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Orlando, FL To Washington, DC On Amtrak's Silver Meteor
  I checked out of the hotel after breakfast at Burger King and a quick grocery run at Walmart, then drove my rental car back to Enterprise. They then drove me back to the Amtrak Station where I would begin a 5 day journey across 18 states and DC to get to my next big destination, Los Angeles, CA!!! I checked with the station crew and found out that my train, Amtrak's Silver Meteor, Train #98 was running late. It did depart Miami this morning on time at 8:20am, albeit with only one engine. It turns out that yesterday's Train #97, the southbound Silver Meteor whose train set is used for this train, was involved in an accident at a grade crossing in Pierson, FL and ended up arriving several hours late into Miami. The lead engine was damaged enough that it had to be set out in Sanford, FL (at the Auto Train Terminal, not far from here) so the second unit would bring the train the rest of the way to Miami.
  Once I got the train info, I had an interesting conversation with a passenger who used to work for the James E. Strates Shows Carnival Train that brings the rides every year to the Erie County Fair back home in New York. That operation is based in Hollywood, FL near Miami. Later on, I ventured outside to get a Sabrett Hot Dog from the food vendor set up near the platform outside. He had hot dogs, Italian sausage, and lots of other snacks and cans of pop available for purchase. After the hot dog, I met up with a family from Lanoka Harbor, NJ who were going back home after visiting Disney World. The father in the group was a railfan and so we had a rather extended conversation about Amtrak and trains in general. The train kept getting later and later, but eventually the station crew started a "train of baggage" consisting of several carts of bags for this train! An announcement was eventually made as to where to board the train, and for sleeping car passengers, we were told to board at "Location L" on the platform. Finally, at 2:48pm, running 1 hour and 25 minutes late, Train #98 finally arrived in Orlando. The consist and roster photo tour of today's train are shown below...
  Having only one engine on the train means it will likely take more time to accelerate so my thought would be that we'll probably lose more time. As soon as the train arrived, my sleeper attendant said hello and it turns out I had rode with him on the way here on Thursday as he was part of the group of Amtrak employees coming back to Florida from the President's Service & Safety Awards that happened that day in Washington, and he also remembered me from that trip. As soon as I got my bags in the room, I headed back outside again to get a couple more pictures, then onto the Dining Car for lunch. Today's train would have a 1949 Budd-built Heritage Diner, this time #8524. This car was originally built for the Southern Railway who as you may know, didn't turn over its passenger services to Amtrak in 1971 like most other freight railroads did. The Southern actually continued operating its own passenger trains until 1979, and at that point conveyed several pieces of equipment to Amtrak including this car. I was seated with a family from New Jersey that were on their way back home after riding a Disney Cruise! We finally departed Orlando at 3:05pm, now running 1 hour and 30 minutes late.
  I would have the Caesar Salad with chicken for lunch and a Diet Pepsi with chocolate moose for dessert. The salad and the moose were absolutely delicious!!! During lunch, we made our next stop of Winter Park, FL at 3:19pm and departed at 3:23pm, now running 1 hour and 31 minutes late. After lunch, I headed back to my Sleeping Car to try to get everything organized and would eventually get out the computer and continue writing this travelogue. We made our next stop at DeLand, FL at 4:05pm and departed there at 4:09pm, still 1 hour and 31 minutes late. I have such a long layover in Washington tomorrow so this kind of lateness thus far would not be an issue for me at all. My dinner reservation wasn't until 8:15pm, so I would just spend more time relaxing in my Sleeping Car. We made our next stop at Palatka, FL at 4:59pm and would quickly depart at 5:01pm, running 1 hour and 37 minutes late. We would also make a brief stop near the Jacksonville Naval Air Station due to a crossing being worked on, but the stop was quick and we were on the move again. Our next stop coming up would be Jacksonville, FL, which is a service stop and crew change point for the train. At 6:15pm, we arrived in Jacksonville, running 1 hour and 27 minutes late. The train would be fueled and watered while here. During our break, I was able to get a few night photos, you'll see them in the photo section for this train! At 6:31pm, we departed Jacksonville, running 1 hour and 23 minutes late.
