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What’s your take on Train travel?

By 12/05/2014writing

Daniel Antion has been a huge supporter of my blog, and I love the way he writes. Honest, straightforward, not a word wasted.

Today, I’m sharing with you one of his posts– he talks about trains, how they add so much meaning to a journey, and I could not agree more.

I hate air travel (which is another way of saying I’m scared of flying), and I find the wait at airports annoying. I’d much rather be moving towards my destination than sitting on a chair waiting to get inside a tin contraption, which, as the MH370 has proved, is not adequately tracked by anybody on the ground.

Trains, now, you could get off a train, you get to watch the scenery, and many more things besides.What your take on train travel? Do you prefer flights to trains?

To tell you the rest about it, here’s Dan’s post.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • When we were young, I can remember my mother taking us on a train ride…
    Every child should go on a train ride at least once in his/her lifetime. It’s something that has stuck with me… πŸ™‚

  • jlennidorner says:

    I’ve only ever been on short train rides for tourists. I had considered taking one across the country to Seattle, but my traveling companion (who is exceptionally tall) took one look at the size of the Amtrak compartments listed on the website and freaked out. The idea of sleeping with knees bent to chest for several days was unappealing enough to cancel the idea.

  • Jen says:

    Lovely post! I do enjoy flying BUT the idea of train travel is so much more romantic. I live in the US and we have little if any really train travel. Sure we have subways and MARTA (here in Georgia) but I so envy people in the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world who have trains. The only time I ever really traveled by train was in India and it was an adventure to say the least! I’d love to do more travel by train. It’s so much more connected to the “here and now” than airplane travel.

  • I rode on a train with my grandparents as a child. It is a trip I still remember. I am not a huge traveler and the older I get the scarier flying seems to be to me. I think everyone should experience a train trip at least once-but more like the scenic ones out West that are a day trip through beautiful scenery, in beautiful cars, with great food and wine πŸ™‚

  • loganbruin says:

    I usta do the 36 hour LA to Seattle Coast Starlight all the time, but in my old age–aka after 30–I find that anything over 4 hours annoys me. The flight to Seattle is 2 hours and I’d rather spend the evening in my fave restaurant than trying to sleep upright. ;o)

  • jknrocks says:

    I personal have only travelled long distances by train, I m a flight virgin. I love the unique experience of looking outside the window and at the same time look inside and marvel the scenario

  • LAMarcom says:

    Well Hell! Why Not?!
    Your blog intrigues me!
    I will be back.
    (Perhaps tomorrow.)
    But just now, I gotta go see a man about a blog….

  • Jacinta says:

    I used to train from Toronto to NY and back to visit my boyfriend, and later my in-laws. Given the price difference, and the ability to actually get up and walk around, I love it. I even get more stuff done since I’m utterly disconnected from the world. Thing is, I have friends who would go stir crazy sitting on a train for 10 hours, and for whom the extra price of a flight is worth the two-hour convenience.

  • monti7 says:

    I’d like to see the Rocky Mountains of Canada by train. People in Virginia like to go to DC by train because of the highway congestion.

    Mary Montague Sikes

  • I’ve not yet gone on a train ride, but I did get to enjoy writing about the history of the trains that used to come through our town. πŸ™‚ Interesting read. Thanks!

  • Love trains, HATE planes. Yes like you I’m rather scared in a plane, so the process of flying is exhausting as I have to work really hard, pretty well the whole flight, to take my mind away from where I am – lots of meditation from boarding to being well aloft, lots of use of Rescue Remedy and the sniffing of calming essential oils, then the absolute MUST of an excellent book which I can get totally immersed in. Works far better than a good and absorbing conversation, as, no matter how good and absorbing I’m aware of where i am – in a cramped tin can above the clouds, with the ground a long long way away.

    Now trains………they hold the possibility of adventure. Far better movies about trains than planes – where the only way to go with a plane movie is disaster – the train movie has all the drama of people getting on and off, – and its sort of like that travelling on a train in real. Trains, (but not underground trains) and travelling by water are the only ways of travelling (other than walking) that I really enjoy. Its because you can get up and walk around, change carriages, hop briefly on and off and you get to see the view in a different way on a train. I love them!

