• Amtrak to Florida (on 91 and 98)

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by F40
Hello Everyone,

The Florida trip so far has been a wonderful experience. Let me first start by thanking my parents for providing the money needed for this trip. (I am going to end up “recovering” some [hopefully a lot of] the money spent with the two jobs I will have this summer.)

First, the train crew was very courteous and friendly. From the café car attendant to the conductors (including those who boarded in the south), the train’s atmosphere was just as the female conductor announced, “For the next 2 days, we are family.” The conductor assigned seats depending on where we were going, and it turned out all of the Florida passengers were sent to the first coach car behind the café or so the trend seemed. Our train consisted of a baggage car, three Sleepers, the old Diner, Café, then the four Amfleet II coaches being led by an AEM7/AC out of NY, soon to be replaced by two P42’s (?) with the second being #167 in elephant style.

I was assigned to seat 38 (which was an aisle seat) and my “ride-mate” in coach (car #25096) was Billy, who was already there sitting in #38, so I took the window). This was toward the front of the car with unfortunately the window “column” right next to me, precluding a nice window view. He is a very friendly man from Brooklyn with four children and our discourse was enjoyable. We conversed about everything from the Rutgers basketball team to religion (as he is a Catholic and I am a Protestant Christian) to our abodes. I am a Rutgers student, and he told me that his nephew attended there (if I recall correctly) to study psychology. Billy was visiting one of his sons in the Deerfield Beach area, where he detrained. It turned out that after Washington or so, he spent his time with another passenger he met on board, leaving me with an empty seat, which I regrettably did not use to sleep overnight.

All of my meals this time came solely from the Café car (it was only me being the cheapskate). First for lunch, I bought a sierra chicken sandwich with Sierra Mist. Billy soon pointed out jokingly that I got the sandwich because of the soda (both are named “sierra”). I chuckled and told him I just noticed the common name. For dinner, it was spicy chicken wings, cup of noodles, and a Yoo-hoo. Breakfast, I bought the egg, sausage, and cheese bagel with Dannon yogurt, and finally for lunch on May 22, I got the Chicken Caesar salad with Yoo-hoo again. The food was good (after all, I do have a high tolerance for taste and I must love to eat to bring myself to an acceptable healthy weight of 130 for my height ).

In any case, the train ran well all the way up to Richmond, VA, when we departed 13 minutes late. Periodically, at all breaks, the train filled up with water to supply for the bathrooms and other needs. (Nevertheless, our coach still ran out of water in the bathroom around Tampa, FL) We departed Petersburg at 6:12p, making us 15 minutes late, departed Rocky Mount, NC at 7:47p (18 minutes late), then we made up time to be on time at Raleigh and Cary, NC. Then after random slowdowns and a stoppage for freight, departed Southern Pines, NC at 11:00p (21 minutes late) where the train made a double stop (are some stations slated to make double stops as I have noticed for several stops?). Needless to say, I enjoyed the particular former “Southern Tier” (Port Jervis line on Metro-North Railroad) railing [rail braces close in proximity] that we passed through after and around this region. Continuous click-clack-click-clack-click-clack is joy to a railfan’s ears, although it does make the train rock back and forth a lot and I am sure the regular riders had to simply tolerate it. We pulled into Hamlet, NC at 11:31p and departed at 11:37p, making us 16 minutes late.

After finishing some reading, a Sudoku (which I do not know why I take substantially longer to do these [even the easy ones] on board the train), some music, and an episode of House (the episode titled “Half-Wit” starring Dave Matthews if anyone is interested), I finally turned off my reading lamp to join the peaceful “darkness” to sleep. (I forgot to add, the conductor turned the cabin lights off at 10:39p.) Since the train was continuously rocking back and forth at its normal speed, I became quite nervous about removing my contacts (which I originally had planned to do) and having them fall to a hopeless “abyss” below. Since the train would not be coming to a stop for a long time, I decided to wing it like I did during my Chicago trip. Again, I emphasize my regret at not using both seats to help me sleep, as I did have trouble sleeping. I first somewhat fell asleep, then awoke to (strangely, not noise but) an eerie quietness around 1:50am. It turned out that we were waiting for a northbound Silver Star just north of Columbia, SC and the HVAC had been shut off for some reason. (Actually this was a relief, since it was cold trying to fall asleep.) We departed Columbia at 2:11a, making us now 27 minutes late. Afterwards, I did manage to sleep and stay soundly asleep until the train left Jesup, GA, on its way to Jacksonville, FL.

