Ridden a train before?

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by gizmo_gal, Jun 11, 2008.

Jun 11, 2008

Ridden a train before? by gizmo_gal at 5:45 AM (2,171 Views / 0 Likes) 24 replies

  1. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    So, I'm writing a book story. Its still in the "Draft-->Revise-->Rewrite phase, and has been for almost 2 years now. But I'm closing in on a "Final Draft" but there is one scene that I am continually displeased with and I wanted to know if any and everyone who has or does ride trains could help me by describing train rides in as much detail as possible. Whats it feel like, beneath your feet when the train first lurches forward? Whats it like watching the scenery go by?
    Are you sitting up high or roughly 4 feet of the ground?

    I've gone to the museum a few times and sat on the old caboose they have there and read all the plaques that they have, and thats helped me get some basic parts of old fashioned trains down and I'm doing more research online about trains themselves--particularly old models as the train in my story is much like the early models of N. American trains. But, I cant really "research" the emotions and sensations of riding a train. I've tried. I have based it off of my days spent in the cab of an 18-wheeler but I dont know, something in my mind tells me that its a different experience completely--riding a train vs. in an 18 wheeler.

    Especially since the way that I want to describe the train ride is supposed to have a "foreshadowing" effect of the things that will begin changing when they reach the station and I want it to be vivid, believable and accurate to what someone might feel really riding a train, for the first time. Some one told me that this scene wasn't that important, but I cant help but want this scene to be very good, even though its not going to be but about half a page. The scene, in case anyone wants to know, is summarized below. Any writers or readers here will no the importance of conveying volumes about a thing, place, experience etc. with just 3 paragraphs to your audience.

    I've never ridden a train before, but I've spent some time in big trucks and I personally was often disorientated by the experience--partly because there never was any A/C in that thing, and partly because the whole thing vibrated constantly and eventually--after days and days in the cab, you cant tell if your moving or not, especially when you first wake up. I've always hoped that trains were a little more--I dont know, sensually stimulating than trucks as you'd have space to walk, and halls and cabins to explore--or pass by depending on what sort of authority you have. You'd be traveling over rails, not roads and several little things like that, but it seems like it'd add up to give a real "hmmph!" to your story.

    As much description as you can give is greatly appreciated and could be highly useful to me as a writer. If you've ridden in a subway train then that can be useful too, if you've traveled across country in a train than PLEASE reply as I think it'd be so cool to hear from you =D.

    Thanks to everyone in advance [​IMG]
     


  2. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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  3. Little

    Member Little I r Little

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    uhm. you could just.... go on a train?


    i take trains a lot but not sure what you really want lol. i remember going on trains as a kid, they were pretty scary then lol. and boring.
     
  4. moozxy

    Member moozxy hamboning

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    Feels the same as the underground/subway?

    EDIT:Oh right you want those feelings aswell. Well whenever I'm on the train I'm sitting down with my music in either just staring out the window or playing on my ds/psp/micro.
     
  5. BigX

    Member BigX GBAtemp Regular

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    well the original poster comes from the US and I guess he's talking about a long train ride.
    Here in europe, using the train is as usual as a subway/tube.
    As far I know, riding a train is not that common in US.

    Essentially it's the same as using a subway. If you are on a real long trip, I'd assume you have some kind of bed and/or room too. So that's real comfortable in germany. I don't know what's its like in the US.
    Riding a train is much more comfortable than a truck or a coach.
     
  6. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    Actually, as a matter of fact I could not. There isn't a train in my area that I could ride on, or else I'd be figuring the best way for me to go about it.
     
  7. PBC

    Member PBC What!? I can change this??

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    Rode an amtrack train for 9 hours straight once. From Penn station NYC to the closest stop straight up to canada.
    And I've ridden the NYC subway many a time. and the LIRR (long island railroad) many more times.
    I've watched freight trains all my life....walked the tracks for miles and miles...even ran up and jumped on one in motion once *true story*
    I'm a writer as well...but unfortunately I'm at work at the moment and can't respond at length. I will write a nice detailed description later on today though!
     
  8. PBC

    Member PBC What!? I can change this??

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    I'll describe acouple things seperately.

    The tracks aka railroad ties. Sitting in a bed of gravel lose gravel which spills off the embankments on either side and collects in roadside ditchs. It rolls beneath your feet and threatens to turn your ankle if you run apon it. It still envelopes the giant wooden beams, thick blocks with great length and square ends. Not flat wooden "planks" by any means. They don't sink in as much as lie ontop of this rocky bottom bed. The wooden planks dark, weathered, and often fractured. Huge splinters and cracks run the entire length of these beams. The rocks are splashed with oil stains and to pick them up by hand would leave you with a fistful of sticky oily sap and dust. The dark oily pitch which collects on the wood and rocks is incredibly hard to get off hands and clothing. Like a mixture of oil and maple sap. The dust is from the rocks continuously being ground together by the force of the daily trains. It collects on your sneakers if you drag your feet. Kicking at the rocks sends up a white like powder/dust. The top of the metal tracks are actually polished shiney by the grinding of the metal wheels against the tracks. Huge dull metal spikes rusty and surprisingly heavy, one in each side of the track bolting the metal to the wood with the help of thick plates that connect the two. These metal spikes and plates litter the tracks, making one wonder how often, if ever, they have been checked or replaced.

