Hmm, a chance to shake hands with Alex this Friday but only if I travel 150 miles by train. The fact that I'm even considering the torture of public transport is mind-boggling in itself.
As a Yank, the fact that you call a European train system "torture" is mind-boggling. You clearly have never attempted to use our poor excuse for a train system to get anywhere on time.
I've never had a truly bad experience on trains in the UK, France or Germany. Maybe a few minutes behind schedule, but they a) go to the cities I need to go to, b) are pretty punctual, and c) get regular updates to the infrastructure. In the good old USA, you're lucky if a train even exists in the city you want to go to, and even if it does you can count on the one train that stops there each day to be thirty years old and four hours late.
The precision and the quality of execution of European trains is surpassed only by the trains in Japan, where if they're more than thirty seconds behind schedule, the driver probably commits ritual seppuku right there in the train cab.
TL;DR: If you live in Europe or Japan, don't complain about your train systems, just come to America and learn how truly terrible train systems can be.
Just because it's worse somewhere else does not mean that it's not bad here. ;)
Worst part is how we used to have one company run by the government that did both maintenance to the railroads and the public transport bit. Then, the government decided it would be a good idea to privatize the railroads, so now we've got half a dozen companies that each have a monopoly over a different part of the country and a separate company that does maintenance for the infrastructure. And of course none of them actually communicate with eachother.
Anyway, I still need to figure out if I can find some time to be there. Would very much like to. :)