    • Damyanti says:

      in a cramped tin can above the clouds, with the ground a long long way away: that’s exactly how I feel about planes!
      I’m so happy I’m not alone πŸ™‚

  • Sunny says:

    I enjoy train travel specially when i travel with friends, long train journey gives you a good memory. But here you asked about preference and i can’t say that i prefer train over flight as i have not used airways ever..

  • I’ve never been on a long train ride, so I wouldn’t know. I love watching old movies and seeing the characters on these train rides. It looks cramped, yet quaint.

  • Lori Straus says:

    Definitely prefer trains to flying, but in order to get to the train Mecca of the Western World (i.e., Europe), you have to fly. (Can’t stand Green Eggs & Ham, though.)

  • I’m not a big travel person either way, but I do like the idea of looking out the train windows and seeing great landscapes πŸ™‚

  • katiam8 says:

    I’ve never actually been on a train. (shocker!) But I’ve seen pictures and I’ve heard stories… sigh. I would really love to try it someday. The airplane scene gets kinda boring with the same ‘ol clouds every time I go up there.

    • Traint tavel is qualitatively different to plane or bus travel. From, the people that you meet to the reason for travel, its so different. I lived in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney and for quite a few years took the train up and down the mountain into work. I had some great encounters anc not so great experience but all very different to my plane and bus adventures. Next year I want to take The Ghan from Ade,aide to Darwin, through the heart of AΓΉstralia

    • Damyanti says:

      You should try it some time πŸ™‚

  • It’s been ages since I’ve been on a train. I miss the scenery routes of a few trains I took. It’s a relaxing way to refresh one’s mind with new ideas. Flying isn’t bad, but the airport hassle gets to me.

  • I LOVE traveling by train. I wish the US had a rail system as good as Europe does. Then I would travel everywhere by train. More room to walk, you can enjoy the view, more room to sit… you have me wanting to take a train ride now!

  • davidgturner says:

    I have to travel a few times a year for work, mostly by air. That said, I have ridden the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto, and Amtrak between Albany NY and NYC. Also a lot of light rail, which I love, especially the Metro in Paris and the T in Boston. For long distance travel in the USA, though, flying is the only real option. Perhaps this could change if we invested as much in trains as we do in highways for our automobiles, but I don’t think that’s likely.

    • Damyanti says:

      David, that Tokyo -Kyoto trip I took was amazing. I’ve been in metros in various cities, but so far, haven’t taken a liking to any. Singapore isn’t half-bad, though.

  • Andrew says:

    The LA/SF train is going to make the trip in around 3 hours. The intent of it is for commuters. It will be a good thing once it’s running. Although the actual trip will take longer than flying, with all of the associated time it takes to fly, it will cut travel time. The train will also hold more people than an airplane. And planes have a huge carbon footprint; the train’s will be much smaller.

    All that said, I’ve never ridden on a train.

    • Damyanti says:

      You should go ride one at the earliest :). If the flight between two destinations is an hour, and the train is 4 hours, I’d take the train, cos traveling to/from airports (which are usually outside of cities) and the waiting makes the time add up.

  • Frons79 says:

    Well… I do not like trains, at least in my country (which is Italy) and I soon explain why: they’re dirty, old, climate always broken, constantly overbooked and never on time. And the prices, compared to the quality of the service offered, it’s not user friendly at all! If I have to travel within a car-reach width (which, for me, is around 400 Km) I prefer doing it with my car: I leave and I can stop whenever and wherever I want, I have my music and A/C perfectly functioning. If car is not a feasible solution, then here it comes the plane. I have never had any kind of problems with it: easy booking, easy rules. You just need to reach the airport some hours before your gate closes and you’re done.

    • Damyanti says:

      I’ll experience train-travel in Italy one of these days, and must verify what you said. Yes, I love long car-drives, too!

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I love trains, and prefer to take them even on long trips, since the procedures for travelling by plane add so much wasted time to every trip. Plane travel used to be very different – but then I was brought up on stories about flying boats – my dad worked as a station manager for the service πŸ™‚

  • elixired says:

    My mother initially was never comfortable with air-travel! She used to crib about going through planes, missing the landscape views, caves, river sites and journey fun! I love train travels for a day’s journey and planes when journey is longer than a day through train! Trains hold a charm, when you interact with fellow passengers, listen to awesome stories, make memories or else it is the time to be with ourselves away from the world!

