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Segment 1 - Buffalo To Chicago

2002 Cross-Country Amtrak Trip:
The Lake Shore Limited - February 21st, 2002

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Syracuse, New York - June 1999 (File Photo)

Segment 1: Buffalo, NY To Chicago, IL - February 21st, 2002

   I arrived at the Buffalo-Depew Amtrak Station around 12:30am with 2 bags and my Camera Bag. There was maybe about a dozen or so passengers waiting in the station for Amtrak Train #49, The Lake Shore Limited. My Dad brought me to Depew and we waited outside for the train to arrive. After listening to the scanner for a bit, and downing a Diet Pepsi, the train arrived in Depew at about 1:20am, about 9 minutes late. Tonight's train had the following consist...

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Thursday, February 21st, 2002
Heritage Baggage
Ex-ATSF #2859 - Budd Coach (Converted To Baggage)
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper
Pine Arroyo
Crew Dorm - Ex-ATSF 10/6 Sleeper "Pine Arroyo"
Viewliner Sleeper
Skyline View
Sleeping Car
Heritage Diner
Ex-CB&Q Diner
Amfleet II Cafe/Lounge
Cafe/Lounge Car
Amfleet II Coach
Coach - New York Section
Amfleet II Coach
Coach - New York Section
Amfleet II Coach
Coach - New York Section (My Car)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach - Boston Section
Viewliner Sleeper
Ocean View
Sleeping Car - Boston Section
Heritage Baggage
Ex-SP #2371 - Budd 44 Seat Coach (Converted To Baggage)
MHC (1)
Road Railer (7)

   A few notes on the train: This was a rather small consist for the Lake Shore Limited. It normally has 5 coaches (3 from New York and 2 from Boston) and usually 2 Viewliners in the New York Section (This train had 1). I found out from one of the crew members that this is normal in the winter to have a smaller consist due to lower ridership.
   The train arrived at 1:20am as I said before. First, I need to thank my Dad for driving me to the Amtrak Station at this weird hour even though he had to work early the next morning, thanks so much! As I waited on the platform to board, I heard someone behind me calling my name, It was Tommy Schuh, a railroad buddy of mine from years ago. He was headed to Chicago with his friend to do some work with his friend's Father. I boarded Amfleet II Coach #25075 and managed to get the only window seat left in that coach! I placed my luggage in the overhead rack and waited for the conductor to take my ticket. We then had to make a mail pick-up on this train, so we moved ahead maybe 5 car lengths and stopped to pick up mail. So we sat there, and sat there, and sat there some more until 1:56am when the highball signal was given and we were off, about 37 minutes late!
   First, some notes on the coach: I think I was seated in an "ugly duckling" of sorts as this was an Unrefurbished Amfleet II Coach. It had a drabby dark red interior and no electrical outlets at each seat. This would pose a problem for Tommy's friend who brought his laptop computer to watch DVD's on but couldn't after the battery died and he had no place to plug it in to recharge it! Later on, we found out where one of maybe 2 electrical outlets were in the coach, it was 2 seats ahead of where Tommy and his Friend were sitting (same coach as me) and the passenger sitting there was sound asleep and so they just didn't bother with the computer at that point. I couldn't sleep much on this train, its too exciting for me as a railfan.
   We passed through Erie, where I noticed several improvements to the station there, which is great considering it was in sorry shape a few years ago. We arrived in Cleveland virtually on time, but sat there a few minutes because there was a decent size crowd boarding there. Next stop was Elyria where a hand-full of people boarded. Next up was Sandusky, my "home" for 5 months of 2001 while doing an internship at Cedar Point Amusement Park. We crossed the big bridge over Sandusky Bay, couldn't see much though as the sun hadn't come up yet but I could see Ohio Rte. 2 which parallels the tracks for a distance west of Sandusky. Just as daybreak hit, we crossed the Maumee River bridge and arrived into Toledo. We had a scheduled Service Stop in Toledo so an announcement was made that passengers can get off the train, walk around, have a smoke, or do whatever, just so long as they didn't venture too far away as we would only be there for about 15 minutes. I took this opportunity to write down car numbers from the train. We departed Toledo around 7:20am, shortly after, the first call for breakfast was made. Tommy, his friend and myself all headed to the dining car just as they finished making the first call for breakfast so there was no wait to get a table. I had the Pancakes and Sausage with Orange Juice to drink. The pancakes had some sort of strawberry jelly spread all over the plate and the sausage was a little cold but overall a decent meal. As we ate, we passed through lots of Northwest Ohio farmland before arriving at Bryan, Ohio, our next stop, which is near the Indiana State Line. By the time we arrived at Bryan, we were all done eating so I headed back to my coach seat, turned on a MiniDisc and tried to get some shuteye, which now proved to be nearly impossible.
   Our next stop was Waterloo, Indiana which has a rather unique Amtrak Station, it consists of a bus shelter and small platform, that's it! A hand full of people boarded there. Next stop, Elkhart, where we picked up a few more passengers then sat there for about 10 minutes. I couldn't figure out why we were stopped there so I waited a bit then an announcement was made that we were stopped there so the 2 locomotives could refuel!!! After losing some time in Elkhart, we stopped in South Bend, then Hammond-Whiting. We were now in the Central Time Zone (A first for me, never took a trip outside the Eastern Time Zone!!!) so I set my trustee Timex watch back 1 hour. At Hammond-Whiting, they only drop off passengers on the Lake Shore unless passengers boarding will be boarding a connecting train westward from Chicago.
   After leaving Hammond-Whiting, we crossed the Illinois State Line and moved into Suburban Chicago. We passed through the Norfolk Southern (Ex-Conrail) 47th Street Yard, also saw lots of action from the Indiana Harbor Belt Railway along with some CSX Freights. We paralleled the Chicago Skyway for a ways before turning towards Union Station. First though, we had to dump the road railers in the yard before proceeding into the station. This took a little more time than expected and the HEP in the coaches went out a couple times as well. When all was said and done, we headed for Union Station, passing Amtrak & Metra Coach Yards and Amtrak's Locomotive Shop seen in the photo to the left. As we pulled into the station, I noticed a set of Superliners on an adjacent track and noticed the number on one of the sleeping cars was "2930". The first 2 digits in that number signify the Train Number and Train #29 is the westbound Capitol Limited which uses the same train set as the Southwest Chief, so at least I knew that our train would most likely depart on time since it did in fact get to Chicago before we did. When the train finally stopped and the brakes were set, we had arrived 55 minutes late at 12:05pm. I had a 4 hour layover in the plans originally so arriving 55 minutes late for me was no big deal. Overall, another decent trip on the Lake Shore, I would liked to have had an AC outlet at my seat but Amtrak hasn't finished refurbishing all the Amfleet II Coaches and considering its financial situation, it probably won't for awhile. I gathered my 3 bags, and walked down the cold platform into the station. To see my experiences in the station, click in the table below...