Living in the South, it’s easy to forget that traveling by train is a legitimate form of travel. Down here, we basically use trucks, SUVs, and four-wheelers to get everywhere we’re going. Ok, some people have sedans, but by and large, it’s the other three. We don’t even think about trains.
Which is a shame, because in the rest of the world, people basically couldn’t live without trains.Trains are probably one of the best forms of transportation around, and you don’t really realize it until you ride on one. Trains come in all sorts of sizes, uses, and speeds. In the USA, most train users are sequestered to large cities: New York, Seattle, Chicago. In the rest of the world, trains go pretty much everywhere. Best of all, they’re usually highly affordable, fast, and really dependable.
In some parts of the world, they’re basically the only way to get from point A to B. In other places, they’re just flat out amazing, and in some places, they’re both amazing and the only way to get from point A to B.
For example, Canada has a really awesome rail line called The Rocky Mountaineer. Aside from having basically the coolest name I’ve ever heard of, the train passes through some of the most beautiful locations in the Canadian Rockies. It boasts a glass roof, so you can see 360-degree views. Train tracks have a much smaller footprint than a regular highway too, so it feels like you’re gliding through the Rockies on glass.
Which is another amazing feature of trains: they’re really smooth. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding a train in Europe, you’ll know how extremely comfortable and low stress they are. Instead of fighting traffic, when you take a train, all you do is hop in and go. You don’t worry about accelerating and braking, and you definitely don’t have to worry about Sunday drivers. With a train, you just get in, sit down, relax, and enjoy the trip. Since you’ll never sit in traffic on a train, even the slow trains are faster than driving.
But not all trains are slow. Maglev (Magnetic levitation) trains are a futuristic technology that exists here and now. Using magnets to propel the train and make it hover over its tracks, Maglev trains are mind-blowingly fast. China has a Maglev train that scoots around at an unbelievable 270 mph. The most amazing thing is that, since the train doesn’t have any moving parts, and it doesn’t actually touch its tracks, it’s smoother than basically any other transportation in the world.
The truth is, In the rest of the world, trains are the best way to get around.
I’ve ridden the I.C.E. train in Germany a couple of times. Reaching a max speed of around 180 mph, it’s much faster than driving--even on the Autobahn’s no speed limit sections. It’s also luxurious! It has a food cart, places to sleep, and much comfier seats than airplanes. And they have way more legroom than cars! There are pretty much no downsides to train transportation.
When you hop on a train, a mostly nice person comes around occasionally to check your ticket, and that’s about it. You don’t suffer through TSA lines, and you can move around pretty freely. Walk around, do some yoga, whatever. Trains are great. There aren’t any special instructions, either. Just drop your suitcase at the door, bring a couple of books, and kick your feet up.
That’s all it takes to ride a train.
I would give pretty much anything to have a robust train system here in the USA. To be able to hop on a train to visit my family in Atlanta instead of braving I-75 would be a Godsend. And it’s not like we don’t have the tracks. They’re everywhere! We just don’t really use them, unfortunately.
Train riding is much easier, lower stress, faster, and smoother than pretty much every form of transportation that we use in the USA. From highly scenic mountain trains to super-fast Maglevs, the rest of the world knows what’s up.
If you haven’t ridden on a decent train yet, I highly recommend it. In Europe, it’s the best way to get around, hands down!