Friday, May 09, 2014

It's National Train Day!


by Ken

For some reason National Train Day wasn't marked on my desk calendar. So I'm a little late in making my holiday preparations. I assume everyone else has already figured out which celebrations and which parties to attend. It's going to be locomotive madness.

According to Wikipedia:
National Train Day is a holiday started by Amtrak in 2008 as a method to spread information to the general public about the advantages of rail travel and the history of trains in the United States. It is held each year on the Saturday closest to May 10, the anniversary of the pounding of the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah which marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Events are held at Amtrak stations as well as railroad museums across the country and often have passenger cars and model railroad layouts on display. The largest events usually take place in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA.
Hmm, well, that doesn't sound quite as festive or auspicious as I was imagining -- Amtrak tying to blow its own train horn, as it were. Even Amtrak itself doesn't seem all that fired up about the event. It's most festive offering appears to be a program called "Save 30% on a Companion Fare to Select National Train Day Destinations." This doesn't sound like absolutely the worst deal you've ever heard of, provided one or more of the destinations fits your National Train Day plans. Here's the list.

Hmm. Those are pretty much the places you would have chosen, aren't they?

Okay, that isn't the entire deal from Amtrak.
In addition to the cities above, the 7th annual nation-wide celebration of all things train features exciting events across the country in big cities, small towns and your hometown. This free day of family-friendly fun will arrive before you know it, so make your travel plans today.

Attractions such as interactive exhibits, excursion trains, elaborate model train displays, Amtrak K-9 units and kids' activities vary among National Train Day destinations.

Check out for more details on this year's events.
If you follow the link, you'll find:
Use our search tool to locate events happening in a town near you. If there are no events in your area, register to host your own! [I guess it's kind of late to pursue the host-your-own-event option. My bad. -- Ed.] And don’t forget to explore our infographics to learn more about why trains matter to us all. Enter the National Train Day Sweepstakes for a chance to win an Amtrak Vacations Family Adventures Package for a family of four and more! [I'm not sure what the deadline for entering is, or was, but I'm afraid it might be kinda late for this one too. -- Ed.]
There's a map to clue you in to "community events."

Here in the Big Apple, the New York Transit Museum has a healthy case of National Train Day fever.
To celebrate, the Transit Museum stores are offering a one-day special 10% discount on all toy and model trains, including subway train cars, Lionel, Thomas, Chuggington, and other products. Members will get an additional 10% off! This discount is valid on Saturday, May 10, 2014 in both Transit Museum stores and in our online store. Brooklyn store hours are 11am-5pm; the Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal is open 10am-6pm.

GCT Centennial Edition Lionel Train
Be sure to share with other DWT readers how you're celebrating National Train Day.


It's a really dead-on meditation on the state of trains in present-day America, beyond anything such a humble post as this merited. Check it out!

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At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toy and model trains, indeed. That's about the size of the train travel audience in the U.S.

I love traveling by train, and it's a crime what has happened to the passenger trains and rail lines in this country. It's another data point in the decline and fall of the U.S., a testament to short-term thinking and corruption.

The last long trip I took by train, aside from the run between NY and Washington, was from Penn Station, NY to Florida. It took more than 24 hours, the so-called "sleeper" was a closet with a rock-hard, narrow bed-like surface and a toilet squeezed in right next to the bed. The available food was pre-packaged crap. Penn Station is, of course, the biggest underground shithole to ever call itself a major urban gateway, and I was let off in the middle of nowhere in Florida.

These days, I wouldn't travel on any Amtrak line for fear of derailment. I don't even like the tracks on the commuter lines. Just last week, there was a major derailment on the LIRR in Queens.

Your post is the first I've heard of National Train Day, which just goes to show how much enthusiasm Amtrak has for its own puffery.

It's funny how other countries can see the value of investing in rail travel and high-speed trains and it's largely the same countries whose economies are strong and growing. We can't even find the energy to invest in rail as a nostalgic tourist attraction.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Fantastic comment, Anon. Thanks!



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