previous posts I wrote of my plans to undertake a "railroad trip" whilst over in the United States for the Beer Blogger's Conference, and as I write I'm on the final leg of my long haul train ride from Washington to Chicago.
It's been quite a journey, but all things considered a favourable one. As many people know, long-distance rail travel in the US is run by Amtrak, and despite the fairly drastic pruning of passenger services within America, the organisation still operates quite an extensive network. There is a catch though, as most of the long-distance routes only operate one train a day.
I arrived early, so wasn't particularly surprised to find only a handful of fellow passengers sitting in the waiting area. The train pulled in more or less on time and I boarded the rear Business Class coach, where I had a pre-booked seat. Quite a few more passengers boarded at the next stop - Richmond Staple Mill Road Station, but it wasn't until the next station that the train started to pick up speed. With a journey time of just over three hours, this was more of a commuter service than a long distance one, which was probably why Wi-Fi was available on the train.
As I was travelling all the way to the "Windy City," I discovered it was possible to check my baggage in - rather like on an airline. This was a relief as I was travelling with a bulky and quite heavy suitcase. Free of my burden, I had time to look around the magnificent station concourse, now fully restored to its former glory.
view of the Capitol Building, but as it was rather hot and humid out, and also looked a lengthy walk away, I decided to stay put. I bought some water and nibbles for the journey and waited for my train to be called.
The Amtrak service between Washington D.C. and Chicago is called the "Capitol Limited" and given the length of the queue which emerged when the gate and platform were announced, I was glad I'd decided to stay put. There was a 15 minute delay in boarding, which was frustrating, but once the gate was opened I found my way to the right car and waited to climb onto the train.
Amtrak have it all organised, with staff stationed at the entrance to each coach. Your bar-coded ticket is scanned and your name is ticked off the list. I had booked a "roomette" in the sleeper section of the train, so found my compact little room, which had two facing seats, which when the time came could be converted into a bed for the night. There were pillows and bed-linen, stowed away in an upper fold-down section, which can be used if there are two persons travelling together.
So with the train pulling out of Union Station, on a very hot and humid Monday evening, and passing the commuters waiting for their homeward bound Metro trains, it's time to take a break from my Amtrak journey for a short while, and reconvene next time.