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Capitol Limited - Chicago to New York   October 17, 2007

By Daniel Chazin,

     It's about 3:10 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, 2007, and I've just arrived at the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station.  My Texas Eagle from Dallas arrived a few minutes ago, and I am now waiting for the Capitol Limited, scheduled to depart at 7:05 p.m. 

     Upon arriving at the lounge, I presented my ticket stub from the Texas Eagle, showing that I had arrived in a sleeper, but I was also asked to produce my ticket for the Capitol Limited and photo ID.  I was somewhat puzzled by the latter requirement, but subsequently noted that "ID OK" had been written on the ticket and initialed, thus indicating to the conductor that he need not check my ID aboard the train.  The attendant in the Metropolitan Lounge informed me that boarding for the train would begin at 6:00 p.m., so that I should be back at the lounge at that time.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that boarding of an Amtrak train would commence over an hour before the train was scheduled to depart!  I was also told that dinner will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. - even before the train departs - and that I could make my dinner reservation now.  I chose the 7:30 p.m. dinner sitting.  I inquired whether I should check my suitcase and was informed that I could if I wished to, but that I was not required to check it.  This is a change in policy, as in the past, passengers were required to check their luggage in a room adjacent to the lounge.  I chose to keep my suitcase with me, instead of checking it.

     I had no plans to go anywhere this afternoon; instead, I intended to use the time to check my e-mail messages and finish up my travelogues.  At this point, the Metropolitan Lounge was not at all full, so I found a seat adjacent to a table, turned on my computer, and succeeded in getting online via a wireless network in the Metropolitan Lounge.  I looked at the arrivals board and noticed that virtually all trains were either on time, or else only a little late.

     About 3:45 p.m., a long line suddenly formed in front of the desk.  I asked one person on the line where he had come from, and he replied that he had arrived from Flagstaff.  Obviously, the Southwest Chief had just pulled in.  Shortly afterwards, the California Zephyr arrived, and another line formed.  The lounge was now quite full.

     I used my time in the lounge to check e-mail and send out some reply messages.  I also stepped out a few times to take a brief walk around the station, but I did not go out to the street.

     Sure enough, a boarding announcement for the Capitol Limited was made in the Metropolitan Lounge precisely at 6:00 p.m.  Passengers were told to assemble at the rear exit to the lounge, and we were led down the platform to our train, which was boarding on Track 26. 

     Tonight's Capitol Limited is pulled by three engines - 205, 166 and 12 - and includes a baggage car, a transition/crew dorm car, two sleepers, a diner, a Sightseer Lounge and three coaches (one of which contains a baggage compartment on the lower level, although it does not appear to be used on this trip).  In addition, the private car U.P. 118 (Amtrak #900118), which was occupied by a number of people, was attached to the rear of the train.  I was assigned Room 11, a lower-level room, in Car 32068, which was the first sleeping car on the train.  Both sleepers on the train were Superliner I cars that have been very attractively reconditioned, with simulated wood paneling and larger, better arranged restrooms.

     After stowing away my belongings, I walked down the platform and reboarded at the rear coach, then walked through the train to return to my room.  At this point, about 6:20 p.m., coach passengers (except for those requiring Red Cap assistance) had not begun to board, so the coaches were quite empty.  The sleepers, on the other hand, seemed pretty full, and my attendant confirmed that some revenue passengers were assigned to the crew dorm car.

     When I returned to my room, I noticed that although I had plugged in my computer, it was not charging.  To be sure that the fault was not with my computer, I plugged in my phone charger, and it didn't work, either.  I tried other outlets in our car, with the same result.  But when I plugged the phone charger in an outlet in the next car, it worked fine.

     I informed the attendant of the problem, and then, when the conductor came by to collect tickets, I told him, too.  The conductor immediately checked the circuit box and, as I had figured, discovered that the circuit breaker for the electric plugs had been tripped.  He reset it, and the plugs now worked fine.  The attendant seemed a little surprised that the problem could be fixed so easily, and I was grateful to the conductor for resolving this problem so expeditiously.

