Trains are the way to travel in Kazakhstan. Planes are too expensive. Buses are uncomfortable. If you want to get across the vast lands that are Kazakhstan, you are probably taking a train.
Trains are not the way to travel in America. Most people go by cars. If you travel long distance, you are probably going to take a plane. There are certain places that use trains to travel (New England, East Coast, around Chicago maybe, West Coast?), but for the majority of the country, trains are something from the past.
But how do trains here and there compare?
Trains are cheap in Kazakhstan. The cheap class of a ticket for a ten-hour train ride from Taraz to Almaty costs about $10. So a 24-hour train ride is probably about $20. Trains in America are not cheap. The 24-hour train from Savannah to Boston cost $125. This was equivalent to the cost of a plane ticket. I took the train because it was easiest to ship my bike. Cost is a big problem with trains in America. If trains and planes cost the same in Kazakhstan, people there would also not take trains.
Amtrak has much cleaner bathrooms. Amtrak has bathrooms you can use all
the time, even when you are passing through a city. Amtrak bathrooms
have a light to show you someone is occupying it. Kazakhstan's bathrooms
are dirty, sometimes closed (since you don't want to open the hole to
the tracks in a city), and have no occupancy indicators. It seems like
Amtrak would be the clear winner, right? Wrong. Kazakhstan bathrooms
have a much better set up for long-distance train rides. They have a
drain in the middle of the floor. They have lots of hooks you can hang
things with. They are practically made so you can shower yourself in
there. And yeah, you don't really want to hang out in them, but why
would you ever want to hang out in a train bathroom. I value
practicality over comfort, and Kazakhstan trains win hands down. Winner:
1. Air-conditioning: Amtrak has it. Kazakhstan does not. Sometimes the windows do not even open. Winner: Amtrak.
2. Lights. Amtrak never turns the lights off. Kazakhstan does. Winner: Kazakhstan.
3. Food available. Amtrak has food available on the train. Kazakhstan has food available at every stop along the way. Amtrak's food is boring and standard. Kazakhstan has melons, smoked fish, shashlik, fresh fruit, etc. Plus, babushkas will usually give you food for free. Winner: Tie
4. Buying tickets: Amtrak let's you do it online. Kazakhstan lets you do it online. Winner: Tie.
5. Seats: Amtrak has comfortable seats. Kazakhstan has beds! Beds! But sometimes people sit on you when you are lying in your bed. Hmmm.... Winner: Kazakhstan by a hair
6. Customer Service: Amtrak was awesome when I was shipping my bike to Boston. They were not good when my bike didn't show up. Kazakhstan train customer service usually ranges from bad to average. Winner: Kazakhstan.
Total count: 5 for K, 1 for A, and 2 ties
In short, if you can't tell, I love trains in Kazakhstan.