Is This a New Golden Age for Train Travel?

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  10.22.09 | 3:43 PM ET

Tony Naylor doesn’t think so. In this piece in the Guardian, he argues that rail travel isn’t the comfortable, scenic, low-carbon alternative to to air travel that it’s cracked up to be. Here’s a taste:

Four years ago, I decided to limit the number of times I would fly each year to one transatlantic flight, or two within Europe… The idea of the train as a far more authentic and civilised—not to mention non-lethal—mode of travel was seductive.

The reality, however, is more complex. You see more of the world, for sure, but that is a mixed blessing.

The Man in Seat 61 responds here.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

1 Comment for Is This a New Golden Age for Train Travel?

Ben Keene 10.26.09 | 1:33 PM ET

Maybe not a new golden age, but it sure seems like Mr. Naylor is trying hard to see the glass as half empty. First off, I don’t think people who choose train travel are expecting the fastest trip from Point A to Point B; sharing airspace isn’t quite the same as sharing tracks, especially in the railroad-averse United States. If you’re in a hurry, and have a lot of distance to cover, Amtrak isn’t going to be your best bet. Secondly, who doesn’t have at least one horror story about lost luggage, a missed connecting flight, an interminable layover, or a weather-related cancellation? A “lifeless bar” and a showerless cabin don’t seem like the worst things to endure unless you really are looking to find your holiday highpoints on board. My advice? Choose a route that’s actually famous for its scenery, leave the rose-tinted glasses at home, pack a good book (perhaps something by Paul Theroux), and enjoy the ride.

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