In Transit, Train Style

Basil and I hadn’t traveled together by train in months before we went up for the 5 Boro.


Winter was hard on everything, and did no favors to this rail station.  Basil looks spritely, though, doesn’t he?

I love trains, and the Amtrak run to New York City is just about the most blissful way to travel.*  Basil and luggage tucked neatly into a corner, as ever.

nym-lgNot that Amtrak doesn’t have its issues.  The bathrooms are usually clean enough to use without holding one’s nose, but the faucets are horrible:  In order to use one, it’s necessary to push up on a metal spindle so that water flows.


That would be the same pushpin everyone else with toilet-used hands has also pressed. That’s maybe not as sanitary as one might wish.  There are alternatives, but only if you bring your own.  I do. Be prepared: Forget the scouting motto, that’s the byword for travelers.


Also, passengers can be an issue when it comes to bathroom aesthetics.  I don’t think there’s any way to train passengers to close the lavatory doors.  What’s up with that?

On the plus side, there’s a quiet car on virtually every train, where peace reigns, except for the occasional twit, who is normally shut down quickly and efficiently by the conductor.  (No cell phone use!  No conversation above a whisper!)

It’s not always smooth sailing on the trip itself but issues normally resolve quickly.  Amtrak trains often stop if freight trains need the rails, though that sort of thing isn’t too usual on my end of the Harrisburg to NYC run.


Anyway, the windows are large, and there’s nearly always something interesting to see while waiting.  New Jersey Transit trains, for instance, look nothing like Amtrak’s, or like the Philadelphia region’s SEPTA trains.  This time, a set of NJT engines was parked nose to nose on tracks next to us while we stopped for a long delay — the longest I’ve experienced yet on this route — waiting for something to clear elsewhere on the line.


Once in New York City, we hop the MTA, and trade blue skies for underground grit.   Everyone gripes about the subway, but it’s such a fantastic way to get around the city.  I missed having these not-quite-Brompton rides with Basil over this past, icy, winter, as well as missing my usual quotient of Brompton-only travel.

*Well, as long as there aren’t any deadly crashes.  (That’s the route I travel.)  Amtrak may have some safety issues that need remedying.  And a Congress that belives that mass transit is important to the welfare of the country as a whole, if not the planet.

One reply on “In Transit, Train Style”

If you haven’t already, read Adam Gopnik’s great editorial about trains and politics in the New Yorker.

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