Amtrak Travelogue by Steve Grande
Note: This rail travelogue was accidentally deleted and lost for many years. We managed to
recover it in late 2010 from archives and re-post it to TrainWeb.com. These are some of my
earliest rail travels and travel writings. My experience and understanding of Amtrak and
other rail operations was quite a bit less than today and my writing style may have been a
bit less experienced back then. So please pardon any problems that you might find in these
earlier rail travel reports. A number of these earlier reports also have few or no photos
or very small photos which was intentional to reduce download time during the early days of
the web when almost everyone had slow dial-up connections to the internet!
Steve's Summer 1997 Rail Journey
Thursday through Friday, June. 19 - 20, 1997
Western Pacific Airlines: Los Angeles,CA to Newark,NJ
Amtrak Metroliner: New York City to Philadelphia,PA (round trip)
New Jersey Transit: Philadelphia,PA to Atlantic City,NJ (round trip)
Steve's Summer 1997 Rail Journey - First Segment: Travel on Western Pacific
Airlines from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, the Amtrak Metroliner from
New York City to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey Transit from
Philadelphia to Atlantic City.
Click here if this is the first time you
have ever read one of my travelogues.
Western Pacific Airlines
Los Angeles,CA to Newark, NJ
Thursday, 5:00 P.M. (Pacific Time), 06/19/97, Anaheim, California
Rather than leave my car at Fullerton, a friend and work associate at
TrainWeb gave me a ride from our offices in Anaheim to the Disneyland
Hotel where I could pick up an express bus to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX).
I didn't have any idea what time the next bus would leave, but I knew they
ran pretty frequently. I wanted to be at the airport by about 8:00 P.M. at
the latest to catch my flight at 8:20 P.M. If there wasn't any bus between
now and 7:00 P.M., we'd still have plenty of time to drive all the way to
With all the rush-hour traffic and construction around Disneyland, we
didn't get to the bus stop at the hotel until about 5:45. However, I was
in luck. The next bus to LAX was leaving at 6:00 P.M., in just 15 minutes.
The one-way ticket was $14. The bus rolled a couple of minutes after I
purchased my ticket. I gave my suitcase to the bus driver to store below
and brough my carry-on bag to my seat with me. There were plenty of seats
on the bus. The bus could probably hold more than 30 people and there were
only about a dozen people on the bus. The bus stopped at a couple more
hotels before getting onto the highway. We reached the airport in plenty
of time. I was let out at the terminal for Western Pacific just a few
minutes after 7:00 P.M. A sign on the bus said something about tips not
being included in the fare, so I tipped the bus driver $1 as he was
unloading my bag to the curb.
There were about six people waiting in line at the Western Pacific
ticketing desks with two agent desks open and a third agent helping the
other two. There seemed to be some problem as the line didn't move for
over 10 minutes. The computer seemed to be having a problem assigning
seats. Best I could tell, the agent would put in a request and the computer
would just sit there not giving any response for a long time. One of the
agents announced that people who were not checking baggage could go right
to their gate. Since I wasn't checking any baggage, I headed off to the gate!
I didn't have any problem getting through the security check at the airport
this time. I wasn't wearing steel tip work shoes this time and I had put
all my keys, pager, cell phone, etc. and even my film into my luggage
temporarily so I didn't have to dump out all my pockets into a tray. I also
made sure my cell batteries were scattered about my luggage this time and
weren't all lumped in one layer at the bottom of my suitcase which would
have created a suspicious impenetrable barrier for the person operating
the X-ray machine, as it did the last time I flew. One of the things I
like about a train is that you can just board with you luggage and not
hassle going through an invasive security procedure that makes you feel
like a prison inmate.
At the boarding desk, another 6 people were in another slow moving line.
They seemed to be having the same problem as the main desk! Eventually
it got to be my turn and I asked for an aisle seat near the front if one
was available. They assigned me 5C which was a good place to be. For my
early morning plans to work, I needed the plane to arrive on time and I
then needed to get to the airport bus stop quickly. Being on the aisle
and near the exit door would give me the best chance at getting out ahead
of the crowd and making my bus connection. If the plane was too late, I'd
have to cancel some of the rail touring that I had planned to do in the
local area before the rest of my Amtrak journey would begin at 6:30 P.M.
