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5 Reasons to Travel by Train

Today was a travel day. After packing our bags and eating a superb “continental breakfast” complete with fresh bread, we made some sandwiches for the trip and started our day by heading into Berlin. (Rob’s mom lives in Bernau bei Berlin, a district in the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds the German state of Berlin.) After a 45-minute ride on the S2 S-Bahn into town, we boarded our ICE (the fastest, most direct trains) to Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. In Kassel, we switched to an IC (not as fast as ICEs, but still, they make for good connections) and headed to Giessen. After unpacking, we walked to Aldi, came back home to drop our Aldi purchases off, then hopped on our bikes for a trip to Toom.

So 4 1/2 hours on trains and two small intra-Giessen trips later, we are finally safe and warm at home with full tummies, and we’re catching up on the Liverpool games we missed over the last week (for those of you who care: against Portsmouth and Tottenham).

Now I think you’ll understand why I picked today’s list:

5 Reasons to Travel by Train

  1. No driver/passenger roles; everyone is a passenger. I love this, because it means that we can both talk without one of us having to pay attention to the road. I get Rob’s full, undivided attention, and he mine. If we want, we can both put on our head phones, jam to our favorite tunes, and play DS.
  2. You’ll never get lost. No road signs to figure out, no maps or directions to read, and no detours to figure out. You could miss your connection because your first train was late, but Deutsche Bahn has a great policy for this contingency: You can simply take the next train. Only inconvenience of such a thing: Long layovers. Still, way better than getting lost in my book.
  3. No pit stops necessary. When you ride via train, the WCs ride with you!
  4. No buying expensive gas. Since we don’t own a car, I can’t say how much a trip from Giessen to Berlin would cost if you include the cost of a car, insurance, gas, and maintenance. However, the prices are reasonable (especially if you’re my husband, and you buy the tickets exactly 89 days in advance when they first go on sale).
  5. It’s better for the environment. Mass transportation is always easier on our world than driving, at least until cars start running on cleaner fuel.
(I also think it might be safer, but I couldn’t find any evidence, so it didn’t make my list.)

Question of the Day

Which do you value more: the independence and conveniences that come with owning your own car or the benefits to society and conveniences provided by public transportation?

14 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Travel by Train

  1. Lorraine

    09 Mar on 2009 at 22:18

    Schwarzfahr-ing in Berlin? What a pro! Is there a World Championship for that? I never attempted it there since I got my ticket checked at least once each ride when I was there…

    • xgravity23

      30 Mar on 2009 at 21:32

      @Lorraine: Yeah, I know. He has the methodology down. Impressive? Is that the right word?

  2. Fips

    07 Mar on 2009 at 14:25

    Sometimes with the prices charged for public transport, it seems like a bit of Schwarzfahr-ing is the only way to get proper value for your money! It can depend a bit on how sharp your eye and how silver your tongue is though, when you eventually get pulled up for it. In Dublin, to use the buses, you have to make sure you have exact change with you, as no notes are accepted, and no change given. But on a number of occasions I’ve seen people get past, occasionally whole families (though normally of tourists), because they only had a note on them. A little bit of compassion and understanding from the drivers/controllers.

    On the flip side, I once got stung in Poland for a silly mistake, and had to pay the fine. The trams/buses all use the standard system for validating tickets, put it in the little machine and it prints the time/date. But the old trams print that number on the bottom, the new trams on the top. Dumbo here managed to re-use an old ticket in the machine on a newer tram, and didn’t notice the fact that there was already a time printed on the bottom side. Stupid mistake perhaps, but despite the fact that I was clearly a clueless foreigner, despite the fact that I had half a dozen correctly used tickets in my pocket, and another bundle of fresh, unused ones in the other, and despite the fact that I had to borrow money off a friend in order to pay the fine, the ticket inspector frankly couldn’t care less. If I hadn’t been traveling with someone with a bit of money on their person, I’d have lost my documents, and probably spent the next day or two running around town, filling out forms to get them back.

