Rant: Amtrak vs. Shinkansen

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I was in Washington DC last weekend for a committee meeting. On Sunday, I had some time off so I visited one of my old professors who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Washington DC has an excellent subway system (the Metro) and the Amtrak lines connect DC with Baltimore as well as cities up and down the entire East coast.

I've criticized the high price of inter-city transportation in Japan, but I should note that it costs $80 to go on Amtrak from New York to Hartford CT, which is about 350 miles or the same distance between Tokyo and Osaka (556km). It'll also take you 6 hours compared to the 2 hours 36 minutes (and $130) on the Nozomi Shinkansen "Bullet Train", so maybe the Japanese prices aren't out of line.

One thing I can say is that Amtrak trains have 120V power outlets at the seats in many of their cars. This makes all the difference between a productive and unproductive 6 hour ride. The Shinkansen doesn't have any user accessible power outlets except in the toilets....

Visiting my professor was quite nice, except that after she dropped me off at the BWI station at night, it turned out all the trains were delayed for over an hour. Except for the numerous suicides in recent years, Japanese trains run on time, period. So I ended up sharing a cab back to DC. Oh well, so much for praising inter-city transport in the States.

I have another beef about Amtrak, but I'll post it under a separate entry.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on March 9, 2005 10:47 AM.

News: Japan's economy in recession again (perhaps) was the previous entry in this blog.

Rant: "Security" on the Amtrak is the next entry in this blog.

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