Western Pacific is an interesting airline. They have the newest equipment
of all the new startup airlines, and their philosophy is to use all
identical equipment! They figured they could reduce maintenance costs by
going with a fairly new fleet and by needing replacement parts throughout
the nation for just one model of airplane. I am aware that a large problem
for low-cost startup airlines is trying to keep control of maintenance
costs. I'm glad that Western Pacific was solving this problem by using
newer planes and streamlining maintenance and costs by standarizing on just
one plane model which simplifies and reduces both maintenance training costs
and parts supply costs. I'm not too happy or secure in the fact that most
other low cost airlines have tried to keep their costs low by purchasing
whatever planes they could get at whatever low prices they could find,
even if they end up with a mixed fleet of older planes and a nightmare of
maintaining spare parts and finding mechanics trained on so many systems.
After most people had boarded the plane, there were still more trying to
come on. Many of these people had seat assignments identical to people
who were already sitting! That even happened with my seat! All the people
in my row were traveling by themselves and each had a single seat
assignment. Yet, a family of 5 boarded and had seat assignments that were
a duplicate for almost every seat in my row! A couple of minutes before
the plane was about to take off, a Flight Attendant announced they had
been having a problem with the seating assignments being issued by the
computer and asked that everyone just take whatever open seat they could
In this way, only a couple of people were left without any seats. The
Flight Attendant seemed happy and said they had done a lot better this
time finding a seat for almost everyone than on the last flight! From
some other comments, I concluded that Western Pacific had open seating
like Southwest Airlines until just a couple of days before my flight.
Assigning seats before boarding was a new feature of Western Pacific
and not all the bugs had been worked out yet.
Western Pacific is to passengers what Federal Express is to packages, if you
have any understanding of how Federal Express works. Basically, Federal
Express flies all the packages from around the nation to one central hub.
All the planes arrive within a couple of hours of each other and sit at the
hub until all the packages are unloaded, sorted, and reloaded onto the
appropriate jets. Once the sorting and loading process is done, all the
planes leave the hub within a couple of hours of each other.
Western Pacific does the same with people. All the planes arrive at their
central hub in Colorado Springs within a couple of hours of each other.
Everyone gets off the planes and moves to another plane. All those planes
then take off at almost the same time for their final destinations. The
only big difference between Western Pacific and Federal Express is that
the passengers on Western Pacific can sort themselves out and board the
appropriate departing plane.
Since my flight left at 8:20 P.M., this "sorting" occurred in the middle
of the night. Even though I was going through to Newark, New Jersey on
the exact same plane, they made us get out and reconfirm our seat numbers.
Once out of the plane, they didn't let anyone back on until general
boarding. Thus, it wasn't even possible to sleep all the way through on
this "red eye" flight!
On each of the two flight segments, Los Angeles to Colorado Springs and
Colorado Springs to Newark, we were served a complimentary soft drink and
a snack. The snack of the first segment was pretzels and the snack on the
second segment was a pack of crackers, cheese and candy.
We arrived at the gate in Newark, New Jersey, right on time! If you ever
fly anywhere, you are aware that you only go through the security screening
procedure as you enter the airport gate area, not when you leave. As I
was hurrying out of the gate area at the Newark airport, all the power to
the airport went out just as I was passing the security area! I was on
the exit side where no screening is done as I saw the X-ray monitors go
off, the lights go out, and the conveyor belts through the X-ray machines
go off. I had to walk down the escalator and go through an automatic door
that was propped open to exit the airport.
I was wondering what effect that power outage was going to have on the
airport. Certainly they weren't going to let anyone past the security
point until power was restored. Check in of passengers would have to
stop as all the computer monitors at the ticket and check-in counters
were down. I had no idea if anything electrical was needed in processing
planes as they came and went from the gate. Maybe the boarding ramp that
they drive to the door of the plane is on that power? I would just assume
that air traffic control and ground control as well as the runway and
taxiway lighting would have a separate backup power generator so that planes
could be safely guided planes in, out and around the airport. Even with
all the big windows everywhere in the airport building, the inside lighting
was pretty dim since the sun was just coming up.
