A Trip on the Silver Meteor & Silver Star w/ Video & Pics!

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A Trip on the Silver Meteor & Silver Star w/ Video & Pics!

Postby Mike77E9 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:31 am

I recently went on a weekend getaway to Orlando, Florida and took the Silver Meteor #97 there, and the Silver Star #92 back. As with any of my LD Amtrak Trips, I brought both my digital still and video cameras, along with my laptop with Garmin GPS connected to it so I can follow the train's route.

On Thursday, November 19th, we made our way to New York Penn Station from Central Jersey via NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line and N-E Corridor. We wanted to board at New York as we did not initially have sleeper accommodations and wanted decent seats. While waiting for our connection at Newark, Hickory Creek NYC Observation Car pulled in on track B, Pictures seen HERE.

We arrived at New York Penn Station 45min ahead of our departure. Finally, at 3:00pm, the track number was called for our train and we boarded for coach. As we boarded, the Train Crew was assigning seats at the door, and were first assigned seats that did not line up with the windows, so we quickly asked if we can be reassigned and crew obliged. There was no way I was going to sit in coach for 22 hours with only a wall to look at. 3:15pm came and we departed NYP on time. For most of the time on the Northeast Corridor, we were doing about 110MPH. Before we reached Philly, someone from the Dining Car came around and asked for anyone wishing to eat in the dining car to make reservations, we decided to make reservations for 8. We stopped at Washington DC for a locomotive change and to receive more passengers. During the time we were stopped there, we walked up to the front of the train to watch the crew pull off our single AEM-7 and put on two GE P42DC's.

After Washington DC, we made our way to the dining car for our dinner. It was a heritage diner but looked like it was updated recently with new lighting, pastel colored walls, ceilings, and chairs. All the tables had table cloths, silverware, and cloth napkins. I ordered the Herb Roasted Half Chicken, which was preceded by warm bread and butter & a house salad. The chicken was phenomenal, it tasted like home cooking. Then for desert, I had the Oreo Cheesecake with Blueberry & Strawberry topping, again, amazed by the quality of the food. After paying our bill, we headed back to coach.

After sitting in coach for awhile after dinner, we decided to ask the train crew if there were any roomettes available. We were told that they would check it out and get back to us. 15min later, the conductor came back and asked us if we still wanted the room. We of course said yes and were told to meet him in the café car after the Richmond, VA stop. We arrived in Richmond ahead of schedule, and then departed promptly at 9:50. We went to the café car to meet with the conductor to take care of the roomette arrangements. After asking for payment, and then going through his manifest and making the appropriate changes, we were assigned a roomette in Car 9710. We gathered our belongings in coach, and made our way back to our roomette. There we met our Sleeping Car Attendant who went out of her way to make sure we were comfortable. We decided that at midnight we wanted the room changed over to sleeping configuration, and she promptly came back then and completed the task. Sleeping on the train was an interesting experience, one that i will never forget. The rocking back and forth put me to sleep, and only briefly waking up a few times in the night when passing a freight train, or going over a sloppy switch.

Morning came and headed for breakfast at 7am. While there, our sleeping car attendant changed the room to daytime configuration. For breakfast, I had the classic railroad french toast with a side of sausage, again, another great meal by the terrific crew of the dining car. After breakfast, we pulled in to Jacksonville, FL where they had another crew change, boarding and discharge of passengers, refuel the locomotives with diesel, restock the dining and cafe cars, and refill the water tanks on the sleepers and the dining car. The rest of our ride to Orlando was uneventful, and had another good meal in the dining car for lunch, this time i had their sandwich special, which was a grilled cheese with sun dried tomatoes and pesto, and chocolate ice cream for desert.

We arrived in Orlando 5min early, and caught our Taxi to the hotel. Our impression of the service on the Silver Meteor was fantastic. The crew was very accommodating, and at times, entertaining, going above and beyond to make sure your journey was comfortable. Dining Car food was also phenomenal, and the crew there was also speedy and accommodating. Below are some links to some of the photos and video of the train. My next post will be on the return trip.

Aboard the Amtrak Silver Meteor #97 video
Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Accommodations on the Silver Meteor #97
Pictures
Last edited by Mike77E9 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Trip on the Silver Meteor & Silver Star w/ Video & Pics!

