Northeast Corridor, Capital Limited, and almost the Lake Shore Limited
July 3-7, 2002
by Jonathan Stein
July 3, 2002 4:00 am
My Mom and I are just departing our house to the Plymouth and Brockton bus depot in West Barnstable. From there we took the 4:25 am bus to South Station in Boston. The bus ride was a short 1 hour 15 minute ride from point to point, but as usual it was bumpy from the endless roadwork on Route 3 up into Boston. At the station we picked up some breakfast and lunch to bring on the train for our ride to Washington DC.
July 3, 2002 6:20 am
We got onto Northeast Direct #95 (Warrington's gone and in my opinion so is Acela) with time to spare. The train departed right on time out of South Station and thus began my westward journey to Chicago by train. It was a smooth ride down to New Haven, passing the through the forests of Southern Massachusetts to the endless stretch of beaches on the Connecticut shoreline. Departure from New Haven was about 2 minutes late and we continued south along Metro North through the industrious towns outside of New York. This was my first trip with a scanner and everything was working great. The talk was real interesting to listen to. Arrival in New York was five minutes late at 10:25 am. Just want to point out that between Boston and New Haven we were going track 2 not track 1.
July 3, 2002 10:40 am
Every time I take #95, between Boston and New York the train seems to carry a light to medium load, but after New York the load picks up. We just departed New York 5 minutes late with every seat filled and a few standees. The conductors were great at handling the crowd and made things run like clockwork. We lost ten minutes at Metropark for boarding a disabled passenger in Business Class, which made a total of 15 minutes down. The rest of the ride to Washington DC was pretty much uneventful except we came into New Carrolton at 50 mph and stopped with 3 cars not on platform. The train's final arrival was at 2:20 pm, 20 minutes late. The consist of Amtrak Regional #95 is as follows:
HHP-8 Locomotive Amfleet I Coach Phase 3 Amfleet I Cafe Phase 4 For seating only Amfleet I Coach Phase Acela Amfleet I Coach Phase 4 Amfleet I Coach Phase 4 Amfleet I Coach Phase Acela I sat here Amfleet I Cafe Phase Acela Amfleet I Business Class Phase Acela
I was surprised to see an HHP-8 Locomotive and an Acela Regional Cafe, on the consist as that is usually not the norm on #95 (at least for me it isn't).
July 3, 2002 2:45 pm
After spending some time in the Metropolitan Lounge in Washington DC it was time to board #29 Amtrak's Capitol Limited to Chicago. We were in car 2900, Deluxe Bedroom E. The car I was in was in a strange state of refurbishment. All the upholstery had been replaced with new Superliner II colors, the carpets were new, and the walls were in a cream color. However, the counter tops were still in orange and green and the Standard Bedrooms still had that oddly small sized closet. The rest of the train was unrefurbished Superliner I equipment except for the Transition Sleeper. One thing to note: It seems Amtrak has got new emergency safety cards with layouts of the trains and computer generated 3-D pictures of the cars. I noticed this on the Amfleets and Superliners, but not Viewliners.
Our attendant Jimmy was great and left out an assortment of drinks and route guides (I thought I would never see them again). When we had to switch to room C for a family that needed joining rooms he was very helpful then. He offered to bring coffee and juice to us in the morning, provided a wake-up call, and help us with luggage prior to boarding and detraining. In the morning a newspaper was left under the door. No chocolate chip cookies this time guys.
Departure from Washington was on time but we stopped about mile into our trip due to broken CSX signals (what else is new). We were restricted all the way to Rockville were the train arrived 30 minutes down. There was a lot of freight traffic up to Harpers Ferry were the Capitol arrived 60 minutes down. The conductors did a great job of keeping everyone informed.
July 3, 2002 5:30 pm
Time for our 5:30 pm dinner reservation where we were served an excellent New York Strip Steak topped with a mushroom sauce and an onion ring along with real mashed potatoes, a mix of carrots and green beans, a dinner roll, and a salad. For dessert I had the chocolate truffle, but I only took a few bites as it was too sweet for me. I spent the rest of the evening in the Sightseer Lounge watching the breathtaking scenery of the Allegheny Mountains and then went back to the room as night began to fall. Jimmy made up the beds around ten and after a nice shower I crawled into the wide lower bunk. With the lights off I was able to watch the small towns and wide-open fields pass outside my window. At Connellsville there were fireworks right out side my window and I was able to watch those as the Capitol was stopped at a red signal for about 20 minutes!
July 4, 2002 6:00 am
We woke up, got dressed, and headed to the Dining Car for breakfast. I had eggs, pan fried potatoes, biscuits, and sausage along with of glass OJ. Everything has hot and wicked good. We headed back to our room were I slept for another hour. One word of advice, never try to sleep in that armchair, you'll wake up with the worst backache. Arrival into Chicago was at 10:30 am (central time), 1 hour 50 minutes late. The consist of the Capitol Limited is as followed:
P-42 Locomotive Phase 5 P-42 Locomotive Phase 5 Heritage Baggage Phase 3 Superliner II Transition Sleeper Phase 4 (PH4) Superliner I Sleeping Car PH4 Superliner I Sleeping Car PH4 (partly refurbished) - I was here Superliner I Dining Car PH4 Superliner I Sightseer Lounge PH4 Superliner I Coach/Smoking PH4 Superliner I Coach PH4 Superliner I Coach PH4 2 Material Handling Cars 6 Express Handling Car
July 7, 2002 2:30 pm
This is the beginning of my worst and most unheard of experience I have ever encountered with Amtrak. It all started when my mom and I headed into the Metropolitan Lounge to store our luggage while we went off to the Sears Tower. We told the lounge attendant that we were on train 448, car #4820. We brought our luggage to room 341 and we were off. We came back to the lounge around 5:30 pm and told the lounge attendant once again that we were on train 448, car #4820. We sat there and relaxed, but then the group sitting next to us explains that their New York sleeper was cut from the train.
I went up to check that our sleeper on the Boston section was still running. These are the exact words from the attendant 5 minutes before boarding "Oh I'm sorry, I did not tell you earlier, your sleeper as been cut from the train, my mistake." The first thing I wanted to know why we weren't told that afternoon when they already knew about it. (They called my dad at home at 2 in the afternoon) Then I wanted to know what they were going to do with all 60 passengers. I checked the consist print out and it showed that there were only 5 Amfleet II coaches (one of which bad ordered restrooms) on the train and all but 30 seats were unavailable. I was also told by the attendant that the train had not been cleaned in days as the Lake Shore Limited had been running almost 5 hours late each day (she also tried to tell me that our train had just came from L.A.; I don't think so). There was no way in hell I was going to ride 24 hours in coach with a dirty car, broken restroom, and a crew that did not want to have to deal with their passengers. After I asked if any other sleeping car accommodations on any other train and all she said was, "I don't have time for you sir, you must go wait in the line over by the ticket counter." Don't have time for me? You just told me my Sleeper was cut 5 minutes before boarding.
My mom and I went over to the ticket counter where they refunded the sleeper portion, not the rail fare. We demanded a full refund by that time because the way the ticket agent was handling it was totally unprofessional. We were tired, frustrated, and just gave up on Amtrak, and went to spend a 4th night in the city. At the hotel we booked an ATA flight from Chicago to Boston the next day and that was that. We arrived in Boston at midnight July 8, 2002. The Lake Shore Limited arrived 2 hours late that same day. Well I still enjoy riding Amtrak and I'm all for it and I know they are going through difficult times.