This is My Train

“If a train leaves Springfield, Massachusetts at 5:55 am, heading south at 75 miles per hour, when will it reach Windsor Locks, Connecticut?”

TRAINdaylogoYes, it’s National Train Day. Before I proceed with my annual NTD post, I want to thank a few friends for joining me this year. Sharukh is giving us a series of posts about trains in India. Mary snuck in two posts, one about trains and just to get my full attention, one about a train-depot-turned-brewery in Wisconsin. In addition, Mary talked Joanne into sharing a post about trains in Canada. Cheryl and Kate are posting today, I’ll put their links up tomorrow.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, an industrial city, where trains were essential to the economy. Trains, rail yards, bridges and hundreds of miles of twin steel rails were important. Seeing a train moving alongside of us or sitting at a grade-level crossing, counting the freight cars, were special moments in my childhood. Both still make me smile.

During the past two years, I’ve made the longest trip I’ve ever made by train – Windsor Locks, CT to Washington, DC, three times. Some people look at me and shake their heads at the thought that I’d choose to spend 6 ½ hours on a train instead of flying. I tell them that even if air travel was like it was in the 60s, I’d still take the train.

Hartford-SpringfieldThe train, by the way, is AMTRAK’s Northeast Regional. Specifically, it’s the version of that train that originates in Springfield, MA, as opposed to the one that starts in Boston. Oh, the answer to the word problem, yeah, I didn’t give you enough information, I am all-aboard at 6:13 am. I settle into my seat and before we get to Hartford, I have my coffee, and maybe a snack. I do my best to check email, work on a few projects and read stuff for work, but there’s an infinite distraction whizzing by me at (up to) 80 mph. Nature. History. America. It doesn’t get any better than seeing that from a train.

The naysayers would tell me that the railroads are in need of repair. The trains are slow, compared to trains in other countries. The America unfolding alongside the tracks is old, often failing and covered in graffiti.

Union Station
Union Station Washington, DC

That may be true, or at least partially true, but it doesn’t bother me. Once I get on that train, I am stoked! I ride by historic train stations in New Haven, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, under two rivers, over several large bodies of water and along one of the few paths in America that has been traveled for centuries. I could fly with the politicians, diplomats and lobbyists. I could drive with the caffeine powered crazies that grind their way down I-95, but I choose the luxury and comfort of a train.

Luxury? Comfort? AMTRAK? I see the doubtful thought bubble forming over your head. Yes, luxury and comfort. A nicely padded seat. Lots of legroom. A restroom I can turn around in. An outlet for my gadgets. A free place to put my luggage and free WiFi.

I could take a faster train to Washington, DC. AMTRAK’s Acela makes the trip in less time, but I’d have to drive to or change trains in New Haven to get that train. I don’t want to drive. I don’t want to change trains, and I don’t really like the Acela. The Acela is a modern train, with airplane like seats and, as far as I’m concerned, a less comfortable ride. The Acela is a train that caters to your desire to get from Point-A to Point-B. I want to get there, but I want to enjoy the ride.

amtrak_wifi_5When I return from DC, I ride one of AMTRAK’s named trains, The Vermonter. When I exit that train in Windsor Locks, The Vermonter is only half way along its route, but it’s been a good ride for me.

Regardless of the direction I’m traveling, the ride can be broken roughly in half at New York City. From Windsor Locks, I head south to New Haven, then we turn right (west) to New York/ I get to see New York City as the train rolls above the streets of Queens and Brooklyn, before heading under the East River. After a stop at Penn Station, we see a little sunlight, then the train proceeds under the Hudson River. We arrive topside in New Jersey, and, after Newark, we hang a left (south) on our way to DC, via Trenton, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

I could talk about trains and this particular train, all day long. But, I have a ton of pictures today, so I’ll stop blabbing and let you get to the galleries.

Windsor Locks to New York City

New York to Washington, DC

 

77 thoughts on “This is My Train

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  1. Back in 1989 I was in Singapore. One night in the hotel there was a C&W night. Guess what request I made – “Riding on the City of New Orleans”. I got goose bumps even writing that sentence, I love that song – and trains so much. As Dan knows,I live in the UK but build US outline model railroads. One of my specials is a New Haven Budd RDC rail car. It has sound so it even gives out the atmosphere as it rolls along the track!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, how many things we have in common, given our starting points. I don’t have a recent photo of a NHRR loco. I’m going to have to come and see yours :)

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  2. Loved it. My longest single trip ever in a train is 24 hours. I took a train from Mumbai to Lucknow and then few days later I again took the round trip in a faster train that brought me back to Mumbai in 16 hours. If I calculate the total amount of time I traveled on that particular trip including train and road travel, it would total up to 102 hours on the move. The longest trip ever of my life. It was back-breaking and tiring, but memorable because I was in a train. I got to see 4 states right out of my window and it was fun talking to fellow passengers listening to their stories, knowing them, it was like a small temporary family mingling together, eating meals together, listening to music and keeping watch for each other. Unreal and unforgettable experience.

