train travel distances in Europe and in the US

June 8, 2008

Had lunch with a friend last week. We discussed train travel and the excuses we’d heard by people as to why train travel in the US shouldn’t be invested in. One of the reasons often heard is “Distances in Europe between cities are much smaller, so train travel is easier”. So, I decided to look a few up.

Berlin, Germany -> Amsterdam, NL – 656km

Washington DC -> Boston, MA – 712km

Berlin, Germany -> Paris, France – 1055km,

Washington DC -> Atlanta,GA – 1026km

Washington  DC->New York, NY – 362km

London, UK -> Paris, France – 465km

Berlin, Germany -> Paris, France – 1055km,

Washington DC -> Atlanta, GA – 1026km

Now, that covers most of the east coast of the US. The distances are obviously not that untenable at all. It doesn’t cover transcontinental travel. Does that mean the east coast  and west coast (where the greatest density of the US population is) shouldn’t have much more rapid and much more frequent train travel? I don’t think so.

8 Responses to “train travel distances in Europe and in the US”

  1. Mr. Icon Says:

    This is brought up as an argument by Canadians all the time, too, and I just point out that Russia is more than twice larger and spread out than Canada, and railways are still the primary means of long-distance shipping and transportation there.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Where I live in NE Colorado we have plenty of trains going thru. But it is all freight and coal. I would guess we have close to 30 trains a day going through our town. So I think some the problem with transcontinental train service is congestion.

    However, I do get tired of the lets do the populated areas first and we’ll get around the the rural areas. Because they never get around to doing the rural areas, ever. I still can’t get any high speed internet at my house. And it is not cause they can’t do it, it is cause they won’t do it. I can see the box from my house, they just won’t put the DSL equipment in it.

  3. max Says:

    The trains for relatively local travel have been wonderful. But for my trip to Berlin two weeks ago, the train ticket was *more expensive* than the flight, and the train ride was about 6 hours while the total time of the air travel (apartment to airport to hotel in Berlin) was probably about 3 hours, with the flight itself being a little over an hour.

    If the prices were lower, I’d take the trains. But I feel like it’s my duty to get Red Hat the cheapest possible fares when I am doing business travel.

    Either way, I’m really glad I don’t have a car over here. That would be a total waste of money.

  4. Seth Vidal Says:

    Max,
    the problem is the environmental cost of taking a flight is not, yet, being factored in. From a fuel-use and a carbon-production standpoint flying is outrageously expensive, especially for short-haul flights like the one you’re describing. I booked a train from DC to boston for fudcon this year. The train trip is cheaper than air travel outright. Once you include the cracked out fees that the flight will charge (bags, aisle seats, etc) it gets even worse.

  5. Max Says:

    Oh, i certainly recognize the complete inefficiency of basically a one hour flight compared to a train, from an environmental POV. I’m just saying that I hope the prices of the two options begin to reflect the overall lower cost of a train soon, because while I’d love to take a long-term view on my travel, budget constraints force me to choose the cheapest short-term option.

    Once the train prices are equal/less than the plane prices, I’ll be doing that. I think it would be a more pleasant trip overall too.

    See you in a few weeks, Seth.

  6. Greg DeK Says:

    Mel and I are also taking the train from DC (actually, Baltimore) to Boston. We’ll see how it goes.

  7. uzma zubair Says:

    how much time on eurail regired between Zurich and Intelaken zurich and Brassil Intelaken and brassil.


  8. […] train travel distances in Europe and in the US […]


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