Transit Adventures

Up to Montreal enjoying Ocean View after seeing TSA Screening all Baggage Boarding in Albany

The day of my main Adirondack trip on Train #69 going the entire distance from NYP to MTL arrives. I leave the house a little after 7:15 and I am on a crowded morning rush hour A train at 7:25. I get off at Penn Station at 7:55 and have to stand in line behind a few people at the Canadian check in podium for the Amtrak agent to stamp my eTicket Canada. At this point I notice that the big board says Stand By track 7 for the Adirondack. I quickly show my passport and get my ticket stamped Canada, the agent barely saying anything. Two lines have formed, one at each gate of track 7 but few people seem to be moving, both escalators are in the up position discharging rush hours commuters. I go into the ClubAcela to grab some coffee and overly processed Sara Lee muffins. I leave almost immediately and go down to the exit concourse. No one block my access to Track 6. I see the conductor, tell him Montreal, and am directed to the rearmost Amfleet-II Coach. The only other people in the car are a group of about 20 Quebecois that are clearly a group and have gotten pre-boarding as well they should. I choose a seat at the very back of the car and soon general boarding begins. A few people have to double-up but no one bothers me. Clearly a relatively light load on a Thursday.

We leave at 8:17, two minutes late and slowly lose HEP briefly going through the switches. I notice that some of the lights as we leave Penn Station in the small train yard beyond have been replaced by LEDs.

  • 8:21 – Pass a southbound Empire Service train #232 waiting for us so it enter Penn Station via the single track end of the Empire Connection. I’m reading the book Mole People right now about the underground homeless that spends a lot of time discussing the homeless population living underneath Riverside Park and in other places in these tunnels. The conductor comes and I’m the first ticket scanned. The conductor needs to adjust the Amtrak logo on his hat; it’s askew.
  • 8:33 – We cross the Spuytren Duyvil Swing  bridge without a cloud in the sky as I notice the fall colors on the Palisades across the river. Like last year I’ve chosen the perfect day to do a trip up the Hudson. The woman in front of me has decided to exchange seat cushions. That’s a first! Her first seat was wet.

We stop in Yonkers at 8:38, my normal destination on southbound trips but I have yet to start a northbound trip here because of the lack of seat selection reasons. We sit for six minutes until our actual departure time of 8:44. My car is directly alongside the former low-level side platform that is directly along the second, now closed floor of the former depot.

  • 8:50 – Pass Ardsley and a Southbound Empire Service train
  • 8:53 – Under the Tappan Zee bridge, cranes are now on barges with pilings in the water. The construction of a new bridge.
  • We pull into Croton-Harmon at 9:01. The sign says Montreal QC as our destination. We’re two minutes early and leave on time at 9:03. As some M3s for Grand Cetral stop. I lazily lie across the two seats, gorging out to fall at the colors across the Hudson.
  • 9:12 – A Southbound passes and we slow down form the Peekskill Grade crossing

I don’t like sleeping through scenery but I’ve ridden up here countless times and a quick morning nap will keep me awake the rest of the trip. The warm weather clearly means fall is later this year.
I awake at 9:40 as we pull into Poughkeepsie. Were a few minutes early again. We leave on time at 9:46.

After Poughkeepsie I go up to the Northeast Regional Café car to send an e-mail. I’m also curious if Trails & Rails is aboard but there not, just the usual people using it as an office. I hear the conductors (the one who’s conductor logo askew is now warring a Yankees cap) radio and its now saying Amtrak milepost.

We stop in Rhinecliff at 9:59. I try and get Amtrak Connect to finish typing up yesterday’s blog post. I can’t connect. We leave at 10:00 on time. I see a sign that Long Term Parking is limited to ten days. I get AmtrakConnect to upload a thing.

The next stop is Hudson at 10:24, somehow we arrive 4 minutes late.

I step off in Albany and go up into the station to mail a letter. I immediately notice that the overpass seems too empty and then notice a crowd of TSA employees and Amtrak police. There searching all luggage of anyone boarding a train in Albany. I take a few pictures and am told by an Amtrak Policeman “Don’t take pictures of work stations, who do you work for?” I saw “Myself, it’s my right!” and return to the train.

