From 1945 through about the mid 50s, I travelled a lot by train. In the Army, I went by train from upstate New York to Ft Dix, NJ. Also from there to Texas, later to Illinois, then to NC. From there to Salt Lake City, then Seattle. Then by ship to Seward, Alaska where we got on the Alaska RR through Ancorage to Fairbanks.
The Alaska RR was pretty slow, and made frequent stops to pick up trappers, Eskimos and sourdoughs, so that does not count.
I caught an ATC plane to Great Falls, MT were I got a train to NYC where my mother was living while on leave. A couple of weeks later, back to MT. When I got discharged, same deal back East
Oh yeah, in the late '30s, as a kid, i was put on a train in NYC a couple of summers, went to Albany, changed trains to Rutland, VT where my dad picked me up. Little kids traveling alone back then had a note pinned on our chest giving the details of where we were going. The conductors were very helpful in watching out for us to be sure we knew how to change trains…
One interesting note, it was impossible to travel across the country by passenger train without not only changing trains in Chicago, but also changing RR stations.
I can’t recall the actual speed or times of these jounneys, but I know most of the roads had a 50 mph speed limit, and my best recollection is that trains were quite a bit faster. They went straight through, no traffic lights, etc. As you could eat and sleep on the train, no need to stop for that either.
As I did not get a car until a few years later, I can’t compare costs, but most people I knew said trains were actually cheaper, as well as faster, even with gas around 30 cents a gallon, as I recall. Can’t be sure of that.
There were some really fancy trains like the 20th Century Limited that went from NYC to Chicago, but as I never could afford that (like first class on a plane), don’t know how much they cost. These were all pulled by steam engines. In 1949 I also took one of the “streamliners” (can’t recall the name) from Salinas, CA to San Antonio, TX and back.
As an interesting aside, in circa 1950, I took trains from Kyoto to Tokyo a few times. Those were also hauled by steam engines, went through numerous tunnes, and took eight hours. I think the bullet train does in iin a couple of hours now. The thing about Japanese trains then was that they were amazingly punctual in leaving and in arriving. About the only method of long distance travel back then.
Excusse the rambling, but I feel sort of nostalgic about all that train travel.