I went out to the bus loading area and was able to board the first #302
bus of the day which didn't come until after 6:30 A.M. even though all the
schedules said it departs at 6:17 A.M. This bus is also called the
AIRLINK bus. One-way costs $4.00 which I paid directly on the bus. The
bus takes 20 minutes to get from the airport to Newark Penn Station.
This bus operates every 20 to 30 minutes in both directions starting at
6:17 A.M. and ending at 1:48 A.M.
Once at Newark Penn Station, I barely had time to purchase my ticket from
the New Jersey Transit ticket window before the train arrived! At this hour
of a weekday morning, trains between Newark Penn Station to New York Penn
Station run 2 to 8 minutes apart! My ticket was good for whichever train I
would catch to New York Penn Station. I didn't look at my watch so I don't
know which one I got on, but it could have been the one scheduled to leave
at 6:42am, 6:56am, 7:10am or 7:12am. Whichever, the ride was about 20 minutes
and I arrived into New York Penn Station long before my next train was to
leave at 8:00 A.M. The one-way fare for the New Jersey Transit train ride
from Newark to New York was only $2.50.
Metroliner From New York,NY to Philadelphia,PA
The first thing I did once I arrived in New York Penn Station was to look for
a locker where I could leave my suitcase while I traveled up and down the
Northeast Corridor to Philadelphia. I looked everywhere, but could find no
lockers. However, there is a place in the New York Penn Station where Amtrak
passengers can check their luggage for $1.50 for the day. That is a lot less
expensive than lockers, but I usually feel more secure with lockers if I have
a choice of either storage method. It makes me nervous knowing that my bag is
sitting with hundreds of other bags that are coming and going all day long,
including some that are being placed directly onto trains by baggage
handlers. A small mistake and your bag could get onto a train or be handed
out to the wrong person, though I'm sure those mistakes are rare. But
having no choice other than to drag the luggage around with me all day,
I checked it in. I kept my computer and tickets with me just in case.
Though awkward, I could complete my journey without my packed clothes, but
would have a serious problem finishing or writing about the journey
without my tickets or computer!
The baggage person said he needed exact change since he was out of change.
I gave him $2 and told him to just keep the 50 cents change. He mumbled
something, handed me 50 cents change and my claim check and walked into the
back room with my suitcase. Confused, I walked away with my claim check
and the 50 cents change. I saw no place to leave tips on the counter and did
not understand why he didn't keep the 50 cents I had just told him to keep,
or why he came up with change when he just said that he didn't have any.
If people are going to leave a tip, they usually do so when they pick up
their luggage at baggage claim rather than drop it off. Maybe he thought I'd
need the 50 cents later to leave a tip when I claimed my luggage.
After checking my luggage, I had a few minutes before the departure of my
train. I went to one of the automatic New Jersey Transit ticket machines.
I was taking the 8:00 A.M. Metroliner from New York to Philadelphia. I
wanted to then take the New Jersey Transit train to Atlantic City. I knew
that I only had 16 minutes between trains, if the Metroliner arrived into
Philadelphia on time. Thus, I figured I could purchase my ticket here and
not worry about having time to purchase a ticket in Philadelphia.
No luck! The machines were only programmed to sell tickets for trains
that served New York Penn Station. So, I went to a New Jersey Transit
ticket window. No luck there either! The live ticket agents were also
only programmed to sell tickets for trains that served New York Penn
Station! The ticket agent said I'd have to wait until I got to
Philadelphia to purchase a New Jersey Transit ticket to Atlantic City.
I still had a few minutes so I explored around New York Penn Station for
a short while. Amtrak has a waiting area for passengers with tickets and
I went into there. They had quite a few schedules and other Amtrak
information in racks on the side of an information booth. I took one of
everything that I didn't already have. Then, I wandered out to the
central board where arrivals, departures and track numbers are posted.
