When I dream of travel, I always find myself in the same space. A vast, possibly infinite train station, platforms layered down into the depths of the earth and soaring into the sky, connected by an uncountable labyrinth of staircases. The architecture varies from section to section - lower platforms are modern, high tech, white tiled and close fitted and electric (fig 1), while the middle zones have vaulted Victorian iron arches soaring over the train lines (fig 2), and art deco signage. I do not know what forms occur in the upper stories, as I never venture more than one or two flights above the ground floor, though I often see stairs to higher realms. I suspect that it is not one train station, but all stations, past, present, and future, joined together through a Borgesian conceptual ether (or simply a variant on the better known L-space).
No matter where I come from, or where I am going, no matter the doorway I pass through, I will always arrive on a platform, somewhere in the maze, with mere minutes to find my connection. Trains arrive in apparently random locations at prescheduled times (though short, local routes do generally depart from lower floors), and each platform may have multiple trains arriving and departing at once, from any direction. No information is ever listed on any platform itself. Apart from ferociously desperate eavesdropping, the only way to confirm your boarding information is to navigate to the giant, cavernous central hall, which has a monstrous ever-changing arrival board a hundred thousand lines long and three columns wide. But I can never find this place on purpose - sometimes I stumble across it fortuitously while frantically running up or down marble Escher-like staircases. (Nobody else seems to have this problem - everyone else has always arrived in plenty of time to find their platform and even their carriage*, and moves with leisurely purpose until the train arrives, whereupon they board with such speed that they seem to evaporate).
The final key feature of this space, one which I hesitate to call a universal law (but so far it has held for me) is that if I leave the station heading west I am always, inevitably, on the wrong train. If I leave it heading east, then there's at least a 70% chance things are ok, though it's never clear how many stops lie between me and my destination.
*from this, and the general antiseptic cleanliness of the environment, I assume this Ur-transit space is located somewhere in Germany. Or maybe in a pocket universe run by Germans, which is a frightening thought.
Reference figure 1:
Reference figure 2:
Anyway trains are a neat concept? and they're fun to ride on.
One day I wanna do the ol' Paris-Moscow rail jaunt (pending a non-nuclear resolution to the current hideous conflict in the east). Also Railsea is a fun book what has trains in.
These are my train thoughts.
They had animatronic skeletons back in the day too
It did not go choochoo., though.
Maybe it is not a train.
I'm going off the rails
a fate worse than death
It’s the future.
I may have died tbh it's unclear.
trenton is one of the least new jersey cities, at least
Turns out public-private partnerships are bad! Who knew!
Though as creaky as our system is, every house is within a 10 minute walk of a bus stop, and it's a bunch better than many US systems at least (and might lead to the election of our first non-binary and progressive mayor this month, in reaction to the shitty developer-enabling policies of the last guy)
The Via rail system that goes across Canada is pretty great though, and there's rumblings of a high frequency rail being added in the next couple years to make travelling from Ottawa to Toronto/a few Quebec cities much faster, and if you pay the marginally more expensive business class ticket you get unlimited alcohol so that's pretty neat
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There is something very soothing about being on a long train journey. I enjoy both the deferred enjoyment of the outbound and the nostalgic relief of the return. It's restful in a way that air travel never is. Because of the literally iron-cast certainty of the rails.
Getting stationed in South Korea was the first time I encountered good public transportation. It was what made me realize that, when I got out of the military and could choose where I lived, I never wanted to live in a place where I was required to own a car. There were affordable busses and trains that easily got you between cities, taxis were abundant, and the subway made getting around Seoul real easy.
The absolute peak of this being the one night I was out bar hopping in Seoul with a bunch of friends and we got a taxi. We climb in the taxi and realize that the entire thing is covered with Hello Kitty stuff. Seat covers, things on the back of the chairs, on the dashboard. It looked like the Sanrio company had vomited all over the inside of the car. We asked the driver why all the Hello Kitty. His answer was "Women love Hello Kitty".
