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Adventure, snow and delays in riding the rails across America

By dcuff
Thursday, December 24th, 2009 at 12:39 pm in Uncategorized.

Even  mellow, slow paced rail travel can have its challenges.

 A San Pablo woman interviewed for my front page story Wednesday about the increased popularity of holiday rail travel had quite an adventure last week during her four-day, cross-country train trip from Martinez to Fayetteville, North Carolina . Her trains ran into a blizzards.  She got sick.  Her train got stuck for many hours in Washington, D.C. because of locomotive problems  And she ended up going to the hospital with respiratory problems after the trip was over.

Still, Georgia Schumann hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for train travel. “I still like the train,” the retiree  told me over the phone yesterday. “I’m feeling much better now.”

Georgia said she thinks the high altitude in the Sierra and Rocky mountains may have stressed her respiratory system in the first leg of her multi-train journey to visit her daughter and her family.  It seems things got worse when her train in snow-besieged Washington D.C. was delayed by half a day because of  locomotive problems, and she got tired waiting in her seat in the train, she explained.

After she arrived at her daughter’s North Carolina  home, Georgia was feeling sicker.  After a stay in the hospital, though, she said she is perking up, and looking forward to her return trip in January. She is looking to modify her train reservations back home because she wants to stay in a sleeper for the entire trip home –  not just the leg between Chicago and Martinez – so she get as much rest as possible.

A highlight of her trip: deep Midwest snow. “We looked like the Polar Express,”: Georgia said.

Have a good trip home, Georgia.

Georgia’s tale brings up the issue of whether overnight train travelers are better off pay the extra price to get a sleeper car. To be sure, Amtrak reclinable seats are wider and have more leg room than regular airline and bus seats. The train seats also have a foot rest. So you  have a better chance of sleeping on a train seat than an airline seat.

But on a Thanksgiving train trip to and from western Colorado that my wife and I made last month, we wished we had made reservations early enough to have purchased a sleeper car at least for the return trip. Then again, some riders on the train said they slept well in their seats and appreciated saving the extra money you pay for a sleeper car.

Share you ideas below on your preferences for a train ride.

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