    If you try to tight rope walk on the metal beams you will find it nearly impossible. They are wide and straight but the beams have been rounded and made too slick by the trains constant travels. Your shoes simply will not find a good grip. I've slipped and hit my head on the track before...it made the slightest *ping* ...barely audiable due to the fact that this track is so long and solid that it would take alot to produce noise from striking it.

    The inside of an amtrack...the seats are a fabric you would find in volkswagon gulf. A nylon like threading except tough and thick. The pattern of random triangles and strange shapes in pastels set against a black background. The LIRR from NYC to huntington had greenish-blue seats of cheapish faux leather. Feeling like a sticky plastic against the skin. Long lost its shine, having cracks and scuffs. But once you transfer at huntington station...it turns into the fabric like seats of the amtrack. Seats set up with 4 facing eachother. 2 sets side by side. The eisle is a straight strip of rubber tiretracks...and on the other side is a set of another 4 seats. You are facing two people, and have on next to you...but god forbid you make eye contact or converse with anyone in that situation. Most people don't find that comfortable... Over your head would be luggage racks, which are just abunch of bars bolted together. Looking like an oversized grill above your head. And most people put their bags in the seat next to them anyway, to keep their paranoid distance, making finding a seat rediculous somtimes...unless you are a nice person and use the overhead luggage like you should.

    The Subway is quite different...the station underground is damp and humid, even on cold days. The moistness carries every aroma imaginable into your nostrils. Smell of dust and oil is always around, along with trash and sometimes urine. The sound echos and swirls around you. The stopping of a subway train is a nearly deafening high pitched squeel that you would think would indicate the train is going to fail at braking and slide by you...but at the last minute you notice it is all coming to a stop. People crowd and line up as soon as they see the faint light of the train approaching in the dark tunnel. Even if there is plenty of room, people seem to want to be the first. As the subway train starts it picks up its speed rather quickly. A solid jerk is felt at the beginning...turning into a quick acceleration that would make you stumble backward if you were not sitting or grabbing onto a pole either above your head or in the middle of the train. A regular rider knows to lean foward while the train starts up and accelerates away...this compensates for the jerk and the pull backward which follows. You'll see some people noticably stagger backward if they aren't expecting the motion. The seats are plastic and thin like a grade school chair bolted sideby side on either side of the train all facing the center usually. The voice indicating the stop is useless and garbled. You either know where you are going, or you don't. Ads for surgery, cells phones, local shows, HBO specials line the ceilings and dividers. As the subway speeds up you feel the rumbling jerking of it going around turns. You are still underground and everything jerks you around without a reference point. The lights often flicker off for a few seconds at a time and fade, only to spring back to life and go out once again... a natural accourance but scarey if you don't expect it. Everything is pitch black for a few moments as the train rounds underground curves at sickening speeds. All you can hear is the speed with which you are going. Which you measure by yourself by listening to a thud against the tracks as the cars jerk around and bump up and down. The faster the thuds and bumps the faster you go. You see brief flashs of lights from the walls of the tunnel, Piss yellow strobes that seem like they are only 2 feet away from the sides of the car. You feel it climb into the outside world, your ears may pop once or twice from the pressure change in such a short period of time.

    I'm trying to think if there is anything else I can add...if you need anymore just hit me back.
     
  9. Gian

    Member Gian GBAtemp Regular

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    Can't really give much, but I've been on a train.
    The feeling is pretty much the same as a car, 'cept it's not as smooth.
    You'd think that it's easy to walk around, but it's not.
    You'll fall alot, especially for first timers.
    So when walking you're usually holding on to things (chairs, etc.)

    The people, though, are different inside a train.
    It's like something about a train that makes people friendlier.
    People you don't usually talk to outside will suddenly become your friends.
    Then you can sit and just talk about stuff while watching the scenery go by.
     
  10. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    Thank you so much PBC. You touched upon a few things that I hadn't ever even thought of before. I will have to go and look at/walk along or on a railroad myself sometime.

    And you too Gian, its always great to hear from as many people as possible and get everyones perception/experiences of something [​IMG]

    You've both been really helpful. Hopefully PBC, I will be able to get a more satisfactory take on that particular scene done with what you've written, and wont have to ask for anything further, but I may take you up on your generous offer.
     
  11. PBC

    Member PBC What!? I can change this??

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    It was very therapeutic to put all that info down, it makes me recall alot of memories from youth and leading up to current days. So think nothing of it! I'm full of so much more info too, just need to mull it over and lay it down. Just putting that info down makes me think of writing my own short story...in better form and style of course! I didn't want to overwhelm you. Writers enjoy writing (and reading).
     
