Trains and planes

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an AP story on the improvement of airlines’ on-time performance.  Things are looking up!  Of course, how much of this is because of fewer flights and fewer people traveling — although the times I’ve been in airports this year, it’s looked just as crowded as ever. 

Still, it’s nice to know that you might just be off and arrive at the time you hope — especially because airlines pad the departure and arrival times.  I believe they say that’s gate-to-gate as opposed to actual flying time, but I think they do it for psychological reasons.  You get on the plane, everyone finally settles in, you wonder why you haven’t pulled away yet, then you get in the airplane line for takeoff.  By then, you’re way past “departure” time, but the captain comes on board and says you’ll land on time.  Now doesn’t that make you feel better!

            Another bit of good news reported in the P-I — Amtrak ridership is up in Washington and Oregon.  People are getting on the train!  If only somehow the on-time effect would leak over into the train world in the U.S.  The Cascades trains that run from Oregon up to Vancouver, B.C. are generally fine, but just try to take the Coast Starlight between Seattle and Los Angeles and see what happens:  an eight-hour delay is, sad to say, not unusual.  When there is even a short delay in England, a voice comes over the loudspeaker (recorded, but still) apologizing for whatever’s happened to make the train late.

            So, in honor of the great train system in England and the rest of Europe, and because we’ve just announced our England garden tour for 2009 (check out my Web site), here’s a photo taken by Jane of Leighton and me at King’s Cross station in London, waiting for the Hogwarts Express.

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