airport and were right
            >there at the train station. We managed to miss the fast Thalys that we
            >wanted to catch (unanticipated morning drive traffic), so instead we took a
            >standard inter-city train to Brussels.
            >
            > In general even that was moving faster than the traffic on the roadways
            >we paralleled. (My guess was that it was doing up to 150 kmh / 95 mph.)
            >Only took a couple of hours. Since I hadn't boarded a fast train yet, I was
            >impressed and thought it was pretty quick.
            >
            > In Brussels we managed to get our reservations straightened out, only
            >had to wait an hour to pick up a Thalys to Paris (the Dutch equivalent of
            >the TGV). OMG!!!! That train was *FAST*. 300 kmh (180 mph) is fun. :-)
            >We even got a nice meal (they even had a *GOOD* vegetarian meal on board
            >without us preparing them ahead of time.)
            >
            > In Paris we had to change train stations. We took a taxi from Gar
            >d'Nord to Gar d'Lion (*LATER* in the trip we discovered the Paris metro
            >system... but the experience confirmed my desire to *not* drive in Paris!)
            >and then we boarded a TGV for Provence. 2 hours later we stepped off the
            >train in Provence. Total travel time ~ 8 hours.
            >
            > The trip back from Provence to Paris was also on time, quick, and fun.
            >
            > Amtrak:
            >
            > We actually started in Claremont, not LA. It's a 45 minute drive in to
            >Union Station, but we wanted to take the train for the entire trip. 3 hours
            >after we left Claremont we left Union station up the coast... (1 hour trip,
            >2 hour waiting.) On Amtrak on the Coast Starlight from Union Station in LA
            >to San Jose it's *10 HOURS*!!! I don't remember passing any cars, except if
            >they were stopped waiting for the train to go by.
            >
            > All I can say is: No wonder Americans don't take the train. On the LA
            >-> San Jose leg the train averaged 35 mph. I seem to remember somebody
            >doing the trip faster on a bicycle!
            >
            >-- Chris Yoder Smog, Just say NO!
            > Director of Information Services Drive electric today.
            > for Institute Relations
            > chris_yoder@... http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rcy/
            >
            >"Power corrupts, but we need the electricity" - Unknown
            >
            >
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            >
            >
            >
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            >
            >
          • Eric Penne
            I think this is a wonderful idea. He s been getting some good interviews lately with some very interesting people. I m sure the engineers (not driving) are
            Message 5 of 6 , May 1, 2003
              I think this is a wonderful idea. He's been getting some good interviews
              lately with some very interesting people. I'm sure the engineers (not
              driving) are working on some new stuff for Amtrak. Another good place to
              find info is at GE ElectroMotive division. There has to be some engineers
              there that are working with some power silicon for their drive systems.

              > On another point, I think I'll suggest to Bill Moore that it would be
              > nice to have an article or two in Evworld.com as to Amtrak, perhaps what
              > technologies they're exploring, or the experience of riding it, etc. I
              > do think they've been in the webzine before though.
              >
              > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            • Yoder, Chris
              ... Sorry about that... ... The Eurorail pass that you are describing, like the one that we got last Fall, are only available to those traveling *to* Europe
              Message 6 of 6 , May 2, 2003
                > This isn't the same issue. I was trying to raise the issue of a
                > Eurail-style go-anywhere pass,

                Sorry about that...

                > But the go-anywhere thing, so prominent in my plans on one or two
                > trips to Europe in my youth, is apparently something that we Americans
                > are good enough to fund (such as through our subsidies to Amtrak) but
                > not good enough to buy or use.

                The Eurorail pass that you are describing, like the one that we got
                last Fall, are only available to those traveling *to* Europe and you have to
                purchase them before you go. Seems like the same thing that Amtrak does...

                Basically they only want tourists to use them. Business / repeat
                travelers would have to get something else.

                -- Chris Yoder Smog, Just say NO!
                Director of Information Services Drive electric today.
                for Institute Relations
                chris_yoder@... http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rcy/

                "Power corrupts, but we need the electricity" - Unknown
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