The first train ride that I can remember was on an old steam train in Carver, Massachusetts, at what was considered at the time to be an amusement park. Train tracks divided the town in which I grew up outside of Boston (wealthy folks were evenly distributed on each side), but I do not recall ever riding a train into Boston. I did use the MTA a few times from the next town, once it was built. My last trip on a train in the United States (other than Disneyland) was from Boston to New York in the ’90’s. The wagon was dilapidated and the tracks were is such bad condition, that walking could have been faster. It was a bad choice.
I have been a frequent user of trains in Europe. The German trains have always been good and keep getting better. For trips up to five hundred miles, I prefer them to air travel. They are more comfortable, less hassle, and fast. The high-speed trains get you to your destination much faster. Besides Switzerland and France, other trains in Europe are less good, but still a decent means of transportation.
A recent article in Vanity Fair outlines the state of the art of train travel, as it is practiced in China. Once again, the United States is put to shame, and even Europe is gawking.
The Chinese have done something unthinkable in the United States: provided a modern means of transportation in a few short years. The ethics that won World War II, build the interstate system (now badly in need of revitalizing), and put men on the moon is not possible with current form of government and public attitudes. Even if the government wanted to build and/or improve railroads, states are able to block any program. Nothing gets done, with political parties trying to block all progress and no one willing to spend money on anything that might benefit someone else.
Of course, China is blatantly criticized for being “communist”, which is like Chris Griffin’s Evil Monkey in the closet. But, that country has shown the way to the Beacon of....(fill in the blank with your favorite moniker) on how to get things done for the good of society. It should be enough to give the biggest egomaniac an inferiority complex, especially when one realizes that the only counter is politician’s posturing. Unfortunately, US schools teach that there are no losers. I feel sorry for the children too late that they indeed can lose and that their country has lost out in the world.
NB. Criticisms are meant to point to a better way. Unfortunately, with the current greed-driven system, there is little chance of “better”....except in China.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.