• The TUGBBS forums are completely free and open to the public and exist as the absolute best place for owners to get help and advice about their timeshares for more than 30 years!

    Join Tens of Thousands of other Owners just like you here to get any and all Timeshare questions answered 24 hours a day!
  • TUG started 30 years ago in October 1993 as a group of regular Timeshare owners just like you!

    Read about our 30th anniversary: Happy 30th Birthday TUG!
  • TUG has a YouTube Channel to produce weekly short informative videos on popular Timeshare topics!

    Free memberships for every 50 subscribers!

    Visit TUG on Youtube!
  • TUG has now saved timeshare owners more than $21,000,000 dollars just by finding us in time to rescind a new Timeshare purchase! A truly incredible milestone!

    Read more here: TUG saves owners more than $21 Million dollars
  • Sign up to get the TUG Newsletter for free!

    60,000+ subscribing owners! A weekly recap of the best Timeshare resort reviews and the most popular topics discussed by owners!
  • Our official "end my sales presentation early" T-shirts are available again! Also come with the option for a free membership extension with purchase to offset the cost!

    All T-shirt options here!
  • A few of the most common links here on the forums for newbies and guests!

Taking the train?

Elan

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,460
Reaction score
424
Points
468
Location
Idaho
This is something I've wanted to discuss for awhile, and since it came up in the "hefty air passenger" thread, I thought now would be a good time.

I've always been disappointed that high speed train travel isn't an option in this country. I don't really care for any part of flying (mostly because it messes up my sinuses), and I love road trips. But I'd really like to travel by train. As was mentioned in the other thread, long distance train travel just isn't practical. The schedules are inconvenient, and the cost is not really competitive.

So, here's the scenario: Suppose you were taking a 500 mile trip (one way) by yourself. Let's say you could drive for ~$75 (25-30mpg @ $4/g), and it would take you 7-8 hours (gotta stop for lunch and a break or two). Let's say you could fly for $175, and it would take you a little over an hour in the air, but more like 3 hours from the time you left your house to grabbing your luggage at your destination. My question is, how fast would a train have to get you there, and what would you be willing to pay?
 

Ridewithme38

TUG Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2010
Messages
3,325
Reaction score
4
Points
273
Location
Long Island, NY
This is something I've wanted to discuss for awhile, and since it came up in the "hefty air passenger" thread, I thought now would be a good time.

I've always been disappointed that high speed train travel isn't an option in this country. I don't really care for any part of flying (mostly because it messes up my sinuses), and I love road trips. But I'd really like to travel by train. As was mentioned in the other thread, long distance train travel just isn't practical. The schedules are inconvenient, and the cost is not really competitive.

So, here's the scenario: Suppose you were taking a 500 mile trip (one way) by yourself. Let's say you could drive for ~$75 (25-30mpg @ $4/g), and it would take you 7-8 hours (gotta stop for lunch and a break or two). Let's say you could fly for $175, and it would take you a little over an hour in the air, but more like 3 hours from the time you left your house to grabbing your luggage at your destination. My question is, how fast would a train have to get you there, and what would you be willing to pay?

The problem IMO with taking the train is the same as the problem with flying...once you get to your location you still need to rent a car...I've found the train to be much more comfortable then flying, so for me, i'd be able to handle longer in a train then on a plane, i'd even be ok with it taking as long as driving or longer...But it would have to be competitive with the price of driving...Basicly, take the cost of driving and add the cost of renting a car...if thats not less then flying...i'll drive :D

Flying for me is an absolute last resort
 

Elan

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,460
Reaction score
424
Points
468
Location
Idaho
The problem IMO with taking the train is the same as the problem with flying...once you get to your location you still need to rent a car...I've found the train to be much more comfortable then flying, so for me, i'd be able to handle longer in a train then on a plane, i'd even be ok with it taking as long as driving or longer...But it would have to be competitive with the price of driving...Basicly, take the cost of driving and add the cost of renting a car...if thats not less then flying...i'll drive :D

Flying for me is an absolute last resort

Valid point. For the sake of this discussion, let's say you don't need a car at your destination.
 

heathpack

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
4,662
Reaction score
3,763
Points
598
Location
Los Angeles
Resorts Owned
Hyatt Highland Inn
Disney’s Grand Californian and Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Beach and Mountainside
MVC Points
If I were driving by myself, I'd be fine if the train took slightly longer than the drive- say 8-10 hours- on the theory I'd arrive refreshed. It would be a tough call, though, if flying were comparably priced AND more time efficient.

