Human beings are naturally nomadic. It is true that we “evolved” into a more sedentary structure, but deep down we all have the call to travel. We like to move around and see other places and other people, to explore…
I love to travel, I actually just work for it. Well… after I pay for the apartment, bills and food. But it is my main goal. It is what I live for. Any opportunity I have to travel and go somewhere I never been before (and in some very specific cases, revisit one or two I love) I take the opportunity.
A couple of days ago I was talking to a friend about travelling, and specifically how to travel. Like me, he is not very keen on flying, and we agree that travelling on the ground is so much better. I am perfectly aware that planes are faster and for people who have jobs and limited holiday time, it would be impossible to take certain trips without travelling by air. I went from Portugal (Europe) to Malaysia for a month in December, and it took me over 18 hours (15 of them were flight hours) to get there and the same to get back. If it wasn’t for that I would only have spent 3 or 4 days there because the rest of the month would probably have been spent in land travelling. On the other hand two years ago, I did over 3000 miles (4000 kilometers) in a 1989 car over Europe in about 1 week and half with 2 friends, and it was as tiresome as it was great. So, I’ll get that out of the way, air travel is convenient, but is it better? No! It’s not. It doesn’t compare to travelling by land, especially by my favorite means of land transportation, the good old reliable train.
Obviously it would be different all over the world, but I think one thing is common everywhere, there is a certain magic to travel by train, isn’t it? That’s why we still have them. Think about it, trains have been in a way “surpassed” by all the other transportation means. Ships still exist because their only competition is the airplane, and airplanes are very common these days, but the train was “overtaken” by the private car and motorbike, and in long distance the airplane again, however they didn’t have the same destiny as the horse and carriage. We still use them. There is a certain charm to trains that make them keep going, and getting better and more evolved.
Trains are still used in every type of travel, and more often than not a faster and more economical alternative. It shouldn’t even be an alternative they should be the main option. I travel a lot, sometimes on work, sometimes for fun, not as much as I would like to unfortunately though. For instance I have to occasionally go to the north of England on work and instead of going by car after arriving at a London airport I take trains. It’s cheaper and it takes about an hour and a half less than by car. If I have to take a trip within Portugal I go by train whenever possible. Again the price is more often than not cheaper and it’s a lot more comfortable.
Let’s consider some of the ways train travel is better than flying, shall we?
Trains are comfortable. I’m not talking about the commutes we take to work on a daily basis, I’m talking about the longer distance ones. Even with a less expensive ticket, unlike in airplanes, we have room, to stretch our legs while sitting, and above all properly sit instead of squeezing into the arm rests to have a sit. And not only that, we can stand up whenever we want, walk around, with the worries of turbulence or having to fasten a seat belt, we can play board games, we can have electronic devices on at any time, and other things I consider comfortable such as not having to go through airport security, no limitations on weight (other than what you can carry) or what you want to take with you, and only having to be at the train a few minutes before it departs.
Trains are safer than planes, the number of dead passengers in train accidents, opposed to plane accidents is considerably less. There are figures on that, look it up.
There are no classes in trains:
Ok, there are… we can buy a first or economy class ticket, that’s true, but once we are there, everyone mingles, if we feel like walking around in the train we can go anywhere, I’ve done it more than once. There is no little curtain separating the “commoners” from the “other ones” and if we do go to the first class carriages, there will be no one saying we can’t be there (unless we sit in seat we shouldn’t) or look at us with contempt. At least I never had that experience. The dining room is usually common, so if we go there, we can talk to whoever is there regardless of class or social status and meet interesting new people. Which is another thing, people on long range trains are usually not stressed about when they’ll arrive at their destination, it is a trip to be enjoyed in its own time, so that’s what we have in trains, time to enjoy the company of others, to talk, to meet, or just to be alone and read or whatever we want to do.
It’s actually travelling and trains are beautiful:
In a train, we actually travel, and get to see amazing views, just look at some of these places that some trains go through. If not by train, how would we see this? In a plane? And trains are aesthetically beautiful. From steam engines to Maglevs.
And so are train stations:
I won’t even go into the fact that they are inside the cities instead of in the middle of nowhere, they look like this! Doesn’t matter if they are old or new, train stations are always gorgeous.
This last one is my favourite, Rossio Train Station in Lisbon. And it is only for commute trains not long distance ones.
And finally trains are romantic…
I know, I know… but think about it, how many romantic encounters or heart breaking missed encounters in cinema happen in train stations? And in airports? Trains always win! So to finish, a little train station moment for you:
(Subtitles in Greek but I couldn’t find another version)
Last argument that trains are better? How can you get to Hogwarths? Train.
*pics up mic*
So, how about you? What is your favorite transportation? Anything in the future of travel that you are looking forward to?