I’ve always loved railways because they so directly signify journeys.
Found in almost all countries, crossing almost all terrain, seeing a set of steel rails means that someone, somewhere will be travelling along them.
While arguably less evocative than, say, a ribbon of asphalt or a jetty perched above azure waters, rails by their very existence seem to challenge one to move.
They’re also significant in their simplicity. Taking a plane means submitting yourself to a process of scanning and checking, belts and baggage. Taking a train means stepping through a single barrier (or sometimes none at all) and sitting down.
From that moment, your carriage will cart you along its predetermined path, along strips placed by others – perhaps to your end destination, perhaps to an interchange, or perhaps to just another stop along your way.
And, unlike planes or, indeed, cars, I’ve always felt that trains connect you more intimately with the world outside.
With no responsibility but to entertain yourself, you’re free to put down your smartphone and appreciate the scenery: watch trees whizz by or buildings tower above; witness those waiting at every level crossing and ponder on where the passengers at every station might be going.