Last week, you read about my visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. After said visit, I decided to take the Capitol Limited back home to Pittsburgh.
The trip started out less than optimally. Because of the cost of maintaining Washington Union Station, most of the building is now a shopping mall. What remains of the actual station is substantially smaller than it used to be. This is okay for the commuter trains, but for a Long Distance Train (LDT) like the Cap, it means that the giant line of people became disorganized. When boarding began, only Chicago passengers were called which resulted in the line becoming crowded by the platform door. I don’t want to drag out this point too much, because as a railfan it is the kind of thing I can live with. I just worry that for less forgiving travelers it starts their experience as being somewhat stressful.
Before boarding the train, I photographed these private railcars on the platform. It’s pretty neat seeing a 20th Century Limited observation car in a major North American train station.
The ride itself was absolutely gorgeous. Traveling through the rolling hills and mountains was great, and the fact that the train uses Superliner equipment means that you can enjoy the trip from the Sightseer Lounge (which is as close as Amtrak gets to a dome car). I spent quite a few hours listening to music as we passed railyards, other trains, and even a roundhouse in Martinsburg WV. My favorite moments included “racing” a CSX coal train and crossing the bridge in to Harpers Ferry WV.
For dinner I had a six-cheese lasagna with green beans and plenty of bread rolls. The lasagna was fine, albeit overpriced. The paper menus we ordered off of were somewhat torn and battered. Amtrak offers a good travel experience, but they need to work on their presentation skills.
Ultimately we arrived in Pittsburgh right on time. I had a good trip and look forward to my next.