At every “smoke break,” I stepped outside for some fresh air (as even I was not used to being stuck with breathing “inside air” for an extended time) and took shots of the train and the surrounding stations. It was quite nice to see the palm trees, as they are a characteristic of such warm climate states.

Awakened by the fresh morning air, I thought I had rested well and was prepared for today’s journey. Little did I know then that my body was aching for more rest, especially after both meals (physiologically because of being in the absorptive state, where energy expended to digest food is greater than that supplied to the body). The train offered such a peaceful atmosphere still. We departed Jacksonville only six minutes late at 7:21a.

Around Palatka, FL (where we departed 17 minutes late: 8:35a) was when I went to the café car to eat breakfast. I stayed and enjoyed the scenery from the windows there. Then I headed back to my seat and took a look at the schedules and map to see our journey play out. Shortly afterwards, the powerful force of tiredness came upon me and I squirmed around to get into a comfortable position with the pillows (I had two surplus since Billy did not want his, and come to think of it, I am not sure where the second one came from) and closed the curtain to block the sun from blinding my eyes. I slept until the train got to Winter Park, (arrived 10:10a; departed 10:12a, 18 minutes late) when I had such a realistic dream that I needed a few minutes to come to reality. My dream was, interestingly, on the Silver Star itself, but I got a call from my dad that he and my brother were going to come on vacation with me from NJ (since our hometown is in NJ) and they were driving and were currently at Washington DC. He told me to get off at a station called “Mivas,” which was supposedly two stops before Deerfield Beach, my scheduled detraining stop. (wacky, I know) Then I had to figure out how he was going to drive from DC to “Mivas” in the same amount of time our train was scheduled to get there, which was no more than a few hours from where we were. After some stalling, I woke up, restless from sleeping in coach.

The A/C was turned off somewhere after Winter Park. The conductor turned it on soon afterwards, as it was getting warm inside the car. We got to Orlando at 10:26a (9 minutes late) and departed at 10:34a (3 minutes late); arrived Kissimmee at 10:55a, departed at 10:58a (3 minutes late); arrived Lakeland, FL at 11:39a, departed at 11:41a (1 minute late). After an emergency brake application at 12:18p, we made our backup move for Tampa, where we arrived on time and departed on time.
We made a stop at 1:21p at which a mile-marker 852 was spotted. (Where did this mileage start from?) It turned out that we waited for another northbound Silver Star to pass us.

Departed Lakeland 1:50p (29 minutes late); arrived Winter Haven 2:11p, departed at2:15p (32 minutes late). I consumed lunch afterwards and wound up being tired again and woke up when we arrived Sebring at 3:05p and departed at 3:09p (4 minutes late).
Afterwards, we passed by many acres of nicely arranged citrus shrubs (?) where some strong pesticide-like smell before Okeechobee permeated the air and into the train. I am not sure what came first, the nose adaptation to the smell, or the actual disappearance once we moved out of that farming area.

We arrived West Palm Beach (finally onto Tri-Rail ROW) at 5:00pm and departed at 5:04pm. Somehow, according to the schedule, we wound up being 51 minutes late. I must have slept the whole time the train was delayed for freight or whatnot. I have also noticed that before we reached Delray Beach, a structure that somewhat resembled an Amtrak station (with the arches and platform overhead cover) which was abandoned? It would be interesting to know its history. I was pretty sure it was not a Tri-Rail stop. We got to Delray Beach at 5:24pm and departed at 5:25pm. (Noticed the conductor wanted to keep the train moving once service at the station was done.)
At my vacation spot finally, we got to Deerfield Beach at around 5:35pm, departed 5:39pm, with the final report with the train being 45 minutes late. (If perchance the Amtrak schedules publish arrival schedules, these times are a few minutes off.)

I have settled in at Holiday Park as Mr. Norman has notified to you all. I have taken his advice and am enjoying my stay as I am and have typed this story. I ate dinner at Denny’s (decent food, I had Chicken Fried Chicken with Chicken Noodle Soup; lots of chicken I know!) and will make the trip to Miami to explore Tri-Rail, Metrorail, and downtown (I have bought a ticket for a tour package down there) keeping in mind the sights and precautions as helpfully laid out by Mr. Norman and Noel Weaver.

