Rubbing faded kanji
From mossy tilted Edo graves
Shinkansen shooshes past
Rubbing faded kanji
From mossy tilted Edo graves
Shinkansen shooshes past
Waiting for a train
Alone amongst a billion
Just to pass by, not to ride
No where to go
But to my healing room.
Not the Darjeeling Limited
but moreorless the same
sweet lime or milk chai
your choice, 6 Rp
Train rolls by
I jump a tuktuk
He drops me off
Watercolours & oil pastels, Trippunithura, Kerala, India, 2016 (thank you Dr. Veena)
I was interviewed (and used loquacious quotes like “super lame”) for an article about train travel in the Vancouver Courier.
I am including my quotes and a few other snippets about my pet-rant, ergo: inadequate train travel between here and points south – as well as the photo by Dan Toulguet so it doesn’t disappear…
Robert Alstead takes a journey north by rail from California and wonders if Canada’s vanished passenger trains will once again carry us from coast to coast – Robert Alstead, Vancouver Courier Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Dave Olson, who works in marketing for Gastown web design company Raincity Studios, travels six or seven times a year by train, on business and pleasure. “I don’t care for jet travel because of the incredible hassle and huge eco-footprint,” says Olson. Like many, he would take the train more if he could. “I like the pace and not having to drive, I like the rhythm and the scenery you normally don’t see, the rail yards and seashores and forgotten neighbourhoods. I find the train-riding experience somehow charming, even poetic and certainly creativity stimulating,” he says.
However, he complains Amtrak’s evening train south is hardly convenient for trips to Olympia or Portland, seeing as travellers must make an overnight stopover in Seattle. The Amtrak Cascades is also infrequent and often booked up. Amtrak does offer several “train buses” which Olson has found “super lame” with long border waits. He’d rather take the car if there are no seats on the train, although it did mean a $124 parking bill and a chipped windshield on a recent three-day trip to Seattle. “I know we would’ve enjoyed some work or playing cards or meditating on the train,” he rues.
However, the Amtrak Cascades offers a good example of the difficulties faced in enhancing rail services.
For years, Amtrak has wanted to add a second roundtrip train between Eugene and Vancouver. However, congestion due to heavy freight movement on track this side of the border meant that a new siding needed to be added to allow trains to pass. For six years, Canadian and U.S. officials and railroad owners Burlington Northern Santa Fe had been unable to hammer out a deal over who should pay for the upgrade.
That means that a second Amtrak Cascades has been running only as far as Bellingham. Then in March of last year, spurred on by the onset of the 2010 Olympics, B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon announced that he was committing “up to $4.5 million” (reportedly 57 per cent of the upgrade cost) to build the siding.
In June last year, Premier Gordon Campbell marked the new service on the platform at King Street Station in Seattle by exchanging a large symbolic train ticket with Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in a photo op.
The siding was completed months ago. Amtrak is ready to go. But the service hit the buffers due to complications with the Canadian Border Services Agency, which reportedly wants $15,000 per day to clear the train.
Graham says the matter is in the hands of the B.C. government. A spokesperson for the province says it’s a federal government issue. Faith St. John, spokesperson for the CBSA, said she could not comment on the matter “because we are in discussions.” But she did say that “decisions to provide CBSA services at a new location or to expand current services take into account human resource requirements and the ability to provide security and service to the public.”
She could not say when the matter would be resolved.
Update, the article “disappeared” from the internets (mostly),
Print version of Slow Train Coming
Web version of Slow Train Coming [archived link via WayBack]
Roll around Japan with ambient train window views from various locations and rolling stock including the Thunderbird Limited Express towards Kanazawa and a Shinkansen service from Yokohama towards Osaka. In situ sound with no narration or drama rather a rather meditative “space cruise” looking as rice fields, towns and stations go past, and occasionally abstract from the speed, plus the whooshing of zipping through tunnels. That’s all. Enjoy the ride.
Rolling various local quirky trains from rustic Sitayama station towards the mountains on Toyama and Unazuki Onsen station – not chronologic or accurate, just ambient views of rolling stock, carriage interiors, watching from windows, as well as catching trains going by.
Mixed with music by Dan Mangan, “Tragic Turn of Events (demo)” from “Nice Nice Very Nice (10 year anniversary)”
Ambient views from various trains’ windows rolling past rice fields, towns and stations in and around Toyama, Japan (mostly) – No narration, action, plot or really context of any kind, just views and the pleasant clackety-clack of trains (with various station announcements if you really wanna know where the train was passing) on a journey in May 2019.
There is much discussion about high speed rail between Vancouver and Portland… This conversation isn’t new, been going on for years and years and there’s always more pushback, grumbling about costs and right of way, another expensive study and blah blah blah… In my mind, the existing service *could* be great if they had priority right of way on the tracks, without hindrance of landslides which are prone to some areas, and better connections from the often remote/poorly located stations to the related urban centers (looking at you Olympia).
I mean, the trains themselves are great, the route is lovely, and importantly there is Snoqualmie Falls oatmeal served in the morning, or Ivar’s clam chowder and Black Butte Porter in the afternoon…￼￼ Last time I rode anyway.
By the way, it’s no longer my challenge, request, cause or whatever as I live in Japan where train lines are abundant with all manner of service from super fast to slow locals as well as scenic treasures on olden stock.
However, I have yet to find a train in Japan which serves oatmeal so I have to get by a delicious Ekiben.
Nothing special, just a freight train pulling out of Okayama Station (with announcements in the background). Just an ambient observation for amusement.
Ambient “space cruise” around generally Oslo area of Norway by boat, trains and car. That’s it. No narration, action, plot, theme or whatever, just dig the views and ride along. Sound is “as-is” aside form Ilgudin Trio (from Russia, recorded live in Ubud, Indonesia) added whilst in the car. Roll on. That’s it.
Thanks to Mathias and Harald Olson for the footage – wasn’t me).
While dispatches and re-caps of various outings and events exist elsewhere in this archive, life is so wonderful right now i don’t want to miss a thing or fail to appreciate the glorious mundane details of just existing.
As such, what follows are bits and pieces which don’t fit elsewhere, a round-up of miscellany and odds and ends and mild annotations.
Starting with the pleasantness of stopping for a coffee and receiving a free lil sandwich plate (and seeing Ryoko’s adorableness :)).
The internets instructs food photos be posted with frequency.
Thanks Shiro-Kuma (white bear) cafe.
Pleasant ambient countryside views from train window rolling from Tsubata (Ishikawa) to Takaoka-Yabunami (Toyama), Japan. Stops at stations, some announcement, a few coughs.
No narration, story, action – just views and sounds. Also a slick spacey streetcar in Toyama City and a few other treats.
Just rolling ambient views looking out window at countryside and stations in-situ while aboard the Thunderbird Limited Express train – from Shin-Osaka station toward Kanazawa via Kyoto.
No narration, or whatnot. This is all, roll on pleasantly.
PS There are more, plenty.