Location: [Home] [Train Travels] Getting to Boston
This short trip comes under the category of, "It's a good thing there's rail service to cover unexpected needs." The unexpected was in many ways my fault--the need would have been there in any case.
Our daughter Rebekah was having an examination under anesthesia in Boston on that Tuesday morning, requiring us to arrive in Boston about 6:30 am. We typically drive up the day before this procedure and stay overnight with family, and we had made that arrangement.
I had also noted in my calendar that the student who I had been advising through the ordination process was having her Ecclesiastical Council that Monday evening, the 21st. I completely failed to realize that I had now placed myself in two states simultaneously--until that Sunday night. Since we still needed to get Bekah there on time, and a good night's sleep before was a good idea, Evelyn took her up on Monday as planned. I made a trip to New Haven's Union Station on Monday to get a ticket on the Twilight Shoreliner.
Trip Segments: [New Haven to Boston]
There's no escaping the fact that being anywhere at 2:30 in the morning is painful. The Twilight Shoreliner makes its New Haven stop between 2:40 and 3:05 am, so I was on the road to the station at that painful hour. Traffic, not surprisingly, was pretty light, and there was a lot of room in the parking garage. Perhaps a half a dozen people were sitting in the station's great hall waiting area, at least two of them fast asleep.
At 2:45 the train board showed 66 as "On Time" but displayed no track number; I've taken enough trains from New Haven to know, however, that it would be either 8 or 10, at the end of the tunnel that runs beneath the platforms. I walked out to see it arrive, or at least just get a seat. I wasn't surprised to find the Amtrak crew (New Haven is a crew change point) on the platform with no train in sight. The conductor asked "Sixty-six?" and to my yes replied that it was thirty minutes late. I decided to go back to the great hall for reading light and a seat.
At 3:00 the board clicked over to "All-Aboard," and somewhat sceptically I headed back to the platform. Nothing had changed, and one of the conductors told me and the other waiting passengers that some computer somewhere had just mindlessly changed the board. Still, if I went back I doubted I'd find out when it really did arrive, so I stayed. A couple minutes later two elephant-style F40PH locomotives rolled up and stopped, and the engineer introduced himself to the conductor. One of the crew members stepped onto the back of the lashup, and the diesels pulled ahead.
Shortly after I heard the bell of the approaching train. AEM-7 #918, an electric locomotive, led it onto track 8, and was removed from the head end almost as soon as it stopped. I stepped onto a dark quiet train, and quickly found an empty seat. I've been on these early trains before, so the complete lack of movement aboard was no surprise!
With the new locomotives attached and the head-end power connected, the air conditioners resumed their whir and additional car lights came on--though not all, at that hour. We pulled out about 3:25 or so. I forgot to check, but we were still in the cut between the station and Cedar Hill yards when I looked at 3:28.
As lovely as the Connecticut shoreline route is, I had one agenda: sleep. Besides, it was dark. I remember the stops at Old Saybrook and New London, but not much else before Providence. I did have the sense, though, that we were going pretty fast. On other trips along the shoreline the train has had to slow fairly frequently for the electrification work.
I woke for the day in Providence, where we sat in the station a remarkably long time. I didn't check my watch, as I wasn't yet persuaded that I wanted to be awake, and I didn't have a schedule, so I thought we were running as late or later than we'd been in New Haven. We were not. The crew turned the rest of the lights on and came through the car waking passengers and asking if anyone wanted to get off at Route 128 station. As they did, I realized that we were running right on time. We must have been quite early into Providence to have waited so long!
Pulling out of Back Bay Station, an MBTA commuter train pulled ahead of us on a parallel track. I think it was probably coming from the west, since we hadn't passed it coming north. It led into South Station, however.
At 6:54 am, one minutes early, the Twilight Shoreliner pulled to a stop in South Station. I decided that I'd take the time to be thorough about the consist for once and walked the platform getting the car numbers. Redcaps were assisting passengers from the Viewliner sleeper at the train's tail--First Class passengers have the longest walk disembarking in Boston. The results of my labors are below:
Locomotives: F-40PH #413 and F-40PHR #241, elephant style
I'm a little puzzled about the last lounge car: that's the Twilight Lounge, which is a special service for First and Custom Class passengers. The number I recorded, however, doesn't appear on William K. Pou's Amtrak rosters. Either I've recorded it wrong (possible) or Amtrak renumbered a renovated car for this service. On previous trips, I've noted that this car has half table seating and service, and half lounge seating.
In South Station I made a necessary purchase, an umbrella, which was sold to me in a South Station kiosk by a man who chuckled that he loved rainy days. From there I took a Red Line MBTA rapid transit train to the Charles/MGH stop and walked past the old Charles Street Jail (now being renovated by Massachusetts General Hospital) to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. I was in plenty of time to perform my regular task of comforting Rebekah as she went under anesthesia.
On our drive home that afternoon we made a small side trip so that I could pick up my car at the Union Station parking garage. While there I noticed two more F40PHs lashed elephant style backing onto a northbound train, probably 172, the NortheastDirect/Mayflower. They were backing some way down the platform, so I think 472, the section for Springfield, had already left.