     At 7:02 p.m., I heard on the scanner that Train 30 is "clear of all departments" and "clear at the gate."  Hearing this, the conductor told the attendants to "close them up," and we departed precisely on time at 7:05 p.m.

     I watched from my room as we proceeded south from Union Station, but in only a few minutes - at 7:15 p.m. - it was announced that all passengers with 7:30 p.m. reservations should come to the diner.  I was seated opposite a couple who lived in West Palm Beach, Florida and were returning from a visit with their daughter in Minneapolis.  The husband doesn't like to fly, and they are retired and in no rush, so they decided to take the train there and back.  They were occupying a roomette in my car.  We carried on a very interesting conversation, and the wife told me that, while visiting in Minneapolis, she often took the light-rail to the mall or downtown, rather than driving, because it was faster and more convenient.

     Service tonight in the diner was rather slow, and it took about half an hour for the attendant to take our orders for dinner.  My chicken dinner was quite good.  The woman sitting opposite me ordered the country fried chicken and seemed to be pleased with it (although she was upset that service was rather slow), but her husband had a cold and ended up getting only two salads for his meal.  About 8:15 p.m., they decided that they had had enough to eat, and they headed back to their sleeper room.  I stayed a little longer, but soon I, too, finished eating and returned to my room.

     Soon afterwards, I decided to walk through the train.  I found that all three coaches were quite full, with at least one passenger sitting in each pair of seats (except for eight seats that were marked "reserved"), and most seat pairs were occupied by two passengers.  The rear coach was for passengers traveling to Pittsburgh, the front coach was for passengers traveling all the way to Washington, and the middle coach was where all passengers traveling to other intermediate points were assigned.  Given the crowded conditions in the coaches, I was very glad that I had a sleeper for this trip.  I returned to my room, where I spent most of the rest of the evening.

     At 8:38 p.m., the conductor made an announcement that we have been going slowly for the last 20 minutes because we have been following a freight train.  He pointed out that, since we are still following the freight train, it will take us about half an hour to travel the 20 miles remaining to South Bend, Indiana.  The conductor was correct in his prediction, as we finally arrived in South Bend at 10:10 p.m. (Eastern Time), and when we departed five minutes later, we were 42 minutes late.     Our next stop was Elkhart, where we arrived at 10:35 p.m.  Here, the train made three stops, and we departed at 10:41 p.m.

     At 11:27 p.m., we pulled into the Waterloo station on Track 2 - the one that is not adjacent to the station platform.  This meant that our train had to be spotted precisely at one of the crossovers that have been placed across Track 1.  We made two stops at Waterloo, and when we departed at 11:32 p.m., we were 46 minutes late.

     I still wasn't all that tired, but about midnight, I decided that it was time for bed.  Unlike the attendant on the Texas Eagle, who kept on checking when I wanted the bed lowered, the attendant on the Capitol Limited never specifically offered to put down my bed.  Since I know how to make the bed myself, I decided to do so.  Interestingly, the bed was made with the head pointing the wrong way (attendants are instructed to place the head at the side of the room with the steps leading to the upper berth, which in the case of my room tonight was the front of the room), so I had to reverse the position of the bedding when placing it on the flattened seats.

     I climbed into bed and fell asleep rather quickly.  I woke up at about 12:50 a.m., during our stop in Toledo, but fell asleep once more before we had departed.  I also woke up when we stopped at Sandusky at 1:48 a.m. and at Elyria at 2:25 a.m., but I slept through our station stops at Cleveland and Alliance.

