Stuff my father-in-law says: On taking the train

My father-in-law was planning on taking the train to the airport. He heard that the train comes every ten minutes. By his calculations, then, he could catch the 7:50 train and be at the airport by 7:55.

Reasoning: Since the train comes every ten minutes, then it must take five minutes to get to the airport, and five minutes to come back.


(If true, then it means that the train travels at around 170mph ≈ 270kph.)

Comments (23)
  1. Vilx- says:

    Sounds very reasonable!

  2. DWalker07 says:

    One of the large airlines used to have a flight from New York City to Chicago, and back, almost every half-hour during the daytime hours. Now it’s every half-hour or hour. The same principle must apply….

  3. Pierre B. says:

    Your speed calculations assume boarding takes no time. It’s also an average speed. I think the train must have a regular top-speed twice or triple that to take both of these facts into account. Barf bags and seat straps not included.

    1. Ken in NH says:

      He’s just following his F-i-L’s line of argument which also did not account for non-travel time.

  4. camhusmj38 says:

    Does he suppose that there is only one train?

    1. Ian Yates says:

      The word “the” is the trick with this 😀

      People using the word train to really refer to the train service.

      A train servicing this route will come every ten minutes


      The train servicing this route will come every ten minutes

      The latter sounds ridiculous of course, but that’s the literal interpretation that the FiL has run with.

  5. z00k says:

    He’s not talking about release trains, right?

  6. Falcon says:

    Throughput vs latency!

  7. Warren says:

    With no other context, it *is* a logical conclusion.

    However … you’d think someone who is old enough to be not only a “father”, but a “father-in-law” would *expect* other stops on the route!

  8. morlamweb says:

    If only we had trains in the US that roll along at 170 mph. The best we’ve got that’s in regular service is the Acela, and that tops out at roughly 140 mph, and only for part of the ride.

    1. Brian says:

      My normal “I’ll believe when I see it filter” is still blocking most of the news about this, but…
      News about the Dallas to Houston “Bullet Train” is becoming more frequent. The feds have picked a route and it’s now in the public comment phase:
      What’s interesting about this is that someone thinks they can finance this without the government being involved. Of course, whenever I hear them talk, I have that Simpson’s Monorail tune serenading my thoughts.

      1. morlamweb says:

        I’ve heard about the Texas bullet train, and I’m cautiously excited about it. I hope it comes to fruition. I’d travel to Dallas just to ride on it.

        1. Rick C says:

          I’ve had the same thought about the other direction, but once you get there, what’re you going to do? You’re probably going to have to rent a car.

    2. ErikF says:

      You could indeed have trains that go at 170mph. The only question that you would have to ask would be how long the train would stay on the tracks. :-)

      My suggestion is that trains should be outfitted with a flux capacitor. That way they would only have to go 88mph, and they could arrive at their destination before they leave!

      1. morlamweb says:

        Trains in Japan and across Europe manage to travel faster than 170 mph on a daily basis. Then again, Japan and countries in the EU have also invested a lot more money into railway infrastructure improvements compared to the US, which often results in straight, level, grade-separated, electrified track. The Acela’s route has precious little such track, and it’s on those portions where they can really push it to 140 +. Much of the track follows old-school tracks built for much slow trains, tracks that have tight curves and at-grade road crossings, which limit it’s top speed.

        1. Chrissielein says:

          Don’t forget china. I believe they have the largest high speed railway network. Their bullet trains run between 250 and 350 km/h.

      2. Simon says:

        170 mph isn’t all that fast… inter-city trains in Japan cruise at about 200 mph, and if you want to get to an airport quickly, the maglev connecting Shanghai airport to the city peaks at about 270 mph. And even that’s pretty slow compared to the prototype being trialed in Japan, which has been clocked at a ridiculous 370 mph.

      3. French Guy says:

        Yeah, our trains don’t have much trouble staying on track at nearly 200 mph (operating top speed for the TGV is 190 or 200 mph depending on the route). In about 30 years of operation, there have been only a handful of trains derailing at high speed and no fatalities involving trains going at high speed (not having level crossing between roads and high-speed track sections helps a lot with that).

        A whole-trip average speed of 170 mph is not impossible on a multi-hour trip. It’s quite impossible on a 5-minute trip, though.

  9. Peter says:

    Bullet trains and TGVs can go that fast. In any case, are you sure it’s wise to post bad stuff about your father-in-law on your public blog?

    1. cheong00 says:

      You’re assuming the trains don’t need accel/brake distance, and like others said, passenger load/unload completed instantaneously.

      Btw, maybe you think it’s bad staff, but IMO it’s just funny stuff. Personally I don’t mind people posting “things that I thought with faulty reasoning” to the blogs, provided no name explicitly given.

  10. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    We can not blame him. In his times, processors didn’t use pipelining, either :-) .

  11. Ray Koopa says:

    You have to remind him that he needs to get on and off _very_ quickly ;-)

  12. GL says:

    Why must buses come at multiples of ten minutes?

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