Saturday, January 17, 2009

All aboard, as Obama takes slow train to power

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AFP) — Barack Obama will herald his new era of change Saturday by rolling back the years to launch four days of inaugural festivities on a slow train to Washington.

He will ride the rails from Philadelphia, the cradle of US independence more than 200 years ago, to marbled Union Station less than a mile from the spot where he will be sworn in as the first African-American president on Tuesday.

The rumbling "whistle stop" journey is part homage to Obama's hero, former president Abraham Lincoln, like Obama a former Illinois legislator who capped a cross-country train ride along the same route on the way to his inauguration in 1861.

But whereas Lincoln and subsequent presidents once spent days wending their way across the frigid prairies, Obama, a Blackberry-toting product of the jet age, will trundle along on the railroad for just one day.

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