I thought that flying from New York to Washington DC would be a bit excessive. A shorter journey time but so much more faffing around at the airport, asking for a hand check for film so the scanners don't destroy it, plus the metro between airports and cities. Surely the train is less stress.

My European tendency to trust trains is not compatible with Amtrak. Don't let the comfortable seats and clean, spacious stations on the northeast regional line fool you—these trains limp along slowly, even by antique British mainline standards.

The return leg was effected by a broken down train ahead of us, making the 245 mile journey take close to six hours. About the same time as a flight from New York to California.

This level of service is poor by the standards of British public transit, but would make even the most hardened German or Swiss commuter commit crimes.