Final comments for the day; traveling in coach this time hit me a bit harder than it was on the Lake Shore Limited (I recall in our phone conversation with Mr. Norman’s comment on me being a more ‘intrepid’ traveler than he.) Well, I tried to be young and sprightly, but did experience the little hardships now of coach, since this trip was 12 hours longer than my trip to Chicago. Coach to Chicago was manageable. I will try my best to be well rested in a nicely fitted hotel before sightseeing and exploring tomorrow. I am scheduled to hop on the 7:10am from Deerfield Beach to the MetroRail station. (and not walking around here as advised by the former Moderator and Mr. Weaver.) On a side note, I have noticed a number of first time overnight coach riders from the northeast to Florida, and have commented on the ‘lengthiness’ of the ride. I tried to never give the impression of traveling by train long distance again to those, yet it is their choice. Thank God I have booked a Sleeper for my return trip.

May 23
Very early day, and yet I did not get to sleep much because of writing up my story. I got up at 6:30am to catch the 7:10am Tri-Rail from Deerfield Beach, to be unexpectedly met by Mr. Noel Weaver on the upper level fireman’s side of the second car. He introduced himself and I did the same, and we had very good conversations about Tri-Rail, Florida East Coast, and Amtrak operations, along with Metrorail and Metromover in Miami. I really appreciated him getting up early in the morning to show me around, as he pointed out the big Florida East Coast yard, and the Amtrak, Tri-Rail, and Metrorail facilities in their respective places. We got off at Miami Airport, and I happily saw the bumper post there (had Mr. Weaver not shown up, I would have gotten off at the MetroRail station directly). We unfortunately missed train P610, the 8:28am back to the Metrorail Transfer station so that we could get to downtown Miami by my scheduled tour deadline. So Mr. Weaver generously paid for the cab ride back up to 79th St., where we transferred to the Metrorail system.

Mr. Weaver complimented the cab driver when we left the cab, on taking the shortest and most efficient route back, and also gave the driver a generous tip. Up on the elevated station, I did not know that the Metrorail was free with a Tri-Rail ticket and that the ticket can be used twice. (Again, thank you Mr. Weaver) He suggested that we ride up north to Palmetto to explore the line and to see the trackage of the F.E.C. I agreed to the ride, and rode to the end of the line up north (unfortunately during the course of the day I did not have enough time to ride it down to Dadeland South). At Palmetto, we stepped out and walked towards the front of the train to get a “railfan window” view; however, we were unaware of the quick departure of this train, and so had to wait about six minutes for the next train to arrive.

Once on the train, we detrained at Government Center and took Metromover Inner Loop to College/Bayside stop, where I was “dropped off” for my tour. Mr. Weaver told me to call him later in the day if I wanted to see more of the Florida East Coast, which I agreed to do afterwards in the evening.

I had missed the morning tour, which I was originally scheduled for, so I gave Infinity Tours a call to see what I could do. Luckily there was an equivalent tour given in the afternoon, so I decided to wait for that one. (I was not expecting to pour $40 down the drain.) So while waiting (it was about 10:20am; afternoon tour picked up at 1:00pm) I decided to try and make it to the beach. I knew little of how far Miami Beach city would be from downtown Miami, so after taking the Omni loop to Omni station, I trekked the Venetian Causeway for the beach. Seeing that it was a much longer walk than I had imagined, I waited for the Miami-Dade A bus, which took me through a loop of downtown Miami Beach, however, with no sign of an arrow pointing towards the beaches in sight, I decided to stay on the bus until it returned to Miami, at which I took the Omni loop back to Bayside because it was around 12:40pm, (I did not eat anything yet for the day and was a little frustrated since there was only one bus on this line on a Wednesday, which made the headways greater than 15-20 minutes as it said on the bus stop posts).

