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Segment 2: New York City To Boston on Amtrak's Acela Express

Summer Railfanning Trip 2003:
Segment 2: New York City To Boston
On Amtrak's Acela Express
Monday, August 4th, 2003

   For whatever reason, Train #2170, ended up arriving some 10 minutes late. An announcement was made to board at Gate #9. After I found Gate #9 which took some exploring (I’ve never been here before!), I boarded the First Class car located behind the power car. I didn’t get the consist but I know the Power Car that pulled the train was #2001 and my car was First Class Car #3200. We departed New York some 20 minutes late and the car crew wasted no time in taking care of all of us very quickly! Shortly after finding my seat, a member of the crew came by and offered me a drink and some snacks, I had a Diet Pepsi and a cup of some kind of Gardetto’s “Snack-Ens” or something similar. The Conductor took my ticket which was actually for Train #2168 but was stamped to be valid on 2170 by a crew member in Club Acela due to my late arrival on the Lake Shore Limited. Another crew member then passed out Dinner Menus, tonight’s dinner selections included a Steak dish with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes, A Penne Pasta w/cream sauce and Grilled Chicken dish, and a Seafood Dish of some kind. I opted for the Penne Pasta w/Chicken because I wanted to try something different, as I usually always have steak. Dinner was served on china plates with everything in some way stamped with the Acela Logo. Even the Salt and Pepper Shakers were in the shape of the Acela Logo! Dinner was very good, everything was tasty. Besides the Chicken & Pasta, the dinner also came with a small Side Salad, Dinner Roll and a Strawberry Shortcake Desert. I had a Heinekin Beer to drink, which I might add, was included in the ticket price!
   We climbed out of the tunnels from Penn Station while passing Sunnyside Yard in Queens before going over the Hell Gate Bridge over the East River and would be heading Northeast towards Boston. Amtrak operates the Northeast Corridor from Penn Station until CP-216 at New Rochelle, NY where Metro-North takes over to New Haven, CT where Amtrak takes over once again. I wasted no time in taking a bunch of slides of the New York City Skyline from the view outside my huge window next to my single seat since it was rather cloudy and a bit on the foggy side making some of the buildings difficult to see. We passed a few other Acela Express and Regional trains along the way, getting up to speed though I really don’t think we ever hit 150mph even in the area around New Haven where such speeds are permitted. The track overall was smooth most of the way and the cars were relatively smooth. I decided that once again, I wasn’t quite “full” yet (Can’t help it, I was born hungry!!!!) So I picked up my Camera Bag and proceeded to explore the rest of the train. I walked through the Business Class Cars down to the Café Car known as “Café Acela” and decided to try the Chicken & Swiss Sandwich. I decided to take it back to my seat in First Class and was told there was no charge for the sandwich because I was riding in First Class! I got back to the First Class Car only to find that the door wouldn’t open! After trying to get a crew member’s attention, I flipped the switch myself to get the door to open and when I got back to my seat, I found that my ticket stub was missing. A crew member told me she threw it out thinking I had left the train! I ended up getting my seat back and enjoyed the sandwich while watching the sun set as we moved further north, now on the way to Providence, Rhode Island. We lost a few minutes here, a few there, likely due to trackwork. I had some conversations with the 2 passengers sitting across from me who were lawyers from Massachusetts, we discussed a variety of topics for a bit. A quick call to Julie said we’d be in Boston at 10:17pm, putting us in almost an hour late. We made our stops at Route 128 Station, then Boston-Back Bay, and finally Boston South Station. At 10:24pm, we arrived into South Station. I grabbed my bags and took a night photo of Regional Train #94 which had arrived shortly after our train which only spent a few minutes at the station before leaving and heading back into Southampton Yard for servicing.
   After taking the night photo, I packed up my gear and headed inside to South Station which is beautifully decorated and everything is easily accessible inside. I found the MBTA Red Line Subway that I would need to take to the suburb of Braintree, MA where I would get to my hotel. The subway cost $2.00 and ran in such a way where you paid an attendant who gave you 2 tokens, you put one in when you bought them then the other when you get off in Braintree. I dragged my 2 Suitcases, Camera bag and Umbrella down a couple flights of stairs and got to the platform where I had a quick conversation with a couple Postal Workers from the Boston Area, we discussed mostly football since my team, the Buffalo Bills would be playing their team, the New England Patriots in the first week of the NFL Season. (On a side note, the Bills eventually won that game 31-0, GO BILLS!!!). After about a 25 minute ride in an Air-Conditioned (Thank God!!!) Subway train, which progressively emptied out as we went further down the line, I arrived at Braintree where a Commuter Rail Station is also available along with a huge parking ramp. I grabbed my bags and walked out to Union Street where my hotel, the Motel 6 was located about 1/8th of a mile.
   I checked into the hotel and was given a surprise in the form of a reduced rate for my room, I was quoted a rate of $85.99 and was charged $69.99 because apparently they lowered their fares since I had made my reservation back in June. I settled into my room and called my parents back home before heading over to a Bickford’s Restaurant located next to the hotel. Bickford’s is a 24 hour restaurant chain that operates throughout New England. After dinner, which consisted of Chicken Fingers and French Fries (Typical meal back home!), I went back to the hotel, plugged in my computer and was able to get online thanks to the data port on the phone. After a quick shower, I decided to crash for the night since it was now around 2:30am.

A high-rise owned by Citibank as we ride up the Northeast Corridor.

MTA Subway train somewhere between New York City and New Rochelle.

Looking South towards New York City, this is Northern Blvd. in Queens, NY.

Another view of the Manhattan Skyline.

One of many suspension bridges over the East River.

Amtrak Regional Train #94 with AEM-7 #934 for power sitting in Boston-South Station. The train arrived just after my Acela Express did.