Reasons to Love Amtrak: Service

They gave these to me for free. Portland station for the win again.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, domestic US airlines had a culture of service that they extended to everyone regardless of whether you were flying first or coach. That sentiment is mostly dead unless you are seated in the front of the plane, and even then, its a crapshoot.

Amtrak, on the other hand, has a service culture that harks back to the golden era of air travel. I will choose Amtrak over any domestic US airline, and this simple gesture on the part of a Portland baggage handler is just one more example of why that is the case.

Catbird seat

Occasionally, people who know that I lived in China for two decades will ask me what I miss about the place now that I have been living in the US again for nine years.

I miss the people, of course, but I still keep in touch with a lot of them. I missed my in-laws very much, but over the last year, they have both passed away.

And I miss taking the train everywhere, especially High-Speed Rail, the G-trains.

That is almost enough to convince me to go back. But the idea of sitting through a thirty-day quarantine simply to deal with the compound challenges and red-tape that now enwrap domestic travel in China carries little appeal. Sadly, my next high-speed rail journey will either be Acela or EuroStar, and I don’t know when – or if – I will ever find myself on Harmony again.

But those were good times, and I want to tip the hat to David Feng and all of the wonderful people on China High-Speed Rail. Thank you all for helping me rediscover my love of rail travel.

If I owned a locomotive…it would be an EMD SD38-2. I like road-switchers, and this is the classic.

Feeling old: having to explain to your son that Pacific Electric is not a power utility.

Feeling ancient: Having to explain the same to a group of retirees who grew up in Southern California.

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