April 14, 2007 § 4 Comments


I love railways and always have.  I grew up near CPR tracks, in a neighbourhood defined by their borders and shaped by the work they brought.  I have lived near them ever since, in different apartments and cities but always on the same commercial line.

Because they are familiar, I find them comforting.  They’re something in a place and a life that remains constant, a line of continuity in a surround of relentless change.  Structurally, they are the veins of a city and of all cities, homely but vital. 

I’ve never understood the phrase “the wrong side of the tracks.”  From what I can tell, it doesn’t matter which side of them you’re on; it’s whether you can hear them or not.  I have fallen asleep to trainsong since the day I was born, and I will again tonight.

§ 4 Responses to Rails

  • Frank says:

    Although I didn’t grow up near them, I have always found railroads interesting. We used to often visit a railway museum as a kid where you could climb all over the trains. Then I’ve always loved public transport by train. The people, the movement and dynamic, and on the elevated in Chicago you could see the city unpolished (the train runs over the alleys). Then I grew to love long distance travel by train in Europe. The schedules, the scenery racing by, and even the smell. I’d have no quarlms with returning to transportation dominated by rail travel.

  • Vila H. says:

    Well, if Warren Buffett’s recent investments are any indication, a rail revival is not out of the realm of possibility.

    The decline of rail travel in Canada is a national tragedy, and, considering the alternative, incredibly foolish. If the government had any long-term economic vision at all, they would reinvest in VIA in a big way, and then promote it as an affordable and environmentally responsible form of mass transit. But that’s another rant entirely, isn’t it?

  • JonasParker says:

    I also grew up practically next to a train yard, and I don’t recall it ever being annoying. Others did, though, so much so that train whistles were banned in the Brockville city limits. This led directly to the deaths of several people in the 90s, I am convinced, but no one wanted to admit it.

    Also, Canada’s oldest rail tunnel is in my hometown.

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