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The calm before the storm -- Amtrak to Washington and back, Jan. 5, 2021

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MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,426
Location
Baltimore. MD
Last week, I had to go to Washington for my dermatology follow-up appointment. (Everything was fine, so at least one less thing to worry about.) Fortunately, the appointment was made for January 5, not January 6. (When I made the appointment, I didn't even think about the dates they'd be certifying the electoral college vote or whatever.) Here's my impressions of Amtrak during the pandemic and a few views of Washington right before all the craziness happened.

I decided to ride Amtrak rather than MARC so I could start earning some AGR TQP for 2021. NEC service has been cut back a good bit. My only choice for my 11 AM appointment (unless I wanted to take 67 at 6 AM) was an 8:48 Northeast Regional. All the fares were low bucket, even on the morning of departure. I bought the ticket while eating breakfast at home.

The drive downtown on I-83 to the Baltimore station was really fast, despite this being in the notional "rush hour." I guess all the office workers are working from home, so nobody is driving downtown at 8 in the morning anymore. The Penn Station parking garage was as empty as it's been for the other Amtrak trips I've made during the pandemic, and I was able to park right by the stairs. Into the almost empty station, and my train is on time.

20210105_082947.jpg

The Silver Meteor came in around 8:30 AM. (about 15 minutes behind schedule). I went down to the platform to take a look, and saw they had one of the new Viewliner II sleepers at the end.

20210105_083433.jpg

My train came in at about the same time the Vermonter was arriving in the opposite direction. Despite the fact that the Vermonter isn't running to Vermont (I did a test booking on Amtrak.com to verify this), they announced the train as going all the way to St. Albans. This sort of surprised me, as usually they're pretty good at accurately posting truncated trains in Baltimore.

In any event, my train came in about 5 minutes early, so I was able to go up to the cafe car to get my free coffee before the train started moving. I had booked business class, both to ensure a less crowded car (which I think it was) and to start jacking up my AGR TQP, although who knows if the pandemic will end soon enough in the coming year for me to do enough riding to get S+. I forgot that they're now assigning seats in Northeast Regional business class, so I just dumped my coat randomly before I went to get my coffee. It didn't seem to matter, as there were lots of empty seats, and the conductor scanned my ticket in the cafe car while I was waiting for them to brew a fresh pot of coffee for me.

We got to BWI pretty quickly, but the lights and HVAC went off briefly on the way, and then for a few minutes at the BWI station, which delayed our departure a bit. We did start moving before the lights came back on, and we moved pretty quickly after that, arriving in DC on time, skipping New Carrolton. It seems the northeast regionals are doing some weird stuff, skipping some stations they usually stop, and then adding other stops, like the one I took last September to New York.

We came into Washington on track 18, and while I was walking down the train, I passed a group of people clumped together and unmasked. This was pretty unusual, as mask compliance on my NEC trips has been pretty much universal. Fortunately, I was able to give them a wide berth, and headed for the very quiet Claytor Concourse. I buzzed myself into the Club Acela, and had it all to myself for the hour I hung out there before heading to the doctor's office.

20210105_101429.jpg

I went out at 10:30, made my way to Metro, and found they were running trains on 10-minute headways. I took the train to Farragut North, got out, passed the unarmed National Guardsmen patrolling the area and walked down 17th St. to Eye, where my doctor's office is located. All the streets were closed to motor traffic; it was nice not having to worry about waiting on red lights.

After my medical exam, it was time for lunch. I stopped at Loeb's New York Deli on Eye St. I can imagine they were happy se see me, as it looked like business was not too good that day. I got my usual pastrami on pumpernickel with cole slaw and Russian dressing and a can of Dr. Brown's Cel Ray Tonic. It was chilly, but, luckily for me, not so chilly that I couldn't eat on the outside tables.

20210105_115630.jpg

Not quite as good as Katz's in New York, but the sandwich was only $10, and it was pretty tasty.

It seemed quiet, so I thought I'd take a walk through the area to see how they were preparing for the expected demonstrations the next day. I basically justio walked along Eye St, to 13th, then down 13th to G, where there as an entrance to the Metro Center Metro station.

