A lot of people love New York. They love it for the culture, the nightlife, the shopping, the opportunities, as well as for many other reasons. And these are all great reasons. But being the city geek that I am, there’s another reason I think New York is great: express trains.
Broadly speaking express trains are simply trains that run faster than other trains on a network. In the case of New York, there are express trains and local trains. The latter stop at every station and the former typically just stop at major transfer points.
To make this all work, the New York system uses a 4 track system. There are 2 tracks headed in each direction with the local train on the outside track and the express train on the inner track. On stations where the express trains stop, the 2 tracks split from each other and the platform sits in the middle so that you can switch across the platform from express to local (and vice versa).
The benefit of express trains is obvious. It makes it significantly faster to travel long distances. And it makes, in a lot of cases, taking the subway the fastest alternative. That’s how transit should be.