BUT WE MUST NEVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS, BECAUSE IT WOULD SAP OUR MANLY ESSENCE AND TURN US INTO FRENCH PEOPLE
Oh, those silly Europeans and Asians -- don't they know that people hate trains, and that subsidized transit systems are inevitably doomed to failure?
Running Like a Clock ... and Fast
On overseas trips, many American business travelers do what is almost unthinkable back home: they take the train. And they board in increasing numbers, as high-speed rail service expands in Europe, China and Japan.
"I wouldn’t even consider taking the train in the U.S. except along the Northeast Corridor -- and that might be just a commuter train from North White Plains to New York," said Ralph Smith, who searches the globe for low-cost supplies for the Tennant Company of Minneapolis, a maker of industrial cleaning machines.
"But trains in Europe run like a clock," he said. "They're nice and clean and fast. And the rail staffs are very helpful to Americans who kind of don't know where they're going."
..."Virtually all the big global companies use trains worldwide more than ever," said Bill Connors, executive director and chief operating officer of the National Business Travel Association, a trade group. "They want travelers to be productive and happy. The train takes a lot of the hassle out of going to airports."
..."You just don't fly anymore between Paris and Brussels -- they're that close on a [high-speed] TGV-type Thalys train," said Nico Zenner of Travel Bound, a New York travel package wholesaler. "It takes one hour and 20 minutes instead of the old three hours. And it’s got everything, including Wi-Fi."
...some of the airport-train connections in Europe are models of convenience. "You fly to Frankfurt and just go downstairs below baggage claim and take a train to wherever you want -- for instance, Dusseldorf," said William P. Kinane, vice president of the international division of Guardsmark, a leading security firm....
Fortunately, we don't have to worry about speed and efficiency like this depleting the animal vigor of business travelers here in America -- the Bush White House is proposing an Amtrak subsidy for 2008 of a whopping $800 million, and all Amtrak's CEO dares to ask for is $1.53 billion. (As a point of comparison, the Iraq supplemental is more than $120 billion.) God bless America!
(Yeah, I know -- our cities are far-flung. But we have very little like this, and probably nothing first-rate, even between cities that are relatively close.)