Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Riding the Rails

As I discussed in my post on transport options, I'm hoping to experience as many different modes of transport as possible if I'm lucky enough to get to go to America.  But one absolute must is a trip on Amtrak.  I love train travel at the best of times but a leisurely trip across the unfolding scenery of the American interior sounds incredibly compelling.  Some of my favourite journeys in the UK have been by train and I'm hoping that I can find something as pleasurable as the trip north of York up along the East coast to Edinburgh and Glasgow (on particularly memorable weekend in my second year at university I went down to London for a Friday night then back up to Glasgow for the Saturday night - probably about 8 or 9 hours on a train in total - but I loved it).  This was back in the day of GNER (RIP) which often seemed like a step back in time to a more refined age but the scenery is still as stunning as it ever was - Northumberland is a bit of an unsung gem as far as I'm concerned.  (Looks like it has been covered in Great British Railway Journeys, sorry I missed that). 

Via the ever excellent Man in Seat 61 I'm feeling pretty up to speed on the various options so I'm considering the following trips if I can fit them in;

- Chicago to Seattle.  This is the brilliantly named 'Empire Builder' route all across the rural West of America.  That said, I'm also tempted by the 'California Zephyr' which is billed as one of the best train journeys in the world.  

- Chicago to DC via Cincinnati.  This has a somewhat more prosaic name but still looks like a great route.  

- Detroit to Atlanta.  Not a route so suspect would have to change at least a couple of times but I like the idea of getting a train away from (or in to) Motor City and then travelling away from one of the industrial centres of America and into the deep South.  (And I would get to go on the Wolverine service...!)

Incidentally, via this map of the Amtrak routes, I'm both shocked and not at the same time to learn that there are whole states (eg Wyoming) that appear to have no train services at all.  Can that be right?

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