Lake Shore Limited : Jan 31 - Feb 1
On Jan 31 I flew
from San Diego Ca to Chicagoís Midway airport to start my journey on Amtrakís
Lake Shore Limited to New York. After collecting my luggage & witnessing a
celebrity sighting (Winona Judd) at the baggage claim I headed outside to catch
the next CTA Orange Line train to downtown. Luckily I was prepared as the
weather outside was a balmy 23 degrees.
The next Orange Line train was already taking passengers and it didnít take long to get moving towards downtown. Crossed a number of mainlines as we neared the loop. I can see why Chicago is an excellent choice for rail fanning. Got off at the Quincy stop and headed the 2 blocks down to Union Station. I had to stop and throw my scarf on as the cold coupled with the wind made for pretty brutal conditions. I could not feel my face after awhile.
Chicago Ill : Sears Tower
On the way to Union Station I noticed a number of people on street corners
selling fake Chicago Bears shirts for 10 bucks. One unfortunate guy was caught
by an undercover cop. After getting to Union Station I headed straight to the
Metropolitan Lounge since I was a sleeping car passenger. I was pretty impressed
with the Metropolitan Lounge. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the desk
clerk and was able to check in my luggage so I could walk around the city
without having to lug bags around.
There were a number of seats and couches in the lounge as well as free snacks & fountain drinks. Plus it was real quiet in there since the majority of folks were older and most were playing cards or watching one of the two flat screen TVís. To my surprise the bathrooms were pretty dirty. I expected bathrooms in a first class lounge to be cleaner. Guess Not.
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza!!
After hoping in a cab and going for some Giordano's stuffed pizza at Prudential Plaza, I was back at Union Station ready to explore a bit. Unfortunately I was not able to get onto the Amtrak platforms to take pictures or watch trains. I was able to go out onto the Metra Platforms to see a number of commuter trains depart out of the station. A few times I almost got stampeded by the vast number of commuters running to catch their evening trains.
Prudential Plaza : Snow is Cool!!
About 6:30 I headed over to the baggage claim so I could check my bag for the
trip to NYC. I was told about 7:00 PM sleeping car passengers would be able to
board and immediately go to dinner. Our departure time was 7:55PM. 7:00 PM came
and went and we were still sitting in the lounge waiting for word on when our
train would be ready for boarding. From what I could gather by listening to my
scanner there was a problem with the lead P-42. About 7:45 we were finally able
to board. Since the sleeping cars are way up front, it was a nice cold brisk
walk to my sleeper.
I immediately found my roomette, so I could leave my carry on, and headed over to the diner for dinner. I was seated with a very nice older couple from Chicago who were on their way to Albany to watch the Superbowl with their daughter. I noticed that the food was coming out super fast as I know they are prepared first, then heated up on board. I was surprised at how good it all looked though. I made the mistake of ordering the special, which was Chicken Fried Steak. It was not very good at all. I was too excited to care really. I had plenty of candy for my room so itís all good.
The Mess In My Roomette
I really enjoyed my first trip aboard the Amtrak Viewliner. My roomette was real comfy and I loved how all the light controls were pretty easy to get to, no matter where you were in the room. Plus I pretty much knew all the controls and how to work the bed so the sleeping car attendant pretty much left me alone. He did come by from time to time to check on me and offer me ice & water. I made up the top bunk and got ready for bed. Saw a number of Norfolk Southern freights roll by as we were cruising though Illinois on our way into Indiana and then Ohio. Before bed I turned off all the lights and just sat there staring out into the cold night. Most of the areas we were passing had snow on the ground which was sweet. After a few phone calls I was off to bed.
Race Track Near Rochester NY
I woke up the next morning in Rochester NY. We were running about an hour and a
half late by this point. I didnít care really since I was in no hurry to get to
NYC. One thing I noticed was how busy the CSX main is in this area. Trains were
flying by one after another. Went off to breakfast and sat with the same couple
as the night before. Had the French Toast which turned out to be very good. I
mean you canít really screw up French toast can you?
After breakfast I wandered around a bit but only got as far as the lounge car. For some reason I didnít feel like walking the whole train. Sat in the lounge for a bit then headed off back to my room to listen to my scanner. The HotBox detector seemed to be going off every 5 minutes. I did manage to hear our speed which was clocked at 86MPH.
Some Equipment being Stored
After a bit of a nap we were coming into Syracuse NY. This would be my first opportunity to jump off the train to get some fresh (cold) air. We were in Syracuse for maybe 5 mins when the ALL ABOARD sounded and I quickly jumped back on.
Train # 48 at rest : Syracuse NY
I knew that in Albany I would have more time outside since this is where the lead units are removed and replaced with a Dual Mode P-32. When we arrived in Albany, I immediately noticed a number of trains in the station. The Boston section of the LSL was also on the track beside us awaiting its passengers. We must have been there about 30 mins. Thatís pretty much the time it took to replace the lead units.
Boston Section of the Lake Shore Limited : Albany NY
Amtrak Train arriving Albany from New York City
After leaving Albany we were making real good time heading towards NYC. As I was
on the left side of the train I was not able to see much of the Hudson River.
After going thru Poughkeepsie I did notice Metro North trains come by every so
often. Also the main seemed to turn into 4 tracks if Iím not mistaken. The only
stop we had was at Croton- Harmon which was brief.
Before I knew it we were branching off the main and crossing the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge onto the Empire Connection. This had to be a highlight for me as we were now traveling south down the west side of Manhattan thru the old Penn Central West Side Freight Line. At one point the line dips into darkness as we are now traveling below ground through New Yorkís underbelly. After coming into day light for a bit we then dip into the single track tunnel that leads into Penn Station. The tunnel twists & turns as it heads towards Penn. I could hear the brakes screeching as our engineer slows our train down for the arrival into Penn.
We got to Penn only about an hour and 10 mins late which is not bad for this train. After retrieving my bag I headed off to find my friends who where waiting to greet me.
The New York City Sky Line!!
Waiting for the A Train
Photo by Darrell Rodriguez
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