Several different sections of the community are probably represented in every crowded carriage, and, noticing this, you are able to realise how railway travelling is in influence tending to diminish the exclusiveness of caste. Some of your fellow-travelers are rude, others are polite.
Some are so shy and reserved that they will hardly speak when spoken to, while others force their conversation upon reluctant listeners. Occasionally in a railway train one meets well-informed and agreeable persons, whose conversation does much to relieve the tedium of a long journey.
Even more interesting than the study of the different characters of one’s fellow-passengers, is the variety of the scenery through which the railway passes. As the train hurries on at the rate of thirty miles an hour, a changing panorama of natural scenery passes before your eyes.
At one time you look at agricultural operations in a rich plain; and then the scene changes and the train plugs into the shadow of a great forest and wakens the echoes of a rocky and barren mountain district.
Sometimes your eyes are refreshed by the prospect of the boundless sea, or of some great river along the banks of which the railroad passes, or rising gradually by long curves up the sides of high mountains you have a fine view of hill and valley and forest.
It is when such obstacles as a range of mountains or a great river have to be encountered, that the railway passengers see from their carriage windows the most impressive examples of the triumph of the modern engineer over nature.
In passing through a mountainous country, the train at one time runs along a huge viaduct spanning a deep valley, and at another time dives into a dark tunnel bored straight through the middle of an opposing hill.
Add to all this variety of interesting sights the great cities and other places of historic interest that are sure to lie along the course of the railroad, and it will be evident that there is plenty of occupation for eye and mind in a railway journey.
Nevertheless, all travelling is more or less wearisome if long continued, and the railway traveler is sure to be glad to see interesting sights on the way, but, for all that, after a time he begins to feel hot and dusty, and the continual rattle of the train jars upon his nerves.
There are few travelers who do not experience a feeling of satisfaction when their trains begin to slacken speed, and they know that they are approaching their destination.
Every mode of travelling has its own special inconveniences, and the railway traveler, exhausted by noise and dust and want of sleep, is often inclined to think with regret of the old days when travelling was done in a more leisurely manner by river boats and bullock carts.
He forgets how slow and expensive such a system of travelling was, and that the travelers were continually in danger of being robbed and even murdered by the bands of robbers who infested the roads.
It is, however, not necessary to enter into a detailed comparison between the old and new ways of travelling. Discomforts and annoyances have to be encountered on the railway as elsewhere.
But the superiority of the railway train over all other kinds of travelling is conclusively proved by the fact that hardly any one thinks of going on a long journey by road or water, when it is possible for him to reach his destination by the railway train.