The tour was very nice and enjoyable. After calling Infinity Tours to clarify which tour I had the ticket for (since I missed the morning tour), I was picked up and ready to sightsee Miami. We went through many towns, such as Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana, the Financial District of Brickell and Brickell Av., Miracle Mile, Port of Miami, and Bahamian Village, and Bayside Marketplace. It was the tour guide, Julio, who mentioned that there are three climates in Miami; hot, hotter, and hottest. I chuckled to myself after hearing that. It was a good way to put it I guess. The boat tour was excellent. I took many pictures of the mansions of the famous. Later after the tour was over, I strolled around Bayside, had a crepe at Breakfast Crepes as a light dinner, and bought souvenirs. Then around 7:00pm, I called Mr. Weaver to show me around the F.E.C. I did regret not being able to go to the beach of Miami Beach. But little did I know, the last Tri-Rail train northbound at the Metrorail Transfer was at 8:36pm, and he advised me not to waste time, so I hurried to the Metromover station to ride it to Government Center, then Metrorail to Tri-Rail, expecting to spend a little time with Metrorail if I had clearly missed the 7:36pm northbound. After we pulled in to Tri-Rail, I carefully checked my watch, and it was just about that time, so I descended with a moderate pace, the stairs to the Tri-Rail platform, and heard the noise of the locomotive (what power does Tri-Rail use?). Luckily, someone in front of me was also starting to jog for the train, so I decided to do the same, and much to Mr. Weaver’s (and my) surprise, I made the 7:36pm train coming from Bayside leaving at 7:00pm.

Our travel around Ft. Lauderdale was very enjoyable. Mr. Weaver and I drove around to various grade crossings (and the drawbridge there) and enjoyed watching four F.E.C. trains go by, two by the drawbridge, and another two at Pompano (? or somewhere north of there where the trains go by at 60mph). Seeing the last train ripping by at 60mph I thought was the highlight of the night. I wanted to see more, since there were more trains about a half an hour from the last one, but it was getting late (about 12:30am) and I had to get up early to catch the 8:20am Silver Meteor back home to NYP (although I live in NJ).
Between the two different train-watching events, Mr. Weaver was very kind to treat us to dinner at (I forgot the restaurant name, Mr. Weaver can you remind me what that restaurant was, that would be great). We had delicious servings of chicken wings there.
After dropping me off at my Deerfield Beach hotel, I thanked Mr. Weaver for his time and told him I would let him know if I happened to be down in Florida again. At my room, I got ready to pack up.

Every day on this trip, I was somewhat short on sleep. Tiredness did not leave me for the rest of the night I was up. Overall, I slept six hours each night, including the Sunday night before I started traveling, if I recall correctly, but thank goodness it was manageable.

May 24

I set my cell phone alarm to 6:45am, but I ended up snoozing until 7:00am. I needed to take a shower and shave that day so I gave myself plenty of time, and was planning to be on the platform by 8:00am. However, I ran late, and “despairing” that I did not have a chance to get the free deluxe continental breakfast before I left, I thought I might as well must manage the hunger as I always have done before. But fortunately, the despair quickly left when I heard the announcement for breakfast from the Sleeper Attendant.
Much to my surprise, the Meteor pulled into Deerfield Beach around 8:13am, at which I was just crossing the grade crossing to get to the northbound platform, and did not get to shoot any frontal shots of our P42’s leading the train, which was also in elephant style. (the second unit was #202 I think).

I boarded the train and seeing that it was First Class service, (Viewliner Room 2 on car 9810 [#62038; Spring View]) I did not run into any unfriendly crew, whether it be the conductor or the dining car or Café car attendants. I was not able to tell how the crew was in coach. I walked down to the Diner (which was conveniently the car behind us) to have a Southwestern Quiche and orange juice. [Much better than filling myself with sugary doughnuts I figured!] When I got done eating, we were just departing West Palm Beach (at which stop we arrived with 10 minutes to spare). [Our consist was identical to the Silver Star I rode on the way down. And I have also noticed that our Meteor had the nicely refurbished Diner #8532, and Lounge #28008]. I was not sure if the Lounge was refurbished or just different, since I saw that the cushioning in the Lounge area did not look new and the “Travel Tracker” panel was nothing more than a metal plate. It would have been nice if that feature was functional.

We departed Sebring on time and noticed a vintage railcar there. Anyone have any details on this? Our first slow/stop traffic occurred at 11:10am, at which I think it was freight traffic. So we pulled into Winter Haven 19 minutes late at 11:27am. We got to Kissimmee at 12:26pm, and departed at 12:33pm (21 minutes late). I have noticed that the two platforms at Kissimmee are “separated” by the grade crossing. Around this time, the southbound Silver Star passed by, running about 2 hours late. Our train trekked onto Orlando, where it arrived at 12:54pm and departed at 1:11pm (16 minutes late) where we picked up lots of “Walt Disney” folk, and more Viewliners in our car was taken. I have noticed the large CSX yard there.

