• August 9, 2011
  • I took the Acela so-called high speed train from Boston to New York on Sunday.  High speed rail in America is nothing like its cousins in the rest of the world, Acela never goes much faster than a car and its only saving grace is that there is little traffic.  Of course there are still times when the train has to stop on a siding to let another go by in the opposite direction but generally the stops are infrequent.

    Sunday we stopped for a mechanical reason.  Somewhere in the woods in Rhode Island we stopped and were informed by the crew that they needed to inspect all of the wheels for some problem.  The process took about 30 minutes and when it was over we proceeded secure in the knowledge that the wheels would not fall off.

    What got my attention in the process was the way the crew referred to the train.  Some crews refer to ships in the feminine, airlines are more clinical and call their equipment plain old equipment or “this aircraft”.  Train people are different.  The first time I heard the crew refer to the train I thought I had misheard something but then it happened again and I realized this must be train speak.  They call the train a “train set” the same thing we used to call our trains as kids.

    Train set works for me though I would have never guessed it if I lived to be two hundred.  Maybe train set and all its rinky-dink associations is part of the reason congress chronically under funds Amtrak.  Just an idea.

    Published: 13 years ago