20210105_120714 (2).jpg

Here's the entrance to the Farragut West Station with a couple of unarmed Guardsmen hanging out. As you can see, they're not equipped to handle anything serious. When things started heading south the next day, they all had to make their way to the DC Armory to get their riot gear.

20210105_120922.jpg
There had been a lot of broken windows in this area during the demonstrations last June, so this time, a lot of businesses weren't taking any chances.

I passed by 16th Street, which is known as Black Lives Matter Plaza for the bock between H and Eye Sts. The city had blocked off H St., enlarging the perimeter around the White House. I passed a van and looked in and saw a bunch of armed police officers, who I guess were standing by, but didn't want to be too obvious a presence at that point in time. At 14th St., I started seeing the pro-Trump protesters walking down the street heading for the warm-up protest they had in Freedom Plaza, down on Pennsylvania Ave. I went nowhere near that, and avoided them as much as possible, as none of them were wearing masks.

Soon I was back in the Metro Station which had been part of my commute for years, and on my way back to Union Station.

20210105_122932.jpg

Back in Union Station, the Norwegian Embassy Christmas tree was still up:

20210105_125055 (2).jpg

Unfortunately for lovers of fried chicken, the Bojangles in the downstairs food court looks like it's closed for good. :(

I got back to the station at about 12:45 or so. The 1:00 PM northeast regional seems to have been cancelled, and so were the MARC trains running about then. So I had to wait for the 2:05 PM 94 coming up from Virginia. Fortunately, it was on time. I had the Club Acela to myself until 30 came in from Chicago, when a bunch of sleeper passengers arrived in the lounge. It was still pretty empty by pre-pandemic standards. When they announced the track, I walked over to the gate, but there was a bit of a line, and no Priority boarding line. I went back to the lounged and asked about this, and I was told that they eliminated the priority boarding line, and I should just rudely butt in line and say I had Select plus status/business class. Or I could have the lounge call me a redcap, and they would take me the back way. But that day, the lounge attendant decided to be helpful, and he escorted me the back way to the gate, thus allowing me to avoid standing in line in the concourse or wait for a redcap.

Down the escalator I went, and found that they had not lowered the trap for the business class car or the Quiet car, so I had to walk two cars up to board, and then walk back through the train to get to my car. I found my usual seat (10F), aren't we creatures of habit. Then, somehow, I realized that, hey, they assign seats in BC now. I looked at my ticket, and saw it was a completely different seat, but that 10F was available, so it was no problem to use the app to change my assigned seat.

And that was about it. The ride back, unlike the ride I took last June, was uneventful and on-time. I retrieved my car, and another quick drive home, and that was that for that particular doctor until next July. Given that I haven't really been out of the house much since I banged up my back a couple of weeks ago, I appreciated the trip and the opportunity to get out of town for a while. It was interesting to see how the city was preparing for the demonstrations, but shocking for me as I followed the events of the next day (which were not happening in the area where I walked.) Hopefully, when I come back in July, things will be quieter in some ways, yet more lively in others.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,259
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Last week, I had to go to Washington for my dermatology follow-up appointment. (Everything was fine, so at least one less thing to worry about.) Fortunately, the appointment was made for January 5, not January 6. (When I made the appointment, I didn't even think about the dates they'd be certifying the electoral college vote or whatever.) Here's my impressions of Amtrak during the pandemic and a few views of Washington right before all the craziness happened.

I decided to ride Amtrak rather than MARC so I could start earning some AGR TQP for 2021. NEC service has been cut back a good bit. My only choice for my 11 AM appointment (unless I wanted to take 67 at 6 AM) was an 8:48 Northeast Regional. All the fares were low bucket, even on the morning of departure. I bought the ticket while eating breakfast at home.

The drive downtown on I-83 to the Baltimore station was really fast, despite this being in the notional "rush hour." I guess all the office workers are working from home, so nobody is driving downtown at 8 in the morning anymore. The Penn Station parking garage was as empty as it's been for the other Amtrak trips I've made during the pandemic, and I was able to park right by the stairs. Into the almost empty station, and my train is on time.

View attachment 20234

The Silver Meteor came in around 8:30 AM. (about 15 minutes behind schedule). I went down to the platform to take a look, and saw they had one of the new Viewliner II sleepers at the end.

