The Next Golden Age of Rail Travel

In a recent post I highlighted a discussion in which travelers are discussing the relative advantages and disadvantage of traveling on Amtrak – with perhaps a surprising number of advantages listed, particularly by those who commented on the post.

As far as Allan is concerned though, Amtrak is completely out of the question. Albeit that’s because he is planning travel between Sevilla and Barcelona. So, while Amtrak isn’t an option, rail travel is:

Thinking the train is the way to go on this one. Thoughts?

Unlike the direction the Amtrak discussion took, the recommendations are mainly based on scheduling and hassle considerations. Douglas and Frank engage in a particularly interesting and enlightening discussion:

Douglas: You’d save at least 2-3 hours flying. Another factor would be the actual schedule of flights versus trains: would you lose or gain time seeing sights? ie: you’d have to catch a 15:00 train but could take a 19:00 flight. In the former you lose most of the afternoon; the latter you can do something or have a nice lunch before leaving town.

Frank: But you have to show me where you are saving two to three hours by flying. The time is just not there if you consider total time from when you leave your hotel to the time you check in at the next hotel.

Douglas: Sure Frank, it’s easy….


Train: 15 mins taxi to train Station (it’s not in the city center) + 30 mins check in at station + 5.5 hours train ride = 6.25 hours.
Fly: 30 mins taxi to airport + 1 hour check in at airport + 1.5 hour flight + 45 mins to Sants = 3.75 hours

Of course, not everyone is willing to take the scenic component of train travel out of the equation:

I would definitely choose the train and thereby enjoy the travel experience…You will appreciate the change in landscape…orange groves, olive trees from Seville…and as you leave Madrid you will travel through vineyards (Cava grapes) and a completely different terrain. The trains will each have a dining/snack car, and you avoid the hassle of the airport. ~HJ

Might the airlines’ insistence on shoving more and more people into a tube, combined with government and airport security regulations that are creating lengthy pre-departure arrival requirements and ever-increasing annoyances be an opportunity for rail carriers? In the future, will travelers use airlines predominantly for travel over large bodies of water, but revert to trains to cross land?

I don’t have the answers (shocker, I know). But the discussions lead to some interesting questions.

And it sure would be interesting if the golden age of flight eventually leads to the second golden age of rail travel.

Read the thread in its entirety: Train vs Plane?: Sevilla to Barcelona

Image: “El Transcantabrico – Spanish luxury train, Privilege Suite” by Simon Pielow. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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