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I go down to the platform and the conductors are talking to a cranky old man about how this cafe car has been having wifi issues for the past three weeks. I then notice that the P32 has been taken off the train along with the front of our 3 Amfleet I. The P42 slowly backs the dome car on. I hear announcements about tickets for Train #280 not being honored on #290. I try and reboard the forward coaches and find the door to the cafe car has been closed. I go back down to the platform and walk back to my seat. I sit back down and realize we will be delayed waiting for them to clear the single track north of here. The conductor comes through and collects all seat checks announcing that the dome and cafe car won’t be open until after SDY. That seems late but being at the other end of the train I can’t press it especially with this crew over closing doors. Everyone in the rear two Amfleets is going to Montreal Empire Service train #280 finally arrives over an hour late at 11:06 from Niagara Falls. Train #290 is running 22 minutes late and is due at 11:15.

We slowly leave at 11:10 and wait for the Ethan Allen Express to pass us just north of the station.
We reach SDY at 11:42. Graffiti covering the station as always, for some reason we stop just north of it.
I hear something about the observation car and get up. I go up to the observation car and the Trials and Rails volunteer is aboard. Ocean View is nice but it isn’t the same as my last ride up here on a VIA Park Car. I’m not feeling taking photos out the windows the same way. The trials and rails volunteer is telling us he’ll start after Saratoga Springs.
Heading north it’s extremely slow moving. We’re going through a work zone where new signals are getting installed. I chat with the trails and rails volunteer handing out okay maps of the route. I ask him and am told that yes he was furlough even though he is a volunteer during the government shut-down early this month.
We stop in Saratoga Springs on the third track to let off quite a few people. The agent comes out to greet the train and two more Trails and Rails volunteers board. There is no sign of the Adirondack and North Creek Railway. Were leave at 12:27, 30 minutes late.
We continue north and see some tugs from the dredging rejoining the Hudson. Fall up here is basically over, the trees mostly lack leafs.

We stop in Ford Edward at 12:51, there now signs up that its a cafe and gift shop. We leave at 12:52.

12:55 – Pass the PCBs dredging facility.

At this point I get distracted chatting and basically stop taking notes. I do notice construction with a completely separate, temporary platform set up in Whitehall and construction along the Ticonderoga platform. The foliage is definitely a bit passed peak but its still a nice scenic ride. We don’t lose anymore time making the usual stops along Lake Champlain.

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4:08 – Get to Rouses Point, 8 minutes after our normal scheduled time, there is a bunch of recovery time and the station is even an ‘L’ so the boarder formalities could start early if the Adirondack was exactly on time. We leave the station and stop briefly. I see the conductor waring her orange vest. A manual switch.
4:20 – The border at Lacolle, HEP switches on and off.
The customs officials come and I don’t really have any hassles. She asks to see my return ticket and I show her, giving a completely truthful explanation for why I’m getting on in St-Lambert, to get photos of the train crossing the bridge. The response is her eyes rolling like “Who are you?” There is one Englishman sitting in front of me who clearly thinks going to Canada (and a brief trip home to Britain) resets his 90 days in the US Visa Waiver. This isn’t the case legally (its 90 within a 365 day period, its the same for Americans in Britian and Ireland and Mainland Europe – separately because Great Britan and Ireland have their own separate borders from the Schengen Agreement) and he is led off the train, luckily he doesn’t making a big scene about it. His main response is “I guess I was miss-informed.” The agents I think do a very good job handling it, with the first agent  to talk to him simply saying “All be Back” and then all six agents descending on him after they’d done the entire train (I bet the initial one also needed to double check the rules) to avoid further delays.

5:25 – HEP switches on and off. We then leave picking up speed on the rough jointed rail track.
We soon depart, no sign of the Englishman. It’s stop and go. I go back to the dome car and the only other people are a coupling singing in the dusk. I end up deciding to read in the cafe section. We slowly to past suburban houses and unarmed grade crossings. I think Sanit-Jene
6:30 – CN Canon and all slowly go over a highway with grade crossings at each end.
6:33-Approaching –  Montreal I see a sign that were 9km from the Center Ville. We’re definitely not as early as we could be had the border been quicker.
We pull into Saint-Lambert at 6:36. The station now unstaffed looks quite crowded. I return to my seat to pack up as we cross the seaway and the. The river on a beige shared with traffic but no pedestrian zone. A Quebec City-bound VIA Train passes us.
6:48-We slowly enter losing Power to avoid diesel fumes. We eventually arrive in Montreal and I slowly get off the train getting a few photos but not bothering to walk to the front for photos of Ocean View inside the station. I am soon on the escalator and up into Central Station to walk the streets of Montreal to my hostel that are quite a bit colder than New York, it really feels like fall/winter here and not in New York.

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