26.11.06

GETTING INTO TRAINING. Michael Munger finds it pleasant to be riding on the rail.

Took the Palmetto south, from Wilson, NC to Charleston, SC for the [Liberty Fund] conference. Took it back north, four days later.

Business class was $62 each way. Four hours, and it was 15 minutes late. I got to the station ten minutes before departure, and just got on the train, like I was a citizen of a nation with protections for personal liberties, instead of a focus on body searches.

Train lets you off near the downtown, and there's a taxi about 30 yards away from train steps. Three minutes off the train, and you are on your way to the hotel.

No cattle car treatment, no indignities from jack-booted thugs ripping shampoo out of luggage. No $420 for being shuttled around some irrational set of hubs and spokes. (Yes, that would have been the airfare for the same trip).

Free New York Times, free coffee and juice, a 120 v plug for my laptop, and room to stretch out for a nice little nappie. On the way back, I reread nearly all of v. III of Churchill's history of WWII, "The Grand Alliance." How civilized. Had a nice red wine from the dining car, which I strolled back to get without having some harried harpy snap at me to get my butt back in the seat, because the captain is afraid of liability. You can stand up for miles, just like you were a grown-up.

The schedule shows 252 miles in 272 minutes southbound and a little faster northbound, not quite Hiawatha timings, but not bad for a railroad that is facing a federal lawsuit for excessive delay of Amtrak trains.

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