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The Globe and Mail

NYC by train: What had we been waiting for?

Illustration by Gianluca Foli for The Globe and Mail.

Last fall, my wife Leslie and I did something environmentally commendable: We took the train from Burlington, Ont. to New York.

We loved it - for non-green reasons. In fact, we wondered why we had we been so stupid for so long. Why had we repeatedly endured the ritual assault of travelling to New York by air from Pearson International Airport - the parking, the shuttle, the waiting, the security indignities, the cab lineup, the traffic, the feeling like abused feedlot animals - when all along there has been a daily Amtrak/Via train departing from Union Station?

The comfort was dazzling. In business class, the seats are like oversized leather La-Z-Boys. There's legroom enough for Chris Bosh, in snow boots. We packed artisanal cheeses, roasted vegetables, fresh baguette and good chocolate, eating luxuriantly while sipping red wine and gazing at the Hudson River.

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Carry-on baggage? No problem. Carry on a steamer trunk full of books if you like.

There's more. Parking in the huge commuter lot in Burlington was free. Ticketing and customs irritations were non-existent. There were no cabs to flag. And the round trip was only $220.

Yes, you have to make the time. But that's also an interesting calculation. Airport waits are cramped purgatory. Train travel invites productivity. I worked on my laptop, in my recliner, without the usual distractions, for six hours on the way down and another six on the way back - nicely financing three indulgent days in the Big Apple.

Twelve hours after stepping onto the train, well rested and well read, we stepped off at Penn Station in midtown Manhattan and hopped the subway to our hotel. That too is green. Viva la Via.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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