This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

My carbon footprint is going to be terrible this year, thanks to all kinds of airplane travel I’ve been taking for work.  One trip I’ve been looking forward to is a trip to Havre, MT.  Havre is a perfect train destination, since it’s over 3 hours to the nearest major airport and you actually save money travelling there in a sleeper car from Seattle.  The flight schedules make it so you even save time by train, since I’d have to stay in a hotel in Great Falls before flying home.  I’d be able to walk to my hotel, and enjoy the beautiful view of Glacier National Park on my trip.

But they’re out of sleeper cars for my trip in both directions.  And not just the big ones, they’re also out of the little “cabinettes”.   The tragedy is that it would be such a small incremental cost to add a few sleeper cars.  It would cost almost no extra fuel, little extra capital since the rails have already been built and a sleeper car can’t be hard to build.  But for lack of a bed I’m skipping the train and flying – and I’m sure I’m not alone.

6 Replies to “We need more trains”

  1. Well, you sure as he** are not going to win your merit badge that way. Ride coach, stock up on little bottles well before the bar closes, and then around 11 go back and check the high level lounge. I never had anyone bother me when I spent a *few hours* there admiring the night and the railroad.

    In fact, they’ve made great efforts to make it possible to sleep in coach. Shall those go unheralded? I say no!

  2. Absolutely! It’s been many years but my memories of sleeping in coach on cross-country Amtrak are not bad at all.

  3. Yeah, I feel a bit guilty for flying, and my green limit probably should be higher (I’d also love to be vegan, but would miss cheese too much). But one of the least comfortable sleeping experiences I’ve had was International travel. Sure, you have much more room on a train, but it’s still sleeping in a chair along with 30 of your closest friends. I’d do it if I were trying to save money, but comparing it to a hotel room and a short flight… In an *enjoyable experience* fight between hotel in Montana and a cabinette on a train, the cabinette wins hands down. In my mind the coach seat doesn’t. It’s certainly possible that’s just because I haven’t done it.

    Anyway, they would have had me by adding a bed. That doesn’t sound like the most expensive or difficult thing to do.

  4. Well, you know, we pass this way but once. My life has a lot more “train rides I should have taken” in it than “train rides I took”.

    I always tried to schedule over-nighters for the full moon. Going past Mt Shasta in the moonlight will make a believer of you.

  5. Unfortunantly, as it is apt to do, Congress is doing all it can to get it’s fingers into Amtraks pie. Instead of focusing on expanding and improving existing routes, money is instead diverted to reanimating cancelled low demand lines like the Pioneer.

Comments are closed.