So I'd say something like $100 fare would make me choose the train. If the train could manage to be some sort of pleasant experience, however, I might actually pay more. Maybe if they had really fine dining, or wine tasting, or something similar.

H
 

Ridewithme38

TUG Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2010
Messages
3,325
Reaction score
4
Points
273
Location
Long Island, NY
Valid point. For the sake of this discussion, let's say you don't need a car at your destination.

Ok, Well, let me use real numbers...

My Aug 26th trip to Williamsburg

Train will cost(Amtrak) $186 round trip for me and my daughter, 8hrs 25 minutes
Driving costs (412 miles, 30MPG, $4 a gallon) about $110, 7hrs 40 minutes
Flying costs(According to Priceline) about $603 round trip for me and my daughter, 1hr 15 minutes

IF, i didn't need a car when i got to Williamsburg, i would take the train...in fact i'm considering taking the train, even though it's leaving at 3am, i'm going to be renting a car if i do, but haven't decided yet
 

DebBrown

TUG Lifetime Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
2,548
Reaction score
171
Points
548
We looked into taking the train from Chicago to Whitefish, MT, where my son lives. It was a little fantasy of my husband's. The train trip is 30+ hours and about twice as expensive as a 3.5 hour plane ride. Unfortunately by the time we got our plans in order, Amtrak was sold out of sleeper cars so we gave up on the train trip.

I was never crazy about the idea. I think I would have been restless after a few hours. Plus, we'd use two extra vacation days for the travel experience. In the end, the cost needs to be comparable. I understand that we're paying for food and accommodations during the train trip but still I'd rather spend my time with my son than en route.

Deb
 

Janette

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,406
Reaction score
4
Points
398
Location
Sun City Hilton Head SC
My son, his wife and four year old daughter took the night train from Savannah to Alexandria Va for the christening of his nephew. They said their seats were comfy and they got a good amount of sleep. We picked them up and then took them to catch a night train home. They didn't waste two days driving and had a good experience. They are younger than I am so I don't think I will try it unless the fares are really cheap.
 

Elan

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,460
Reaction score
424
Points
468
Location
Idaho
We looked into taking the train from Chicago to Whitefish, MT, where my son lives. It was a little fantasy of my husband's. The train trip is 30+ hours and about twice as expensive as a 3.5 hour plane ride. Unfortunately by the time we got our plans in order, Amtrak was sold out of sleeper cars so we gave up on the train trip.

I was never crazy about the idea. I think I would have been restless after a few hours. Plus, we'd use two extra vacation days for the travel experience. In the end, the cost needs to be comparable. I understand that we're paying for food and accommodations during the train trip but still I'd rather spend my time with my son than en route.

Deb

Yes, long distance train travel is currently not attractive. What I'm trying to establish is what price/travel times would make it attractive. For me, generally speaking, if train travel was half the time of driving at the same price as flying, I'd consider it. In other words, if I could complete my hypothetical 500mi journey in 4 hours for $175, I'd probably do it.

Chicago to Whitefish is 1600mi. If you could travel that by train in 12-13 hours for the same price as flying, would you consider it?
 

ronparise

TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
12,664
Reaction score
2,134
Points
548
500 miles is a no brainer for me, Id drive, Im able to take what I want, and have a car when I get there...anything less than 15 hours I drive....I will usually drive for two day distances, say 25 hours, I drive and stay at a motel or a timeshare on the way....Longer trips, like the one last week; Fort Myers to Vegas I fly

If a train was available Id consider it, but the price would have to be competitive.
 

ronparise

TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
12,664
Reaction score
2,134
Points
548
Ok, Well, let me use real numbers...

