Misc Thoughts

Acela Express

As I write this, I’m traveling between Boston and New York on the Acela Express, Amtrak’s “high-speed” train that runs between Boston and Washington.  I’m a huge fan of this service and take it to New York, my current destination, several times each year.  It is far superior to driving the route and in all but the most ideal cases, beats the time it  takes to fly between the two cities (considering that the train goes city to city and not airport to airport).

The Northeast travel corridor (Boston-New York-Washington) is one of the most highly traveled routes in the US.  As such, there are several choices on how to make the trip and a huge infrastructure has been put in place to support such journies.  Air travel would seem to be the best way, considering the flight is about 45 minutes.  But then there’s getting to the airport, airport security, weather, getting transportation after you land and traveling to your final destination.  The train leaves from within the city, in my experience, departs pretty much on time, is rarely impacted by weather and gets you within blocks of your destination at arrival.  Nice.

For some reason, many people don’t take the train, prefering the air or even car route.  I don’t get it.  The Acela trains are clean, comfortable and pretty fast.  I have a 110v outlet next to my seat and I have cell coverage for almost the entire route.  Today, I arrived at the terminal 14 minutes before my train, picked up my tickets at an electronic kiosk and still had to wait for an on-time train.  The train left 4 minutes after I boarded.

If you find yourself moving between cities in the Northeast (mid-Atlantic, too), give it a try.  It really is a great way to travel.  Relatively speaking, of course.

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14 Comments

  1. Totally agree. I’ve almost completely stopped taking the shuttle between NY and BOS when I travel. I much prefer sitting in a quiet space for three hours with my computer in front of me, rather than having my three hours consumed with getting through security, getting on the plane, sitting down, taking off, having 30 minutes to sort of work but not really, landing, and then fighting my way back into either city.

  2. Totally agree. I’ve almost completely stopped taking the shuttle between NY and BOS when I travel. I much prefer sitting in a quiet space for three hours with my computer in front of me, rather than having my three hours consumed with getting through security, getting on the plane, sitting down, taking off, having 30 minutes to sort of work but not really, landing, and then fighting my way back into either city.

  3. Will, indeed high speed trains are a great way to travel and much more relaxed than flying. But when disaster strikes, the troubles easily match those of flying; I vividly remember being transferred while on a trip home from Berlin, from the ICE to a train old enough to have taken the first settlers to the harbour, therewith effectively doubling the time of transit. It wasn’t too comfortable either.

  4. Will, indeed high speed trains are a great way to travel and much more relaxed than flying. But when disaster strikes, the troubles easily match those of flying; I vividly remember being transferred while on a trip home from Berlin, from the ICE to a train old enough to have taken the first settlers to the harbour, therewith effectively doubling the time of transit. It wasn’t too comfortable either.

  5. Another reader agrees. Despite the fact that my company has a twice-daily jet between Dulles and Teterboro, I always took the train when I was commuting to NY from NoVA. It was so much more convenient (DC Metro to Union Station, Acela to Penn Station, three subway stops to 18th street and a quick walk to the office) that I actually enjoyed the commute.

    Rail is just far easier, more comfortable, and better for working and thinking during the trip. When I added an EVDO card to my laptop, I could spend the whole Acela trip fully accessible and productive at work – even in the quiet car 🙂

    I’ve since moved to Austin, a great place to live and work, but I do miss the rail option when I travel.

  6. Another reader agrees. Despite the fact that my company has a twice-daily jet between Dulles and Teterboro, I always took the train when I was commuting to NY from NoVA. It was so much more convenient (DC Metro to Union Station, Acela to Penn Station, three subway stops to 18th street and a quick walk to the office) that I actually enjoyed the commute.

    Rail is just far easier, more comfortable, and better for working and thinking during the trip. When I added an EVDO card to my laptop, I could spend the whole Acela trip fully accessible and productive at work – even in the quiet car 🙂

    I’ve since moved to Austin, a great place to live and work, but I do miss the rail option when I travel.

  7. Rik,

    Of course, Acela is nothing like ICE – a real high-speed train, but they share that imposed fear that something’s going to go wrong, I think. I almost expect delays when I fly. With train travel, though, I feel that it should be almost impervious to delays and, therefore, any such delay seems really bad. Strange psychology, eh?

  8. Rik,

    Of course, Acela is nothing like ICE – a real high-speed train, but they share that imposed fear that something’s going to go wrong, I think. I almost expect delays when I fly. With train travel, though, I feel that it should be almost impervious to delays and, therefore, any such delay seems really bad. Strange psychology, eh?

  9. Doh! Thanks, JH, for nicely reminding me that I can’t even read the frickin’ napkin on the train. It’s Acela, not Accela. I’m such a moron.

    To your point, though, I really wish real train travel were a reasonably viable option in more places. It’s much more pleasant than air travel. It seems like Texas would be a perfect place for some decent passenger trains. You can probably get right of ways in the big state . . .

  10. Doh! Thanks, JH, for nicely reminding me that I can’t even read the frickin’ napkin on the train. It’s Acela, not Accela. I’m such a moron.

    To your point, though, I really wish real train travel were a reasonably viable option in more places. It’s much more pleasant than air travel. It seems like Texas would be a perfect place for some decent passenger trains. You can probably get right of ways in the big state . . .

  11. I love the Acela too. The main reason is what you said – it’s CITY TO CITY. I did NY to Philly recently (interviewing TechStars candidates) and it was so nice to get some work done and end up right near my hotel in the city with little hassle.

    Of course the rats in the Acela waiting area Penn Station in NYC were a bit too authentic for my tate.

  12. I love the Acela too. The main reason is what you said – it’s CITY TO CITY. I did NY to Philly recently (interviewing TechStars candidates) and it was so nice to get some work done and end up right near my hotel in the city with little hassle.

    Of course the rats in the Acela waiting area Penn Station in NYC were a bit too authentic for my tate.

  13. David,

    Yeah, Penn Station is an interesting place. It’s like a small city underground. I’m sure rats are always a problem – the rodent and non-rodent kind. Hey, it’s New York, after all 😉

  14. David,

    Yeah, Penn Station is an interesting place. It’s like a small city underground. I’m sure rats are always a problem – the rodent and non-rodent kind. Hey, it’s New York, after all 😉

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