Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Riding the Amtrak Acela

Well, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing more regularly on the Hat Trick after my absence during the Stanley Cup playoffs (Let’s Go Red Wings!). Also, in keeping with the theme of a “hat trick”…I have realized that I need to do give more attention to my other topic areas, travel and politics. As much as I would like to, you can’t talk about hockey ALL the time!

I’m currently writing from a business class seat on Amtrak’s Acela service, somewhere between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. I’m heading up to Philly for a business meeting and decided it was time to take the train again as it has been a while. Needless to say, I forgot how civilized riding the train can be!

For those not familiar, AMTRAK operates a significant schedule of trains in the “Northeast Corridor” between Washington, DC, New York and Boston (including Baltimore, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia and Newark). The most popular service for the business traveler is the Acela train, which is a high speed train that operates between the main cities in the Northeast Corridor plus a few other selected stops. The train is all business class with one first class car. Business is pretty nice with comfortable seats and power plugs at ever seat so you don’t wear down your laptop battery. There is also a “quiet car” where cell phone conversations are forbidden!

Today was great because you can arrive 20 minutes before departure, grab a good seat and not have to deal with the TSA and security lines at the airport. Trains also can travel in rain and thunderstorms, unlike airliners, and you don’t have that jammed in feeling that I encounter quite a bit when I fly. Taking the train is a little bit of civilization in an increasing uncivilized travel world. AMTRAK certainly has its problems, but they seem minimal right now as I zip past cars on I-95 knowing that I will pull into Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in about 20 minutes, and be at my downtown hotel 10 minutes after that!

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