  12. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    You--overwhelm me? Lol, thats so kind of you to think of me, but I am happy to read what you wrote. Normally I worry that I am saying waay to much as I love to write and since I'm kind of quiet in real life I tend to say everything on paper that I cant speak aloud. Often times, I feel bad about posting so much sometimes, especially when I'm talking or writing to someone online, but I cant ever find it in myself to erase/delete what I've written. Plus, I love to read and read everything I can about whatever interests me and I do mean that I love to do so, especially stuff like your vivid and informative descriptions! That was so amazing, it made me feel as if I was standing by a rail road examing the tracks myself, I swear that it did.

    If you come up with anything else--concerning travel via various methods, especially--but anything else at all that you wouldn't mind sharing or think may be helpful then, please, dont be shy about PMing me or posting it here. I need all the help I can get with my writings, but I normally cant bear to share what I write with the people around me. Just reading those descriptions let me know what a powerful writer you'd be. If you ever publish something--online or in print, then I'd like to hear about it.


    Thanks soo much!

    P.S. If anyone knows of movies with scenes of train travel in them--preferably silent scenes, then you could also help by listing the titles of those movies. I thought about it and think that watching it might help me visualize the actual riding of a train. So far, all I've come up with though, is Spirited Away--its a great movie and the animations downright gorgeous!

    I also thought of a movie title, "Throw Mama from the Train"...sounds odd, but I think I'll check it out as its the only other thing that I can think of.
    The movies can be animated or live action, it wont matter to me. I should be able to get a hold of the movie myself but convenient links never hurt anyone either
     
  13. miruki

    Member miruki GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Oh I so know how that feels. :3


    Anyways, I was around 8 years old when I first rode the train all alone for 2 hours to visit my grandparents, I'll just write down what comes to my mind... but my memories are a little blurry, so don't expect much!

    So... I remember I have always been scared of getting into the train, since the space between the platform and the train is quite great, on that day it took all my bravery to jump onto the stairs by myself to show my mum I can make it on my own. Heh. Well, she followed me into the train and brought me to my seat, she hugged and kissed me and then left. And the train started moving... so I started getting nervous, it was really exciting and I was looking around... honestly, the insides of trains are not really that exciting. There were only old ppl sitting on the other seats too. so I looked out of the window, but seeing how the trees and fields passing by wasn't that exciting either and I suddenly noticed that I had to pee, so I grabbed my bag and made my way to the toilet, I was really nervous when ppl where walking past me and rumbling and thudding of the train made me very wobbly on my legs, so I had to put my hands on the wall to not lose my balance...

    mhhn. I don't recall much else, I remember that I loved to run around in the train when I was on vacations with my grandmother and she always scolded me...

    ohhh and the train conducters always made me nervous, when you had to show them your ticket. But when I was a little older (around 10) I was always looking forward to them..

    Mhn yeah, that's about it.

    Now riding the train is just plain annoying coz my son does not like being still in there.. and I have to run after him the whole time... ugh! XD


    Watch The Darjeeling Limited, the whole movie is about a train ride. XD
     
  14. nephdj

    Member nephdj GBAtemp Fan

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    I rode the train to primary school and high school. so like 7,000 times [​IMG]
     
  15. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    Aah! Excellent, that bit about you boarding the train was. I'll take that into consideration as the older kid is hesitant to get on but does (of course). Its terrific to hear a kids view of the accounting of such an event--as at this point the characters are still kids!

    Also, thinks for the movie, I'll have to check it out. I also decided to peruse my dads collection of John Wayne Movies, there are quite a few trains in those great old western movies.

    Thinking of your poor grandma, I suspect that a constantly moving son on a train maybe Karma returning after all those years of you tormenting your granny, lol. Thanks alot for your submission and better luck with keeping the kid still XD
     
  16. shaunj66

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    I've been on trains, hi-speed rail, subways, monorails etc.. hundreds of times. Never batted an eye lid, even as a kid tbh... [​IMG]
     
  17. gizmo_gal
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    Wow, a real live Admin has replied to my rather miscellaneous thread [​IMG].

    Its okay if you've never thought anything of riding a train, maybe you could still come up with a contributing sentence or two--every little scrap of info and insight helps when you are a writer :3
     
  18. layzieyez

    Member layzieyez GBAtemp Fan

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    What kind of train are you looking at? I've ridden all sorts of train lines in Japan including the Shinkansen, MARTA in Atlanta, Metro in DC, trains in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, but I've never ridden AMTRAK. Where is this story taking place geographically?
     
  19. gizmo_gal
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    Member gizmo_gal QWEEN of the RadioActive Force!!!

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    In a completely fictional fantasy land.

    There are various countries that are slightly reminiscent of various historical periods/places of our world I guess, but the first setting is the most technologically advanced nation in the world and their technology is sort of undeveloped and crude, somewhere between the 30's and 40's of North American technology but they are still lacking many things and still searching for the best fuels to use and batteries are only a concept being campaigned by an association of Scientist and engineers at this time. The people of the story dont know it yet, but they are about to go through a bit of an industrialization period of their own.
     
  20. fischju

    Member fischju Rehabilitated Jaywalker

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    Steampunk/speculative fiction?
     

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