Postby Mike77E9 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:32 am

On Sunday, November 22nd, we caught the Silver Star #92 going to NY Penn from Orlando Florida. We arrived at the station after 6:30pm to catch our 7:24 departure. Our train arrived at the station a half hour late, and didn’t depart until almost 8:00pm.

Once we got rolling, we headed for the dining car. This time, our heritage dining car looked dated, as it looks like it wasn’t touched since Amtrak did the HEP conversions back in the late 70’s, early 80’s. It had stark white walls and ceilings, and harsh florescent lights. However, there was table cloths, cloth napkins, and silverware at each table. The crew here was pleasant and accommodating. For dinner, I had the dinner special, which was a Turkey Dinner with all of the trimmings, down to the cranberry sauce with the ridges! This meal was absolutely phenomenal! I swore that I was having a thanksgiving meal with my family, but I was just having dinner in the dining car a few days before thanksgiving. For dessert, I had the Oreo Cheesecake again, couldn’t go wrong with that selection.

We headed back to our roomette and were greeted by our car attendant. He asked us what time we wanted our room changed over to sleeping configuration, and we asked for 11:30pm. He stated this wasn’t possible as he goes to bed at 11pm, and told us he can do it at 10:30pm. I was a little disappointed here after the previous attendant on the Silver Meteor was able to accommodate a midnight changeover and told us she went to bed at 2am. I decided to take a shower after dinner, and that was another experience in itself. Trying to use as little water as possible and showering at 80MPH was a trick in itself to not fall. However, the facilities were adequate and allowed me to freshen up after a long humid day in Orlando.

10:30 came and our attendant changed our room over to sleeping configuration. We sat up in our beds looking out the windows watching the trees, roads, and other trains pass by in the night. Eventually I laid down and fell right to sleep. This time I used ear plugs and the passing freights didn’t wake me.

I woke up the following morning at 7am to a rainy southern North Carolina in a freight yard. We went up to the dining car for breakfast and I had the French toast with a side of sausage again. After being in the dining car for over a half hour, we went back to our room to find that it hasn’t been changed over to daytime configuration yet. We found the attendant and asked him if he can make it up and told us that he will try to get to it by Raleigh, NC as he had a lot of rooms to do and it takes time to make them up. After a brief pause, he told us we can wait in the café car and come back in about a half hour and it should be made up by then. After 35min later, we went back to our room and he was currently changing it over. We waited in the hall for about 5min until it was ready.

After crossing over into Virginia, we headed up to the dining car for lunch. Again, I had the grilled cheese with sun dried tomatoes with pesto, and had the apple crumb pie for dessert. We arrived in Washington DC about 30min late, and got out to stretch the legs while they changed our locomotives out with an AEM-7. Once we departed the station, we were now 45min behind, however this was quickly cut down to 30min when we arrived at Newark Penn Station. After a few minutes of leaving Washington DC, the dining car crew came around to the sleepers to announce that there will be a brief dinner service with what they have left from the previous night. We went up to the dining car and I had the eggplant lasagna for dinner and a pumpkin pie for dessert. Again, the food was phenomenal.

We headed back to our room and before we knew it, our sleeping car attendant came around telling us that Newark will be our next stop in about 15min and we should get our stuff together. He offered to help with carrying our bags out to the platform when we arrived. We arrived in Newark, NJ Penn Station at 7:20pm, a half hour late, and were able to catch our return NJ Transit train within a few minutes. Overall, we didn’t have any interaction with the conductor, but we found the dining car staff very pleasant, accommodating, and the food was terrific. The sleeping car attendant could have been a little more accommodating, but we’re not sure if that’s realistic especially after having the bar set very high by the previous person on the Silver Meteor. Below is some video of the return trip home on the Silver Star:

Aboard the Amtrak Silver Star #92 video

Final Thoughts
Overall, I am impressed with the experience I had aboard Amtrak’s Silver Meteor and Silver Star. The crew for the most part was very accommodating and was even entertaining at times. The food was impressive and I give the crews there a lot of credit for cooking the food in the tight quarters they have and still make it better then a lot of the restraints I’ve eaten in. This was my first trip on a Long Distance Sleeping train, and will be an experience I will never forget. In the future, if I have any place I need to travel to, and I have the time, I will surely take Amtrak again.
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