My Aug 26th trip to Williamsburg

Train will cost(Amtrak) $186 round trip for me and my daughter, 8hrs 25 minutes
Driving costs (412 miles, 30MPG, $4 a gallon) about $110, 7hrs 40 minutes
Flying costs(According to Priceline) about $603 round trip for me and my daughter, 1hr 15 minutes

IF, i didn't need a car when i got to Williamsburg, i would take the train...in fact i'm considering taking the train, even though it's leaving at 3am, i'm going to be renting a car if i do, but haven't decided yet

That one hour and 15 minutes isnt really a fair comparison when you add the drive time (and cabfare) to the airport, a probable layover, and drive time from the airport to your destination.

When I lived and worked in DC I traveled to New York on business once in a while...downtown to downtown Amtrak was the fastest and cheapest way to go..and you could get some serious work done on the train

I agree with the op...more inter-city high speed routes would be welcome, and I think would get used (and think of the jobs that would be created)
 

DebBrown

TUG Lifetime Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
2,548
Reaction score
171
Points
548
Yes, long distance train travel is currently not attractive. What I'm trying to establish is what price/travel times would make it attractive. For me, generally speaking, if train travel was half the time of driving at the same price as flying, I'd consider it. In other words, if I could complete my hypothetical 500mi journey in 4 hours for $175, I'd probably do it.

Chicago to Whitefish is 1600mi. If you could travel that by train in 12-13 hours for the same price as flying, would you consider it?

Maybe all the scenery would fly by so fast, we wouldn't enjoy it? I dunno! But, yes, a shorter trip wouldn't require a sleeper car so the cost would come down significantly.

We have cousins in St. Louis who now routinely take the train or bus to/from Chicago. A short train trip doesn't take much more time than air travel when you factor in the security and check in times for air.

Deb
 

Timeshare Von

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
7,081
Reaction score
1,760
Points
599
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Resorts Owned
Wyndham (77k points at Myrtle Beach/Westwinds)
Trains, Planes or Automobiles??

After my recent trip to Montana via Amtrak, I wrote the following travel report/article. I did the math for the options and provided my insight based solely on that trip (Milwaukee to Whitefish, roundtrip).

Your mileage may vary (pun intended). :D
 

Sandi Bo

TUG Review Crew
TUG Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
5,412
Reaction score
5,306
Points
598
Location
Omaha
Resorts Owned
Wyndham
We took the train (many years ago) from Nebraska to Massachusetts. We had to change trains in Chicago, but that gave us a chance to go to the Sears Tower (and graciously turned down an offer from a stranger to watch our daughter for us while we went to the Sears Tower (luggage we considered but then checked, daughter no - we took her with us).

It was fun, eating in the dining car, and enjoying the ride. We were going to visit family and a rental car wasn't a consideration. Cost to do so at the time was about the same as flying, and connections weren't bad.

My Mom has traveled here by train (from Massachusetts). The last time she did (maybe 10 years or so ago) I remember being a little concerned about her safety - some rowdy / sketchy passengers when she she boarded.

About 2 years ago we took a couples trip to Alaska (4 couples). We flew into Anchorage and then drove. For 6 of us a train ride was a must (how could you go to Alaska and not take a train somewhere) but one of the couples opted out of our train excursion. We had a great time.

Riding trains just seems to be part of our American heritage - a little adventurous. Something I've enjoyed and would definitely consider doing again.
 

Timeshare Von

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
7,081
Reaction score
1,760
Points
599
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Resorts Owned
Wyndham (77k points at Myrtle Beach/Westwinds)
<<snipped>>

About 2 years ago we took a couples trip to Alaska (4 couples). We flew into Anchorage and then drove. For 6 of us a train ride was a must (how could you go to Alaska and not take a train somewhere) but one of the couples opted out of our train excursion. We had a great time.

<<snipped>>

I must confess, I've been to Alaska 7 times in 6 years and never taken the train there :) For me, I must prefer the ability to stop and explore, especially with my camera. That is one inconvenience of the train, regardless of where you're traveling. In Alaska, not a compromise I've been willing to make.

