Monday, October 12, 2009

A Short Amtrak Journey

Seeing such scenery was in my mind when I day dreamt about my retirement. I love to travel and visit new places and people. Even with my disabilities, I thoroughly enjoy getting out and about. So, the last week of September I purchased an Amtrak ticket and went to visit a small town in Missouri that reminds me of the Rhineland. The town of Hermann has rolling hills that provide the right climate for growing grapes and this area sports seven wineries. Of course, I went to a wine tasting, but the real purpose of the post is train travel in United States.

I took this photo aboard the Amtrak's River Runner. The train departed Kansas City's Union Station at 7:30 am for the four hour trip to Hermann. The first thing I noticed was the coach car's cleanliest. I can't report that it was spotless, but it was in very good condition and that includes the toilets. My seat was wide and comfortable and the ride superior to the European trains I rode during my visits to the continent. The River Runner name is apt because the rails following the Missouri River and scenes such as the one in the first photo present themselves during the trip. Additionally, this train doesn't have a Dining car, but does have a cafe car with picture window seating and you can find some good snack foods for a reasonable price. Service aboard Amtrak might not be the quality I experienced aboard the Queen Mary II, but it was far better than what I experienced aboard British Rail.

Just so we can compare and contrast the differences, here is a British Rail car. The first impression is that the cars are much more narrow. Same for the seats. Also the ride is harsher and you should bring a pillow or your rear might be a wee bit tired from the journey. British Rail did provide a cafe service and their trains are faster; this one did 125 mph routinely. Cleanliness was about the same as Amtrak in coach, but the toilets were appalling!
I plan to support Amtrak by traveling with them as much as I can. The passenger rail service in the United States was the envy of the world in the 1920's and I for one would like to see its glory return. As I child I read stories of rail travel that made my imagination dance in delight. I am sure many feel the same way as I. Please support our nation's passenger rail service so our children can delight in train travel in the future.