After Orlando, we passed by buildings on the fireman’s side which were close enough to be station platforms along the adjacent track, one building which actually might have been a platform long ago. Anyone familiar with these buildings? In any case, along our route, I spotted one car at a grade crossing which ended up stopping between the tracks and the gate on the fireman’s side. Whether it was a close call or not, it sure was smart to stop once the gates were down.

We got to Winter Park at 1:26pm and departed at 1:30pm (14 minutes late), at which stop there were old platforms just north of the current platforms that extend for a short while. Anyone know why the platforms were moved/shortened? After the station, we saw the southbound Meteor trudging up to Winter Park, running about 1 hour and 10 minutes late. This train, unless my eyes deceived me or I was jubilant in counting, had 8 coaches trailing in the rear. Even if one of them was a café, that still leaves seven. In what way can consists vary on the same line on a given day?

We pulled into DeLand, FL at 2:21pm and departed 28 minutes late at 2:25pm. I ate lunch shortly before arriving DeLand, which was a grilled chicken sandwich, milk and New York Cheesecake. Very good, except I think the cheese could be better. We landed in Palatka, FL at 3:26pm and departed at 3:30pm (43 minutes late), at which the Sleeping Car attendant came around to take dinner reservations. I made mine at 8:00pm.

We had some slow speed signals and stopped around 3:55pm, but we ended up moving seven minutes later, but still had no accumulated delay as we showed up at Jacksonville, at 5:04pm and departed at 5:22pm (43 minutes late). It was probably padding here, as it was the pit stop for our train. [Refueled, re-iced, and refilled with water.] Is there an engineer change at Jacksonville? I did spot an engineer stepping down from the first locomotive. There is a two-track ROW alongside Jacksonville on the Fireman’s side going north. Are these just CSX property? Which CSX moves are scheduled here?

I spotted a two-track ROW diverges between Jacksonville and Jesup, GA (at MP 621), at which we took the ‘right in the fork in the road.’ Where do those freight tracks lead to on the left? Also, where does this mileage originate from? Although the sleeping car was great, I did have the “ordeal” of the afternoon sun shining through the window, blinding me and warming up the room, recipes for comfortableness but tiredness. I did not want to close the curtains, as I wanted to look outside. I did wish my room was on the engineer’s side, so that I could look at places I did not look at on my way down (and to avoid the sun!), so I lurked in and out of the opposite viewliner rooms and the Bedrooms so that I had a view. I did, in fact, have the ‘tired’ feeling for the first eight hours of the trip.

We converged with a freight ROW on the left right before Jesup.
I have keenly noticed the Jesup Railfan Platform, which was a cream-yellow pavilion adjacent to the southbound track with nice angles to view passing trains. Was there a fire at the station house at Jesup? The windows were boarded up and the sides and roof of the building were in horrible shape. All in all, we got to Jesup at 6:38pm and departed at 6:45pm (46 minutes late). We made the double stop at Jesup. One for Sleepers, one for coach. The sleepers were gradually occupied. We had about three vacant ones on our way to NY. One track diverges after Jesup to the left, and 2 NS and 1 CSX locomotives pulling piggyback flatbeds were spotted here. More flatbeds were on “storage” on a siding shortly after the train.

I did not notice until now that the family who boarded at Orlando had 2 or 3 roomettes booked. Their family (parents, children, and grandmother) was traveling back home to Long Island from Disneyworld if I recall right. The children (from appearance, about young high school age) went to sleep for a long time as soon as they boarded. Another freight with double-stacked containers passed and a single track diverged to the left onto its own ROW. Any info on what this track is used for?

Also in this area (after Jesup) was a 7-track CSX yard with SW and Dash units (??, sorry I am bad with locomotive names at the moment, the rear two locomotives [which were chained to the Dash’s] did resemble some kind of SW unit). What does this yard service?

