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Report from Provence: Trains

The case for trains: 10 reasons for, 1 against, 1 neutral.

  1. The trip to the station is short and cheap.
  2. The number of train cars is flexible, accommodating holidays, rush hours, etc.
  3. The chances of becoming deathly ill in the petrie dish known as an airline cabin are erased.
  4. You can stand up and move around, thus avoiding cramps, blood clots, boredom, and the passenger next to you.
  5. They are adaptable to both local and long distance with minimal change of equipment (compared to planes, for example.).
  6. Though this aspect is not usually taken advantage of, they can handle heavy packages better.
  7. When there is an accident or incident, only those closest to the source are injured or killed. Train crashes are widely publicized but rare. Same with plane accidents, but most plane accidents which happen when the plane is in the air take down the whole passenger list.
  8. They are not subject to traffic jams, though there if there is a breakdown, it closes down the whole line until the problem is dealt with.
  9. The corridors of unpleasant noise are more limited than those needed for planes. The sound of a train whistle or horn is less intrusive than the loud whoosh of a plane flying overhead.
  10. With a bit of planning, the food might be much better as it can be acquired more easily and served with greater flexibility of menu. They are also considerably less vulnerable to weather events.

The one reason against:  For the weak, elderly, and infirm, lugging suitcases up and down the train steps and putting them in overhead compartments is difficult. Heaving cabin-sized suitcases into the overhead bin on an airplane is a struggle as well, especially in the small maneuvering space, but there are usually more stairs, steps up, and racks on trains than on planes.
And one neutral point:  Price probably evens out. Since train rides are longer, any savings by being able to haul more people at a time might be cancelled by the additional food and wine required, though door-to-door, a high speed Boston to New York train trip can easily be as quick or quicker than a train. There is no security line, no waiting for baggage, no trip to the airport three hours in advance.