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    1. I hope to have longer rides to talk about after I retire. This is about as far as I can go, unless I want to bracket a business trip with some vacation time. I do enjoy meeting new people on the train.

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  3. We can ride the Downeaster but have to change stations in Boston to get anywhere else so that adds a little wrinkle for us. After a recent flight, I’d take the train any day of the week over airline travel. There is absolutely nothing enjoyable about flying anymore. We did get the TSA Preapproval numbers to help with domestic travel but now have to do the entire same process over if we want to avoid the long lines for Ireland in the fall. It is the same exact process but the two agencies don’t share info. Thank you Washington. Yep, I’d take the train if possible. :-)

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    1. AMTRAK has a 25 year never-to-be-funded plan to move the Northeast Corridor so that it goes from Boston to Springfield and cuts diagonally across CT. It would cut several hours off the trip to DC and even NYC but I doubt I’ll ever get to ride. No plans for a train to Ireland. I hope you have good luck with the lines.

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  4. With regards to the content, I think you did a fab job. The images are brilliant and I understand that many would think that roads are better, but being in India I would always prefer trains. You pay less, reach faster, you get the facility to use the toilet which buses and cars can’t offer. I would love to see more pictures of train stations and people waiting for the train to arrive.

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    1. It’s funny, I’d have to drive to get pictures of the stations. The trains are too close when stopped and they don’t stop long enough to get out and look. I have New Haven, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Maybe I’ll have a Station post one year.

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  5. I know quite a few business people who have started to take the train rather than flying between Toronto and Montreal for exactly the reasons you’ve mentioned – it’s comfortable, has wifi, and is a quiet place to get stuff done. When you factor in the amount of time you have to kill in airports, flying isn’t so much faster anymore.
    Everything old eventually becomes new again. I expect trains will have a resurgence :)

    btw – My favourite building is the one that has windows that look like Rubic Cubes.

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    1. I think that building is part of the art school. I took those photos for my daughter, who went to art school. I guess those buildings have lrage spaces and cheap rents. Perfect for artists :)

      I think, if everything goes according to schedule, plying to DC would save me about 2 1/2 hours, but it would all be mostly unproductive time. I wouldn’t be able to get any work done in the short bursts between TSA and boarding, hitting 10,000 feet and landing and getting to my hotel. I’ve actually managed to get a lot of work done on the train to DC.

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  6. I liked the trains, the bridges, the Rob and Laura reference to the Petrie’s on Dick Van Dyke Show. I like the beauty in trains and you captured beautiful stations.
    Although I did not post a train that was travelling and looking clean and sharp, I had some graffiti art on trains shown. . . sometime soon I will post a train to get you smiling, Dan. The one taken from a raindrop covered window was beautiful. :)

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    1. Thanks Robin. I wasn’t sure how many people would get the Rod and Laura comment. That was one of my favorite shows. The scenery is sometimes hard to look at, but I’ll take it any day over a plane.

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  7. I’ve not had the chance to make a train trip in my life (aside from one afternoon on the Santa Claus Express when I was 7 or 8!), but I must say that taking a really long, scenic train ride is on my bucket list for the future. Great photos today, Dan!

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    1. Thanks Wendy. The long-haul ride on my list is the Trans-Canada train. I want to go west to Vancouver. I drove from Vancouver to Montreal in 1981. Next time, I want to be stress free so I can enjoy the ride.

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      1. Oh, that’s a lovely trip, I’m sure. A dream train ride would be on the Orient Express, travelling from London to Venice. Buuut I could probably pay someone to cut all my winter wood for me for the next 10 years on what THAT would cost, so… no. ;P

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  8. I rode the empire builder out to Whitefish Montana (think Glacier Park) a few years ago. The ride was both the best and worst of train travel. Best: view, food, comradely and a restroom in every car. Worst: freight trains have the right of way and bad tracks that slam you around.

