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New York – San Francisco

Amtrak 141 from N.Y.C. to Washington D.C.

New York’s Penn Station reminds me of Euston in London; frankly it’s a bit of a 1960’s bunker. All is changing for the better though, as a new station building is under construction next door. The original Pennsylvania Avenue Station was actually a really grand marble and granite building, dating back to 1910, but this was sadly demolished in the 1960’s and Madison Square Garden now sits on top of it. So today I descend into the concrete bowels of a station on its last legs, and find a seat in the Amtrak waiting room. The subterranean world of “Penn” […]

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The ‘Capitol Limited’ from D.C. to Chicago

Leaving the Amtrak Acela lounge and walking down the long platform in Union Station DC, I can’t help but be impressed by the huge size of the train and it’s Superliner carriages. Monstrous in proportions, and with a retro look of silver and fins –  they appear to be part inspired by Airstream and part by Dan Dare. Without getting a tape measure out, they must be taller than the Duplex TGV trains in Europe. As I have time to spare I take a walk down to the front of the train where two locomotives are already attached to haul […]

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The ‘California Zephyr’ from Chicago to Denver

Getting into the Panorama Lounge in Union Station gives me a subtle premonition that the journey ahead might not be as straightforward as it should be. The lady on reception isn’t too keen on passengers actually coming in to her lounge, and my paperwork isn’t in order until she has scribbled on it with a pink lumi pen in a special high security way. After a short wait, she issues instructions over the PA for finding the platform the Zephyr is departing from this afternoon. Rather confusingly there is both a platform number and a compass bearing – platform 22, […]

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The Durango & Silverton Railway

I’m slightly “off piste” in a railway sense. To reach Silverton I have had to leave the train at Denver (the train to Grand Junction was cancelled owing to work on the line) and take a bus to Silverton. It would have been too easy to push on west towards the coast, but this part of my journey needs further exploration – I’m seriously enjoying being in Colorado. My journey today is a totally a tourist one, but in the past it was a vital part of the incredible story of the gold and silver rushes. The Durango & Silverton […]

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The Grand Canyon Railway

The day didn’t start too well. My bus driver actually got lost trying to find Williams Depot, the home of the Grand Canyon Railway. Mild panic began to creep into my thoughts, but with just ten minutes to spare we arrived at the station and I boarded carriage “E” on the 09.30 train, bound for the south rim of the Grand Canyon. On some days they run a steam train, but today we are hauled by a nicely restored class EMD F40 locomotive with matching silver vintage carriages. My seat is comfy enough in a slightly too tightly packed coach […]

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‘The Southwest Chief’ from Flagstaff to Los Angeles

There is much speculation about how late the train will be into Flagstaff this evening. Dan, the Brakeman on my earlier Grand Canyon train, has advised me to buy a bottle of wine and decant it into a water bottle so I can have a drink on the station platform. Four hours delay is quite normal on this service. Amtrak don’t own the track, so freight takes priority. “The Chief” is coming from Chicago, so it will have had plenty of opportunity to pick up a big delay. I return to the station after a quick dinner to discover that […]

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The ‘Coast Starlight’ from L.A. to San Francisco

After a rather weird stay on board the Queen Mary, I’m back on the rails today. I never thought I would take to life in L.A, but I was pleasantly surprised by Long Beach nightlife. The Queen Mary is such an iconic ship, but now as a business it is primarily a glorified theme park and the values of Cunard are long gone. I’m with some other British rail travellers and amazingly one of them was actually a passenger on the Queen Mary. The ship didn’t even offer him a complimentary drink to welcome him back. I find that rather […]

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