Monday, September 8, 2014

Live blog: Amtrak trip to Philadelphia

I'm headed to Philadelphia on business.  Decided the company could spring for a roomette.  Will try some live blogging. The train us here about half hour late. All aboard!

But first the arriving passengers must climb up three flights of stairs. 

Roomette two.  In middle of car.  Nice.  Sleepers on rear tonight.  Should be good sleeping.  Car attendant,  Arthur,  has been by.  Seems first rate guy! 

9:15 pm. After a couple of stretches of 79 mph, we held the main at Buford GA while multilevel train P11 slid by on the siding.  Very short delay for us.  Intermodal train 222 is chasing us up from  Atlanta. 

Took delay approaching Gainesville. Don't know why.  Went to lounge for beer and chips.  Service was okay.  Attendant used ceiling vent for bottle opener.  Weird. 

First gripe.  Lounge car has dedicated office space for conductor,  but he had commandeered whole table in lounge.  It wasn't crowded,  but still... 

Looks like we will be out of Gainesville about 45 min behind. 

Went to bed about Greenville SC.  Woke up in Charlottesville.  Breakfast to Culpepper.  French toast and bacon.  Good,  not great but service was very good.  Sat with a guy heading to Baltimore for architecture convention.  His first train ride in 50 years.  Grew up in Springfield MO.  Dad worked for the Frisco. 

Biggest mistake so far was not sleeping in upper berth.  Could have left seats up and luggage on floor. Instead,  has suitcase on toilet cover. That was... . Uh.. . Inconvenient. 

Interior of AMTK 26035

8:15 am.  Currently running 4 min late heading for Manassas. 


Wifi Hotspot on phone to laptop to citrix to remote desktop to work PC in Atlanta.  Amazing.... 

Union Station Washington DC 

Leaving DC 

My rolling hotel 

Oil cans just north of Perryville MD.  Empty petroleum tank cars headed west for more.  Daylight freight on NEC.  Good deal!  

Wilmington.  Next stop is mine. 

Off to NYP
Some final thoughts:  

The trip was fun.  The staff on the train was very good.  The diner served okay food with good service, but there was hardly anyone there at 8:00 AM and they were beating the bushes for lunch customers.  The Viewliners were getting a bit raggedly.  Some peeling paint.  Curtains that didn't work quiet well.  Blankets that were frayed.  But, everything that needed to work, worked.  I probably got the best night's sleep ever on a train.

Norfolk Southern's track in GA and SC was not the best, but in NC and VA it was very smooth.  The train spent a lot of time accelerating up to 79 mph only to brake for many, many curves.  The superelevation has been pulled out of a lot of them.  We went around many over (under?) balanced.  Track in the NEC was not great.  Viewliner spent a lot of time doing choppy, rhythmic bouncing at 110 mph, like there were long wave corrugations in the rail or something.

One last note.  Overheard two women from coach talking about a guy that had a small puppy with him.  When my son rode a month ago, there was a guy with a puppy in his backpack. Same guy?  


Some other observations:

The baggage car - was nearly empty.  You could see into it from the rear door of my sleeper.  There was the Congressionally mandated gun safe bolted to the wall in the middle of the car.  In the back of the car were some suitcases - no more than a couple dozen.  The bulk of that 85' car was completely empty.  This would have been a perfect train for a baggage-dorm car - or better yet, a combine.  So, why did Amtrak change their order of baggage dorms to straight baggage cars?  

The two sleepers - were not sold out.  There were a handful of roomettes not occupied. The dining car crew came through the train announcing lunch.  The were going to stop serving in Wilmington, I suppose so they could get their inventory done prior to arriving in NYP.  They did get a few takers.  So, why not actively sell the unused sleeper space on board?  

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