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  9. Akkk! I forgot about National Train Day, so I’ll forgive you the obscenity of starting a Saturday morning post with a math word-problem. ;)
    I’d agree the Amtrack things you mentioned qualify as luxury. I loved the little track-side building and the large structure you said is not in use. There’s something indefinably cool about both of them.
    Saturday hugs!

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    1. Thanks Teagan. I had to get up early to get the photo of the train crossing the river. When my wife asked me when I had to leave, I started with “if a train leaves Springfield…” and I quickly knew to get out of the room. You see good, bad and ugly from the train, but I’ll take it over flying, any day.

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  10. Awesome tribute to National Train Day Dan! I liked the old building that you hope will be reused one day…perhaps as an art school. It has great windows in front. Loved the silo too! I’ve never traveled by train, but think about it from time to time. I do take our BART trains, but those don’t count since those are for getting me from Point A to B.

    Math sentence questions make my brain swim, my eyes go black and weepy, and make my stomach hurt. I read the question really fast and moved on! :)

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    1. Sorry about the math question,Deborah. I couldn’t resist. You have three wonderful train choices. The Pacific Surfliner to LA, the California Zephyr to Chicago (love the name) and the Coast Starlight to Seattle. I rode a portion of the Coast Starlight once when I lived in Seattle. I’d love to do the west coast by train, or take the train to Seattle from Chicago (and go through the Cascade tunnel.

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      1. I had no idea we had three lines like that and their names are awesome!

        I may have to consider making a train trip to see Big Baby Boy. I looked at the route from home…it would require a 3+ hour bus ride to catch the Surfliner. I’d rather drive myself then catch the train. :)

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  11. “If a train leaves Springfield, Massachusetts at 5:55 am, heading south at 75 miles per hour, when will it reach Windsor Locks, Connecticut?” ….. >>>> In order for me to answer that question I either require the total miles from Springfield to Windsor Locks OR a map. Just sayin’ ….. ;)
    I agree with you if you are going to take a train please let it be comfortable. The only train I have taken was one I took while on my honeymoon which took hubby and I to Toronto. It was comfy and it was romantic. Now that you’ve got my brain going, I thank you for this post, Dan!!! Good morning!!! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Excellent post, Dan. The answer to your math problem is “never.” Connecticut is north of Massachusetts, not south. Do I get extra bonus points?

    That’s a very interesting train ride, Dan. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the views of NYC from the train since I’ve never been there. The art buildings are also fun. I think that one building in need of refurbishing is in need of a brewery and brew pub…right? Oh, I suppose an art school would be fine too. You and Sharukh and Joanne are all giving me thoughts of planning a train ride, except that I would have to drive to get on one and I’m not sure where I would go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No bonus points Mary, CT is south of MA and MA is south of Vermont. I didn’t think of it, but a brew pub would work nicely in that building. Maybe an art school too. As I recall, Faith and her class mates could have kept a brew pub in operation. If nothing else, find a historic steam train that runs for 10 – 25 miles and take a ride on that. Thanks so much for playing along.

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      1. Wow, I have to look at the map again. Evidently, I have failed both math and geography. What’s worse is the ex and I rode the Harley through your area several years ago, stopping at Enfield for breakfast. Duh!

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  13. I always love travelling by train, enjoying the 8-hour journey between London in the South of England and Inverness in the North of Scotland several times a year when visiting my family :-)

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  14. I’ve only taken short train rides. For a few years, we took a train from our city (then Noblesville) to another city (Cicero) to see fireworks over the river. For our (then) family of four, it was affordable and lasted perhaps a half an hour each way. We enjoyed it immensely. We took Sassy and Moo back once and the cost had skyrocketed. I no longer remember, but I could swear it was twice the price. Same train, same ride. That train is our city’s “Fair Train” and stops up and down the tracks to take passengers to the State Fair. My first place, my townhouse, was literally beside the tracks, so for two weeks in August, MUCH TRAIN! :D
    I’ve taken the train Indianapolis Chicago twice, and it takes almost as long as driving, but it’s much more relaxing and no one stops me at tolls. Much as I hate morning, 6am boarding is where it’s at!
    The Mister’s never been on an actual train trip, so…We tried to go as a family one year, (that year we came home to visit in the drought) and something happened to wreck our plans. But, there was also a collision on the train that day, no fatalities, no severe injuries, but I counted us lucky still. We ended up driving.
    I would LOVE to take a long train trip. Reading Sharukh’s post was like having a mini-adventure this morning. I feel just as you do, that the sightseeing and leisurely nature of it would please me. I am not a Point A to Point B traveler.

