Monday, January 12, 2015

Trains (Japan, Europe, the U.S.)

This was in response to a friend who wrote that the Amtrak carrying her son from Seattle, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon, was 3 hours late.

I feel so spoiled in Japan where, except for delays caused by heavy snow in winter, the trains are generally on time to the minute.  I recall going from Paris to SW France where friends were waiting for me. The train was 5 minutes late (!), and they exclaimed, "The train is on time!"

As for Amtrak, I ended up waiting in a Boston suburb for my mother for a good two hours. Fortunately the weather was not that bad, but the station had no waiting room or attendant, so there was no way of knowing when the train would arrive except for a single station phone on which I finally got someone.

Another time, when I was going to take Amtrak to Chicago from a yoga retreat, I took a cab to the platform in Lenox, Massachusetts.  In this case there was a glassed-in waiting area but, again, no attendants.  There happened to be an older couple in the parking lot, who perhaps had come to wait for someone, and they told me the train wouldn't be coming through Lenox that day.  I had no way of knowing.

They were kind enough to take me to the local bus station, where I was able to get a bus to Cleveland within an hour or so, and then transfer in the middle of the night to a bus for Chicago.  I got there at about the same time I would have if I had gone by Amtrak.

Both of those were several years ago, and it seems as though Amtrak hasn't improved since.