I would venture to know the top speed of the Amtrak line in these areas in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Are they more than 80mph, smack at 80, or around there? There was also some kind of “wye” trackage before Savannah, and also a track diverging which later split into two tracks, which went along their separate ROW’s. Another track crossed over us perpendicularly shortly after passing the aforementioned ‘wye.’ In fact, I discovered that there is a complex network of tracks crossing here before we arrived Savannah, GA (and afterwards) at MP 491 (where is its origin, if it was missed earlier?) and a two-track ROW ran alongside of us before the station. Looking at this barrage of railfan information, I apologize for any who desired an organized flow of a non-railfan story. We ended up getting to Savannah at 7:37pm and departing at 7:44pm, at which point the train was running 45 minutes late.

Time came around for dinner at 8:00p. It turned out that this was the “prime time” for the biggest meal of the day, and I stood, along with a family of four, for at about five to ten minutes to wait for an empty table. One of the waiters opened up a “Not In service” table because of a wet seat (from the A/C unit above) for the family of four, and I sat down with an old, friendly couple named Mike and Kathleen, with whom I had an interesting and fun conversation. I had Braisen Beef on the menu with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Among the stories they shared was their spectacular transcontinental journey with VIA rail (with which they received a travel voucher worth half of their transcontinental fare because VIA apologized for their train being more than four hours late [it turned out being eight hours late], their Amtrak travels to Washington state, Coast Starlight to LA, and Chicago to LA, math riddles, and a keen saying about “left handed people are in their right minds” [this is physiologically related saying]. Their daughter was graduating from Mercer College, and so they were going to see the class walk during graduation. We shared many laughs and friendly gestures before we retired to our respective sleepers. Mike also gave me a good tip about Amtrak’s ‘expensive’ fares, when driving is comparable or even more costly, when taking into account fuel, depreciation, wear and tear, and insurance costs. That was quite interesting to know.

During dinner, we made a short, three-minute back-up move after a southbound Amtrak passed at 8:54pm. (Most likely it was the Palmetto, if so, then it was running about an hour and a half late) What was the back-up move for? All said and done, we got to Yemassee, SC at 8:29pm. A short rundown: arrived Charleston, SC at 9:41pm; departed at 9:55pm (1 hr. 11 minutes late); arrived Kingstree, SC at 10:57pm; departed at 11:00pm. (1 hr 22 minutes late) I spotted a major yard at Florence, SC, when we had our ten minute break. I did not budge for this one because of my tiredness at that point. I do not have a time written down for Florence, since I was preparing for bed. I particularly take pleasure from seeing a train yard late at night when it is all quiet and peaceful, and knowing that we still have a long way until home.

May 25

It was a pleasant surprise to spot the Auto Train that passed us by just before 12:00 midnight. After my ordeals with the ‘crammed’ in roomette (I hit my head twice, and hurt myself one more time) I changed, set my cell phone alarm to 6:15am, and closed the lights and curtains to sleep.

Resting in a sleeper is hands-down a much better alternative to resting in coach, even as a somewhat ‘intrepid’ traveler. (Agreeing with Mike, who in one journey Amtrak called him to notify him that his Sleeper was taken off the train and they had to travel in coach, and also Mr. Norman and others) I actually woke up spontaneously, eight minutes before my alarm was due to ring, and I saw the nice sunrise sky out of the window. We were traveling fast at the moment, and I wanted to snooze, so I ended up snoozing for an hour and a half.

At 7:45am, I really wanted to get up to enjoy the rest of the train travel and breakfast. So after my bathroom duties, I walked over to eat, and sat with the parents and grandmother of the family who boarded at Orlando. There was not much discourse between them and me, as there were lots of family-related conversations (I realized their sarcastic sayings) and being that the father was traveling with an in-law, I fully understood and quietly ate until a friendly gesture or conversation on occasion was passed onto me. I had a Bob Evans breakfast scramble. The waitress was very nice and courteous; I tipped $1 for each meal, and $2 for dinner). The couple was very generous with their tipping; they left $5 apiece and the grandmother about $2 or $3. The grandmother near the end of our stay in the Diner sarcastically commented on ‘hooking me up’ with the single waitress there, at which point the waitress and I exchanged expressions that we know it was just a sarcastic remark.

I was curious to know where we were, and it turned out we departed Baltimore at 8:23am (only 43 minutes late). Later, we departed Philadelphia at 9:44am (49 minutes late), after which stop I found out two AEM7/AC’s were powering our train, instead of one. In addition, we were sent down the local eastbound track to let a Regional which passed by us sometime before or at Trenton. Are we still allowed 110mph on the local tracks 1 and 4? We still were close to that speed if not at it.

