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Riding a Train

May 2nd, 2005, 08:28 PM
Has anyone taken a long trip on a train... is it way better than a car?
I am having an arguement (a friendly one) with my father in law. We go to the state bowling tournament every year and next year it is in Pittsburgh which is about 8 hours away, maybe more. He thinks it's only 5 hours away. I went to the Amtrak website and from here to Pitt, it's 7.5 hours by train. So he's obviously wrong, but he still wants to drive.
Also if you're normally carsick, does that include trains too?
I told him I'm not going if we go by car, train I will...
I've never been on a train like this before and don't know what to expect, can you get up or do you have to stay seated?? I hope these aren't dumb questions... :o
The trip is a year away... we actually just went for this year, but he's still arguing about it now :)
Flying is out of the question... it's 300$ for 4 round trip tickets by train and he's already throwing a hissy about that. (he keeps saying he can drive there cheaper)

May 2nd, 2005, 09:26 PM
I've taken the train for a long trip and a car for an 8 our trip.

The decision to take the train vs. a car is really dependent upon your comfort level with the public. By this I mean that you have to be willing to have rowdy children sitting near you, annoying snorers, be stuck in an aisle seat with no window and be comfortably able to use the on train washroom if you've gotta go before your trek is done.

Here in Canada you cannot exit your train if it is a direct route with no layovers so if you can't see yourself using the on train washroom you may not want to go this route. The washrooms are gross if you ask me, which is why I just avoid drinking on the train! You also can't get off to smoke if you need to--SOME of the train ppl will let you if you pester enough, but I've only seen that work maybe 1 in 100 times.

On the bright side of train travel, you get more leg room, you can walk around for a few minutes if you need to stretch your leg, you can all sleep, read, listen to music, eat food and relax for the entire trip!!! My preference is the train!

May 2nd, 2005, 09:28 PM
I have taken the train from my home to Montreal - a few yrs ago now and occassionally from NB to Halifax. The Montreal trip is essentially an 8 hr trip and is not that bad since it's at night and you can obtain a berth or a roomette to sleep or even sleep in your seat. I have travelled in the day to Halifax or back and it has been fine. You can walk around and they even have movies on trains now. You can plug in your laptop (no internet tho unless you use your cellphone and Pocket PC which I admittedly did). And VIA Rail at least offers free newsapers and news magazines and Sports Illustrated, lol I think you would enjoy the train. YY has also taken the train and enchanted everyone on the thing - they all fell in love with her!!

Cactus Flower
May 2nd, 2005, 11:10 PM
In Germany we took trains EVERYWHERE. I loved them!

I don't know how the trains in the U.S are, to be honest. Never been on one here. If you calculate in the cost of gas, is it cheaper to take the train? If so, maybe you can approach him on that level, if you think that might get through to him.

I'd take the train, just for the experience, though!

May 3rd, 2005, 07:20 AM
Thanks for your opinions!! I should print this out for him!

It probably would cost more to go by train only because we'd also need to rent a car for 4 days also.
I'd like to go on the train just because I never have and I think it would be cool, also I get carsick and I think a train would be different... they know I won't be going by car and my MIL won't stand for that cause when they bowl, we go to the bar... and she won't do that alone.

May 3rd, 2005, 09:59 AM
Actually...the train says it's 7.5 hours, and it may actually be longer than driving as your FIL says.
I have taken the train and driven from Toronto to Ottawa. You can drive to Ottawa in about 3.5 hours, and the train takes about 5-6 hours (depending on how many stops it takes). FIL might be right that driving is shorter.

I suggest you go to, go to driving directions, and plug in where you live and where you are going and it will show you the shortest driving route, how many miles/km it is and how long it should take.

I use mapquest all the time. My BF's friend is getting married and we used mapquest to see the route between the church and reception. He said that it was 1.5 hours away but it was only 45 min.

