The railroad is the oldest, commercial mass transport of the modern age, predating the car and the airplane by at least 100 years. So how can train travel be smarter in 2012?
For starters, "the train takes less time total than all the preliminaries of air travel," says Margaret King, who regularly opts to take the train to New York City
, and Boston
from her home in Philadelphia
. "I can take plenty of luggage, with no extra fees; I can easily work aboard the train; [and there are] no security hassles."
From smartphone apps to help you plan and book your travel to a new crop of high-speed trains, train services across the globe have upgraded to appeal to frustrated air travelers and entice would-be drivers from their cars. Let's take a look at all the ways traveling by train is smarter in 2012.
Name any national railway and there's likely an app that helps you find train schedules, get arrival and departure updates, and book seats. If you're traveling to Europe, you can download apps for the particularly country you may be visiting or get the free Rail Europe app
. Though far from perfect (e.g., tickets purchased through the app are sent via email as an e-ticket or, given enough lead time, mailed, rather than existing digitally within the app itself), the Rail Europe app gives you information on timetables, stations, and more for 35 European countries. Amtrak
has a similar app (also free) that includes a panel for Guest Rewards, a loyalty program that lets regular rail travelers earn points towards free trips. Round-the-world trekkers, particularly those that intend to city-hop, would do well to download AllSubway HD
($0.99), a database of more than 130 city subway maps.