West coast versus east coast train riding: I wish it were faster but its pretty



Back east, I would travel down to Washington, DC from New York quite often. I saw a lot of famous political celebrities. There were times during which I was on same train as Laura Bush, Joe Biden, Al Fraken, Greta Van Susteran and Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Just to name a few. If you are a political junkie, as I used to be back then, Amtrak was a lot of “fun”. While it was fun, I did a lot of work on my Amtrak train down to DC and back up to NYC. I worked and worked and worked. I barely looked up. And I always rode the Acela, which is the express train. That’s the beauty of riding Amtrak up and down the east coast.   It was a relaxing way to keep working while on travel.



Now that I am out on the west coast, I have only ridden the metrolink once which is the commuter train.  And then this weekend, I got to ride Amtrak. See, train service is not that great out here. I know I compare west coast to east coast a lot. I often see the east coast more favorably. And why shouldn’t I? Now, here I will be split in my opinion.



It is hard to ride Amtrak out here. There are a lot of Amtrak buses to make up for “lapses” in the route.    I get it, there are very mountainous areas and thus it is hard to carve out the routes. And there are just not that many places within California, that I have to travel to for business.  But I did manage to finally get on an Amtrak ride down to San Diego. It was a multifloor train that rocked and rolled down the coast. After the week that I have had, it was a great way to unwind before I had to engage in a new hectic week. But even before I get to the ride, I should note that Union Station in Los Angeles is way calmer than the amtrak stations in New York and DC. There was a planned improv concert in a part of the station.



It was lovely to see so many people laughing and dancing. At New York’s Penn station, many are frazzled trying to keep going on their workload while trying to get in line for a better seat on the train. And it was even worse in DC. People there are so by the book in terms of which side of the escalator you ride on and where you start to line up.  Here, in Los Angeles, I strolled through the station and caught some music and was able to sit in some comfortable seats in the lobby area.


wp-image-2091962772I walked up to the platform and the train was there 40 minutes early. I got on and got a good seat and settled into my ride.   Then we rolled out of Los Angeles and there was no fuss. The cabin attendant came by and I got a white wine and a snack box. Not bad for an evening bit of relaxation. I wanted to sleep on the train and listen to the train sounds but part of me just wanted to stay away and take this all in.   It was a great ride overall. Although, I will say one thing. It was slow. Back in New York, in the same amount of time I would have zipped by at least four states.



Here’s to future travel that is relaxing and non-crazy. All my airflights lately have been delayed, crowded and agitated. I’ll take this rollicking ride down to San Diego and settle into my bed later on and relax.


15 replies »

  1. My only experience with Amtrak was Toledo to Chicago (and back). On the way to Chicago, our train ran out of gas and had multiple electrical failures. What was supposed to be a 4 hour trip turned into 9 1/2 hours. Worst part, we were going to Chicago to catch a plane to Seattle to drive to Portland. Instead of getting to Portland around 10 as planned, we got there at almost 2am, after being up for about 30 hours straight. It was miserable! Great stories to tell now though. And the ride home was much smoother! 🙂 I love the idea of trains, the scenery, the fact that I’m still on the ground and not suspended thousands of feet in the air, and that I don’t have to focus on driving so I can do other things. I would love to take a train on the west coast. I know they have one that is essentially made of glass so you can see everything perfectly and it rides right along the coast. That’s on my bucket list for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a native Californian a lot of us have been “waiting” a long time for more people like you who can see a positive future in California finally getting the high speed rail so workers, tourists and locals can move up and down the long state. I’m central and the rail would bring a more secure economy to people who live here. It has been a huge battle with those who have no foresight. Since California moves sooo slowly on all things, it has become the shade from a tree I will never (maybe) sit under to enjoy. But a better mass public transit system is necessary. Don’t even get me started on lite rail within the city – why is this all so difficult to do.

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  3. The ride up the coast to Seattle is a great trip. Get a sleeper car, it takes days.

    I cannot work or even read on a train or any other kind of vehicle. I get serious motion sickness. If the trip itself isn’t inherently interesting, boredom soon sets in and then sleep.

    Mass transit is weak here because of a decision long ago that LA should be an auto based city. We had a mass transit system and they deliberately dismantled it. It was due to the influence of tire and auto manufacturers on city hall, of all things. The movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, is partially about this decision. To this day you can see where the Red Car tracks crossed a number of streets.


  4. I love trains. All trains …but I have never experienced them on the East side of the US. I once rode the Amtrak from Colorado to San Diego and it was wonderful. Slower than driving but quite relaxing. I now live just below the Canadian border in the US. I take the Amtrak to Vancouver, BC and then their light rail to the airport. So fast and easy. Although the freight lines own the track and cause delays-so plan extra time. I have also taken the Amtrak from Bellingham to Portland which is faster than driving because traffic in Seattle is horrendous. So yes, we need more trains, more support for the same. I don’t think much will happen in my lifetime for train travel in the western US but I’m contributing what I can.


  5. I have a funny and kind of interesting analogy to provide here. The East and West coasts are polar opposites from each other in many ways. One of those differences is that, generally, populated/urban areas are much closer to each other on the East Coast than they are in the West. LA-SD is about the only exception to this maxim that comes to mind.

    The analogy I mentioned is one that applies to my daughters when we first moved from LA to Nashville. As we were driving on our errands, they commented that everything was so far away. My response was that it just seemed that way since these was so little open space between places in So Cal, while there was, and in most areas still is, a lot of open space between places in Tennessee!


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