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Trip Report

Amtrak New York City-Indianapolis-Chicago-New York City

February 14-22, 2007

Chatham Township, New Jersey


When we received a wedding invitation from my nephew, we decided to travel from New York to Indianapolis by train. Upon investigation on the Amtrak website, we chose the Cardinal to Indianapolis and return via the Thruway service from Indianapolis to Chicago, then the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York. We chose a bedroom for comfort.

We made the reservation to travel to Indianapolis on February 14, 2007 - Valentine's Day. I told my wife that the trip would be her Valentine present along with one red rose. She gave me two delicious chocolates in a heart shaped container. On February 12th, we heard that snow was expected on the night of February 13th, so we decided to travel from our home in New Jersey to New York City on February 13th and spend the night in the city. While we were in the city, we attended the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.

New York City-Indianapolis

We awoke early on Valentine's Day. Our hotel was one block from Penn Station, so we walked through snow covered streets to the Acela First Class Lounge at NYP. Upon entry into the lounge, we were nicely greeted and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee. Our train, the Amtrak Cardinal was scheduled to depart at 7:05am, but an announcement was made that it would be delayed until 7:30am. We were able to access the internet and our e-mail through terminals in the lounge, a very convenient perk.

At approximately 8:30am, we boarded the Cardinal. Our car was at the front end of the train, which was a long walk from the point we entered the platform. Our bedroom was clean and nicely appointed. We had an enclosed toilet and shower. I noticed the floor in the bathroom was wet only to find water dripping from the shower head. Our porter was a very nice lady who told me she would try to get the dripping shower head fixed in Philadelphia. She also invited us to the dining car for breakfast.

We had a nice breakfast while the train was passing through New Jersey. We stopped in Trenton and then Philadelphia. The porter came to our room upon departure from Philadelphia to ask if the shower head had been fixed. Unfortunately, it had not. She said she would have it repaired in Washington DC. We arrived Washington DC where the engine is changed from electric to diesel. A man came and fixed our shower and soon we were on our way into Virginia. We had lunch in the dining car along with several other sleeper travelers. They were all nice friendly people. We enjoyed the scenery through the countryside of Virginia and the mountains of West Virginia.

My wife decided to shower before retiring. Unfortunately, after the shower, the shower head began to drip again and could not be stopped. Our porter tried wrapping the head in a towel, but that did not stop the constant dripping. Our porter returned to our room to inform us that the couple in the bedroom next to us had detrained and that she would open the wall between the bedrooms that would enable us to use that bathroom for the rest of the journey.

The weather was quite snowy and cold. We had a couple of delays due to inoperative switches and perhaps some other weather related problems. I didn't mind our late arrival into Indianapolis as the new time would be a more reasonable time to arrive. We were served breakfast before our 9:40am arrival into Indianapolis. We enjoyed the trip and the excellent service provided by the train crew. There was no baggage check, so we had to handle our own bags, but they were on wheels and did not create any problems. We got a taxi at the train station that took us to the rental car agency.

Indianapolis-Chicago-New York City

On February 21, 2007, we again arrived at the Amtrak Station in Indianapolis. I checked in with the Amtrak agent for our Thruway bus trip to Chicago. The agent was very nice and told us to line-up about 10 minutes prior to departure. The bus driver loaded our luggage and we boarded the bus. It was about 70% full, but the seats were comfortable and the interior of the bus was clean. We had a good driver and enjoyed the ride to Chicago. We stopped first at the Greyhound depot, then onto the Amtrak Station. We were able to check our luggage in Chicago, then proceeded to the First Class Lounge.

The lounge was spacious and comfortable. We watched some television and walked a bit around the train station. The Grand Hall was very architecturally beautiful, but appeared to be unused.

We were called in the lounge to board the train a few minutes after 7:00pm. The train was scheduled to depart at 7:55pm. We were instructed to take our carry on bags to our bedroom, then to proceed to the dining car where dinner would be served. While we were enjoying our dinner, the Lake Shore Limited departed Chicago. Due to a derailment, our train did not stop in South Bend, IN, Waterloo, IN or Bryan, OH. We were rerouted directly to Toledo, OH where passengers from the aforementioned stations were bussed.

The trip during the night was uneventful and comfortable. I awoke to find the train stopped. We were waiting to cross a bridge. I think we were waiting for a freight train to cross the bridge ahead of us. We continued on past Cleveland, Erie and finally when we were near Utica, NY we saw where this area had recently received in excess of 100 inches of snow. We proceeded on our journey finally arriving Albany, NY. There, the Boston passengers detrained and we switched from diesel to electric engines and began our final leg to New York City. We arrived about 6 hours behind schedule. We were able to get our NJ Transit train back to our town in NJ and arrived home about 10:30pm.

We enjoyed the trip and the excellent service provided by the train crews. The food was very good and plentiful. I am looking forward to another train trip in the future.

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