As soon as the track number of my train was posted, I headed for the track.
I boarded the Metroliner. Heading from New York City to Philadelphia I had
only booked a regular coach seat. There were a lot of people on board, but
it wasn't booked solid. Many people traveling alone like myself could
easily have two seats to themself without depriving anyone else of a seat.
This was an Amfleet car, but was probably what some people have told
me are "Amfleet II" cars. The window definitely seemed to be larger than
what I was used to on the San Diegan route.
These cars had been remodeled from their original decor. Unlike the
Amfleet Cars of the San Diegans, the carpet and the curtains were deep blue
and the chairs were blue with stripes. The ceiling and the window molding
were both a modern grey. There was also an electric outlet for notebook
computers at every seat, not just in Custom or Club Class. There was
plenty of legroom at each seat.
Many of the passengers were wearing business suites. Even with the very high
price of the tickets, I imagine that this competes favorably with airfare
between New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. For example, in addition
to the airfare between New York and Washington, a traveler would also have
to pay the high taxi fare to get from downtown to the airport and then from
the other airport to the other downtown. When you consider both the added
expense and time to take taxis between the airports and the downtown areas,
rail travel probably competes favorably in both time and expense.
These cars are probably shared with the Northeast Direct route which covers
the exact same tracks. The biggest difference is that the Northeast Direct
makes many more stops than the Metroliner which means it takes longer to
cover the same distance. A Northeast Direct brochure was in the back of
each seat and included a number for Amtrak that I had not seen before which
Photos not yet posted to the net:
- 01-01: Metropark, NJ
- 02-02: Amtrak Work Train
- 03-03: Front Inside Atlantic City Train
- 04-04: Dispatch Tower, NJ
- 05-05: Cross River
- 06-06: Conductor at front
- 07-08: Bridge
- 09-09: Atlantic City, NJ
- 10-17: Atlantic City Station & Convention Center
- 18-22: New Jersey Transit Trains
- 23-23: Boat just outside Atlantic City
- 24-24: Inside NJT Car
- 25-25: Wetlands
New Jersey Transit between Philadelphia,PA and Atlantic City,NJ
The train arrived right on time into Philadelphia. It might even have been
a couple of minutes early. As part of the
Amtrak Historical Society 1997
Annual Conference, I had been given a tour of the Philadelphia station less
than 2 months ago. Thus, I had some idea of the layout of the station.
However, I could not recall seeing any ticket windows or machines for
New Jersey Transit in the station. I only had about 15 minutes to locate the
place to purchase tickets, buy my ticket, and then find the train! On many
transit lines, tickets can be purchased on the train, but with a penalty for
not having used a machine or ticket window in the station. Or, with lines
like the Los Angeles Metrolink where tickets are not sold on the train, you
can be subject to a fine of several hundred dollars! Thus, I wasn't about
to board the train without a ticket without knowing the policy.
I went to the Amtrak Ticket Window area. Not seeing any New Jersey Transit
windows in that area, I did a quick walk around the station. There was one
ramp at the corner of the station that lead away from the main concorse.
There were signs saying that SEPTA tickets could be purchased in that
direction, but nothing about NJ Transit. I headed up that way and only saw
SEPTA Ticket Windows and Machines at first, but then spotted a NJ Transit
ticket machine. By that time, I think I was down to about 5 minutes before
the train would depart. I purchased a round-trip ticket from Philadelphia
to Atlantic City and headed back for the main concorse. There is a large
sign announcing the boarding tracks for every train in the main concorse.
I quickly found the right track for the Atlantic City train and headed right
to it. I had just a couple of minutes left before the 9:30am scheduled
departure time (Train #4611).
These trains seemed to be older single level trains that could be pushed
or pulled by a regular locomotive. This particular train was being
operated in Cab mode with the locomotive in the rear. I went all the
way up to within 2 seats of the Cab. The door to the cab was open and
it appeared that someone not affiliated with the railroad (a railfan?)
was standing at the front door window carrying on a conversation with
the engineer. Occassionally, the conductor would stand up in that area
also. It appeared that everyone knew each other quite well. When the
conductor wasn't collecting tickets, he often sat two seats in front of
me facing in my direction. The seat backs were all adjustable and the
seats could be made to easily face either direction. There were a number
of people on the train, but it was far from full. I'd say the number of
riders was similar to a subway train outside of the rush hour.
