The United States may be a leading power in the international community, but in many ways, the country is far behind many of its colleagues. The United States is unlike a great majority of the world, in that our train system is shockingly underutilized, even when the infrastructure is present. Our country and its travelers stand to learn a thing or two about the utility of a train system from other nations.
Compare the United States to a country in Europe, like Germany for instance. While Germany may be one of the most respected producers of automobiles on the globe (Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz), I cannot think of a country with a more efficient and prevalent train system. The DeutscheBahn, or the German Rail, and the U-bahn, or the underground railway, are the two systems comprising a heavy portion of daily transit amongst Germany’s population in both urban and rural communities. The continent of Europe also encourages unlimited travel across the borders of 28 of its countries through the Eurail pass. This is the convenient and inclusive, hop-on hop-off train system that grants users access to over 10,000 different locations. The advantage of this pass is not only convenience, but also the opportunity to encounter the more untouched, undiscovered areas of Europe in route to their destinations.
The United States does not have nearly this progressive and widespread of a train system, but there are a few exciting options available. Cities like New York and Boston do have established metro systems, but they can be pricey and unreliable after a while, compared to European equivalents, and maintain paths only within major city limits. Amtrak actually offers a US rail pass, with prices starting at around $450, but is limited to only 8 travel segments of your choice within 15 days. You can also look into the coast to coast trip, that went viral last year — a 4-day train journey of 3,400 miles for just under $200. Amenities are not overly abundant on this specific journey, but the trip is ideal for those looking for a unique, bargain route across the USA.
As of now, travel by car or plane remain the most popular modes of travel for Americans. The US cannot compare to Europe and their extensive train systems, but Americans and foreign visitors can certainly find train options to travel the country in a more unconventional way. I look forward to an expansion of train services in the USA, especially as the pressure of environmental and financial costs of alternative transportation measures continues to grow.
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