     I woke up again about 5:30 a.m. and noticed that we were paralleling the Ohio River, which was on our right (my room was on the right side of the car, which meant that I could observe the scenery without getting out of bed).  This meant that we were beginning to approach Pittsburgh.  Then, at 6:13 a.m., after crossing the massive truss bridge over the Allegheny River, we pulled into the Pittsburgh station.  Although I had not intended to get off the train here, I was now wide awake, so I decided to do so.  I stepped off the train from my sleeper and walked to the back of the train, reboarding at the second coach.  I noticed that even though we had been in the station for eight minutes already, passengers were still detraining from the rear coach (that coach was filled with passengers whose destination was Pittsburgh).  The middle coach was about half empty (although presumably passengers boarding in Pittsburgh would be assigned there), and the first coach, with all passengers headed to Washington, was still quite full.  Only a handful of passengers were in the lounge car, and the dining car was not yet open for service.  After briefly stepping into the crew dorm car, I returned to my room, and we departed Pittsburgh at 6:31 a.m.  We were now 46 minutes late.

     I climbed back into bed, but took out my computer and continued writing these memoirs while listening to the scanner and following our progress on the SPV Northeast Railroad Atlas.  CSX requires the engineer to call out all of the signals, which makes tracking the progress of our train very easy, since the names of all signals are recorded in the atlas.  It started getting light about 7:10 a.m. - about the time we reached McKeesport - and I watched as we continued past small rural villages, with houses built nearly on top of the railroad tracks.  My room turned out to be on the "right" side of the train for viewing purposes, as the rivers that we paralleled were all on the right. Finally, about 7:25 a.m., I decided to get out of bed and take a shower.

     The shower in my reconditioned sleeper was very nice - much better designed than the one in the sleeper that I had yesterday - and today, there was plenty of soap available.  After taking a refreshing shower, I returned to my room and got dressed.  About 8:10 a.m., we came to a stop at milepost 273, just west of Connellsville.  A freight train almost immediately passed us to the left, and we moved ahead five minutes later, switching to the No. 1 main track, which is adjacent to the station platform in Connellsville.

     After we made a brief stop at Connellsville at 8:20 a.m. (56 minutes late), I decided to go to the diner for breakfast.  When I arrived at the dining car, I was seated opposite a couple who live in Powell, Wyoming and were traveling to Winter Haven, Florida to visit their sister.  They mentioned to me that they had picked up the Empire Builder in Malta, Montana, and almost missed it because they arrived in their car just as the train was pulling in!  The husband mentioned that he grew up in Wyoming, worked in Alaska for the FAA, then retired and moved back to Wyoming.  This was only the second time in his life that he had been on a train - the first was over 50 years ago, when his school class rode from Powell to Billings and back on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad!  He explained to me that he and his wife have no problem with flying, but decided to take the train for the fun of it.  They were in a roomette in my car and seemed to be enjoying the trip very much.  Next to me sat a woman who was traveling from Detroit to Baltimore in coach (she took an Amtrak Thruway bus from Detroit to Toledo, where she boarded our train).  She mentioned that, at the last minute, she tried to upgrade to a sleeper, but no sleeping car accommodations were available.

     During breakfast, we began our climb of the Allegheny Mountains, with the Youghiogheny River and then the Casselman River to our right.  I had brought along my American AltaVista guide for this section of the route, which contains detailed track diagrams, and I used it to follow our progress along the way.  It was a little hazy out, and the sun was in a position where it interfered with pictures, but the views were beautiful, with the foliage just starting to change. 

     I remained in the diner until about 9:15 a.m., then moved to the Sightseer Lounge car to continue viewing the magnificent scenery.  I found that all of the tables on the upper level of the lounge car were occupied, so I sat down instead in one of the seats on the right side of the car that face outward.  These seats are actually more comfortable than those at the tables, and they look right out at the views.

     Next to me was seated a man who was traveling in coach all the way from Oceanside, California.  His final destination was the 30th Street station in Philadelphia, and he mentioned to me that he would have a 10-hour wait there.  When I expressed surprise that he would have to wait in Washington for 10 hours for a train to Philadelphia, he showed me the itinerary that Amtrak had prepared for him, which indicated that he was assigned to take Train #66, departing Washington at 10:00 p.m.  I was quite surprised at this, as our train is scheduled to arrive at 1:30 p.m., and the official connection (which assumes that the Capitol Limited will be as much as two hours late) is the 4:05 p.m. Regional train.  I told him that, when we arrive at Washington, he should go to the ticket counter and exchange his ticket for one valid on an earlier train.  (Apparently, he did so, as I subsequently observed him aboard the Regional train that I took back from Washington.)

