Thursday, January 7, 2016


Why I don't
Travel by train


I'M PLANNING A three day trip to NOLA, Crescent City, The Big Easy, a/k/a New Orleans.

I REALLY like to travel on the rails. When I visit the kin overseas I usually travel by train. There the trains are clean, run on time, are generally comfortable, and have free Wi-Fi that I don't use. (Even some buses have free Wi-Fi - that I don't use.)

But in America - I travel by car or plane.

For short (4 or 5 hours on the road) trips, the car is fine. I have transportation when I get to my destination, and there are no hassles with TSA and I don't have to be at the airport 2 hours before my flight - assuming the flight (a) arrives on time and (b) departs on time. Sitting for hours on the tarmac is not something I enjoy, either. Been there, done that.

But, since the Spouse dislikes sitting in the car for "n" hours and since the distance between my southern Florida residence and NOLA is somewhat more than 5 hours distant, we are flying.

Strictly FYI. We booked everything - flight, hotel, and rental car - using the Spirit Airlines web site.The bottom line - $550 - was less expensive than booking via Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, and similar sites.

But because I like trains more than planes (not true, I LOVE light planes - 2 to 12 set aircraft), I checked out Amtrak.

To ride the rails from my town to NOLA and back would cost me - economy class a/k/a "Value" in Amtrak-speak - a few cents less than $540. Then I would need to book lodging and rental car. Remember, for $550 - roughly $10 more than the just train fare - I booked air fare, lodging, and rental car.

The Spirit flight from FLL to MSY is scheduled for 2 hours and 5 minutes (plus two plus hours to get to the airport, park the car, and get to the departure gate). The flight back - MSY to FLL - is only1 hour and 43 minutes.

Granted, Spirit's Airbus A320 is not as comfortable as a train, but for two hours I can tolerate sitting inside the tube. The flight overseas is much longer and no more comfortable.

Not only would Amtrak do more damage to the budget, but by the time we got to NOLA the three-day mini-cation would be over.

It seems that the "used to be" Amtrak map had a train from south Florida to Jacksonville and from Jacksonville another train to NOLA. But no more. The current map, downloaded from the Amtrak site, is below; note you can't get there (NOLA) from here (southern Florida) by rail.

There WAS a route from Jacksonville FL to NOLA back in 1971. When and why that stretch of rail was abandoned by Amtrak is beyond me; perhaps storms made the route unsafe or perhaps it wasn't profitable - but aside from a very few routes, what Amtrak routes ARE profitable?

For all that, there's something appealing about riding trains with famous names. The run to NOLA has portions on the Silver Meteor (FL_DC), the Capitol Limited (DC-Chicago, and finally. famous in an Arlo Guthrie song, Post a Comment