Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The Amtrak Express

Murder mysteries, dinner theatre, and maybe a hot tub or two.
  [vote for,

Amtrak has been losing money since its inception; there aren't enough riders on the long trips to justify their operating costs and capital expenditures, and so every year they ask Congress for another big loan. The problem? There is just no attraction to riding the train. The accomodations are boring, and the scheduling has all the headache of flying with none of the speed of getting there.

In ages past, the train ride itself was part of the adventure of the trip. My proposal would be to try to bring back some of that flair. Hence, theme trains with some of the same attractions as cruise ships.

First step: bring back the steam piston engines, or create faux steam engine facades to look like them. A fog generator placed in the smoke stack should be convincing enough.

At track switch junctions, actors disguised as train robbers could take over the local track controls.

Murder mysteries are an obvious attraction; the cars would be decorated to match the fabled Orient Express, and riders would have to figure out the 'whodunit.'

The Hollywood theme train would host a movie production crew and a canned script, starring the guests, and could perhaps work in conjunction with the Murder mystery group. Video tape cuts of the final production could be ordered a few weeks after.

Don't forget the casino car, the hot tub car, the lobster tank car, the astronomer's car, the kiddie car, and the surrealist's car. Naturally the surrealist's car would be located next to the bar, and the astronomer's car would have rear carseats installed for romantic teenagers.

RayfordSteele, Jun 30 2002

(?) Baked http://www.sierrara...d.com/calendar.html
Though I think the chocolate festival ride will appeal to more people here. [DrCurry, Jul 01 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Your conductor today, Mr. Darwin http://www.tcpalm.c...996_1239952,00.html
Hope your ride doesn't become the disorient express. [reensure, Jul 02 2002]


       Gawd, I'm a sucker for this stuff. I would ride that train. At least in the US they already have nostalgia trains you can ride, but I've not seen the all-out thing described here. Croissant.
polartomato, Jun 30 2002

       Have I got time for this between Balham and Victoria?
po, Jul 01 2002

       Amtrak loses money hand over fist because it runs services people don't want, not because people don't want to ride on trains.
DrCurry, Jul 01 2002

       all transportation services would lose money if forced to support themselves. Taxpayers fund highways for buses and airports and air traffic control for planes. Trains are neither empty or unpopular. It doesn't help when the gov't intereferes when they try to competetively quote services[ie repair contract in massachusetts]
keith, Jul 01 2002

       There are a few private passenger railroad companies that operate at a profit in this country; generally by offering "land cruises". In general, though, rail is only a cost-effective means of "basic" passenger transportation in a few specialized cases; buses are far more cost-efficient on all but the most highly-travelled routes.   

       An expressway has a carrying capacity of over 2,000 people/hour/lane in private automobiles (assuming some ride-sharing). A single railway track has a potential capacity much greater than an expressway lane. Unfortunately, while private cars are usable from anywhere to anywhere, railroads are limitted to making their scheduled routes. Consequently, unless there are more than 4,000 people/hour wanting to go from a station on one side of a stretch of track to one on the other side, that stretch of track will be less useful than even a two-lane freeway.
supercat, Jul 01 2002

       All this discussion is making me wonder if a "Greyhound [bus] Express" idea might work better.
polartomato, Jul 01 2002

       Indeed, rail is the only practical means for moving many types of goods to areas not served by rivers or canals. Coal-fired power plants, for example, need many thousands of tons of coal daily. Transporting that much coal by train is no problem. Transporting it by truck would be absurd.   

       Unfortunately, very few passenger routes manage anything near the level of consolidation which is made possible by rail. A two-person train crew could operate a train carrying tens thousands passengers. Such consolidation, however, has probably never occurred outside of Nazi Germany (where such efficiency had very bad consequences).
supercat, Jul 02 2002

       yesssssssssssssss I like this
bmwrox, Aug 06 2003

       oh, and one more thing: HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY TO GET ON THIS THING?!
bmwrox, Aug 06 2003


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