Real yanks don’t like trains

August 30, 2013

Residents of the United States really don’t like travelling by train, reports The Economist. Stats abound to prove how different US train travel is from elsewhere:

When you adjust for population, the disparity is even more shocking: per capita, the Japanese, the Swiss, the French, the Danes, the Russians, the Austrians, the Ukrainians, the Belarussians and the Belgians all accounted for more than 1,000 passenger-kilometres by rail in 2011; Americans accounted for 80. Amtrak carries 31m passengers per year. Mozambique’s railways carried 108m passengers in 2011.

Aside from the obvious explanation (America is just so darn big) there are a number more interesting, including most of the track being owned by freight companies, meaning passenger trains get second class status, often delayed by their freighty competitors for trackspace. And, inevitably, train travel has become political, with President Obama backing investment in high speed, thus making opposition to rail the natural Republican stance.

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They who dare to commute

January 24, 2013

It’s delicious when a Big Company inadvertently reveals its true attitude towards its customers, thus confirming what everyone suspected all along. I spotted this corker today, on the ‘First’ ‘Great’ Western website explaining the delays bank holiday train travellers will encounter thanks to the ‘most intensive phase’ of work to overhaul Reading station, beginning this Easter:

Services from Bristol Temple Meads and South Wales into and out of London will be diverted via Banbury, adding around 1h 30mins to journeys.

However Passenger Focus research shows they prefer this to buses.

Customers travelling from the West of England may find it quicker to travel into London Waterloo.


Social commuting?

July 3, 2012

When last a commuter (now there’s a way to start a blog post!) – a few years ago, from Aylesbury – I was able to work, sleep, read or listen to music in transit. I once again find myself encased in a train for a couple of hours a day. But as well as working, reading and enjoying music (I haven’t yet slept, believe it or not, apart from last week after a couple of beers with Rich and having just told him how I never sleep on trains – typical) I have a new option open to me: I can keep in virtual touch on Twitter. Over time will this make my commute immeasurably better, will its appeal wane, or will tweeting actually make travelling worse? The case for the defence: commuting can be lonely, however crowded, and certainly dull, and there’s plenty of evidence to show that interacting with people is good for the soul. Against this: given loads of the twitterers I follow are also people who I work with or who tweet about stuff that reminds me of work, is Twitter simply going to make it even harder to switch off?


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