     As we approached the Sand Patch summit, I noticed that windmills had been installed on a hill to our right to generate electricity.  Then, at 9:50 a.m., we entered the Sand Patch Tunnel, the highest point on our route.  We descended along the meandering Wills Creek, and finally reached Hyndman, the base of the descent, at 10:20 a.m.  I remained for most of the time in the lounge car, although at one point, I did walk towards the rear of the train and found - not much to my surprise - that the rear coach was now empty and closed to passengers.

     As we approached our next stop, Cumberland, I walked back to my car, figuring that I would try to step off the train here. But, as I was walking through the train, at 10:36 a.m., we came to a stop.  At first, I assumed that we were already at the station, but it soon became apparent that, although we were in downtown Cumberland, we had been halted by a stop signal at Viaduct Junction and hadn't quite reached the station yet.  On the scanner, I heard that we are "waiting on the 217," and soon the conductor announced that we are stopped to wait for a freight train to get out of our way, and that we should be moving shortly.

     We remained stopped for quite a while.  Not until 11:00 a.m. did the freight train pass us to the left.  Apparently, this train had to pass us before we could move ahead, as it was heading north on the No. 1 Main Track, which is the one adjacent to the station.  Three minutes later, it was announced that we had a medium clear signal, and we switched over to the No. 1 Track and moved ahead to the station.  At 11:06 a.m., we stopped, but it was announced that this was the first stop, made so that  the new conductors could board, and that there would also be a second stop, at which those who wished to smoke could step off the train from the second coach.  So I walked back to the second coach and stepped off the train when we made our second stop at 11:12 a.m.

     Cumberland features a small, unattractive station, with two rows of plastic seats and a ticket counter that is closed, with a sign stating "crew room for Trains 29 and 30."  I walked back to the private car at the rear and took some pictures.  Returning to the station, I heard the conductor calling an Amtrak office on his cell phone to find out whether a certain passenger's reservation was actually prepaid, as he had claimed.  I then reboarded the train.  Our second stop lasted for 13 minutes, and when we departed at 11:25 a.m., we were one hour and 34 minutes late, having lost at least half an hour due to our delay in pulling into the Cumberland station.  Had I been in a rush to get somewhere, I might have been rather annoyed at this seemingly pointless delay, buy under the circumstances, I really didn't care.  I was enjoying the train trip very much, and as far as i was concerned, the trip was only enhanced by it being extended for a little while longer.

     Soon after we departed Cumberland, the first call was made for lunch in the diner.  About 12:00 noon, I decided to go to the diner for lunch.  I was seated opposite a couple who lived in Indianapolis and were headed to Washington to visit friends.  After spending a few days in the Washington area, they would be heading down to Florida to visit their daughter in Orlando.  I ashed why they didn't take the <>Cardinal - which goes directly from Indianapolis to Washington - instead, and they replied that the schedule of that tri-weekly train did not suit them.  Instead, they drove from Indianapolis to Chicago to catch the Capitol Limited.  They occupied a deluxe bedroom in my car, and seem to be enjoying the trip very much.  They also mentioned to me that they have taken the Rocky Mountaineer in Western Canada, traveling with the premium Gold Leaf service, and said that that was the best train trip they've ever taken.

     Next to me sat a woman who was traveling from Cleveland to Boston.  Like me, she had a sleeper for this portion of the trip and would be connecting in Washington to a Regional train.  I asked why she didn't take the Lake Shore Limited, which follows a more direct route, and she gave some response which I didn't understand.

