Long Island NY to St. Louis and Return
I decided to go to Saint Louis on August 18 for a few days and then settled on the Three Rivers to and from Chicago and the Texas Eagle to and from Saint Louis. The hope was to see Horseshoe curve, ride a Superliner and check out the new national dining car menu, and observe the transit system in Saint Louis. All would work out.
Getting to Chicago
On August 18th I was driven to the Glen Head Long Island Railroad station to catch a train for Mineola, which would connect to a train to New York (NYP). The LIRR trains were the standard diesel line train with a cab-car leading two trailers and a DE30AC pushing and the electric consisted of Budd Built M1 and a pair of M3 units in the middle.
Arriving early I got a snack and observed the memorial display to 9/11/01 in the rotunda. The train boarded around 12:00 pm I went down and observed the consist.
E60 Deadheading Horizon Dinette 3 Amfleet-II (I was seated in the one behind the dinette) Horizon full dinette Viewliner 6 MHC 2 baggage cars (one a rebuilt heritage coach)
We departed on time, stopping at Newark (at which time I had a lunch of a pizza and a hot dog with an iced tea) and Trenton before arriving in Philadelphia where the E60 was removed and replaced with 4 roadrailers and on the other end two Genesis units in the new paint scheme were added. The departure was on time and we went down the Harrisburg line stopping at Paoli and Lancaster before arriving in Harrisburg where several more roadrailers were added. Thus after Harrisburg the consist was:
2 Genesis II 6 MHCs 2 Baggage Viewliner Horizon dinette 3 Amfleet-II Deadheading dinette 9 roadrailers
I had dinner in the dinette right after the Altoona stop as we went through the beautiful Horseshoe Curve and observed the Johnstown station that resembled the original NYP but was much smaller. We were approaching Pittsburgh when the train stopped and stood there. Then an announcement that a freight had broken down and was blocking the approaches. Less then 5 minutes after this Norfolk Southern had some other locomotives tow the train out of the way. We arrived slightly tardy but were able to get the crew change and watering done quickly so that we departed on time. Just after Akron we encountered terrible weather that kept me awake for the most part but I was able to get some sleep and a strange phenomenon occurred -- with every stop the HEP turned off. At about 5:30 an announcement came that the lounge would soon close so I went to get breakfast of frosted flakes and some milk.
We backed into Chicago after dropping the roadrailers off for an on time arrival. I then rode the CTA for a few hours until returning to wait for the Texas Eagle. I then noticed the northbound train was heavily delayed due to a derailment so I decided to not take chances and exchange my ticket for the 415 departure from Saint Louis, aka the State House. I was able to do this without much trouble despite the fact that I had a two-part ticket. I then returned to the waiting room to wait for train 21 to be called. When it was called I went to board it and noticed two things, a lot of express and a coach-café instead of a sightseer lounge (neither was a serious problem though). The train left and made its way through the yard.
After the departure from Chicago the dining car attendant came to take dinner reservations and I took the 6:00pm sitting. As I waited I explored the train slightly and noticed the car behind me was the smoking car, which had the glass enclosed smoking room, which looked good, and there was no smell of smoke. At about 6:15 they made the announcement for dinner and I headed to the diner that was right next to my car. I read the menu and decided on the Chicken a L'Orange with Pepsi and a cheesecake for dessert. I was seated with three sleeper passengers who made great companions for dinner as we discussed everything from the food to AMTRAK having its money problems. One of my table mates said how due to the heat his Southwest Chief was limited to 15 mph for a good part of its route.
After dinner I went back to my seat to await arrival at Saint Louis. We arrived and I noticed one thing instantly: the station was one ugly building. I went to the Kiel Center Metrolink line and rode it to the convention center and arrived at my hotel.
The next day I rode the Metrolink in both directions where I saw another very odd thing: The eastern terminal is next to a college and a cornfield. That day visited Union Station which should have had an area for AMTRAK built in it but I looked good as a shopping center with the Metrolink stopping right under it pretty much. One of the Metrolink stations (Delmar) is on an old line with a station where the remains of stairs and a platform are.
The 21st found me visiting the Arch and taking a riverboat ride as well as going to Lambert field to see the other end of the line. I had dinner at Union Station and then went to my hotel to get sleep before departing back home. I arrived at the station to see what would become train 300 to Chicago get backed up for servicing. It was called and I was put in a former cab car that was a Metroliner MU (multiple unit) at one time and it had outlets but did not need them.
The consist for 300:
1 Genesis in new scheme 2 horizon coaches, Amfleet/ex metroliner (my car) Amfleet custom class/café MHC
We departed and as in went on the train became almost completely full of people who mostly were going to Chicago.
The train arrived only a few minutes late and I spent my long layover buying a CD and riding more of the CTA, which had problems due to flooding with parts of both subways not running. As a result of this I had to walk outside and got a rather large and painful blister.
I had dinner at a Subway that was near the station and went to wait for the Three Rivers to be called. As I waited I watched the Simpsons, Seinfeld and the Beyond Belief show where I guessed 3 of the stories correctly as to whether they were true or false.
The train was called and it was the same consists except had no roadrailers but they were added in the yard after which we proceeded to continue east. I slept better and around Pittsburgh had breakfast with lunch just after photographing Horseshoe Curve and a beautiful orthodox church. Arriving a Harrisburg several of the roadrailers were removed.
As the train headed toward Philadelphia it encountered very rough tracks. Arrival in Philadelphia was early so we had lots of time to get some air as an electric was added after the remaining roadrailers were removed. The train then continued to make its normal stops on time to New York where it arrived 6 minutes early despite having to wait for a commuter train and an Acela Express train. I arrived back at home at about 10 pm that evening tired but happy because the trip was fantastic.