The United States has the longest rail system in the world. However, over 80% of it is used to haul freight rather than passengers. It’s a sad fact when you consider the benefits of rail travel that most Asian travelers (specifically Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Russian ones) experience throughout their lives. Indeed, nearly 70% of Japan’s population makes use of rail travel even though they have nearly 10 times fewer rail lines than the U.S. Compare that to the U.S.’s 0% — our numbers are so small, we don’t even register! Take a look at some of the best reasons why you should skip the open road, as well as the friendly skies, in 2019 and start traveling by train instead:
It’s Usually Cheaper
Almost all of us have witnessed the seemingly random price fluctuations of airline tickets. Depending on the time of year and even the time of day that you search for flights, you can sometimes notice hundreds of dollars difference in their pricing. Train tickets, on the other hand, are usually relatively stable, with fares remaining constant whether you’re traveling tomorrow or in three months. And, unlike airlines, Amtrak (“the nation’s only high-speed passenger rail provider”) offers discounts for seniors, children and other groups.
It’s Environmentally Better
According to a report published by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the International Union of Railways (UIC), trains produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than both road vehicles and planes. They utilize less physical space and produce less noise than roads. And they are more energy efficient, sometimes carrying hundreds of people versus two or three in a car: one Australian study estimates that trains move 50,000 people each hour while a highway lane only moves 2,500!
Railway travel is also far safer than travel by road or by air. Not only do trains release far less pollutants (thus, safeguarding our health), they also have highly trained operators that undergo rigorous training, making it less likely that fatal accidents occur for their passengers. Statistically speaking, there are more train accidents than plane ones. However, it’s still more likely that as a passenger, you’ll survive one if it happens. Of the 891 train fatalities that occurred in 2013, only 6 of them were passengers. The rest were people caught on the tracks.
Traveling by train in North America can be a fun experience. It allows you the opportunity to relax. You can read a book or sleep, stretch out your legs and walk around the cars and avoid the hassle of airport lines and detailed security checks. It’s also a great way for you to see the country and meet up with friends, relatives and business associates. Lines run through the U.S. and Canada and along the Mexican border. Visit www.pollakimmigration.com for additional information about crossing borders, however, especially if they or you plan on working or staying for longer lengths of time in another country.
Train travel is a great option for people wanting to better the planet and see the world. Try it the next time you set out for parts unknown!