Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's In A Name: Branding Rail Travel

Don’t be too jealous, but as you read this I’m enjoying a rail adventure in Europe… almost two weeks of riding some of the fastest and best trains in the world… my idea of a real holiday.
As I prepare my itinerary, I’m struck by how well the Europeans “brand” their service. There is, of course, “Eurostar”, the popular train between London and Paris via “the Chunnel”. There’s also “Thalys” from Paris to Brussels and Amsterdam, and “Lyria”, a super-fast service from Paris to Switzerland using French TGV’s.
All of these trains sound a lot more exciting than “Acela”, Amtrak’s best effort at high speed rail. As one-time Amtrak President David Gunn once said, “Everyone knows what Acela is… it’s your basement.”
Amtrak still has some named trains though they are pale shadows of their historic namesakes: the Silver Meteor and Silver Star to Florida, The Lakeshore Limited to Chicago, The Adirondack to Montreal.
The New Haven Railroad used to name its trains: The Merchants Ltd., The Owl, The Patriot and Senator. When Amtrak inherited The Owl, a night train from Boston to Washington, they renamed it “The Night Owl”. But it was so slow and made so many stops, it was better known as “The Night Crawler”. It’s long gone.

Thalys train, photo by Du-Sa-Ni-Ma

more about rail transportation:


Potsdam On Three Euros A Day

All Aboard! Getting America Back on Rail

Transitography 101: The Portland Metro – A Case Study on Regional Government

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