That said, yes, the train is a fun way to travel!
 

DebBrown

TUG Lifetime Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
2,548
Reaction score
171
Points
548
After my recent trip to Montana via Amtrak, I wrote the following travel report/article. I did the math for the options and provided my insight based solely on that trip (Milwaukee to Whitefish, roundtrip).

Your mileage may vary (pun intended). :D

Thanks for posting the link to your article! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and maybe we will do it another year. When I priced the Amtrak trip, it came out MUCH higher so perhaps we waited to late. Our trip will be mid-July which is likely peak summer tourist season. Since my son now lives in Whitefish, we will be back.

Deb
 

Passepartout

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
28,669
Reaction score
17,523
Points
1,299
Location
Twin Falls, Eye-Duh-Hoe
I have ridden the trains all over Europe, and took a train trip in a sleeper compartment with my parents many years ago. I would LOVE to have viable train connections to major cities that could either be destinations by themselves or air gateways to the world. We haven't had passenger service anywhere near here for decades. It wasn't supported- well, it came through a town 30 miles away at 0400 every 2-3 days. It was gummint subsidized (every ticket was 2/3 paid by taxpayers) and would always be a long as it continued.

In a more perfect world, trains would come through to meaningful destinations a couple of times a day. But it isn't going to happen in this lifetime.

Jim
 

glypnirsgirl

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2007
Messages
2,814
Reaction score
33
Points
433
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
I love to travel by train.

I especially loved it while we were living in Philadelphia - we had never lived on the east coast before and every other week or so we would go some place. Baltimore, Washington DC, New York City, Boston. It was GREAT!

We did not need nor want a car at any of those destinations. Trains left several times per day. The travel experience was so wonderful that we never considered any other means of travel.

We also made a cross-country trip from NYC to SFO on a train. The service was wonderful from NYC to Chicago. Not so good from Chicago to SFO (the last few miles are by bus) --- the water car sprung a leak and we had no water for hours at a time. It took almost 3 days by train, IIRC. The price was comparable.

But we saw so much more.

This past winter, we went to China and got to ride on one of their high speed trains = wonderful. The TGV from Nice to Paris = wonderful.

I would ride by train in a heartbeat.

elaine
 

Elan

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,460
Reaction score
424
Points
468
Location
Idaho
I'm really trying to determine at what point train travel would become a viable alternative to flying. More than just a novel, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Obviously, commuter train travel is common in the northeast, but what about for mid to long range travel (300 - 1500mi)?
 
Last edited:

Passepartout

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
28,669
Reaction score
17,523
Points
1,299
Location
Twin Falls, Eye-Duh-Hoe
I'm really trying to determine at what point train travel would become a viable alternative to flying. More than just a novel, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Obviously, commuter train travel is common in the northeast, but what about for mid to long range travel (300 - 1500mi)?

So what basis? Cost per seat/mile? Convenience- which is so personal? Ability to compete head-on with airlines time-wise?

My crystal ball got cracked years ago, but OK, I'll bite. Let's say that as fuel becomes scarcer and by extension more expensive, air travel becomes even less cost effective. Airplanes burn lots of fuel and trains can be electric. If the infrastructure were there (rails, bridges, tunnels), it wouldn't take a lot to ramp up passenger rail availability. It would start in the Northeast and gradually spread. What holds it back is the lack of infrastructure. Today, there is one main line on the Eastern Seaboard, and freight has priority. It would take political courage to spend on what it takes to put more public money into rail right-of-way. Now, public money pays 95% of airport expansion/maintenance, and almost nothing on rails. They are owned by the carriers and their revenue comes from freight. Guess what has priority? In much of the country, there is just one ribbon of tracks. When one 200-car freight train approaches a passenger train, the passenger train has to take a siding. The rails are at close to capacity.

It will take something catastrophic to change the mindset. Remember the couple of weeks when planes just didn't fly after 9/11/01? People talked then about making passenger rail viable. Then the planes started flying again and talk quieted. The long-term inability to import sufficient fuel and shortage of refining capacity to make kerosene might do it. I hope that's a long time off, but wouldn't be a bad idea to plan for.