I assume the trains are even better now yes?
nobody tell em
This is absolutely an aspect I love of it but also, at least with Via, the whole experience is just so much nicer than air travel:
- no security clearance process, so you can show up 10-15 minutes before the train and get on from the platform, and someone will check your ticket on the train unless you're outbound from a big station like Toronto where it's done before you board
- WiFi is enabled and free (though it can be a little slow in some of the more rural ends of the trip)
- you have significantly more leg room and huge windows that make it okay for you to not be in a window seat
- they have some really beautiful routes along the sea or in the mountains (I very much want to do one of the Rocky Mountain glass car situations someday)
- you can bring your suitcase right on with you and don't have to struggle with luggage checks
- more arm space than a plane so it feels less rude to move around and take out a tablet or a boom or whatnot from your bag
- you can get one of those 4 seats over a table sections if you're travelling with family or friends and make it a social experience
It's generally my transit mode of choice to Montreal or Toronto as the travel time is equivalent to the airport check-in time and travel time, but the experience is so much less exhausting
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Also there is a run from LA to Chicago that would be amazing.
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It just sounds like a real nice time.
(wait is there a big- how do they cross the ocean? how do they keep going without ever servicing the tracks, are there no avalanches or even snowdrifts? THIS MOVIE IS FULL OF HOLES.)
This big ole mountain range right here
There's an ancient ass abbey up there and then you can follow this very steep and not at all safe footpath all the way to the top of Sant Jeroni at 1,236 meters up which was like, a grand total of 4,000+ meters above sea level.
I severely sprained my ankle walking down the steps of my hostel on the way to the train station, hiked up this stupid mountain, ran out day light, managed to find my way back down with only my cellphone flashlight and then had to navigate the trains back to Barcelona. It was a ride down the mountain, a walk through these labyrinth like, almost eerily quiet streets of what I believe was Manresa to the next stop, where I sat alone on a bench under a single street lamp like in a Ghibli movie waiting for the train. I then rode back to Barcelona, people watching and not understanding a thing that was happening but enjoying the few but unique humans on board, got off at my stop and then hobbled a good mile or three back to my hostel. It was an extremely liminal experience. Just completely alone in a foreign country surrounded by entirely unfamiliar people and places and everybody just kind of ignoring you. I felt like a ghost. It was fun but also oddly melancholy.
Anyway here's the inside of the abbey
And here is the start of the path up. That rail is there to lure you into a false sense of security because it immediately disappears and then its just straight drops down gravely cliff faces good luck
Also here is a real horny goat I saw on the mountain trying to get goaty with a lady goat.
This was before wifi so me and my mates played a couple good ass games of civ 4 on the D's and I was chosen to do the breakfast run in Moncton so considering it was 4 am and I coulda missed the train that place can fuck off
The trip was good enough I convinced 4 buddies to take the 50% via rail deals we had and did a graduation trip to Montreal for such a big city it sure felt small but I loved it
Shame even at half off the train ticket was still expensive was such a nice not 5 hour drive to get exactly where we were going
I'd also go to Toronto a lot more if they just built the fucking go train out east Jesus Christ
I've been building light rail transit systems for the last decade or so
Feel free to ask me anything about this specific type of choo choo
Anyway mostly we would fly, but one year we had a family member who was afraid of flying so we took a train from Boston to Orlando
It's like thirty hours or something, instead of like three by flying, so I distinctly remember all of the adults hating it and vowing to never do it again, but I still remember it and thought it was great, I'd love to take more long relaxing train rides
Light rails kinda like trams right?
I don't know and I'm still extremely mad that the electric rail hub of a city I live in sold out to cars
A tram in downtown and our new bus lines? Yee sound dope!!
It's p cool, could be cooler though. I'll see if there are any racing stripes or speed holes we can add to the trains
Not totally sure what the difference would be between a light rail and a tram, but tram implies to me it covers a smaller area and maybe only one or two routes
The one we're building now connects a bunch of different existing rail lines
Fast, cheap and clean trains integrated into the airport which takes you right in to the city centre. Underground trains all over the city with hubs above ground for buses and trams.
Everywhere easily accessible for a couple of Euro a day.
Plus everyone was super friendly especially to our one year old son!