Just before approaching Trenton, I spotted an NJT train past MP 58 south of the station. Does anyone know how far NJT goes south (or technically “west” in NJT terms) to switch?

I headed into our Café car after breakfast to see its layout and to relax. It was #28008, a refurbished (or different) Café car with the Tracking Map disabled as mentioned before with about five Great Seals on the glass surrounding the Lounge area. On the wall opposite the attendant and food vending site was a giant nighttime skyline of Pittsburgh. I must say these designs overall were a lot more appealing than the plain, orange carpet wall with menus repeated twice in the older/other café’s. At Trenton or so, the Café car was closed to the public, so I headed back into my room, and most of the others back to their seats.

We left Trenton at 10:20am (50 minutes late). Amtrak Locomotives #574 and #523 (a GP38-H) passed by Trenton on 1 track at 10:20am going south. (Was it headed for 30 St?)

I was curious to know, is there some sort of a Transition sleeper in the single-level LD trains as they have in the Superliners? What used to be the old electrified ROW to the left after Trenton? Additionally, Amtrak ExpressTrak cars [about 15 of them] were sitting on a side track afterwards. What are these for? I began to pack at this point in ‘home territory’ where the nice concrete ties and welded rail made the ride seamless.
I was lucky enough to spot NJ Tranist’s new multi-level consist with an ALP46 on both ends moving about 8 or 10 bi-levels going westbound at 10:53am before Newark.
We arrived Newark, NJ on Track 1 at 10:56am and departed at 11:00am (50 minutes late), “showing off” our consist to the many NJT commuters at Newark. Our trip will soon be drawing to a close. Our attendant came by and took our bags to unload them for us, and for his service, I tipped $5 when I detrained at NYP at precisely 11:17am, 47 minutes late. Every experience was worth it, and I cannot wait until my next Amtrak LD journey.
  by Ocala Mike
Very thorough report, F40. I went up and back on 98/97 last month, so some of your experiences seemed similar to mine.

I will only comment on a couple of questions you raised, and leave the others to those more knowledgable. As far as milepost 852 is concerned, that is probably the old Seaboard Air Line mileage to RICHMOND, VA via Ocala, the former route of the Silver Star. Richmond, of course, was the northernmost terminus of the Seaboard (later Seaboard Coast Line, then Family Lines, then CSX.)

As far as Delray Beach, you might have been looking at the old Florida East Coast station, right near the Amtrak/Tri-Rail line. You also would have passed an unused platform that was formerly the Sanford station; Amtrak, in its wisdom, decided that Silver Service trains didn't have to stop there since the AutoTrain terminal served Sanford.

No car? Go to Deland or Winter Park. I wonder if you could "walk on" the AutoTrain without a vehicle. Anyone ever try that?

  by F40
Thank you for the additional help. :-D

Unfortunately, however, I have failed to produce a story that would appeal more towards the interests of my other "non-train-fanatic" friends [which is basically everyone else], but it is suitable here. :-) I should practice more of doing that I guess.
  by Ocala Mike
"Non-train-fanatic"? What's that? None of those on here, I hope!

  by Noel Weaver
"F-40", The old station that you observed at Delray was the old Seaboard
passenger station and was the former Amtrak station there as well. It
was closed several years ago and Amtrak uses the Tril-Rail station today.
The Florida East Coast is much further east and not in sight at that
Incidentally an old Florida East Coast station still exists at Delray Beach
and it is a decent spot to watch trains. There are a couple of benches
there too. I think the remaining old building may be an old freight house.
I am glad that your Florida experience was a good one.
Noel Weaver

  by Murjax
Very nice report. I have taken the Silver Meteor a lot and it's a nice ride. You got off at the smoking stops huh? Did you get off in Jacksonville? If you haven't noticed it's a pretty small station in an area that's not too busy because the station is located on the northwest side of town. It sounds like you had a great trip. Oh one more thing. Did have that strange feeling as though you were still on a moving train after the trip? This is a result of that train. You probably wouldn't get that if it were a regional from NYP to WAS. It has something to do with either the engine or the tracks in runs through in the south. :)