Taking the Train in Virginia

18 Jul

I was practically raised in an airport.  Well, not really, but for a large part of my life, I have spent time in the airport.  My father worked for the FAA and after I graduated from college, I became a Flight Attendant.  Needless to say, I have always been partial to flying….until recently.

The last time my son and I flew together, he was “selected” by TSA for inspection.  Yes, my 7 year old son who has been flying without terrorizing since he was 3 months old.  Between that and now having to pay for luggage to be checked, I’ve become very frustrated with the whole flying experience.

So, when we decided to take a trip to New York, we opted to take the Amtrak train.

The booking experience was quick and painless online.  With our AAA discount, the tickets were only $177 round trip for the two of us to travel from Lynchburg to Penn Station on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional.

While we arrived at the train station about an hour prior to our train departure, we learned as other’s arrived that it is really not necessary to be there so early.  We also learned that while Amtrak has a very liberal baggage policy, it’s best to pack a bag that’s easy to manage as you need to lug it onto this train yourself.

Our seats were spacious and comfy with lots of legroom.  We were both excited to see an electrical outlet next to our seats for all the electronic “toys” we had with us.  We didn’t use those toys for the first few hours though as the scenery heading north through Virginia was beautiful.  We passed pieces of history where there once was a thriving train industry.  We climbed mountains and crossed scenic rivers.  As we approached Washington DC, we had a great view of the Washington Monument.

Unfortunately, as we headed further north, the scenery became, well, not-so-scenic.  At that point, we headed to the dining car where there was a nice assortment of pre-made food at very reasonable prices.  In addition, I was able to get work done (thanks to my wifi card – Amtrak does not have wifi service on all of their trains) and answer business calls.  G had a great time watch videos, playing games and took a long nap.

Our trip to NYC took about 7 hours.  Overall, we found it to be a very low-stress and pleasant experience.  I hope to see Amtrak expand service to others areas in the Commonwealth – especially those areas that were once thriving railroad towns.  Beginning July 20th, Amtrak will begin daily round-trip service between Richmond and Washington DC.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is currently subsidizing some of the Amtrak routes in Virginia.  If the trains meet ridership goals, then service will continue and possibly expand.  Per recent news releases, expansion plans include Hampton Roads and Roanoke markets.

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