JWG (jwg) wrote,

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To New York and Back via Amtrak

On Friday rsc and I went to New York for a Contradance called by pinkfish and to see Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. This opera wasn't about gardening some of which we did today - where there was definite progress of the rake as it was used to smooth out some beds. Readers may notice an Opera/train theme in some of my posts: Trip on the Orient Express

We went by Amtrak on the Acela Express and we chose the quiet car where no cell phones or other loud noises are allowed. There are signs in the car and on the door as you enter and the conductors mention the fact that it is the quiet car. Shortly after we sat down, I hear some somebody using one a couple of seats away. I leaned back and asked him to stop but he didn't. I raised my voice several times about this trying to get through to him that I had chosen this car because it was supposed to be quiet. After several attempts he actually got up while scowling and completed his "I am on the train now call" in the vestibule. Then a minute later, someone a few rows in front of us started to make a call. Another passenger asked him to move and he did. I complimented her for using considerably more tact and politeness than I had. Of course these cars would be more quiet if they didn't have so many conductor announcements - later in the trip they seemed to have been turned off (or perhaps the sound system had failed).

We returned late Saturday night on a regular train leaving at 7:30 and scheduled to arrive at 11:45. Quite a number of times on this trip, the lights and AC shutdown for about a minute or so. Now this happens sometimes when they cross power boundaries when the voltage or power phasing shifts because they are drawing poser from a different source, but clearly this wasn't that situation. At Route 128 in Dedham (25-30 miles from Cambridge) we came to a scheduled stop with the lights out. I noticed that there were no platform lights. They made departing passengers go to the front car of the train and then there was 15 minutes or so of silence before they announced that they were having power problems and the engineer was trying to restart the engine. A bunch of time passed with no announcements, Robert was getting irritated so I went up to the front of the car to ask the conductor who was standing there. He said that had called for another engine, but they had no response yet. People started leaving the train. Then in a few minutes there was an announcement that the new engine was coming but it might take an hour or more. So we left too to attempt to find a taxi. The reason why there were no lights on the platform is that the train had stopped close to the end of the platform. Fortunately the failure was at a station instead of the middle of nowhere. We got to the taxi area and there were a couple of taxis loading; someone said that a whole bunch more were coming. Shortly after, I heard a call from near a loading taxi "anyone going to Cambridge? We have two spaces".

So there was our ride without much waiting. The driver said since we were two sets of passengers he would charge two fare (that is the way the laws are written in Mass). We attempted to bargain - he talked to his dispatcher and agreed to cut the price to $45 for each pair. Going home was my first trip in the Big Dig tunnel. I am impressed - I have never, ever seen such clear signage about lanes, and exits anywhere in Massachusetts. We got home at 1:30. The Amtrak web site said the train was 2:15 late so it must have arrive at South Station at 2 am. We would have had to take a cab since the RedLine had long since shut down.

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