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All Aboard Amtrak

All Aboard Amtrak! With gas prices rising, I’ve barely driven anywhere recently. Instead, I’ve been taking the train. Specifically Amtrak’s Keystone Service, which offers service between Harrisburg, PA and New York City. For just $30 round trip I can travel between my homebase of Lancaster, PA and one of my favourite cities to visit, Philadelphia, PA.

Just like with traveling by car or plane, you might want to build some extra time in for delays, as you never know what might happen on a train. Engine trouble or downed lines, or even a problem with a train farther up the line could cause problems and delays in your travel.

Recently, I was taking the train between Lancaster and Paoli, PA to visit a friend who was in town for a few weeks. My plans were to arrive at her hotel around 10AM, giving us plenty of time before we were going to meet her husband for Lunch at 11:30. I was going to take the 8:32AM express train from Lancaster and connect to the SEPTA Rt. 206 bus at 9:35 in Paoli, giving me a 20 minute layover in Paoli. 8:32 arrives, and no train. The train was running 10 minutes behind schedule due to engine trouble. This left me with a 10 minute layover in Paoli, but still enough time to make it across the parking lot to the bus stop. We boarded the train around 8:45, and 20 minutes later we started to slow down to a crawl and pulled into the Thorndale station. A power line was down on the Eastbound tracks farther up the line. We sat and waited for about 20 more minutes before finding out we were waiting on permission to run on the Westbound side of the tracks. We finally got our approval, but with a caveat, we had to run as though we were a SEPTA regional rail R5 line and had to make every single station stop between Lancaster and Paoli. I arrived in Paoli just minutes before the next bus and I was afraid I missed it. Fortunately, the buses adjusted their schedule to run on a delay for the trains, so I only had a short wait at Paoli. I finally arrived at my friend’s hotel at nearly 11AM…with just enough time to put my things down and for us to head out into the lobby to wait for a ride to Lunch.

My trip home was just as eventful, with the train I intended to take being canceled. Fortunately, I was able to take the very last train out of Paoli, and I arrived back in Lancaster a few minutes before midnight.

Despite these problems, I still would recommend taking the train over driving. It’s just a whole lot less stressful even when you’re stuck on the tracks over being stuck in a traffic jam on a highway!

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