     We all commented on how enjoyable it was to sit in the dining car, eating our meals and enjoying each others' company, while gazing out at the beautiful scenery.  For the entire meal, we were paralleling the scenic Potomac River, which was to the left of the train (this was one stretch which I couldn't appreciate from my right-facing room, and our table was on the left side of the train).  I didn't follow the route as carefully as I had followed the route from Connellsville to Cumberland, but just enjoyed the magnificent scenery, with the fall colors. 

     The dining car had run out of several items by the time we were served, but the items that the people sitting at my table wanted were still available.  We spent about an hour in the dining car, after which we returned to our accommodations. 

     Soon, I returned to the Sightseer Lounge car, and I watched us pull into the Martinsburg station at 1:32 p.m.  As we arrived at Martinsburg, I noticed that an overpass leading to the restored roundhouse had recently been constructed over the tracks, thus permitting visitors to access the roundhouse complex without crossing the tracks.  We made only one stop in Martinsburg (for coach passengers), and when we departed a minute later, we were one hour and 48 minutes late.

     I returned to my room, and soon the attendant came by to collect pillow cases.  She had noticed my scanner in my room and, thinking that it was a radio, asked if I was an Amtrak conductor!  I explained to her the difference between a scanner and a radio, but was somewhat surprised that she didn't know what a scanner was.

     I went back to the lounge car for the last time to observe our stop at Harpers Ferry at 1:32 p.m.  The restoration of this historic railroad station appears to have been completed, with a tower having been reconstructed onto the station building.  Interestingly, while the entire building has been painted in a reddish color (that presumably was its original color, when first built), the canopy covering the underpass at the eastern end of the platform remains in the light-yellow color in which the station was painted for many years.  I stayed in the lounge car until we reached Point of Rocks, looking out at the historic towpath of the adjacent Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and talking to fellow passengers about the historic sights along the way.  I then returned to my room to finish gathering up my belongings and prepare for our arrival at Washington Union Station.

     As we approached Rockville, an announcement was made that the lounge car will be closed upon our departure from Rockville.  That didn't concern me, as I intended to remain in my room for the remainder of the journey.  At 2:28 p.m., we made a brief stop at Rockville.  Only the second coach was opened here; our sleeper was beyond the front end of the platform.  When we departed a minute later, we were just short of two hours late.  However, there is over half an hour of make-up time built into the schedule between Rockville and Washington.

     At 2:49 p.m., as we were approaching Washington Union Station, I heard on the scanner that we would be arriving on Track 15, an upper-level track.  Then, at 2:55 p.m., as we came to a stop opposite the New York Avenue station of METRO, it was announced that we will be arriving "momentarily" at Washington Union Station, and that all passengers must "disembark" from the "basement" of their car.  I think that this is the first time I've heard the term "basement" to describe the lower level of a Superliner car!

     We started moving again two minutes later, and at 3:01 p.m., we came to our final stop on Track 15, one of the two low-platform tracks on the upper level of Washington Union Station.  We were one hour and 31 minutes later.  I detrained and walked down the platform towards the station, noting that the outbound Capitol Limited, scheduled to depart at 4:05 p.m., was parked on Track 16, on the opposite side of the same platform.  Even though I was in the second passenger car of the train, there were three engines, a baggage car and a crew dorm car in front of my car, and Track 15 has been shortened by a few car-lengths, with the result that I had a significant distance to walk before reaching the station.

     I had hoped to connect with Regional Train #148, which departs at 3:05 p.m., but I didn't even make it into the station by then.  Rather, I would be taking the train for which I had been ticketed - Regional Train #178, which departs Washington at 4:05 p.m.  Since I had arrived as a sleeping car passenger, I was entitled to use the facilities of the Club Acela, so I headed there. 

     The Club Acela attendant cautioned me that Regional trains are not announced in Club Acela, since few people entitled to use this facility would be departing on such trains.  She advised me to check the monitor for the track of my train.  I found a comfortable seat in the lounge, which was fairly full, and used my time there to check and reply to my e-mail messages.

