Every little boy in the entire world loves trains.
I think it’s fun to wonder why that is. The order to it all, commanding one thing and having multiple things happen, the noises, the general massiveness and power. Males like big powerful things I suppose.
Regardless of all this, at some point while growing up, trains lose their sheen. They go from being the most awesome toy imaginable and the coolest thing to see out in the real world to a minor annoyance every time you’re stuck in your car waiting for one to pass at a level crossing.
Trains get boring.
They stop being these amazing feats of human engineering and become normal and common- even dirty, annoying and troublesome. Trains become hated due to noise and pollution, they are the indicator of an industrial area (which also carry negative connotations) and we all know the bad part of town is on the other side of the tracks.
In all that we forget they are still a great way to go from one place to another.
I’m writing this now from a train. I have tons of room, a power outlet, internet wherever I have cell service, and a seat that reclines all the way into a usable bed. There’s a lounge car where I can buy snacks and food and play cards with the other passengers, and there’s a diner car that’s a proper restaurant. I can make reservations and have a full table service meal.
I get all of this for about the same price as a flight. Sure, it takes longer, but not really. Half the trip or more is spent sleeping, which I would be doing anyway. On a flight I wouldn’t be able to stretch out. I wouldn’t be able to use my laptop. I wouldn’t be able to be on the internet in a meaningful way (in flight wifi is horrible).
If I’m flying I lose the flight time, the boarding and unloading time, the security time, the bag claim time, the time to and from the airport. With the train, the train pulls up and you get on. They check the ticket you printed at home after you’re on. You go back to doing meaningful work or play or sleep while you’re transported across the country. It’s like traveling to a remote location using your living room.
Yet somehow we mentally group trains with busses. I feel that’s very, very wrong. If anything, airplanes are busses. Sure, they are 500 mile per hour busses, but still busses.
So I like trains. They still annoy me at level crossings, I still think they could be greatly improved, but I think there’s a stigma about them that’s just wrong.
Maybe trains are boring, and that’s why most of us fall out of love with them once we get to be a teenager. That’s fine, being boring doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly useful.