All I wanted to do was to go from Boston to Chicago via Amtrak, a trip that usually takes 22 hours from Boston. However this odyssey took close to 40 hours as I was routed through Washington and then West Virginia and Kentucky. I left South Station at 9:45 Tuesday evening and arrived in Chicago at Noontime today. I didn't know about the West Virginia routing until they changed my train yesterday morning in DC.
I did learn one thing. If you want to be in an area with no cellphone service West Virginia is the place to go to as I couldn't even get a roaming signal with my carrier and I have in the past gotten service in Eastern Montana.
The absolute clincher came early this morning when the locomotive ran out of fuel outside of Indianapolis. That made passengers forget the fact that the coaches had no heat during the middle of the night.
I'll be updating the mailbag later but also I want to share my experience in riding the Washington Metro Wednesday morning.
One thing I noticed is how clean passengers leave the trains. Washington has two subway papers and nobody simply discards it on the train like Boston. Washington still has human announcements calling out the train stops and they were clear and concise. My only gripe about the Metro was the fare vending machines are not very passenger friendly.
The Washington FVM's seem to come in different versions. Some simply spit out a fare ticket similar to the CharlieTicket, others allow you to use their SmarTrip card which is similar to CharlieCard. Some but not all machines take credit cards. The machine I used had a $20.00 fareticket purchase as default and you have to toggle it down to the amount you want, there is no keyboard option like the T. Still overall I found them easier to use than the T's ticket machines. One thing of note the Washington SmarTrip card does not offer discount fares, and it cost $5.00 to purchase one. However those that park at a Metro station have no choice but to buy the SmarTrip card as it is the only way one can pay for parking.