     While I was waiting in the Club Acela, I heard boarding calls for the Capitol Limited and for two Acela Express trains, one of which was the new 3:55 p.m. "super-express" train, which stops only at Philadelphia and New York.  After these boarding announcements were made, the lounge emptied out, with only a handful of passengers remaining. 

     About 3:50 p.m., I decided to go out to board my train, which would depart from Track 24.  I found a very long line snaking up to Gate H, from where the train would depart, and attempted to evade the line by going to Gate A.  I discovered, though, that barriers have been erected that bar one from accessing via Gate A any tracks other than those from which the MARC trains depart.  So I went back to Gate H and found my way down to the platform.

     Today's Train #178 is pulled by engine #911 and includes six coaches (one of which is actually an ex-Metroliner coach, with only 60 seats), a cafe car with tables on both sides of the service counter and a Business Class car.  I had a Business Class ticket - when I made my reservation with Amtrak Guest Rewards, the agent told me that since I was traveling by sleeper, she would upgrade me to Business Class for the Washington-New York leg of the trip.  This is the first time that I've gotten an upgrade to Business Class in a situation such as this.  So I walked down to the front of the train and boarded the Business Class car, the first car on the train.

     Somewhat to my surprise, the car was quite full, with at least one passenger sitting in every seat group.  I walked to the very front of the train and took a forward-facing seat in a four-seat group that faced a large table.  Another passenger sat opposite me, but - at least for now - we were the only two people at the table.  We departed one minute late at 4:06 p.m.  As we pulled out of the station, we paralleled the Capitol Limited, also scheduled to leave at 4:05 p.m., which turned left to continue on the CSX line towards Rockville and Harpers Ferry.

     After our first stop, New Carrollton, I decided to walk through the train.  I found that the first four coaches were packed - with virtually every seat filled.  There were some vacant seats in the last two coaches, but even there, at least one passenger was sitting in each seat group.  And the tables in the cafe car were quite full, too.  I was amazed how full the train was!  I noticed that a door at the rear of the train was wide open, and I informed the conductor of this dangerous condition.  On the way back to my seat, I obtained a cup of lemon tea in the cafe car (complimentary for Business Class passengers).

     Our next stop was BWI Airport, where we arrived at 4:33 p.m.  For some reason, the stop lasted for five minutes, and when we departed at 4:38 p.m., we were six minutes late.  Additional passengers boarded here, but no one else sat down at our table.  That changed when we stopped at Baltimore.  Before we arrived at Baltimore at 4:51 p.m., an announcement was made during which something was said about passengers who were standing.  I couldn't understand the entire announcement, but it seems that a number of passengers who boarded at BWI Airport had to stand, because no coach seats were available. 

     As we pulled into the Baltimore station, I noticed quite a few people standing on the platform waiting to board our train.  Some of these passengers had Business Class tickets, and a number of passengers came into our car.  Hardly any seats were available, so I moved my backpack off the adjacent seat so that another passenger could sit there.  Two women who were returning from Baltimore to Philadelphia sat down at the two seats that remained vacant at our table, and it seemed that all other seats in our car were occupied, too.

<>     I continued to work on this travelogue, and even fell asleep for a few minutes before we arrived at Wilmington.  Here, a few passengers detrained, including the man who had boarded in Washington and was sitting opposite me.  When we departed Wilmington at 5:39 p.m., we were five minutes late.  On the way to Philadelphia, we passed several SEPTA commuter trains.  I noticed that most of these trains - operating in the height of the rush hour - had only two cars! 

     The other two women sitting at my table detrained when we arrived at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia at 5:59 p.m.  So did some other passengers, but others boarded, and a woman asked if she could sit next to me (the two rear-facing seats on the other side of the table remained vacant, but she understandably wanted to sit in a front-facing seat).  I told her, of course, that she could sit there, but in the meantime, I got up, walked to the cafe car, and obtained a cup of hot water so that I could make a cup of soup that I brought along with me.  Although I had someone sitting next to me for the rest of the trip, there was no one sitting in the facing seats, so I now once again had plenty of legroom.

