Christmas & Trains, Traveling By Train

Riding the rails for holiday travel is up this year

By Denis Cuff
Contra Costa Times

George and Georgia Schumann needed to get across America to spend Christmas with their daughter in Fayetteville, N.C., but they weren’t keen about the rigors of a drive or the hustle and bustle and sardine-can packing of an airline flight.

“My husband likes to “… stretch in his seat. It’s not easy to do in a plane,” Georgia Schumann said. “And we both like the window seat.”

So, the retired couple from San Pablo rode the train, an option that more Americans are choosing this year for the holidays.

Amtrak train ridership nationwide rose 4 percent to a record 659,184 passengers during Thanksgiving week, while airline ridership declined slightly and auto holiday travel was up.

All three types of travel are expected to increase over the next two weeks with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays as travel rebounds along with a partial recovery of consumer confidence, according to a poll commissioned by the American Automobile Association.

“We’re starting to see a rebound after some dismal years for travel,” said Cynthia Harris, a AAA spokeswoman in Northern California. “Train travel is a strong part of that rebound trend.”

Some train users said the rail’s relaxed pace draws them into the coaches. Others say they appreciate the nostalgia of a travel mode that helped settle and develop the nation before losing ground to cars and planes.


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