Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clippy's log - page 7

18/7 6:03am. The train has now departed, after making a double stop in order to get some luggage out of the van. I wonder why it's late. Unlike the train we came down on and the southbound we saw while waiting, it's a bi-level. The train number is 22/322 so I guess they withdrew a normal train and built up the coach class capacity on the Texas Eagle to compensate. We run express from Joliat to Chicago like a long distance train should. There's only one loco and the same length train as the South West Chief, but we seem to be holding 79mph fairly easily - maybe the second loco was only due to the Rockies. A couple of new types of carriage - 37xxx dining cars, with tables for larger parties and a cafe style kitchen, and 31xxx sitting cars with a combo baggage section.

8:32am. We checked into the first class lounge at Chicago Union again. Traal was low on battery because the power points in the coach class cars had been switched off. We have just 15min before we board the train for Washington DC, so no checking out the Chicago Metro, which disappoints everyone - even Rosuav, who has very little interest in gunzelling but thinks those steel cars look Hitachi era and wonders if they have the same nice seats.

9:24am. Just boarded the train for Washington DC. We're in roomette 4, same as last time! There's a couple of private cars on the end - single deckers, maybe old Pullmans.

10:40am. We've just crossed into Eastern Time, so my pal and I are changing off Melbourne time zone at last. Welcome to 8:40pm.

18/7 6:30am. Midga is taking me to breakfast today, to help him get the consist of the train. We pull up in a loop for some reason, with a train of over height vans beside us. Due to the air holes in the sides we had thought they were for livestock but the plate said "Auto rack". Every one we've seen so far has been empty - wonder why. Also we ran beside a river which was very scenic - trees all round and full of white caps. Must have a fairly constant flow, any Australian river would have periodic floods and get rid of all the rocks that make the white caps.

12:52pm. Approaching Washington DC. We're in Metro territory - it's a third rail system, on a mix of ground level, underground and elevated. We saw some people jump the fence to cross the track - maybe that's why they don't bother with fences in rural areas.

1:56pm. We're in the Lounge, using wifi, have caught up with people, activated the mobile internet on my pal the phone, and now it's time to gunzel the Metro. At last. The Lounge is even more sumptuous than the Chicago one! How do I even describe the station? It's more like an airport than anything I recognize. The long distance platforms, tracks 23-28, have two concourses. They're low level platforms, and electrified with overhead wires. Somehow they run bi-level stock under the wires, yet the electric stock looks fairly normal in proportions. After track 23 is a dormant island platform, with an operational track on the track 23 side and a bunch of Atco huts (or the US equivalent) on the other. There's no third runaround tracks on the other platforms but there's access out both ends. After the Atco huts there's a sheer concrete wall and then the station continues at concourse level - with dead end track 20. Tracks 15-20 are electrified for the Acela etc; tracks 7-14 have interurbans like the one we took to BNL. We can't get out to those platforms though, so we couldn't take photos of the Acela or even work out what happened to tracks 1-6.

Incidentally, tracks is USA-ian for platforms. With low level platforms I guess that's fair enough. Grins, runs and ducks.

More to come. Much, much more.

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