Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Low-Flying Trains

One of the things that I love about Europe is being in a land with a highly functional rail infrastructure.  Going from the middle of Belgium to the Southeastern corner of Germany, the train flashes along through the countryside at 250 kilometers per hour, smooth and comfortable.  If I had flown, it would take nearly the same amount of time, when waiting times and awkward connections are counted in.

More importantly, however, the flashing speed to me gives much the same feel of speed as air travel.  I may be going only 1/3 of the speed of a regional jet, but I’m flying along right down at ground level, and so it feels at least as rapid.  Silken smooth along rails (at least in Northern Europe), usually near-perfectly on time and so frequent that you hardly even need to check the schedules: you just show up, book your flight, and ride, ride, ride right into the heart of your destination, finally docking below some station’s high-vaulted roof full of intricate artistic trusses.

Bonn Train Station, Germany

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