The train went almost 30 minutes before it arrived at its first stop!
I thought this was rather odd for a commuter line. Looking at my map,
I think I can guess the reason for this. This train is a New Jersey Transit
train, paid for and operated by the state of New Jersey. The reason for
the long run to the first station is that the train doesn't stop until
it gets to New Jersey! It has to stop at Philadelphia in Pennsylvania
because that is how it connects to the Amtrak system and brings its own
residents in and out of Philadelphia. But, once the train leaves that
station, it doesn't stop until it crosses the border. One the train
arrives into New Jersey, stops are about every 10 minutes all the way to
I was a bit confused when we pulled into the Atlantic City station. The
train pulled forward directly into the station and that appeared to be
the end of the line. Everyone got up and stood in line to go into the
engineer's cab! I thought that was pretty odd. Why is everyone lined up
like they are about to go out the front of the train. I couldn't believe
the train would pull all the way forward so that people could exit
directly out the front door of the train. I could see we weren't close
enough to the end of the track to do that. Then, the line started
moving. Everyone was leaving "through" the engineer's cab! The cab has a
door to the platform. When the train arrives. The engineer locks up his
controls, exits through the door and leaves it open. All the passengers
then walk into the engineer's cab and then out onto the platform the same
way the engineer went out! I took a quick peek at the engineer's controls
as I walked within inches of them as I walked out that door. That was
the strangest way I had ever exited from a train.
The train arrived into the station on-time at 11:10am. The next train
wouldn't be leaving Atlantic City for Philadelphia until 12:19pm. That
gave me a bit more than an hour to explore the station.
I was very impressed with the Atlantic City station. For a station that
isn't a major hub, it was fairly large. If you are familiar with the
station at Jack London Square in Oakland, California, it was larger than
that. It wasn't large compared to major hubs like Washington, Philadelphia,
Chicago or even Los Angeles, but was quite large for the few trains and
people that used the station. There were several ticket windows, restrooms,
and a lot of benches. In one corner of the station was a good size snack
and souvenier area. There were circular phone banks in two parts of the
station. The ceiling was probably 40 or 50 feet high. Two walls were mostly
glass windows. One side faced out to the tracks. The other side faced into
the Atlantic City Convention Center lobby. You could see several floors
of the Convention Center that were directly connected to the station.
Another side of the large glass walls of the station faced the Atlantic
City downtown area. I could see many of the casinos right out that window.
I thought of walking to the casinos, but I think I would just barely have
made it to the Casinos and back by the time the train would be boarding.
This station was definitely built with the expectation that a lot of
trains would be stopping here. There were 6 loading platforms. Up to
6 trains could be loaded and unloaded simultaneously. There were 3
sets of automatic glass sliding doors between the station and the
platform. Above each set of doors were two monitors. There were some
words on the screen indicating they planned to have the monitors show
train arrival and departure status, but they weren't working. The
arrival and departure times of all trains were posted above the Ticket
Windows. Best I could tell, NJ Transit trains between Atlantic City
and Philadelphia are the only trains that serve this station and they
run once every couple of hours! Amtrak used to stop here, but they
ended service to Atlantic City a couple of years ago.
The only reason I could see for such an elaborate station and facility
is they hoped this would become the easter terminus for some east/west
Amtrak routes, or maybe they get special gambling tourist trains that
bring people here from time to time from Boston, New York and Washington.
If a few special tourist trains had to park here for a few days, they
certainly have enough track and platform space for them!
I noticed that quite a few people approached the NJ Transit Ticket
windows and not only purchased tickets to Philadelphia, but also purchased
Amtrak tickets. I also saw one lady try to return her Amtrak tickets to
get a refund. The NJ Ticket Agent told her that she would have to go to
Philadelphia to get the refund or mail them in. Although the NJ Transit
Ticket Agents can sell Amtrak tickets, they evidently can't refund them!
