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September 24, 2008



There are a few reasons why train travel has not taken off as it's done in Europe or parts of Asia. A lot of it comes back to speed - the rest of the world has invested in high speed rail so it's now possible to travel from central London to central Paris by train in 2 hours, for example. Trains in the US are slow and clunky and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, rail companies have not invested in high speed trains. Secondly, outdated laws say that trains are not allowed to tilt beyond a certain angle. So quite often a company like Amtrak will buy the latest, greatest high speed tilt train from Europe and then hobble it so it doesn't tilt - and also doesn't go very fast as a result.

Andrew Quested

I wrote that article for The Sunday Times that you mentioned here. I have also travelled by train in Europe and, more recently, in Australia. The simple fact is that trains in America are, at least in my experience, wobbly. The tracks are simply not as smooth as those in Europe or Australia. I guess this is because the clear emphasis on rail in America is freight, whereas passenger rail use is more common in other parts of the world. There may be less maintenance of rail lines in America - I don't know... but the ride is a lot less comfortable there.

It is a shame - as the experience of riding the rails is a real pleasure. I'm deeply sorry to see GrandLuxe go.

Here's the snow-capped shot for you:


Lovely photo Andrew, and its always nice to hear the story straight from the source. I for one would love for America to have a better rail system - I much prefer taking the train over flying these days.


Although the GrandLuxe was one of North America's great luxury trains, don't forget that there are some wonderful trains north of the border too! The Rocky Mountaineer (www.rockymountaineer.com) and the Royal Canadian Pacific (www.royalcanadianpacific.com) both offer trips in the Rocky Mountains - the Royal Canadian Pacific was actually one of NGT's "Tours of a Lifetime" this year. It is one of the "old-fashioned luxury, sleeper car, white table cloth..." elegant, decadent trains that is refered to in the article above. Train travel will never be the same in North America as in Europe - our countries are too big and the line that is there is required for industry. The loss of the GrandLuxe is unfortunate to passenger rail travel in North America but there are still some great passenger rail services out there for those who are looking for them.

Marilyn Terrell

You're right Monica, you can still take the Royal Canadian Pacific through the Rocky Mountain in style :

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