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 Post subject: Short Hop from Washington DC - Without Wings!
PostPosted: 27 Apr 2009, 08:56 
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Joined: 11 Mar 2005, 23:27
Posts: 5845
Location: Pittsburgh
Last summer, some of you may recall my first solo trip to DC while my dad went to Rockville for business and that I caught Amtrak's Capitol Limited from Union Station to Rockville just because I could. This time, I brought company.

This past weekend, we've been in the nation's capitol visiting relatives out near IAD. That Thursday we arrived, though, my aunt and uncle (whom we were visiting) had to work, and my parents had people to meet - people I don't want anything to do with. So I took my little brother on a trek through DC. Usually, we go to the mall and IKEA and hang out, but they're not as crowded and potentially dangerous as the Metro system and the madness in the stations. Nonetheless, it turned out VERY well. And with a double-points promotion for Amtrak Guest Rewards members which would bring me to a free ticket on short routes (not this route, unfortunately), a fare of only $8.77 for the both of us, and the fact it was a train was enough incentive to go again!

Amtrak 29
Capitol Limited
Washington (WAS) -> Rockville (RKV)
Seat 5 and 6
Gate D (again...)
Track 16 (again...)
Superliner equipment
Two private cars - Amtrak's Beech Grove in the back and the Silver Iris between coach and the baggage car
GE P42DC AMTK 85 and 16
All this for $8.77

Union Station was a madhouse with school groups and tourists, and the food court was no exception. We went to the Indian place (I almost always go there) and got some chicken - mild for Alex, hot for me, lassi, and those little doughnut balls in syrup. Since we had about two hours to kill, we went to the book store to read some children's books and browsed the shops. That left an hour, so we hopped back on the Metro to go to Wheaton to ride the escalator - the longest in the western hemisphere. Takes two minutes, 45 seconds to reach the top (or bottom) if you just stand there. One escalator is closed for repairs, and another was off; only the one going up worked. After awhile, those lines on the steps play tricks with your eyes, and I was trying my best to avoid tripping down the escalator.

My lil bro looking out at the eastern DC scenery whizzing by on our way to Wheaton
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Wheaton Metro Station escalator
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Got back to Union Station just in time for boarding. Trains like these carry hundreds of people - think 747s - and combine it with Southwest-like boarding, well, it's a mess. That's where Alex comes in - preboarding for those with small children! NICE! :mrgreen: For once I was actually first to board one of these things! Didn't really matter, as an Amtrak employee has to escort the passengers onto the platform, so we had to wait for a few to start the first group.

Last trip, coach was near the back. This time, it was at the front, which sucks when you're talking about a long-distance train with over 10 cars and carrying a three-year-old (don't want him to walk on the platform when trains and baggage cars are going by) and a carry-on. There were two coach Superliners; since we were going to Rockville, we got the front one. We were assigned seat 5 (that's right, only one seat), but these seats are like the old first class seats on an airliner. Thankfully, our seatmate took another seat and game me his, so I got seat 6. A fat drama-queen was sitting in the window seat across the aisle whining and sobbing about how the cafe car on her last train was only open for 30 minutes and other crap. I felt bad for her seatmate, as the drama queen wasn't getting off until Toledo! While waiting, I also noticed bubbles floating outside, and couldn't figure out where they were coming from.

Fiddling with the seat
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Passengers boarding our car
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Cabin shot
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Door to Nowhere
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Northeast Corridor's catenaries
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Northeast Regional powered by an AEM-7 (aka Toaster)
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

VRE trains at the end of Union Station
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Amtrak's switch engine
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

On our way!
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

After quite awhile, everyone got on board and we were off! Trains are very quiet modes of transportation, and the only way to tell you're pulling out of the station is to look yourself, especially near the rear away from the locomotive. After we were on our merry way, we heard the locos roaring along, as well as the horn blaring at the crossings (not too bad, unlike the sorry folks outside) and the various announcements from the coach attendant and conductor. We didn't explore the train as I didn't want to leave my bag sitting unattended and I didn't want to bring it AND Alex (I had enough of the combo), but we were happily content with looking out at the scenery and trying to figure out what those darn knobs and stuff do that Alex was working on (releases the leg rest so you can stow it; it doesn't raise it as I thought it would do).

Half an hour after leaving Union Station, we were pulling in to Rockville. Rockville is an unstaffed station, and is also shared with the MARC. Those leaving from there would get their tickets in the mail. We went downstairs and waited for the train to stop, and got off and waited to watch the train pull out. I guess the train was longer than the platform as they moved up a little bit, then stopped again for the sleepers. And the bubbles were going again! Well, I found the source - the folks on board the Silver Iris! They had a bubble gun and were blowing bubbles out of the observation deck at the end of their car.

The Silver Iris
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

The locos powering the train
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

Once the train left, we crossed over to the Metro station on the other side to head back to DC.
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1 ... =751238280

I'll add pictures of our boarding pass/ticket stub and other doo-dads later.

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 Post subject: Re: Short Hop from Washington DC - Without Wings!
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2009, 19:48 
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Joined: 26 Apr 2007, 21:08
Posts: 7673
Location: Warwick, England
I can't remember the last time I went on a 'pleasure' ride. Problem is that our cars are filled with cheap plastics and that irritating material used on coach seats, so the only real way to take a pleasure ride is to go on one of the mountain railways in the Lake District or catch an old steam locomotive ride. Your tains look a little more suited for long distance (as in comfort levels) than our average Chiltern Railways locomotive.

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 Post subject: Re: Short Hop from Washington DC - Without Wings!
PostPosted: 30 Apr 2009, 04:39 
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Joined: 11 Mar 2005, 23:27
Posts: 5845
Location: Pittsburgh
As promised:
Our boarding pass ticket stubs
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v259/ ... to0003.jpg

Seat number and a slip of paper stuck above the seat on the luggage rack that tells the coach attendant where you're going. Seat numbers are basically those same slips of paper torn in half (or whatever else they find) and are assigned when you get on board.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v259/ ... to0004.jpg

What those slips of paper used to be (what I just described only more organized and for the Northeast Corridor; the date on it's from 1988)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v259/ ... to0005.jpg

Ticket Jacket
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v259/ ... to0006.jpg

Not from the trip, but here's a bag tag if you wanna see it
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v259/ ... to0008.jpg

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