I also noticed that the Ticket Agents had directions and times of Amtrak
connecting trains to New York and Washington down pat. That seemed to
be the most common question people would ask: "How do I connect to a
train in Philadelphia to New York and were do I get that train?" They
even had some off-the-cuff answers like: "Even though Amtrak will not
guarantee a connection of less than one-hour between trains, you should
be able to transfer between our train and the next Amtrak train even
though they are only 10 minutes apart. If you miss that Amtrak train, just
take the next one. Since arriving NJ Transit trains come in on one side of
the station and departing Amtrak trains are on the other side, you have to
go up the stairs, check the board, and go down the other side to the
correct track." That is very useful information which I'm sured has saved
many people an unnecessary one or two hour wait between connecting trains
which would occur if they only booked to insure the "guaranteed connection."
On my way back to Philadelphia, one lady ended up locked in the bathroom.
Someone went through the train to find the Conductor to help her get out
of the bathroom. Someone suggested that the ax from the emergency tools
be used to get her out. Fortunately, nobody took that suggestion seriously.
The Conductor got her out easily and said there was an older lock and a
newer lock and that the lady must have locked the older one that is not
suppose to be used. She insisted that she did not touch anything. The
Conductor just smiled and walked away.
My train #4614 had left Atlantic City at 12:19pm and arrived into
Philadelphia on time at 1:54pm. My return Metroliner would not be
leaving until 2:43pm. I had never visited the Metropolitan Lounge
in Philadelphia. Since I had purchased "Club Class" for my return
trip, I was entitled to use the Metropolitan Lounge. I already knew
where it was from the tour of the station I had taken less that two
months before. We were a bit short on time during that tour, and
when the group was asked if they wanted to see the lounge, the
majority decided that we should skip that so that we could see more
of the rest of the station. So, even with that tour, I hadn't yet seen
the inside of the lounge. The Philadelphia Lounge is a bit out of the
way and you have to go around the corner from the Amtrak Ticket Windows
to find it. The lounge is up a flight of stairs. If you can't climb
stairs, there is a bell for you to ring. Someone will come down and
escort you up in the elevator.
Photos not yet posted to the net:
- 01-01: Forests!
- 02-02: Garden State Park Race Tracks
- 03-03: Garden State Park Race Tracks
- 04-05: Bridge
- 06-06: Phylly Skyline & Inside Car
- 07-07: Old Building
Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
After climbing the stairs, I arrived a glass door. You have to push a
button to signal the Lounge Attendant for admittance. He then pushes
a button that unlocks the door. The lounge had all the usual amenities.
The Lounge Attendant has full access to the reservation system and can
help you with any reservations or changes just like the agent at any
ticket window. There was a beverage station with fresh coffee and cold soda.
There were many comfortable chairs and couches along with several work
desks. There was a television set which I'm pretty sure was tuned to either
CNN or Headline News as they are in most of the Metropolitan Lounges.
There was also a computer, printer and modem all set up with a bit of
useful software. The computer also had America Online and some other
online services "available". I tried all of them and none of them would
connect to the internet. Each died for one reason or another. They appeared
to be set up to automatically log in under a guest account. Each online
service died for a different reason. For one, the phone call never connected.
For another, the logon id wasn't valid. I had an account on that service,
but I wasn't about to type in my password on such a public system!
There were only a few people in the lounge. One was working on his own
personal computer which he connected by his own modem to a phone in the
room. The phones do support modem connections. The wording on the phones
implies that the only way you can dial a long-distance number is by
starting the call with "0" followed by the areacode and number. I tried
starting a call with "1-800-" and that worked fine! Thus, I was able to
call my office on its 800 number and was also able to use the long
distance service of my choice which I access through a "1-800-" number.
This usually works, but there are some public phones that don't allow you to
reach 800 numbers except through the operator.
Although this Metropolitan Lounge is a bit out of the way, one entire
wall is made of glass and overlooks the main concorce of the station.
So, you can sit by the window and watch activity down in the station.
