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Fighting for Charters

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4/15 the Palmetto

. I finished packing my bags again at the last minute. It doesn't seam like no matter how many times I say I'll pack earlier that I ever will. Either way I had my dad drive me to the Florence Amtrak station so I wouldn't have to leave my car unattended. Traffic was light on I20 as to be expected for a Sunday morning and we made the hour trip in just about an hour.


We stopped on the way at Bojangles so I could get some fried chicken to eat on the train North. My dad dropped me off at the station and then he left. Shortly thereafter the train arrived from Savannah, GA and I boarded a fairly crowded Amfleet II coach. As I learned last year for the Spring Advocacy Event the Palmetto does brisk business south on Friday and north on Sunday.


I would much rather had ridden in the first coach the Amfleet I because it wasn't crowded except for Richmond North. Either way I enjoyed my lunch and then playing some old school PC games. I had a non talkative sea are from Wilson north to DC but that didn't bother me seeing I was playing a bunch of old school games.


I stepped off for a moment at Richmond for fresh air and then continued reliving my childhood games till Alexandria. At Alexandria I gathered my items and waited for the arrival at Washington. I then walked up took a photo of the engine train before walking down the platform to where the Braddock Inn and NYC 38 were parked along with the Cardinal consist and boarded my home for the next few days.


About twenty minutes after I boarded the two private cars a switched started shoving the entire consist to Ivy City. We proceeded slowly first to the workstation where they pump the sewage tanks of the entire train. It took about an hour to do this because Ivy City only has one pump available. Which could become quite an issue of what I'm hearing about the Crescent, Silvers, and Cardinal all terminating here during the summer comes true.


We also lost another ten minutes because we were pulling out for the coach yard wye when someone remembered they forgot to pump the Viewliner sleeper and we had to return. Eventually they took us around the Coach Yard wye rolled us past the Silver Star hospital train and parked us in Ivy City.


We eventually made it back to Union Station after a phone call to CNOC was made. The four of us on the car once we arrived back into Union Station on track nine quickly left for an Uber to Old Ebite Grill. We had a meeting scheduled with Senator Joe Manchin's transportation staffer there which we were very late for. We were supposed to meet him at eight and joined him around ten due to the switch moves.


On the way to dinner our uber was almost hit by a Limo running a red light. We had a great dinner and talked about a variety of rail related issues. I feel like it was a very productive dinner. We all then returned to Union Station where my new boss and friend Joe and I slept on Track nine on the NYC 38. While my other boss and friend Chris, and friend Julius slept on the Braddock Inn on Track Thirty.


4/16: Meeting or Cleaning.


Well I had paid the twenty five dollar student rate to attend the RPA advocacy event so I was determined to go to it. I missed the early 6:30 Virginia Railway Express because I hit snooze one too many times and putting in contacts was difficult. Turns out I barely missed it due to flash flood delays. So instead I took Amtrak No. 67 south one stop to Alexandria.


It was a very smooth ride despite leaving Union Station late due to a slow engine change (no PV moves delayed us). I arrived just before the conference where I caught up with some old friends from last year. And then proceeded to listen to some interesting but often dull speeches. I decided within one hour I would have more fun cleaning bathrooms, and vacuuming private railcars to prepare for the RPA silver rails gala then at the meeting. So at lunch I went north on Metro and had lunch with my crew.


Then we started cleaning the cars. I ended up clogging the vacuum thanks to all the trash the middle schoolers left on them. Once that was done I sterilized our bathroom and all of the surfaces. Then the crew cut lose a bit and had a bit of fun while preparing refreshments. I had to walk a new toilet part down to thirty to fix our toilet that broke due to the middle schoolers.


I also had to go to the commissary to pick up twelve bags of ice before the event. After that we just relaxed and waited for the event to start. We invited Senator Manchin's staff to join us at the car party. And I spent most of the evening talking with ten instead of the RPA attendees.


I took a phone call out on the platform after Manchin's staff left before coming back in to find out all of the attendees had left. So the four of us went to dinner at Uno's in the station where the service wasn't that great.