  • MiaMusings says:

    While I dont mind flying, I do enjoy train journeys much more. Having travelled extensively in trains during my school and college years in india, I have very fond memories and this is despite the poor condition and over crowding that indian railways is known for. Not to mention the delays! Trains I feel give you so much moee perspective esp if one is travelling in a new country. And you do

  • sandy says:

    I don’t really feel like there is train travel in most areas soooooooooo hard to answer that. Was on a train once years ago in Canada for a day trip, don’t think that counts. And took the train from Toronto to Mont Tremblant to ski long ago. It was……..ok, I guess. Certainly not more then ok. The only thing to eat were so so hotdogs. We did have a wee bity sleep area; but I think it’s a long way from what you see in the movies. I think if there were actually places to travel to via train it might be worth trying again….might. I can’t go to Europe on one though sooo planes get my vote. Road tripping through a-z as I continue to blog a-z in May

  • Harliqueen says:

    I like steam trains πŸ˜€ There’s still one that runs around my area for fun trips.

    Apart from that, I freak out at the speed of trains, and I can’t go near airplanes. So car or horse for me! Though I can understand the love of train travel, the tracks go through some stunning scenery and when it’s not busy I have been told it can be very relaxing.

  • Train travel is much more adventurous, whereas air travel is efficient ☺️

  • lexacain says:

    I’ve traveled by train a few times. I actually did enjoy it more than going by plane (or boat). Plus, there’s the added advantage that you can’t plummet thousands of feet to your death or drown. πŸ˜‰

  • ccyager says:

    I love trains! When I lived in Europe, I rode trains all the time, and really loved the more relaxed time traveling. Flying tenses me, even though I think there are times flying is really the best way to get from point a to point b. Thanks for reposting this! Cinda

  • I am happy to find another member of my royal aviophobia club…I love train travel but I hate the type of toilets in the Indian trains. That kind of puts me off..

  • Kama says:

    Hey, Damyanti. Thanks for visit and following. πŸ™‚
    There is no one answer to your question. “Like trains” where? For what kind of journey? If I have to use bus or train, I prefer train. Because I can walk, stand up and look outside the window and there is more space. I can take my time lazily, especially if there is a restaurant car. Trains are very different in various countries.

    I like planes and even “waiting” five hours in the airport is something fun. I can laze around, see the shops (I can sink in a bookshop for a long time), taste something new, write down journal etc. Every airport has its own “atmosphere”. No view from train (which I love to see too) can beat the time when you see a city (country) from above. I also use the in-flight entertainment to learn more about modern culture (films/music) of the countries I fly to/transit from. Lots of fun things are related to flying. πŸ™‚

    One day I’ll go on the Trans-Siberia train.

  • Bikramjit says:

    UK is a small place, I prefer train travel but the way train works here is something that i wont trust, usually everything works fine but thee is always in the back of my mind that things may go right..

    I do travel my train a lot here but only to places which are not work related as I cant afford being late .

    although the underground in London is one of the best and it is ideal for people like me , park the car on the outskirts and then Take the tube anywhere .. it is so easy

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Given both my grandfathers, my dad and mother, two uncles (both sides of the family) and my older brother all worked for the Australian Railways, I’m stuck with it. Trains are like another home to me. But I’m not very familiar with many trains outside my own country. I was however, very impressed with the London-Paris train trip when I tried it a few years ago.

  • mgm75 says:

    I have rarely taken a very long distance train ride – the only one was an overnighter from Luxor to Cairo in Egypt. I did it because it was cheaper than a flight and I really wanted to see the Egyptian countryside. I always prefer train rides to coaches/buses and will always use rail if I can get away with not needing the car wherever I am going. Luckily in the UK, that is far easier if you are travelling to a big city. You can spend all day somewhere and not worry about parking charges.

