Trains, whose mournful whistles once moved poets such as Walt Whitman to rhapsodize over the joy of long distance travel, may be crawling back from irrelevance. Here at U.S. 1, which takes its name from a highway, we now offer our second train station cover story in the last four months.
On May 28 we reported on the attempted revitalization of the Princeton Junction station. This week we asked reporter (and Trenton resident) Kathy Spring to report on the new development at the capital’s station.
Spring turns out to be exceptionally qualified to report on train travel. Back in the 1980s, she tells us, she and her family spent “lots of time at the Princeton Junction train station, generally hitching a ride for free thanks to the fact that my husband worked for Amtrak, spending every weekend enroute to Boston, Washington, Baltimore, or New York.
“On several occasions we even used the train as our ticket to camping trips in Florida, transporting two small boys, tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles, and even pots and pans via rail.
“Then, just three years ago, we got a call from our older son, now living in Atlanta, telling us that our first grandchild was due to make her cameo any minute. I could find nothing for less than $1,000 for a flight. Then I found a train leaving at 3:19 p.m. from Trenton — the long distance trains never stop in Princeton Junction any more — and we were off, arriving at 8:30 a.m. the next morning, in time to hold Emily before she enjoyed her first lunch. Since then we have made the Trenton to Atlanta trip many times, and have been surprised to find that the trains are almost always full.”
Abandoned by most of its manufacturers and a good many of its residents some 40 years ago, Trenton is banking on the old technology of train travel to make it relevant once again.