“When I have a feeling I know it. Trains, love them. Swordfish, I love them too – they’re fish with a sword for a nose.”
-Dr. Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory
Like any conductor or small child, I get excited every time I see a train. Something about their ability to travel where cars can’t just makes me bubble to my core. Add in the comfy seats, a constant view, and an entire set of hats dedicated to traveling by rail, and I can barely control myself.
When the obsession started, I’m not sure – although I do remember taking a train ride for a young-ish birthday. Then again, I also hosted Barbie, slumber party, and Playdoh-themed b-day events – none of which I would still associate myself with. Anyway, somewhere along my aging process, the love of railway rooted itself in deep and stayed put – much like a pin that keeps limb bones from falling loose.
This insistence, however, has created a constant nagging … one that tells how efficient traveling could be. Every time I watch the Darjeeling Limited, Water for Elephants, or hear about the monstrosity that is “Thomas” the Train, I wonder where we went wrong. Why doesn’t the U.S. have an extensive railway system? Instead of a driver’s license or spending billions of fuel each month, townspeople could hop on the morning train and be whisked away to exotic locations, like work or the grocery store.
Sure these trains would be expensive to build, but that’s all the more reason it should have been done 60 years ago, when labor and parts were dirt cheap. The government (or a private sector, I’m not picky) could have got the job done for a fraction of what it’ll cost today. Slacking is expensive.
Then, once said systems were put in place, even rural destinations could enjoy quick rides, whether they be traveling 10 minutes or 10 states away. Unlike highways, which require upkeep, toll fees, and intersections, trains would be far cheaper and faster. Cargo can be hauled to cut back on costs, direct lines could be created to avoid extra, unneeded miles. And these trains would be high-speed ones … I’m talking Unstoppable fast, just safer. There’d be none of this AmTrack crap where destinations take 70+ hours when costing as much as flying. Who do they think they’re trying to kid?
In case you’re wondering, I’d also vote for a platform 9 ¾.
As the crow flies (which is probably what I’d name my engine), these trains would save on fuel costs,* reduce ozone killers, and offer some much needed people watching during commutes. Also, cars are dangerous; if I could knit while driving, I’d already be doing it.
Besides, who doesn’t want to run into a nice hobo looking for a free ride? Who isn’t the least bit curious as to whether or not trains can actually provide time travel? And really, who doesn’t want to run through a train station while looking at their pocket watch? We’re only a shoeshine, a newspaper stand, and an “all aboard!” from finding out.
* Hey San Diego, I hear you’re sitting at $4.66 a gallon. How’s that?