  • I’d prefer to travel by train rather than AC coaches or air any day. I love travelling in the sky but not a fan of air travel since there is lil u can do,except sitting and getting bored..hehe

  • I’ve always loved travelling by train. My most mixed journey was taking the train from Istanbul to Malatya in the middle of Anatolian Turkey. The good bits were great the bad bits were awful. The train was so slow, and the facilities so bad, in the end I had to get off and catch a bus From Kayseri for the last stage of the journey, as it was much quicker and more direct. Still love trains more than any other form of transport though.

  • Beloo Mehra says:

    As much as I enjoy a good train ride, there are some aspects of train travel in India that I am not particularly fond of (which is why I end up using more flights than trains for longer distances and buses/cars for shorter distances). Indian railways could really use some serious upgrades – starting with a way to keep toilets in the trains clean.

  • Trains: love ’em! I had a great train journey last year return Madrid-Barcelona. Here in Spain, the most usual form of long distance travel is the bus, but occasionally, when you’re feeling frivolous, you may take a train. This was the high speed AVE. The outward journey was great; serene, comfortable, beautiful scenery through the window. But the return was something else completely. I’d unknowingly booked my seat in 1st class! (price comparison sites and at the time of travel it happened to be the cheapest option … unbeknownst to me until I boarded). When I found my seat it was like a journey in heaven! Amazing! Food, wine, luxury … πŸ™‚
    On the other hand, flying: HATE it! I know supposedly it’s the safest way to travel, etc. etc., but I am a bag of nerves before a flight! And it’s always so uncomfortable, as you’re herded aboard and squeezed into your economy space between hand luggage and over-enthusiastically packed carrier bags of duty-free!
    Trains, the way to go!

  • INSIGHTS says:

    I have loved the train travels. Mostly cos of the friendships that happen on the train, Every long journey on a train has gifted us the opportunity to meet some lovely people, and some really nice friendships as well, each one a story of its own.. Perhaps the comment tab is a little small for me to talk about it now. Maybe some day over a post :).. But the train journeys are always great amount of fun :).

    Thanks for resurfacing a few memories. Does bring a smile on the face πŸ™‚

  • Pradip says:

    Until and unless you have a very tight schedule and urgency Air travel is boring and wastage of time. You see and if so want can interact with co-passengers and passing by nature.

  • Peter Nena says:

    I think a train is better than a plane any day. Myself I am terrified of flying.

  • Shanna says:

    I love trains. There’s just something about sitting in the train car, watching the world go by, that makes trains so fun.

    • Damyanti says:

      If we have the time, I think train travel beats air travel any day. I think whether we have time is the problem.

  • samokan says:

    I love it and I felt so lucky that I am currently living in a country,Japan, which has one of the best Train service in the world.
    Next would be to travel cross country by train , hopefully someday πŸ™‚

    • Damyanti says:

      I’m so thrilled so many folks who live in japan are stopping by to comment. I have some Japan-related posts on this blog, and hope to add more some day.

    • Kama says:

      I loved having the JRPass and travelling various trains, from local to Shinkansen across Japan. I love Japanese trains, and surely I’ll do one day a post on them. I took lots of photos inside and outside trains. πŸ˜€ Am I the only one?

      • samokan says:

        Unfortunately , I can’t use the JR pass ,I can use the seasonal pass called 18-kippu. I can only use local and rapid trains, longer travel but the view is really amazing.

        Yes I have several pictures , I have posted them in my blog πŸ™‚

        • Kama says:

          Thanks for info. I’ll check it out. πŸ™‚

        • Damyanti says:

          Yes, I believe the JR pass is only for tourists– we used it when we were in Japan as well, but it doesn’t work for all train lines in the city.

          • samokan says:

            No , you can only use it for all JR trains but not on private lines. It’s very useful though when you are transferring often from one prefecture to the other, save you lots of money and time. But if you are only staying in 1 city it’s not advisable. Getting the day passes would be much cheaper

  • el34ax7 says:

    Well, I see Japan’s trains have been covered, but one really can’t say enough about them. As a bloke living in Japan, it’s incredibly freeing to be able to take a train to almost anywhere in the country. You get to avoid the headaches from bad drivers, the struggle to find parking, and the high cost of gas! In return, the train gives you the opportunity to see the countryside without the threat of running your car into strangers. Additionally, many of the rural trains in Japan travel through areas that are absolutely exquisite; areas you wouldn’t normally be able to see from the road.


