AmTrak Carolinian: Slower But So Much Nicer

Some of us have already posted personal accounts of our AmTrak experiences, but even with AmTrak ridership at an all time high, in the US many folks we talk to still seem skeptical about taking to the rails. So when we took The Carolinian from Durham, NC up to New York for Thursday’s launch of the Natural Products Association’s Natural Standard, we thought it only right that we post on our experience.

The first thing to be said, when comparing AmTrak to rail travel in other parts of the world, is that it is slow. There is no denying that a rail journey of some 500 miles should not take eleven hours [from previous experience, the journey can also be considerably longer in the hot summer months due to slower speeds for safety reasons]. But other than that, we must say the experience was a dream. And considering that only half of the journey was electrified – from Durham to DC we were on slower diesel power – with some investment in upgrading the infrastructure, the journey could be both much quicker and considerably greener.
Staff were courteous, friendly and attentive at all times. Boarding and disembarkation were ridiculously easy when compared to air travel, and the opportunity to get up and walk around, grab a beer in the dining car, and watch the world go by was one hundred times more relaxing than either sitting in traffic or being scrunched up in your seat watching in-flight movies. Interestingly, the train was full, and we overheard a good number of conversations in which people admitted to this being their first time on the train - often citing high gas prices as their reason for trying something different. Could this be the beginning of a rail renaissance in the US?

And while we half wished that the train would have on-board internet, so we could catch up on email, we must admit we quite enjoyed the time away from the inbox – catching up on a little writing, reading up on some reports that had been sitting around for too long, and yes, maybe taking the occasional nap after a cold beer in the lounge car. Thank you AmTrak, we’ll be seeing you again soon.

::AmTrak::via site visit::

Tags: Air Travel | Carbon Emissions | Cities | Commuting | Oil | Tourism | Trains | United States

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