Miss the Train

Posted on April 7, 2011 by Howling Hill

Imagine you’re sitting at your computer in your cheap/swanky NYC apartment one rainy Sunday. You decide you want to get away from the noise and skyscrapers. Pondering where you want to go you google “hostels nh” and find this link. You look at all four. The one in Rumney is the cheapest so you click on the link for D Acres. Their blurb about organic farming and homesteading has you hooked. You book a long weekend in beautiful Dorchester, New Hampshire.

Not having a car in NYC isn’t a big deal. There’s lots of public transportation to get you to and from work and you walk to your local grocer to buy groceries and take a cab to see your grandma. You don’t think much about the lack of car while booking your trip to New Hampshire after all, you can take the train. Right?


There is no way to get from NYC to Dorchester, NH via train. As a matter of fact, you cannot get to New Hampshire from anywhere via train because there are no trains in NH.

Buses aren’t much help either. You can take one from South Station to Plymouth State University or Grand Central Station to Dartmouth College but then you still have to get to Dorchester. Walking is not an option because it’s 20 miles from Hanover and 18 miles from Plymouth and there are few cabs in rural NH. What’s a Greenist to do?

The most frustrating aspect to the problem is there are train tracks all over NH being pulled up, neglected, and ignored. Why not rebuild the tracks all over the US so we can all get from A to B via public transport in a reasonable time frame? To do so will put thousands back to work doing something good, creating a product everyone can use, and cut back on the amount of carbon leached into the air. There’s support for NH to revitalize the rail service. The New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association believes property values will increase 5-10% if the rail system were to come back to Cow Hampshire (a slang colloquialism) and, of course, there’s a Facebook group Support Rail in New Hampshire.

I am most willing to give up my car (a change in opinion) if I could get from A to B in a timely manner and (relatively) hassle free. Would you?


  1. I would totally love to at least be able to be a one car family and still be able to get around efficiently. I think that would be wonderful.

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:36 am
    Comment by Allie
  2. I can’t say for sure I’d give up my car, but it would be nice to have the option, at least for longer trips. Living in a large metro area, I’m already served by a bus and (inadequate) light rail system, but my only reasonable option for intercity travel is by car, lengthy and costlier bus ride, or plane. A ride on Amtrak costs more than airfare and takes many times longer. Bring down the cost and time becomes less of a factor.

    April 7th, 2011 at 11:38 am
    Comment by mickey
  3. We have a similar problem in Vermont. There are a few “excursion” trains in the northern part of the state, but nothing down here in the southwest. A FEW freight trains come through; there’s a spur that stops behind the feed store, for instance. But Bennington Station is now a restaurant (complete with the tracks, still in place, out front), and the North Bennington station contains the village offices. Though if we ever DO get rail through here again, it will probably come to that station — and I will welcome it. On the rare occasions when I need to and CAN take a train, I have to drive 45 miles into New York state, to the (actually very nice) station in Rensselaer.

    We don’t even have a bus depot anymore. Just the local around-town and Manchester-and-back routes. No more buses to Boston or elsewhere, no more having carless friends from Albany hop the bus and arrive a few blocks from my home.

    I couldn’t give up my car completely — some of my travel involves carrying gear for re-enacting — but I could use it a lot less, if the option existed.

    There’s a bi-state group working on rail connections between us and New York, but they’ve been working a long time and we don’t seem to be any closer to restoring rail service.


    April 7th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
    Comment by Stefka
  4. I dream of a day that I could take a train across the state of Tennessee to visit my folks instead of driving a car for six hours, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a pipe dream. More trains would be nice.

    April 7th, 2011 at 4:42 pm
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  5. Similar story here – we actually have a lot of tracks but they’re mostly commercial. If you want to go north, you usually have to travel several hours south first. Crazy, right? Europe has it right with rail travel!

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:07 pm
    Comment by Julie
  6. James McCommons does a great job of illustrating the importance of why we need more investment in passenger rail service and the difficulties of getting that investment in his book “Waiting on a Train.” He also cites several examples of an increase in development coming to those areas that have been the fortunate sons of the transportation gods. The book is definitely worth your time if you’re interested in digging deeper into the reasons behind why passenger rail service sucks in most parts of the U.S..

    April 13th, 2011 at 1:50 am
    Comment by Kevin

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