View attachment 20235

My train came in at about the same time the Vermonter was arriving in the opposite direction. Despite the fact that the Vermonter isn't running to Vermont (I did a test booking on Amtrak.com to verify this), they announced the train as going all the way to St. Albans. This sort of surprised me, as usually they're pretty good at accurately posting truncated trains in Baltimore.

In any event, my train came in about 5 minutes early, so I was able to go up to the cafe car to get my free coffee before the train started moving. I had booked business class, both to ensure a less crowded car (which I think it was) and to start jacking up my AGR TQP, although who knows if the pandemic will end soon enough in the coming year for me to do enough riding to get S+. I forgot that they're now assigning seats in Northeast Regional business class, so I just dumped my coat randomly before I went to get my coffee. It didn't seem to matter, as there were lots of empty seats, and the conductor scanned my ticket in the cafe car while I was waiting for them to brew a fresh pot of coffee for me.

We got to BWI pretty quickly, but the lights and HVAC went off briefly on the way, and then for a few minutes at the BWI station, which delayed our departure a bit. We did start moving before the lights came back on, and we moved pretty quickly after that, arriving in DC on time, skipping New Carrolton. It seems the northeast regionals are doing some weird stuff, skipping some stations they usually stop, and then adding other stops, like the one I took last September to New York.

We came into Washington on track 18, and while I was walking down the train, I passed a group of people clumped together and unmasked. This was pretty unusual, as mask compliance on my NEC trips has been pretty much universal. Fortunately, I was able to give them a wide berth, and headed for the very quiet Claytor Concourse. I buzzed myself into the Club Acela, and had it all to myself for the hour I hung out there before heading to the doctor's office.

View attachment 20236

I went out at 10:30, made my way to Metro, and found they were running trains on 10-minute headways. I took the train to Farragut North, got out, passed the unarmed National Guardsmen patrolling the area and walked down 17th St. to Eye, where my doctor's office is located. All the streets were closed to motor traffic; it was nice not having to worry about waiting on red lights.

After my medical exam, it was time for lunch. I stopped at Loeb's New York Deli on Eye St. I can imagine they were happy se see me, as it looked like business was not too good that day. I got my usual pastrami on pumpernickel with cole slaw and Russian dressing and a can of Dr. Brown's Cel Ray Tonic. It was chilly, but, luckily for me, not so chilly that I couldn't eat on the outside tables.

View attachment 20237

Not quite as good as Katz's in New York, but the sandwich was only $10, and it was pretty tasty.

It seemed quiet, so I thought I'd take a walk through the area to see how they were preparing for the expected demonstrations the next day. I basically justio walked along Eye St, to 13th, then down 13th to G, where there as an entrance to the Metro Center Metro station.

View attachment 20238

Here's the entrance to the Farragut West Station with a couple of unarmed Guardsmen hanging out. As you can see, they're not equipped to handle anything serious. When things started heading south the next day, they all had to make their way to the DC Armory to get their riot gear.

View attachment 20239
There had been a lot of broken windows in this area during the demonstrations last June, so this time, a lot of businesses weren't taking any chances.

I passed by 16th Street, which is known as Black Lives Matter Plaza for the bock between H and Eye Sts. The city had blocked off H St., enlarging the perimeter around the White House. I passed a van and looked in and saw a bunch of armed police officers, who I guess were standing by, but didn't want to be too obvious a presence at that point in time. At 14th St., I started seeing the pro-Trump protesters walking down the street heading for the warm-up protest they had in Freedom Plaza, down on Pennsylvania Ave. I went nowhere near that, and avoided them as much as possible, as none of them were wearing masks.

Soon I was back in the Metro Station which had been part of my commute for years, and on my way back to Union Station.

View attachment 20240

Back in Union Station, the Norwegian Embassy Christmas tree was still up:

View attachment 20241

Unfortunately for lovers of fried chicken, the Bojangles in the downstairs food court looks like it's closed for good. :(

I got back to the station at about 12:45 or so. The 1:00 PM northeast regional seems to have been cancelled, and so were the MARC trains running about then. So I had to wait for the 2:05 PM 94 coming up from Virginia. Fortunately, it was on time. I had the Club Acela to myself until 30 came in from Chicago, when a bunch of sleeper passengers arrived in the lounge. It was still pretty empty by pre-pandemic standards. When they announced the track, I walked over to the gate, but there was a bit of a line, and no Priority boarding line. I went back to the lounged and asked about this, and I was told that they eliminated the priority boarding line, and I should just rudely butt in line and say I had Select plus status/business class. Or I could have the lounge call me a redcap, and they would take me the back way. But that day, the lounge attendant decided to be helpful, and he escorted me the back way to the gate, thus allowing me to avoid standing in line in the concourse or wait for a redcap.

