Monday, March 18, 2013

Welcome Aboard!


Train travel is alive and well in the US.  Nice to know.  Last week, my friend Teddy and I went to a Lifelong Learning lecture at Lourdes University on the world of trains, more specifically passenger trains.  William Gill, regional coordinator of “All Aboard Ohio” reported on the current status and future vision of rail travel.  We learned that the Obama administration has given stimulus funds to 13 high-speed rail projects in 31 states, including Ohio.  These are the kinds of projects we need to know more about, and support.  The stimulus funds give Amtrak a much-needed boost and the means to examine  long distance routes like the Capitol Limited, a daily train between Chicago and Washington, DC that stops in Toledo, which Gill said  has the busiest train station in Ohio.    Didn't know that.  

Dr. Gill, at 80, remains an avid, active, and articulate advocate for the history and use of railroad  service up to present. He’s a volunteer lobbyist for rapid rail transport in Ohio;  friends with our representative to Congress, Marcy Kaptur;  a  member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers; and an enthusiastic  supporter of Amtrak and it’s “Reconnecting America” initiative. His enthusiasm is contagious.  He even had us singing “Dinah Blow Your Horn,” and “I've been working on the railroad.”    

There is a lot more going on in this busy universe, which sees over 30 million travelers a year, than meets the eye: constant: infrastructure improvements, connecting privately owned lines and Amtrak lines, increasing capacity and service on different routes, and working on the next-generation of high speed trains.  Three brief but informative videos upped the audience’s excitement.

Gill handed out Amtrak timetables so we could all think about  money-saving train travel in the not-too-distant future!  I’m studying the schedule now.  I took the train from DC to Toledo, when I moved here to Sylvania two years ago, a fine experience, reminiscent of train rides I took as a child  between Rochester and Buffalo when my grandfather Curro worked on the railroad, and we got free tickets.  It was such a thrill.  I remember train rides to Boston and to Wisconsin, too, as a college and graduate student.  Trains were also the  main mode of transportation in Ukraine, and I had plenty of overnight and long-distance train rides from Lugansk to Kyiv, and to and from Kyiv, Odessa, Chernigov, Lviv, Crimea, the Carpathans and all around. The trains were mostly very old and the tracks were in need of upgrades (I was especially aware of this on a train ride to Kyiv with a broken arm and nothing but a few tylenol),  but the service was terrific and the trains were always on schedule. Woe be the passenger who arrived a few minutes late, as I did, once.. 

 
Friends Teddy and Marilyn with their Amtrak timetables.
at Lourdes University. 
So now I'm thinking about a train vacation across America. How about an exciting train trip along the Northern route through Chicago to Minnesota, North Dakoka, Montana , over to Portland and  up to Seattle and Vancouver? or how about  the  popular  “Coast Starlight,” which runs along the west coast, a beautiful route from Seattle down to Sacramento and San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara.and LA. 

"Passenger rail in America is very much alive,” Gill concluded.  Won't it be super to have those rapid rail lines up and running!  I'm writing a letter to Rep. Marcy Kaptur now.  Join me fellow travelers!    .

Contact Marcy at:  www.kaptur.house.gov, or 202-225-4146, or 2186 Rayburn Bldg, WDC 20515.....  

National Train Day in Toledo this year is May 11. Learn all about trains in America.  Elissa takes grandson Philip.  I think I'll join them this year!  
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