Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Britain by Train

Over at the Times Online you can follow the UK Transportation Minister in his whirlwind tour of Britain by train. He'll be travelling thousands of miles on about 40 different trains over a 70 hour period to survey the services and the landscapes, and I can't think of a better way to introduce the public and tourists to the joys of train travel.

Trains offer a slower and more relaxed way to see a country and get a feel for the land and people, and I'm a big fan of this approach. Last year on the China Trip I took two major train routes across about 1800 miles of China. This gave me a chance to quietly reflect on the trip as I took in a ground level view from Hong Kong to Shanghai and Shanghai to Beijing.

I would have to say that train travel can become boring at times even on interesting routes. Our family trip from Portland Oregon to Minneapolis, MN was enjoyable but I probably wouldn't be inclined to do that often as it's a long haul with minimal services in route. Amtrak, as well as the China trains, fail to provide enough entertainment along the way. This is surprising as I think opening the dining car into a lounge-like atmosphere for 24 hours would probably result in a lot more food and beverage sales, as well as potential tips for servers.

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