After dinner Joe and I had the fun job of fixing the toilet flapper around midnight on the Braddock Inn because the middle schools caused it to break. This entire project started around ten thirty and ended at one am. We both took a shower afterwards and walked up to our cars. It should be noted train 66 took an hour long hit to its current delay for unknown reasons in the station. It isn't have a PV so they can't blame us.


4/17 the best excuse to miss a meeting.


My first meeting for the day was scheduled with Congresswoman Buttler (WA-03) at nine thirty but I had one heck of an excuse to miss it. I had my first alarm set for 0730 which I hit snooze for. And at 0740 there was a loud bang and the car shook as the switch crew came to pick us up.


I heard my new boss mutter a curse and then I proceeded to wake up to see what was going on. Turns out they wanted to add us to the outbound Cardinal over 27 hours early. So they dragged us over to Track 27 and set us out while they returned the Corridor Clipper, Catenary Inspection Car, American View, and Dover Harbor back to 30 before taking us and Braddock Inn to Ivy City.


Three of us continued getting ready for the day and I rescheduled my meeting with WA-03. Joe and Chris had a meeting with Amtrak to discuss this years running of New River Train. At ten. Around nine we left our cars and walked to the Locomotive shop where we called the Ivy City Shuttle Bus to come and pick us up.


I was told not to take pictures on the shuttle as a guest which was a shame because we passed a lot of cool items. Three MARC AEM7s, a Budd sleeper, a damaged P42DC 145, a Penn Central baggage car, the Acela Geometry car, and a few other items. After forty minutes we were dropped off at the Washington Crew Base located off of track seven and we walked to Amtrak headquarters.


We had a special guest join the Amtrak meeting which was Senator Joe Manchin the Third. Who came un announced to Amtrak however we had fifteen minutes notice so I was ready with a camera. To get pictures of him with my friends.


After Senator Manchin went into the meeting with them I walked over to Capitol Hill for my first meeting at Senator Tillis's (NC) office. I was j cited by my best friend to join the meeting. So while he talked about the pressing national network issue, safety, I spoke strictly about charter trains. And our 85 million dollar economic impact over the last five years.


Afterwards we went to lunch in the Buffet in Dirkson Senate Office Building. Afterwards I walked over to my next meeting with Senator Graham (SC) where I proceeded to talk about how charter trains not only help Amtrak monetarily but also help small businesses thrive. After that meeting my best meeting was across the Capitol with representative Mark Sanford.


So I took the Russell Subway to the Capitol. And then followed some fun little underground corridors to the House subway. I always love walking in the bowels of the Capitol because you never know who might have walked there before you. I had a productive meeting with Mark Sanford's office and told them South Carolina is one of 44 states that a charter train has operated out of since 2013.


After that meeting I went to my rescheduled meeting from the day and talked about how the SP 4449, SPS 700, and Leavenworth Snow Trains contribute millions a year in tourist revenues for Washington State. After that I met up with a friend from New York State who decided to visit me as I went to meet with SC-05 Ralph Norman.


My friend was very impressed with the response I was able to get from Congressman Norman to the point he was ready to call Amtrak and demand the reinstatement of charters. He will be signing a bipartisan letter to demand that with Congressman Jenkins.


After that I had to cross the Capitol to drop off some fact sheets at Manchin's office and I was kinda hoping to see one of his aides again I had been flirting with the night before. After that I went to the RPA reception where I met a really nice person from Missouri/Germany who is a member.


Afterwards I went to dinner with a merged millennial, and mid Atlantic group of NARP members at Cafe Berlin. I had a great time talking with people my age especially Brian, Andrew, and Malcolm. After that we went and took a millennial photo on the rear of the Dearing as our new tradition carrying over from last year.


On the way to the Dearing we bumped into Governor Marin O'Malley and had our picture taken with him. Our picture was taken by O'Malley's outspoken critic the toilet bomber. It was quite a conversation with the toilet bomber that lasted twenty minutes.


After the millennial NARP members returned to their hotels I took the crew shuttle back out to Ivy City to the railcar to spend the night. Where I sent Manchin's office the pictures I took, and some supporting charter info to staffers on the hill. Before cleaning things up around the car for their westbound move the next day.

