My Amtrak Adventure

I flew to Baltimore-Washington international airport (BWI) on this trip to Washington, DC. My intention was to take Amtrak from Baltimore to Union Station in Washington.

Right away I was in luck. Amtrak was running predictably late, which meant that I didn’t have to wait another half hour for what was supposed to be a half hour trip. But on Amtrak, that's as much luck as you can hope for.

It was slowing lightly, though as slow as the train traveled one would think it was the Blizzard of ’88.

About half way to Washington the train stopped. We were advised that the train had hit a tree and that the engineer (driver) had to inspect the locomotive to make sure we could continue. This delay was fairly short.

Then as we neared Union Station the conductor made a few announcements, including…

    Auxiliary power for computers and the rest rooms would not work for passengers continuing to Richmond.

    Because of the “hours of service law,” “all of the doors would not open in Washington.” I think she meant that “not all of the doors would open in Washington.”
There was more, About a mile before reaching Union Station, the train stopped again. The conductor came on and said that the engineer had heard something dragging under the train and he had to make another inspection (perhaps it was dismembered remains of the deceased tree). This delay was a bit longer.

Then we got to Union Station. All of the lights went off, except for the emergency lights, as they began to switch to diesel power for the trip to Richmond. We all had to line up and slowly proceed in the dark through the cars to the one door the “hours of service law” permitted to be opened. From the time we arrived at the platform at Union Station to the time that I was able to get off the train was a full 15 minutes.

It is to be hoped that the “hours of service law” will allow at least one door to open in Richmond. Assuming they get there.

All of this reminds me why a $70 taxicab ride is not such a bad deal for getting to Washington if you happen to use BWI.

Wendell Cox
Amtrak Reform Council