New York - Columbia SC
April 11-16, 2003
For my birthday I decided to visit a nice southern city called Columbia, South Carolina, as well as visit a friend who attends the University of South Carolina (USC). I purchased the tickets in December and a few days later discovered my name was misspelled (since my ID was never checked which is against AMTRAK policy). A few weeks later I tried to change the reservation but I was told it was not a major problem.
Now the trip. On April 11th I woke up early to catch a bus from Glen Head to the Hempstead Bus Terminal which is across a small street from the train terminal. Arriving to catch an express to New York I arrived at Penn Station and then headed to Queens for breakfast. After breakfast I visited the memorial in battery park to the 9/11 attacks and returned north on the subway arriving back in Penn Station about an hour before train 91 was to depart.
Then things got really interesting with a train dying on the Hell Gate Bridge as well as some signal problems. The train on the bridge caused about 4 or 5 trains to be over an hour late and the signal problems delayed train 91, the Silver Star I would take to Columbia by about 20 minuts.
Around 1135 the boarding call was announced and I went to board. The consist of the Star was an AEM7AC, Dorm Pine Brook, three Viewliners, diner Silver Tureen, lounge Albany Club, 4 coaches and a baggage car. I noticed that although the coaches were in phase six scheme none were refurbished but they did look cleaner then the times I rode Amtrak under Warrington. In fact of the train only one car was refurbished and that was the lounge.
The train departed and after my ticket was collected and the train passed Newark I headed to the diner for a garden burger since I was observing Lent. The meal was extremely well prepared and came to a little more then I spend for food at my school.
Arriving at Philadelphia I heard something quite interesting about how the engine change was just moved from Philly to DC a few days before. We departed about 10 mins late stopped at Wilmington, Baltimore, and DC where the engine was changed.
We departed on time having made up all the time with only one locomotive. After going through the tunnel after Washington Union Station, we began to move slower due to CSX's speed restrictions. Passing over the James River I noticed how it was flooded. Passing the auto train terminal I saw it was empty being after the AT departed.
At Richmond I was able to step off the train for a breather before I would be in the train for about many hours before my arrival. Just short of Rocky Mount NC we stopped so a freight train could go, delaying us about 40 minutes. After Rocky Mount I tried to sleep but was unable to. Arriving at Columbia about a half hour late I took a cab to my motel.
I called my friend and she told me that due to scheduling she would be very busy so I decided to go from my motel to downtown Columbia by foot (a distance of about 7 miles). It felt good and after lunch I walked observing all the sights and sounds before heading back to the motel.
Sunday I wanted to go to a restaurant but only the IHOP was open so after lunch I went back to watch the news. The next two days I visited the USC campus and found it to be a beautiful tree lined campus. I visited the state museum which had an exhibit on civil engineers (my major in college).
Late in the evening I walked to train station to wait for train 92. It arrived about 20 minutes late. The train again had a similar consist to 92 with this time two locomotives, dorm, three sleepers, a non-Temoinsa refurbished diner, lounge Jacksonville club, 4 concept 2000 coaches, 2 phase 4, one phase 4 with a red stripe and one phase 6, a 1700 series baggage car (formerly a coach), and about 8 or 9 roadrailers.
I slept a little before arriving in Raleigh where I went to the diner for breakfast of French toast.
Arriving in Richmond there was one small problem. Train 94 was running severely late and many passengers would go to train 92 and we left a locomotive. All the shenanigans lasted two hours as we had to stop at 94's stations.
Arriving in DC a sleeper decided to go kaput but it was coaxed back to life and we departed with the diesel still on the point. Arrival at Philly meant the lounge would close and the diesel would be replaced by an E60 and the roadrailers would be removed.
Arrival at New York was an unbelievable 4 hours late. I returned home tired but pleased after what amounted to half my spring break.