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4/18 a fun morning.


Well I woke up and got dressed while finishing to prep the two cars to go west to Huntington with 160 middle schoolers. And had my bags ready to store on the Dearing for the day. So I relaxed a bit as they moved our train from Ivy City to the station. Once in the station I put my stuff in a cart and put it on the platform. I then stayed with the train to assist loading the middle schoolers.


Knowing this cold be the last field trip move I stayed on the platform and watched them slip into the Capitol Hill tunnel before walking to the Dearing to store my bags for the day. Afterwards I walked to Senator Tim Scott's office for a meeting. Where I discussed the potential effects to small businessman if charters don't run. I don't think I was overly successful but that doesn't mater.


I had lunch on the senate side because it's the side with the best food before taking the Hart subway to the Hill and the Rayburn Subway to meet with Congressman Clyburn (SC-02?). Clyburn's office was less interested in solving the charter train and private car problem then my opinion on how to solve the Columbia Rail congestion.


But if solving that gives me credibility on the hill I'm more then happy to send ideas. I then had a meeting with Congressman Schrader (OR-05) to discuss how if charters aren't reinstated how my boss Tom's company will cease doing thousands of dollars in business in his district.


After that I went over to the Smithsonian to visit the engine I would love to see on the main again someday Southern 1401. On the walk back I had my favorite flavor of gelato over on 7th street before checking out headlines at the Newseum's sidewalk. Then I walked back to Union Station and spent the evening on the Dearing in its living room style ambiance.


I went to my best friend Malcolm's apartment for the next two nights where I slept on an air mattress in the living room.


4/19: more meetings.


I had an early meeting for breakfast from Oregon in Senator Merkley's office as my first meeting. I had a great conversation with his staff then about the importance of charter trains to tourism dollars spent in Oregon. I then crossed the hill to have a meeting with Representative Bonamici (OR-01).


I don't feel like I made any progress in her office on the charter train front because they don't want to rock the boat. I then had a nice long meeting with Rep DeFazio (OR-04) about the importance of charters to Amtrak's bottom line. But I still don't feel like I got anywhere with it.


I crossed the hill again to have a meeting with Merkley's transportation staff which was productive. They will get on to back us if more representatives come on board. I then had lunch with my friend from Monday night in the senate dining room.


I quickly had to dash however back to the house side for a meeting with representative Walden (OR-02) which was very productive. The republicans tend to be more bothered by Amtrak turning down free PV and charter revenue then democrats. My last meeting was with Rep Bluneauer (OR-03) or as he's proudly known as the Bike Partisan. I quickly got him on board the charter train front by talking about running a bike charter oriented train.


I then slowly made my way back across the Capitol to Union Station which I had to stop at to charge my phone. As well as to upgrade my reservation the next day to Business Class on the Cardinal. Then malcolm and I met up and took the streetcar to a Biergarten on H street. It was ok not the best. Then we went back to his place planned out a few charters then went to bed.


4/20: taking country roads.


I woke up early to help Malcolm pack up for his vacation and we both left for Union Station he was taking the nine am Acela and I was taking the eleven am cardinal. Once he left I just played old PC games on my laptop till it was time to board the train.


I boarded my train and shortly after we were on our way. I mostly talked with the owner of the Dearing who was deadheading in business class to HUN to pick up his car because his wife and their car was moving to Savannah and he had to pick her up. I alighted for a moment for fresh air in Charlottesville before going to the diner lite.


I felt that with the recent Capitol Limited changes I might want to have a hot meal on the train before it became a thing of the past. So I had the overpriced dining car burger. It was good just not worth paying the extra surcharge for the same exact burger as the cafe.


I then relaxed and watched as we crossed over The Blue Ridge and slid along the new River. We arrived in HUN majorly early. We the opened south yard and I helped Joe take the toilet out of the Braddock again because well the kids messed it up again.


We had quite the time getting the rotto rotor out of the pipe because it was caught. I also services the water tanks on both of our cars before we went to Applebee's for dinner. Then we went back to Joe and Chris's place where I slept on the sofa.


