As we left Houston last night the lights of the skyscrapers stete themselves against the darkness of the Houston night, and playing on the MP3 Tom Waits (see Mike O for recommendations ). When I enquire in Houston where the Amtrak train station is people looked blankly. Bus drivers had a vague idea it was somewhere in that direction. It was the same situation with church on Sunday. But here is the rub on both occasions you could see the church and the station from the bus stop i got off from. A geologist from Venezuela informs where the train station is, he thinks.
The train station is like an old style petrol station on an A road in England and this for a city the size of Houston. They tell me the old station was a fine place, pulled down for the new Baseball stadium. So w here have a station that only gets 6 train a week 3 to Los Angeles 3 east, it’s hard to find, the locals don’t know where it is and it has no sign posts. Perhaps that is what the train represents in modern America; it’s for the geeky and the poor. The fly quick eat fast have no need of this outmoded form of transport
But it moves across the landscape with a great sense of pride and confidence the horn constantly announcing its coming, warning you to prepare. It comes down your high street literally and through back yards and across deserts. The train is like an older man who has been to war, achieved much in his youth and in his middle years. He is the sort of man you would buy a beer for like the retired policeman I had dinner with.
While European trains are striving to achieve 300 kmph this old boy tops out at 70mph and much of the time a lot less. But the train staff inform me this train during the summer is sold out sleepers and all, so this is a good time to come. So maybe this form of travel will always have a place in the USA.
I will sign off with a few train facts. The train timetable tells you the time of departure and arrival and how many miles it has travelled. So form New Orleans to Los Angeles the stretch I am covering is 1995 miles. New Orleans to Houston is 363 miles and it took from 12 lunch time to 10 o’clock the same evening. Without a time table in front of me that I think is less than half the speed UK trains. That is like travelling across USA on UK bank holiday engineering works scenario and everyone is happy.