  I headed back to my Sleeping Car and just relaxed as we made our next stop at Jesup, GA at 7:50pm and departed at 7:54pm, running 1 hour and 26 minutes late. I would have a very nice conversation now with the passenger in the room across from me. She was traveling with her 10 month old daughter and would be getting off the train in Savannah, GA, our next stop. My dinner reservation for 8:15pm had now arrived so I walked back to the Dining Car and would have the Amtrak Signature Steak with three grain rice pilaf, veggies and a side salad with a Diet Pepsi. I would also have cheesecake with strawberries for dessert, all delicious! I was seated with a couple from New Jersey though there wasn't much conversation as one of them wasn't feeling well. During dinner, we made our next stop at Savannah, GA at 8:48pm. After some station work, we departed at 8:57pm, having made up a little bit of time now 1 hour and 19 minutes late. I checked the Amtrak app and though we were late, we would be able to make up a significant amount of time between here and Washington (or so I thought, please continue reading), so I decided to shower and just get to bed early since the scheduled arrival in DC was 7:21am (even though I figured we would still be late), and so ends a good day...
  I woke up around 6:00am because of the likelihood of the train arriving early into Washington and I wanted to be prepared for it. What ended up actually happening was something altogether different. I looked out the window and saw we were stopped, so I picked up my phone and checked the Maps app and found we were sitting in Richmond, VA. I turned on my radio and was beginning to think we might have run out of fuel. My concern was confirmed by my sleeper attendant who said "We've run outta gas!". We did however still have HEP (Head-End Power, where the engine supplies the electric power for the train) and the Dining Car was open and serving breakfast. I started to piece together what I was hearing from other passengers and on the radio as well as from the crew and found out exactly what happened:
  Amtrak contacted a fuel truck at midnight to meet the train once it arrived in Richmond (we arrived here at 5:12am). The truck got lost somewhere and as a result, we sat in the station. This was a proactive move by Amtrak so that we wouldn't completely run out of fuel somewhere southwest of East Podunk! We were in fact very low on fuel but did have enough to keep the lights on so-to-speak! When we arrived here, we were stopped on the mainline and Train #52 - The Auto Train would eventually pass through the area. The Auto Train ended up going around us on a siding at the station. I didn't see this myself as I was sleeping and on the wrong side of the train to see it but this was told to me by a member of the crew. Amtrak even went so far as to try to accommodate some passengers on Northeast Regional Train #164 when it was in the station at Richmond. A few passengers chose this option but not many as that train had to depart in order to stay on schedule.
  As I was saying before, the dining car was open so I headed over there to have breakfast. I was seated with a passenger who was very interested in stocks & investments as well as social media, and such the conversations were mostly surrounding those subjects. I had Railroad French Toast for breakfast with pork sausage patties, orange juice and a Diet Pepsi. All the food was excellent. On a few occasions, the HEP went out but only for a minute or less. The train did make a backup move to get off the mainline and onto a siding. Once we moved, passengers could get off the train and smoke or get some air, or if your me, get more pictures! The fuel truck finally arrived, the train was refueled and the all aboard signal given! At 7:54am, running 3 hours and 19 minutes late, we departed Richmond.
  The rest of the ride back to Washington, DC would be uneventful and Amtrak handled this whole situation with a decent amount of professionalism if you ask me. Yes, I spoke with one passenger in my sleeping car who was very upset over this delay, but overall I don't think this had a huge impact on others travel plans (it didn't for me anyway but I can't speak for anyone else)! We made our next station stop at Alexandria, VA at 9:45am and quickly departed at 9:47am, now running 2 hours and 52 minutes late. Our sleeper attendant now came by to move our bags to the vestibule so we could quickly depart. At 10:03am, running 2 hours and 44 minutes late, Train #98 arrived in Washington Union Station. I gave my attendant a very nice tip as his service was top notch! I retrieved my bags and walked to the head end to watch the engine change as an electric unit replaces the P42 that brought the train here. At this time, P42DC #157 uncoupled and ACS-64 #612 coupled on to take the train the rest of the way to New York. After taking a few more pictures, I headed inside to Union Station and straight for Club Acela! I am a Sleeping Car passenger for my next two trains in addition to this one so I get to use this wonderful Lounge! I immediately went to work doing one of the most important things on a trip like this, get a glass of free Diet Pepsi! Just kidding, I did have a Diet Pepsi and a pound cake then "really" got to work and set up the computer and continued writing the travelogue. I would also show this web site to one of the lounge attendants who was very much impressed with the photography from this site!
  After backing up photos, I headed downstairs to the main food court in Union Station and ended up eating a quick lunch at Burger King and getting one of those delicious pretzels from Auntie Anne's, before going outside to do some photos of Union Station. I then would spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in Club Acela and talking about football with another couple passengers. This became a conversation topic as one of the TV monitors had NFL Network on it! Included below is a link to photos taken on this leg of the trip, then I'm off to Chicago, on second of three trains that at the end of this part of the journey will ultimately have me in the City Of Angels!!!