By Susan Wood
Gold medals at the Olympic Games aside, Great Britain would win hands down over the United States on rail travel.
In my two weeks of covering England, I only felt like I needed a car one day to get up at 3:15am in Bath to catch the Olympic torch at sunrise at the historic rock formation known as Stonehenge.
Otherwise, I took the convenient BritRail train from London to the Lake District (Windermere station) to Bath and back to London with no problems whatsoever.
Furthermore, the experience was beyond memorable, as I glanced out the window and wondered why the United States tore up its train tracks back in the 1950s to make way for strip malls and fast food joints. Americans chose the almighty car.
In contrast, Network Rail – which is responsible for the infrastructure of the BritRail service – plans to spend over 10 billion pounds on upgrading the system in this decade. And there’s cooperation. Twenty-six train-operating companies combine efforts to deliver the trains on time, at places to make it convenient for the traveler and with added comfort.
The rides are so comfortable that passengers have been known to fall asleep on the trains. Haven Cottage bed and breakfast owner Tim Hall said his son ended up in Scotland once because he nodded off on his way north to visit his father in Ambleside.
I could see why. I relished the ease and worry-free comfort of my trip. There was always a place to put my bag. A conductor went out of his way to help me plan a better route and I enjoyed having a table to read the newspaper when I wasn’t peering out the huge picture windows at the beautiful scenery.
I’d recommend the BritRail FlexiPass any day of the week.
Photo by: Kathryn Reed