As each train is ready for boarding, it is announced over the P.A.
system. An elevator takes you from the Metropolitan Lounge directly
to the track platform!
Photos not yet posted to the net:
- 08-09: Amtrak Philadelphia Station
- 10-21: Philadelphia Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge
- 22-23: Philadelphia Skyline
Amtrak Metroliner Club Class from Philadelphia,PA to New York City,NY
I heard them announce that the Club Car would be at the end of the train.
Someone that went down in the elevator with me from the Metropolitan Lounge
who looked like they were experienced at this instead went to the head end
of the platform. I followed him, but thought that was strange. When the
train started to arrive, I could see the Club Car was not at the head of
the train and I started to walk down the platform toward the rear of the
train. When the platform started looking pretty empty, I went into the
closest open door into the train and continued to walk through the train
toward the end of the train. I wasn't absolutely sure I was heading the
right way since that other person had boarded at the front.
I finally got to a car where there were two seats on one side and one
seat on the other side and there was a serving area in the center of
the car. The Car Attendant approached me and asked if I was looking for
the Club Car. I told her I was and she told me to just sit anywhere.
I sat on the side with all the single seats. Each seat had a tremendous
amount of leg room and was very cushy. The tray from the back of the seat
in front of me opened to a size double that of normal seatback trays.
There was an electric outlet for notebook computers at every seat.
I was immediately served a bag of "Rold Gold" pretzles, goldfish, and
a glass of wine and then asked if I would be having lunch on the train
today. I asked what they had and they said they had a chicken sandwich
and some type of beef dinner. I wasn't hungry enough for an entire
dinner selection so I selected the chicken sandwich. As soon as I had
finished the snack and the wine, they poured another glass of wine and
brought more snacks! I was about snacked out so I put those in my
Looking around the car I could see that it was a refurbished Amfleet
Cafe Car. Again, I would assume it was an Amfleet II Car as the windows
did seem larger. Food and drinks were prepared in the center area. There
seemed to be 3 staff members working this area. One person worked the
bar/kitchen preparing food and drinks. Another person was like a Flight
Attendant taking car of all your needs, including bringing the food and
drinks to your seat. A third peson seemed to be in charge of the other
two and would also help in serving the drinks and in other ways. I'm not
sure if that third person only worked in the Club Car or was also in
charge of other parts of the train. He seemed to leave the car from time
to time. He was always around to help people in and out of the car when
we arrived at stations. Actually, the Metroliner is an express train and
only made 2 stops between Philadelphia and New York. With so few stops,
it covered this distance of over 100 miles in about an hour and 15 minutes.
The sandwich was served hot with chips and a pickle. The food was good.
All the food and wine is included with the cost of Club Class, which I'm
sure is easily covered by the additional cost of this accommodation.
All during this trip, the lights had occassionally gone off and then
back on. At 3:15pm, the lights and air-conditioning went off and stayed
off. On the radio, I heard CETC (Centralized Electrification and Traffic
Control) instruct the train to not attempt to restore HEP (head end power).
They would have to stop the train to attempt to restore power. That would
delay the train, complicate traffic control by affecting other trains on
the Northeast Corridor, and risk ending up with a stalled train on a
main corridor. CETC instructed the train to finish the rest of their
journey into New York City without power.
The ride was very quiet, but a bit warm without the air-conditioning.
I didn't mind being without the overhead lighting as there was plenty
of light from the windows. The serving staff asked each person if they
would like ice and something cold to drink to counter the rising
temperature that we were experiencing with the air-conditioner. Many
people opted to have white wine on ice and that is what I also selected!
I figured this had better be my last glass of wine on this trip or they
would have to carry me off the train! The train arrived into the
Penn Station in New York City right on time at 3:59pm.
The radio channel used between Philadelphia,PA and New York City,NY was
Channel 54 (160.920).
Photos not yet posted to the net:
- 24-25: Club Class Inside
- 01-01: Club Class Inside
- 03-04: Chicken Sandwich Dinner
- 05-05: River
- 06-08: Bridges
- 09-09: New York City Penn Station
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Steve's 1997 Travel Calendar
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Steve Grande /
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