It helps to know the number of the train you want to take.

Because of track repairs, the schedule for the Palmetto, #90, from Savannah, Georgia to New York has been changed for a month, with the result that the window for changing to a northeast train, #66, is tight and Amtrak, to avoid people missing a connection, programs in long layovers. Which is fine during daylight hours. It's awkward in the middle of the night, so, when people try to get tickets on line, the computer pretends there is no train.

It took a phone call to get a ticket on the Palmetto and a willingness to spend five hours at Penn Station in New York.

But, rather than being late, the Palmetto, which I insisted on catching because the trains that come out of Florida don't have WiFi, is running early. So, when I asked the conductor, if I could catch the #66 in Washington, he offered to put me on in Richmond.

As fate would have it, the #66 left Richmond before we got there, so the conductor has arranged for my ticket to be changed in Alexandria and for me to get on the #66 in Washington. So, I'll be able to sleep through New York and arrive in Boston at 8 AM.

I get the impression that there aren't a whole lot of really long distance travelers. Indeed, when the latest stats on passengers were released, Amtrak made a point to single out the long distance travelers. I guess 1200 miles qualifies.

I do not know why the trains out of Florida are not internet connected. Perhaps the cars just haven't been upgraded or the old fogies don't care. On this train, at least half the passengers have some sort of electronic gadget to keep them happy. The last car, however, is too far from the modem to get the signal. So, I have to sit in the lounge car with pizza and a beer.

C'est terrible!

Do I have to mention that the crew and staff have been totally helpful?

Originally posted to hannah on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 04:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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