Down the escalator I went, and found that they had not lowered the trap for the business class car or the Quiet car, so I had to walk two cars up to board, and then walk back through the train to get to my car. I found my usual seat (10F), aren't we creatures of habit. Then, somehow, I realized that, hey, they assign seats in BC now. I looked at my ticket, and saw it was a completely different seat, but that 10F was available, so it was no problem to use the app to change my assigned seat.

And that was about it. The ride back, unlike the ride I took last June, was uneventful and on-time. I retrieved my car, and another quick drive home, and that was that for that particular doctor until next July. Given that I haven't really been out of the house much since I banged up my back a couple of weeks ago, I appreciated the trip and the opportunity to get out of town for a while. It was interesting to see how the city was preparing for the demonstrations, but shocking for me as I followed the events of the next day (which were not happening in the area where I walked.) Hopefully, when I come back in July, things will be quieter in some ways, yet more lively in others.
Usual thorough report, nice pics and the deli food never gets tired.;)
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
21,221
Location
Austin Texas
Last week, I had to go to Washington for my dermatology follow-up appointment. (Everything was fine, so at least one less thing to worry about.) Fortunately, the appointment was made for January 5, not January 6. (When I made the appointment, I didn't even think about the dates they'd be certifying the electoral college vote or whatever.) Here's my impressions of Amtrak during the pandemic and a few views of Washington right before all the craziness happened.

I decided to ride Amtrak rather than MARC so I could start earning some AGR TQP for 2021. NEC service has been cut back a good bit. My only choice for my 11 AM appointment (unless I wanted to take 67 at 6 AM) was an 8:48 Northeast Regional. All the fares were low bucket, even on the morning of departure. I bought the ticket while eating breakfast at home.

The drive downtown on I-83 to the Baltimore station was really fast, despite this being in the notional "rush hour." I guess all the office workers are working from home, so nobody is driving downtown at 8 in the morning anymore. The Penn Station parking garage was as empty as it's been for the other Amtrak trips I've made during the pandemic, and I was able to park right by the stairs. Into the almost empty station, and my train is on time.

View attachment 20234

The Silver Meteor came in around 8:30 AM. (about 15 minutes behind schedule). I went down to the platform to take a look, and saw they had one of the new Viewliner II sleepers at the end.

View attachment 20235

My train came in at about the same time the Vermonter was arriving in the opposite direction. Despite the fact that the Vermonter isn't running to Vermont (I did a test booking on Amtrak.com to verify this), they announced the train as going all the way to St. Albans. This sort of surprised me, as usually they're pretty good at accurately posting truncated trains in Baltimore.

In any event, my train came in about 5 minutes early, so I was able to go up to the cafe car to get my free coffee before the train started moving. I had booked business class, both to ensure a less crowded car (which I think it was) and to start jacking up my AGR TQP, although who knows if the pandemic will end soon enough in the coming year for me to do enough riding to get S+. I forgot that they're now assigning seats in Northeast Regional business class, so I just dumped my coat randomly before I went to get my coffee. It didn't seem to matter, as there were lots of empty seats, and the conductor scanned my ticket in the cafe car while I was waiting for them to brew a fresh pot of coffee for me.

We got to BWI pretty quickly, but the lights and HVAC went off briefly on the way, and then for a few minutes at the BWI station, which delayed our departure a bit. We did start moving before the lights came back on, and we moved pretty quickly after that, arriving in DC on time, skipping New Carrolton. It seems the northeast regionals are doing some weird stuff, skipping some stations they usually stop, and then adding other stops, like the one I took last September to New York.

We came into Washington on track 18, and while I was walking down the train, I passed a group of people clumped together and unmasked. This was pretty unusual, as mask compliance on my NEC trips has been pretty much universal. Fortunately, I was able to give them a wide berth, and headed for the very quiet Claytor Concourse. I buzzed myself into the Club Acela, and had it all to myself for the hour I hung out there before heading to the doctor's office.