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    1. I would love to be on those luxury trains but I worry that id be surrounded by snooty people. The Northeast Corridor is basically a bunch of working slobs like me. The fancy people fly or take the Acela. My train had a big derailment about a year ago. I try not to think about that. I hate it when things you’ve done as a family jump in price to the point where families can’t afford it.

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      1. Honestly, so much of it happened while we were in Georgia. We came back and can’t figure out what exactly the rate of inflation was while we were gone. Trains, orchards, and pumpkin patches really jumped.
        I won’t think about your train’s derailment, either.
        I am working slob, too. You can put me anywhere, but I’ll always know my spot.

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  15. Nice post! I love traveling by train for just the same reasons as you (it seems). In my mind the US is the place for great road trips, but perhaps I have to change my perception? Is it also the place for great rail trips?

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    1. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as great as it could be. The Northeast Corridor is the most successful line. Getting to other cities involves a lot of transfers and probably some waiting. I wish they would pour some money into making it great throughout the country.

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  16. I’m with you even though I don’t ride the train much lately. We have some cools trains our here like the Surfliner and the Coast Starliner. I have dreamed about riding the Orient Express. Love the Art Deco featured image of the train. :)

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      1. I have ridden the train from LA to San Diego, with great scenery as it edged along the ocean shoreline. I think I would like the Starliner because it is a night train and maybe it would not be interrupted. I have heard that the daytime trains from SF to LA are sometimes interrupted by freight trains and such. :) And my daughter even had to get off and take a bus for part of the way one time. Not fun. :)

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    1. Thanks for joining in the celebration Kate. I just finished reading your post a little bit ago. You are welcome to any of the photos you like. My first celebration of National Train Day is still my most popular post ever, so I’ll be celebrating every year. I would do it even it it wasn’t popular, I just love trains.

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  17. Happy National Train Day, Dan! (Although, it’s now The Day After National Train Day here.) I love travelling by train. I wish I could have done it in the States but it didn’t go to half the places I needed to get to so I crossed the country by bus instead. (And people think travelling by train is bad…. oh boy….try the Greyhound, people…) Loved your photos and getting a taste of the country you journeyed through.

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      1. If I’d been doing a sort of Top Ten Tourist Cities journey to the likes of New York, Washington, Chicago, LA and that sort of thing, it could have been done but as I was also trying to catch up with various family friends and had to get to places like Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the bus was the only way to go.

        I would think with all the extra security screening and the US airlines’ propensity to lose luggage, air travel would not be highly attractive.

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  18. my family will be train riding this fall and staying a Logging Camp house this fall for vacation… we all love trains and try to ride a different one every year. Arlo did a great job with his song… one of the first I remember memorizing the words to as a kid.

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  19. train day? thx for that – and love the variety in your rich photos – the watch the gap one was my fav – well not fav -but you know – just liked how it was included and it has the crackle and have never seen that –
    but the collage is artsy – from food topping to window views and then down views – well done

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      1. Ha! – and one thing I love about Richmond va is how there is the rich history with the trains that ran thru here – sometimes when in traffic (never too bad here compared to other cities) but sometimes we are slow on bridges and I see the 16 lane train intersection (maybe not 16 – but many of them lined up) and I wonder about yesteryear!
        I also do have a train photo to share and will try and link up later – but and I enjoyed your follow up post where you shared the bloggers who joined in with train posts – and the U.K. One too!
        🚂🚂🚂🚂

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  20. Hi Dan, I spent the weekend in Quebec City and I choose to go by train instead of driving even though the train ride takes longer. I like the train, maybe not in the same way you like it but I always enjoy riding on a train. The photos from yesterday’s post were all shot while riding on the train.

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  21. Your love of trains makes perfect sense to me, Dan. Maybe it’s rooted in the model-train set Dad set up at Christmas, or just the sense of adventure and nostalgia that appeals to almost everyone, but I get it. I enjoy taking the commuter rail into work every day, and I’d definitely be up for a longer ride — like a cross-country one. During my occasional business trips between New York and D.C., I always opt for the train. A plane may be faster, but it doesn’t have the same advantages, in my view. So here’s to NTD. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I do hope to make a cross-country ride at some point. Unfortunately, it will have to be at a point where I’m not on a schedule.

      The other noteworthy thing about this train is when the conductor say “Stamford, net stop is Stamford.” You know what I’m expecting to hear next.

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