4/21 working the day away


I woke up at about eight and Chris and I crossed the Ohio River into Ohio to visit the SAMs club to purchase the food we needed for our trip the next day before going to south yard. Where we helped Nelson find all of his belongings from his former car parking location. The rest of the day we worked on giving the Braddock Inn an ennima, redoing brake shoes on the 38, and preparing the two cars for departure.


We had lunch at Tim's diner which I swear came right out of the 1950s the waitstaff literally looked out of the 50s. It was a great cheap lunch. Then we went back to the yard and reassembled the toilet before CSX came to pick the cars up to wye them and spot them for Amtrak pick up.


Afterwards we had to change the furniture out on the Braddock Inn and 38 moving the extra hotel chairs out the vestibules. To get some furniture in we had to take the end door off the Frame in the Braddock inn.


Once all of that was done we went to a pizza joint in Kenova with great prices but horrible service. We went for ice cream at some 1950s looking ice cream stand and took a tour around the area before going to bed.


4/22 Open Vestibules for four hundred miles.


Well we went to the car at five thirty am to load our stuff and prepare to take our small handful of passengers to the Greenbriar. We had a grand total of 22 people on the cars the entire day. Keep in mind six were crew. Before the Amtrak upset this trip had been planned as a daytrip to the Greenbriar with a return on the public train.


Amtrak arrived into HUN twenty minutes early and departed on time to come pick us up. At our next station we were only five minutes late so we did not delay the train a significant amount of time. We had one passenger getting on at Charleston who took forever to decide if he wanted to board. None the less we didn't lose anytime. The crew mostly spent time in the Braddock Inn kicking back and having a good time till the gorge.


In the gorge we were mostly riding in the open vestibule as we took the south main down the gorge. We had a fairly uneventful ride with only 12 paying passengers who were fairly easily taken care of. At White Sulfur Springs we detrained 14 people and took off still running within a few minutes of ontime.


Once the revenue passengers were gone we made mac and cheese for lunch and sandwiches to which we had a nice little meal. Our conductor came back for a few minutes to tell us he would miss having us as part of his train in the coming months. And that even the non railfan crews were mad about the new policy because our cars are a part of their train just as much as the coaches to them.


Of course we sent him away with a plate of food for his entire crew. We arrived in Staunton ten minutes early where we unloaded one crew/passenger and took a crew photo with our cars on the platform. We then rolled east picking up an additional passenger at Charlottesville and dropping off two crew members.


I saluted the marine at Gordonsville who never misses a train from the vestibule and basically relaxed riding the vestibule the rest of the way into DC. Riding the vestibule and seeing smiling faces of kids waving at us, and our passengers reminded me this is why I'm fighting for private cars.


I'm doing it to make other people happy not because it's my job. We arrived early into Washington and I welcomed all of the passengers to Washington next to my vestibule before going in to take a shower. I was happy they chose not to cut our hep till after my shower was over.


On an adjacent track the Crescent arrived ontime and departed ten minutes late with no PVs on the back of it. The Silver Meteor arrived after it and they pulled out consist up to Track Nine to drop us off before taking it off to the yard. The four of us remaining then went to Old Ebite for dinner again.


That you see is our tradition to visit Old Ebite. Afterwards we walked by the White House for one of our dinner guests first visits to DC before returning to our cars. To find out the ground plug that worked when we were there earlier was no longer working. So Amtrak instead of wiring us up to the adjacent ground plug for track eight moved us to track ten. I slept thru that move.


4/23: southbound to home

I woke up around eight and made myself breakfast in the kitchen before straightening out the car a bit for a stationary event later that day. I watched Amtrak train their police dogs how to sniff out bombs on the platform outside my breakfast table before I gathered my things and walked to the Palmetto.


I boarded an Amfleet II coach and started playing old PC games to pass the time. I got fresh air at Richmond before I went back to playing the games. Eventually I decided I would get the burger in the cafe. Where the attendant never said a word other then the price. It all seamed very rude to me. The rest of the ride south was uneventful and we arrived within thirty minutes of being ontime which is good enough.


My dad picked me up and I had to go to his band practice after that because of the train delay. On the way out of the station we did get stopped by the train I had just gotten off. All in all a good trip.