View attachment 20236

I went out at 10:30, made my way to Metro, and found they were running trains on 10-minute headways. I took the train to Farragut North, got out, passed the unarmed National Guardsmen patrolling the area and walked down 17th St. to Eye, where my doctor's office is located. All the streets were closed to motor traffic; it was nice not having to worry about waiting on red lights.

After my medical exam, it was time for lunch. I stopped at Loeb's New York Deli on Eye St. I can imagine they were happy se see me, as it looked like business was not too good that day. I got my usual pastrami on pumpernickel with cole slaw and Russian dressing and a can of Dr. Brown's Cel Ray Tonic. It was chilly, but, luckily for me, not so chilly that I couldn't eat on the outside tables.

View attachment 20237

Not quite as good as Katz's in New York, but the sandwich was only $10, and it was pretty tasty.

It seemed quiet, so I thought I'd take a walk through the area to see how they were preparing for the expected demonstrations the next day. I basically justio walked along Eye St, to 13th, then down 13th to G, where there as an entrance to the Metro Center Metro station.

View attachment 20238

Here's the entrance to the Farragut West Station with a couple of unarmed Guardsmen hanging out. As you can see, they're not equipped to handle anything serious. When things started heading south the next day, they all had to make their way to the DC Armory to get their riot gear.

View attachment 20239
There had been a lot of broken windows in this area during the demonstrations last June, so this time, a lot of businesses weren't taking any chances.

I passed by 16th Street, which is known as Black Lives Matter Plaza for the bock between H and Eye Sts. The city had blocked off H St., enlarging the perimeter around the White House. I passed a van and looked in and saw a bunch of armed police officers, who I guess were standing by, but didn't want to be too obvious a presence at that point in time. At 14th St., I started seeing the pro-Trump protesters walking down the street heading for the warm-up protest they had in Freedom Plaza, down on Pennsylvania Ave. I went nowhere near that, and avoided them as much as possible, as none of them were wearing masks.

Soon I was back in the Metro Station which had been part of my commute for years, and on my way back to Union Station.

View attachment 20240

Back in Union Station, the Norwegian Embassy Christmas tree was still up:

View attachment 20241

Unfortunately for lovers of fried chicken, the Bojangles in the downstairs food court looks like it's closed for good. :(

I got back to the station at about 12:45 or so. The 1:00 PM northeast regional seems to have been cancelled, and so were the MARC trains running about then. So I had to wait for the 2:05 PM 94 coming up from Virginia. Fortunately, it was on time. I had the Club Acela to myself until 30 came in from Chicago, when a bunch of sleeper passengers arrived in the lounge. It was still pretty empty by pre-pandemic standards. When they announced the track, I walked over to the gate, but there was a bit of a line, and no Priority boarding line. I went back to the lounged and asked about this, and I was told that they eliminated the priority boarding line, and I should just rudely butt in line and say I had Select plus status/business class. Or I could have the lounge call me a redcap, and they would take me the back way. But that day, the lounge attendant decided to be helpful, and he escorted me the back way to the gate, thus allowing me to avoid standing in line in the concourse or wait for a redcap.

Down the escalator I went, and found that they had not lowered the trap for the business class car or the Quiet car, so I had to walk two cars up to board, and then walk back through the train to get to my car. I found my usual seat (10F), aren't we creatures of habit. Then, somehow, I realized that, hey, they assign seats in BC now. I looked at my ticket, and saw it was a completely different seat, but that 10F was available, so it was no problem to use the app to change my assigned seat.

And that was about it. The ride back, unlike the ride I took last June, was uneventful and on-time. I retrieved my car, and another quick drive home, and that was that for that particular doctor until next July. Given that I haven't really been out of the house much since I banged up my back a couple of weeks ago, I appreciated the trip and the opportunity to get out of town for a while. It was interesting to see how the city was preparing for the demonstrations, but shocking for me as I followed the events of the next day (which were not happening in the area where I walked.) Hopefully, when I come back in July, things will be quieter in some ways, yet more lively in others.
I'm sure you'll stay in Baltimore for the immediate future instead of heading to the Hot Spot that is and will be DC!
 
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