In short, Jim, in order to make passenger rail viable, it has to be available, convenient, and at a cost somewhere close to the cost of flying a similar distance.

Just my customary $.02 worth.

Jim
 

Timeshare Von

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
7,081
Reaction score
1,760
Points
599
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Resorts Owned
Wyndham (77k points at Myrtle Beach/Westwinds)
I'm really trying to determine at what point train travel would become a viable alternative to flying. More than just a novel, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Obviously, commuter train travel is common in the northeast, but what about for mid to long range travel (300 - 1500mi)?

Jim take a look at that article I posted here. I go through the calculation & consideration process which should help you do the same.
 

ronparise

TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
12,664
Reaction score
2,134
Points
548
Now, public money pays 95% of airport expansion/maintenance, and almost nothing on rails.

Jim

And of course public money pays for the highway system as well

If the railroad companies didnt have to build and maintain their own infrastructure I bet they could offer passenger service much cheaper
 

Passepartout

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
28,669
Reaction score
17,523
Points
1,299
Location
Twin Falls, Eye-Duh-Hoe
And of course public money pays for the highway system as well

If the railroad companies didnt have to build and maintain their own infrastructure I bet they could offer passenger service much cheaper

True. It comes out of fuel taxes for roads, bridges, bike lanes and the like. Airports are funded by those pesky 'taxes and fees' recently caused to be folded into ticket prices.

The rail outfits' payback is that they don't pay fuel taxes because they run on their own infrastructure. Passenger rail pays them instead to use it.

Jim
 

Elan

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,460
Reaction score
424
Points
468
Location
Idaho
So what basis? Cost per seat/mile? Convenience- which is so personal? Ability to compete head-on with airlines time-wise?

All of the things that one typically takes into consideration when deciding mode of travel -- time, cost and convenience.

I'm not interested in analyzing our current passenger rail system because, as it exists, distance train travel is impractical for nearly all Americans, even if they live near a station.

For instance, to get from Seattle to Los Angeles (~1150mi) takes 35 hours on Amtrak and costs $133. Flying takes 2.5 hours (air time) and costs $230. One could drive it in ~16 hours for ~$175. For most travelers 35 hours travel time is impractical at any cost. But what if that 35 hours was 16 hours? 12 hours? 9 hours? At some point, presumably, one moves from not even thinking about train travel to strongly considering it.
 
Last edited:

Nickfromct

TUG Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Messages
596
Reaction score
13
Points
378
Location
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Taking amtrak around the northeast is a very attractive alternative. From CT, I have get to Philly is about 3 hours, Baltimore in about 4 hours and DC in about 5 hours. While not a time saver, it is certainly much less stressful than driving down 95 or flying for that matter. If you plan ahead to cost is very reasonable as well.
 

Rose Pink

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
6,291
Reaction score
1
Points
36
Maybe all the scenery would fly by so fast, we wouldn't enjoy it? ...
Deb
That's a consideration for high-speed trains and those who get motion sickness.

As a child/tween we traveled from Pocatello to Chicago on the old Portland Rose to visit Grandma and the relatives. We were not wealthy and so had coach seats--no sleeper. It was miserable. I was fascinated by the African American porters. The dining car was fancy but the motion of the train made it difficult to get the fork to my mouth without stabbing my face. The two day ride was boring to me.

Fast forward several decades. I took the train from Seattle down to Vancouver, WA and found it delightful. Of course, it was only a three hour ride with narration from National Park rangers. The seats were roomy and comfortable--not the benches I remembered from my childhood. You had to purchase your meals or snacks if you wanted them. The ticket was only about $30 as I recall. Like plane fare, it gets more expensive the closer you get to your travel date.

If I were not in a hurry, I would consider the train for cross country as long as the seats were comfortable and the price was comparable to airfare. However the last time I checked it was magnitudes more expensive. It would be nice to see some scenery--especially if one could get off the train and reboard the next one easily.

Anyone remember the movie "Silver Streak?" :hysterical:
 
Top