     Rather than making up time, we lost more time north of Philadelphia.  We departed Trenton at 6:33 p.m., eight minutes late, and north of there, we seemed to be running rather slowly.  Perhaps, due to our lateness, we were put behind an NJ Transit train, for at least part of the way. 

<>     I now considered my options for getting back to Teaneck.  A friend who lives near me in Teaneck but commutes every day on Amtrak between Newark and Philadelphia had mentioned to me that he would be attending a late meeting tonight and would be taking a train that would be arriving in Newark between 7:45 and 8:45 p.m.  I thought of getting a ride back with him, but when I tried calling him, using the cell phone number that he had provided to me, I got a recording that the number was disconnected.  I later found out that he had mistakenly told me that his cell phone was a 215 number, when it fact it was a 201 number, but for now, I had no way of reaching him.  (It turned out that he ended up taking the Keystone train that arrived in Newark at 8:42 p.m., so I would not have gotten home any earlier had I waited for him.) <>    

    Another option was to take NJ Transit's Pascack Valley Line from Secaucus Junction to the Anderson Street station in Hackensack, from where I could get a bus that would take me to Teaneck.  Looking at the timetable, I noticed that there was a Pascack Valley Line train that departed Secaucus at 7:35 p.m.  My Amtrak train was scheduled to arrive at Newark Penn Station at 7:00 p.m., and there was an NJ Transit train that left Newark at 7:06 p.m. and arrived in Secaucus in plenty of time for me to make my connection.  But there was one problem.  Given our late running, it did not seem likely that we would arrive at Newark Penn Station in time to make that train.  And the next NJ Transit train that stopped in Secaucus would not leave Newark until 7:37 p.m. - too late for me to make my connection to the 7:30 p.m. Pascack Valley Line train in Secaucus.  The next Pascack Valley Line train wouldn't leave Secaucus until 8:30 p.m.

     I finally decided that, since I was comfortably seated in Business Class on the Amtrak train, I might as well stay on the train all the way to Penn Station New York and take an NJ Transit train back from there to Secaucus.  When we pulled into Track 2 at Newark Penn Station at 7:12 p.m., it was apparent that I had missed the 7:06 p.m. NJ Transit train.  I remained on my Amtrak Regional train, and we arrived on Track 12 at Penn Station at 7:27 p.m., 11 minutes late.  My train would continue to Boston, but most of the passengers detrained here.

<>     I walked upstairs and purchased a ticket for my NJ Transit trip from NYP to Anderson Street.  By this time, the next train to Secaucus was Train #3513, the 7:47 p.m. South Amboy local, which was boarding on Track 1, so I decided to take this train.  It was pushed by engine 4417 and included eight Comet cars, six of which were opened to passengers.  I took a seat in the second car.  We departed at 7:48 p.m. and arrived in Secaucus eight minutes later.  I waited in the rotunda until a few minutes before the scheduled departure of my Pascack Valley Line train, then headed down to Track H. 

     My Train #1643 pulled in on time at 8:30 p.m.  It was pulled by engine 4023 and included three Comet II and Comet IV cars.  I boarded the second car, but found that at least one person was sitting in every group of seats, so I walked back to the rear car, where I found two groups of unoccupied seats (I wanted an entire seat group to myself because I needed room to store my luggage).  When we arrived at the Anderson Street station at 8:49 p.m., I detrained and walked over to the bus stop on Anderson Street between Main and River Streets.  I was informed by a waiting passenger that the #168 bus is scheduled to arrive at 9:10 p.m., but a few minutes earlier, the #780 bus pulled in.  I took that bus to Cedar Lane and Grange Road, and I was home by 9:20 p.m., thus ending a very enjoyable trip to Dallas and back.  I thought it particularly fitting that I began my return trip by taking a commuter train in the Dallas area and ended it by riding an NJ Transit train for the last leg of my journey!

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