What I learned from taking a train across the US

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Here’s how US train travel went from excellent to mediocre.

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If you’ve taken the Amtrak recently, you might have no idea that the United States used to have the largest and wealthiest rail system in the world. How did the US go from having luxurious, widely used passenger trains to the Amtrak system we have today?

Video producer Dean Peterson makes a 72-hour journey on Amtrak from LA to NYC to show its current state of operation. From getting kicked in the head by his sleeping seat mate to taking in sweeping views of the desert at sunset, Dean shows the highs and lows of being stuck on Amtrak for days on end.

Along the way, he explains the history of passenger rail in the US — starting in the problematic robber baron era to the US government’s takeover of passenger rail. Will the United States ever catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to train travel, or are Americans stuck with an underfunded, inefficient rail network forever? Join Dean on his journey as he sets out to find out the answer to these questions and more.

Sources:

The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar

Amtrak, America’s Railroad: Transportation’s Orphan and Its Struggle for Survival (Railroads Past and Present) by Geoffrey H. Doughty, Jeffrey T. Darbee, Eugene E. Harmon
https://www.amazon.com/Amtrak-Americas-Railroad-Transportations-Railroads/dp/B0B5B5N3FL

Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels by Jill Jonnes

The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1: Building an Empire, 1846-1917 By Albert J. Churella

Zephyrs, chiefs & other orphans ; the first five years of Amtrak by Fred W Frailey

The Golden Age of American Railroading by Judith Macy, Mary McInroy, and Robert McCown

The Golden Age of American Railroading

Association of American Railroads

Chronology of America’s Freight Railroads

More information about roadway deaths vs. train deaths from the US Department of Transportation: https://www.transportation.gov/NRSS/SafetyProblem

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Added on: January 26, 2024

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