I am the daughter of “a train guy.” The decline of the rail in this country was one of his true, great sadnesses.

I would never claim to be quite the fanatic Dad was, but I do love a good train.

A lot of my favorite childhood memories, and almost all of my bucket list of future voyages, involve a train.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

I want to travel Europe in the newly refurbished Orient Express, to tour Alaska with their sparkly new “throwback” style full glass observation cars. I want to live for a while in my own personal “suite” car, which would hook on to trains going wherever, as I travel the country.

During graduate school I hopped the train from Brunswick to Boston every Tuesday, leaving early in the morning, coming back late at night.

Yes, the frequent stops meant it actually took longer than by car, but I got to finish classwork, read a book or catnap. Cheaper than gas and no worries about traffic or parking. Plus I got to see the backyards of neighborhoods I never knew.


It was not, however, chic. I don’t want to dump on the train, but we must be honest here. The train has many wonderful, wonderful qualities, but elegant it is not.

Get this, though: Amtrak has new fancy cars coming. Yes, comfy seats, better Wi-Fi, better dining options and eco hybrid engines!

Granted, it will take a few years. The new cars are not expected until 2026. Also, they are not hitting a line near us. They are slated for the Northeast corridor, which apparently stops at New York, but maybe they could come to us if enough of us asked for it.

Just the fact that Amtrak is investing and looking to a future gives me hope.

It is no secret that the rest of the world is way, way beyond us in terms of fast, safe, clean and enjoyable rail. Even these brand-new hybrid trains still look antiquated beside Japan’s bullet train or, oh, pick a train, any train, from just about anywhere.

Still, it’s a start.


I would love for us as a nation to get serious about ecological modes of travel and invest in really good mass transit. Even to rural areas. As any of us who have ever been stuck on any of our roads in high tourist season know, it makes sense.

Our diminishing air quality makes it imperative.

Take, for example, Mount Desert Island. According to the 2010 census, there are 10,615 year-round residents. Last year, 4 million people visited Acadia National Park. So, we are packing 4 million people on roads that are meant for a lot less. And it shows.

Imagine if those visitors were able to come by train.

But not just tourists – us too. Imagine how great it would be if you could hop a train and head up to Bangor for a play, or out to the mountains for hiking, or, dare I say, a vacation to Canada or down to New York for a dose of big city.

Wouldn’t it be magical to be able to do all this without being stuck in your car for hours, with hot coffee or a full dinner – okay, Amtrak, we do need to talk about the quality of your refreshments – in a glass-domed observation car as you glide through the scenery?

It would. It really, really would.

So, three cheers to Amtrak for what is in the works. Now, could you please think just a little larger? Expand this brave new venture to more of us and reach just a little further.

Let’s bring back – and improve upon – the golden age of rail.

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