'Amtrak?' questioned the taxi driver, 'that's right over the other side of the station- you'll have to run!' I guess entering New York's Pennsylvania Station just 5 minutes before your train departure does have one advantage- you don't have to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in this ugly cavern beneath Madison Square Garden (though you also don't have time to pick up a New York Cheesecake for the train). We found the train (and we really did have to run for it) on track 34 and boarded with two minutes to spare.
|A similar train to ours, headed by an new ACS-64 locomotive with Amfleet or 'Amtube' coaches passes through the upper level at Secaucaus Junction just a few minutes after leaving New York's Penn Station.|
|The grand station hall at Philadelphia.|
The delay and drama of the broken down train turns out to be somewhat less exciting than we perhaps might have anticipated- no pushing of the failed train and no passengers scrambling up on to the train from the tracks having been stranded in the back of beyond. The conductors estimate of over 100 people joining our train however is not far wrong and while everyone who has been waiting 2 1/2 hours does get a seat it is certainly now busier on board.
|Long Norfolk Southern freight trains dominate this route.|
I am often struck by how unfamiliar Amtrak passengers seem to be with the most basic principals of taking a train ride- getting on and off. There seems to be an attitude that the train will wait for them no matter how long they fancy taking to finish their coffee, pick up their bags and make their way to the door. After about four 'Final call's' for Harrisburg we eventually get back on the move, now minus the extra guests who's train was due to terminate here. I would love to see how these people would get on in a country like Japan; 'We will shortly be making a brief stop at Shin Osaka.'- miss that announcement and the 30 second stop and you'll be missing your destination!
It is now just our train, running one hour late and a steady procession of black and white Norfolk Southern freight trains heading west towards Pittsburgh. After rounding the famous horse-shoe curve near Altoona (with commentary from the train conductor) there isn't a lot of daylight left with which to admire the scenery so attention turns to our books and magazines to keep us entertained until our arrival in Pittsburgh some 45 minutes
|Arrival in Pittsburgh with Amtrak P42-DC 89 in charge.|
Read part 2 here.