    • Damyanti says:

      Yes, we took the train trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, another to Hakone. We loved both– Japan is such a beautiful country– the countryside, as you mention, is divine.

      And the last part that you spoke about– where a train traveler gets to see the hidden beauty of a country? I couldn’t agree more.

      • el34ax7 says:

        Ah, my first shinkansen was from Kyoto to Tokyo; it was enchanting. Up hear in the Tohoku region, the rides during winter are just… well, everybody should see it! πŸ™‚

        • Damyanti says:

          Which part is Tohoku? Never heard of it. Have so far only done the touristy bits I’m afraid, and that too, not all!

          • el34ax7 says:

            Well, I actually live in the Fukushima Prefecture in an old samurai town called Aizu-Wakamatsu. A few years ago I lived in Yokote in the Akita Prefecture. Tohoku is the northern part of the main island, Honshu. This area is filled with pine tree covered mountains and snow-capped ranges all around. If you’ve seen “My Neighbor Totoro” you have a rough idea of what the area looks like in spring and summer.

            It’s such a gorgeous area, and we’re all doing our best to help revitalize the area after the disaster. Aizu is actually the place that the samurai made their last stand against the Meiji restoration (their castle stronghold prominent outside of my window).

            I try not to pimp my blog, but I do have some photos of the cherry blossoms if you’re interested. Just scroll past the poetry! Honestly though, Japan’s northern countryside is absolutely breathtaking.

            • Damyanti says:

              I’ve been fascinated by samurai– been to the Odawara castle, and strolled along the Cedar walk between Moto-Hakone and Hakone-machi– 420 cedar trees planted by Tokugawa Ieyasu around 1618!
              You should definitely pimp your blog– why not? Why don’t you link me to your posts you think I should read? πŸ™‚

              • el34ax7 says:

                Sticking with the Japan theme, I would suggest starting here:

                This page has some of the things I’ve written about life in the “Prefecture of Infamy” as well as some photos of cherry blossoms and the castle.

                I write a lot of nature poetry and am never lacking for inspiration here. πŸ˜€


  • I am much more of a plane person myself, and it may sound strange but I enjoy sitting in the airport waiting for my flight and people watching. However, I would love to take a cross country train trip one day! I do plan to take a shorter trip sooner, hopefully this summer.

    • Damyanti says:

      I love people watching– I’m a writer after all. But something about airports ticks me off– I hate the transitory nature of it, and I can feel the anxiety of others build within me. Or perhaps it is my own anxiety.

      I have my own train travel plans this year– hope they materialize!

  • The only real train I’ve taken is the bullet train in Japan. I live in Texas. Train travel isn’t that commonplace. I’d love to try out Amtrak though.

    • Damyanti says:

      The Shinkansen are pretty amazing, aren’t they? And yes, I’ll definitely take the Amtrak if an opportunity presents itself.

  • Birgit says:

    I understand people when they need to get somewhere fast and a plane is quicker and one can’t use a train to go across the ocean but I love trains! I agree with you-there is something romantic about them and exciting. It could be the movies I watched where trains figured highly in them from Murder on the Orient Express, the Lady Vanishes to The Train. I love riding trains in Europe and here because one can relax, have room, talk and enjoy the moment. When I have to use a plane so be it but when I don’t I love the train

    • Damyanti says:

      Yes, romantic and exciting is how I’d sum it up. On a vacation, I think it is one of the best ways to see a country if you don’t have enough time to make it to the non-touristy destinations.

      Yep, sad bit is we can’t take trains over oceans (though China is planning one under the ocean) — I somehow feel more ‘grounded’ when on trains lol

  • California wants to build a train that goes from LA to SF. That’s 700+ miles, 7 hours even at 100 mph. I wonder how many people would ride it? I would once, for fun, but you can’t commute on it.

    That’s my thoughts on trains.

    • Damyanti says:

      But do folks commute between LA and SF on a regular basis?

      • You bet. I have taken the slow train called “Coast Starlight” and found it relaxing. I got lots of work done and enjoyed the views… ah had we but world enough and time” as Andrew Marvel wrote.

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