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Thanks for the report. Enjoyed all the varied details. You have a great attitude and in my experience, that counts for everything!

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EX Seaboard Airline bridge on the main from Portsmouth to Norlina.



The James River.



A derailment in ACCA yard



The Palmetto Train No. 90 with locomotive No. 90 at Richmond.



Amtrak Train No. 90 the Palmetto with Engine No. 90



Braddock Inn on the rear of the Cardinal.



One of a dying breed the Baltimore and Ohio Color Position light signals at Ivy City.



The Cardinal at Ivy City Yards coach yard wye.



Powerhouse in Ivy City slated for demolition this year.



The empty Cardinal and a Metro train running overhead.



The Braddock Inn rounding the coach yard wye.



The electric servicing area.



A butthead moving cars around Ivy City.



Train No. 67 the Northeast Regional for Newport News at Alexandria.



Metro at Alexandria.



An Acela on Track eleven. I can't remember the last time I've seen one on such a low numbered track.



The Tuesday morning shuffle.



An inbound regional.



The VRE layover facility.



The VRE layover facility.



The Acela and a very old doodlebug.



The locomotive shop.



Electrics waiting a movement.



Meeting representative Norman.



The Millennial Photoshoot.



Meeting governor Martin O'Malley



My bed in Union Station. Good thing I'm short.



I told you this yard had cool stuff.



Going the station.



You can somewhat see the Capitol Dome in this photo.

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Meeting Senator Tim Scott



The US Capitol building.



I honestly thought it was a cool photo.



Southern 1401 the best looking steam if you ask me.



Amtrak Train No. 51 the Cardinal at Union Station.



The Gordonsville Marine's house.



Amtrak No. 51 the Cardinal at Charlottesville.



Western Virginia.



Take me home country roads.



Well that's out of place.



The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Museum.



A covered bridge.



A Marshal University Locomotive painted by CSX Huntington Shops



Wisconsin one of the stranded cars at Huntington .



JP Henderson another stranded private car.



Berlin another stranded private car.



Braddock Inn at its old home.



Tim's Diner. I told you it feels like the 50s.



CSX picking up our cars.



CSX taking our cars to the lead.



A massive 260 car empty coal train passing out two cars.



Ringling Inn



The ice cream place.



Kanawha River Terminal



The NYC 38 prior to leaving home for the last time.



Amtrak Train No. 50 the Cardinal passing our cars before picking them up.



Open vestibule riding in West Virginia.



The whole train is visible.



Hawks Nest bridge.



The bridge famous for bridge days.

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Crossing the New River.






Rounding one of many curves.



Riding along the New River.



West Virginia is one of the prettiest states in my opinion.






A Chesapeake and Ohio SD40



Braddock Inn at Staunton.



A very short tunnel hand carved.



Western Virginia.



Our train at Charlottesville.



A Buckingham Branch local in the clear at Charlottesville.



The Gordonsville Marine.



Entering the Southern main at Orange.



Meeting the Roanoker north of Burke Center.



Crossing the Potomac River.



Entering Amtrak controlled trackage.



Entering the Capitol Hill tunnel. Note the CPL.



The NYC 38 at Union station.



The Crescent's locomotives passing by us on track 24.



The Washington Terminal heritage unit.



The Cardinal backed in on Track Nine. Not a sight you see everyday.



A northeast Regional on track eleven.



The best way to sleep.



The Braddock Inn on track ten.



Train No. 89 the Palmetto at Washington.



Train No. 89 the Palmetto at Richmond.



Train No. 89 the Palmetto crossing over Evans street in Florence.

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Thanks for the report. Enjoyed all the varied details. You have a great attitude and in my experience, that counts for everything!

Thank you for the kind words. Two things you need in the railroad flexibility and a great attitude about it.

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Thx for the great photos. Hope to ride the Cardinal next year.

Depending on when you do it you might be able to get a private car ride for the entire route. We are offering some chances this summer for that.

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Nice reports and pics, thanks for sharing.😎

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Thank you for the interesting report and the lovely photos. I agree, West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states--the pictures reminded me of the lovely trip through there on my way back from the Gathering last year, and I hope to go back soon.... :)

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