    But I agree, getting people to use public transport shouldn’t be as hard as they make it. It will never have the convenience attached to it that private transport has, being able to go when you want, where you want, with as many detours as you want, and being able to carry more people/things with you. But then it could be a damn site easier and more convenient than it currently is. Particularly in the UK, public transport really isn’t any cheaper than private for many journeys, even when only factoring in yourself and no passengers, and that’s despite the fact that the your might miss a connection, might arrive much later than planned, might have to stand up for some of the journey because there are no seats. And that’s assuming of course you don’t have to buy a whole new ticket for one leg of your journey, because a delay made you miss a bus that doesn’t accept a delayed train as an excuse, because the transport system in general is about as well integrated as a cat strapped to a dog!

    Boah! Excuse the rant ;-)

    • xgravity23

      09 Mar on 2009 at 21:16

      @Fips: Yeah, my husband has quite the sharp eye. He has years of experience Schwarzfahr-ing in Berlin. The Dublin situation sucks! I would be up the creek. I hate carrying cash–I’m a plastic girl.

      You can rant in my comments anytime! :D

  3. Lorraine

    06 Mar on 2009 at 18:23

    There’s always Schwarzfahr-ing… ;-)

    • xgravity23

      06 Mar on 2009 at 19:01

      @Lorraine: *gasp* You and Rob… We’re always arguing about Schwarzfahr-ing or not.

  4. Fips

    04 Mar on 2009 at 14:22

    A bit on the late side for commenting, but I have to say I’m completely on the side of public transport, particularly when it’s as good as it is in Germany. Of course it doesn’t suit everyone, and if you live out in the sticks, or you often have to make journeys that aren’t covered by the transport routes then it makes sense to have your own vehicle, but for those mundane everyday trips, public transport should be the way most of us get about.

    Sadly that isn’t always an option – in the UK I often find that traveling via public transport has very little advantage over private transport. It is unreliable, inconvenient (in that the network coverage is usually pretty poor, and badly integrated), and downright expensive, particularly if you factor more than one person in. That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about the public transport in Germany, in being able to travel with more than one person on one ticket, though it still bugs me that I often have to watch 5 IC/ICEs go past because they’re not covered by the Landesticket!

    • xgravity23

      06 Mar on 2009 at 16:45

      @Fips: That’s one of the cool things about blogging: You’re never too late! :)

      I’ve always enjoyed the public transportation I’ve used in the UK, but then again, I’ve really only visited London. We went to Liverpool (by bus from London), but we walked almost everywhere we wanted to go in Liverpool, despite the bus system. I do agree about the price though! I went for the first time (as a paying adult, anyway) in 2002 and when my husband and I went back last March, I was astounded at how expense the Tube is. I just didn’t remember it from before. That is one thing I cannot figure out about mass transit: If you want everyone to use it, it must be affordable for everyone!

  5. Mom

    05 Nov on 2008 at 0:07

    Just don’t pop KinderEggs at Japanese tourists. Hah. ;-)

  6. Lorraine

    04 Nov on 2008 at 16:53

    I dunno, I kind of feel like mass transit–esp when it’s as great as it is in Germany–offers More independence than driving somewhere. You don’t have to worry about construction, detours, directions, or parking. Plus you don’t have to constantly take the time to gas up (although I suppose waiting for a connection balances that out) or maintain your car (oil changes, repairs, etc). My general experience was that it was faster too. *sigh* How I wish I lived somewhere with a decent transit system…

    • xgravity23

      09 Nov on 2008 at 15:55

      @Lorraine – You make some good arguments… I wish American would have more mass transit options, but I guess it doesn’t work too well, because everything is all spread out.

  7. Charity

    04 Nov on 2008 at 15:49

    I LOVE public transit and desperately wish it was more accessible in the Midwest. For me, having my own vehicle is only a necessity because of location and the lack of alternative, public transit. When I have lived in areas that have the alternative, I have made good use of it.