May 3rd, 2005, 11:13 AM
Yep, the train is always longer. But the advantages I have found on the train are that i can actually work on the train - can't do that and drive at the same time. I do wish we had better train schedules in Canada. In Europe, there are trains going everywhere ALL the time - they really support public transportation. We love our vehicles too much I am afraid and are contrivbuting to all those greenhouse gas emissions, sigh!!! Can you appeal to him on environmental grounds? lol :)

May 3rd, 2005, 11:26 AM
Personally, I think the neat thing about the train is that you get to go through parts of the country side you don't get to drive through. If you are going straight through, the train would probably be more interesting. If you are going to take your time, and possibly stop in places along the way, nothing beats a good road trip!

May 3rd, 2005, 11:40 AM
I've gone from TO to Montreal on VIA, and TO to Brockville a few times, plus commuting between Oshawa and St Kitts at holiday times.

I prefer being able to read without making myself ill... It is a less stressful trip on the train, and I always enjoy packing reading material, munchies, etc. But the person who mentioned screaming kids is right, I have had great trips on the train and awful ones with kids kicking seats and stuff.

May 3rd, 2005, 12:02 PM
CK--you must take VIA 1--first class because in the economy class there are no plugs at your seats, no free magazines and newspaper and pay as you eat food!! ;)

I take the train one to two times a month--and have for years now--and had the chance to ride in both first class and economy class. For those of us on a budget, the economy class, though void of the (I hesitate to say) freebies, is basically the same. You save money by not paying for the "free" food, plugs, magazines and newspapers.

May 3rd, 2005, 12:31 PM
I take economy in the Maritimes (there are no other choices - unless you opt for a berth or bedroom which makes no sense on a daytime trip -in VIA Preference even tho I get the so called discount tix for routes in the Upper Canada corridor, they do me no good because I will fly that far!). The newspapers are available throughout the train and electrical outlets are available in a couple cars - certainly not at one's seat. It works for me and is inexpensive. I don't think it is different in other parts of Canada - I have admittedly met others on the train who were unaware of where to find that stuff. And I never buy food on the train. I bring my own!

May 3rd, 2005, 01:41 PM
Ah yes! That makes more sense now! You are in a different corridor. The trains are different in the Windsor-Montreal corridor than yours. Via is slowly changing the trains here over to reflect the style of the one's you travel on!!

For now--economy class traveller's have no perks! A woman just last week had to beg the on board staff to allow her to plug her phone into their coffee maker jack! The staff were not nice and simply told her that the plugs are only available on first class cars! OUCH!

May 3rd, 2005, 01:56 PM
Oh my! That sounds horrid. If I were her, I would complain to VIA very strongly. Tho, the one time I complained about why they send me worthless rix, the customer service agent snarkily suggested I take a trip to that corridor. I want something I can use in the Maritimes!

That said, the VIA people on the Ocean have been great to me. One of the head conductors is the grandfather of a patient and he is super to me. For example, when I was travelling from Halifax to Moncton last winter and was ill with pneumonia, he found me a bedroom even tho I had not paid for one. And they went above and beyond the call to help with YY!

May 3rd, 2005, 02:07 PM
Wow they sound nice out there!

The trains in this corridor--that cut through to Ottawa--don't even allow pets. There are a few *I think* that will let you make the trek with a pet if you travel from Toronto to Montreal, but the animal goes in a luggage car, which are only on very very few trains here.

May 3rd, 2005, 02:15 PM
I checked mapquest and it is less time by car from here to the Pitt train station but there are no stops on the train ride, as far as I know.

Last year we went somewhere that was only 4 hrs by car and I about died... and then on the way home there was an accident and it took nearly 8 hours!! I can't deal with that again... even the 4 was tough.

I guess my mind is made up... train it is! :)
I'd like to see what first class is and how much, but I didn't see anything about it on their site.

May 3rd, 2005, 02:22 PM
Sneaky, I think the train trip is a great choice! I think you will love it! :)