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From Washington to Wilmington – US Rail Journeys Series 3 Episode 9
In ‘From Washington to Wilmington’ the Silver Star travels through the Federal centre of the United States and into Delaware.
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Across the Potomac:
As we cross the Potomac River, we can see the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery on the Virginia side. The 383 mile long river forms part of the borders between Maryland, Washington, Virginia and West Virginia.
Through Federal Washington:
We pass the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where all currency and postage stamps are produced. ‘Official’ Washington and the Capitol quickly follow. We then travel through a tunnel under the Capitol on our approach to Washington Union Station.
Washington Union Station:
It is goodbye to our diesel locomotive because an electric Siemens ACS-64, known as an Amtrak Cities Sprinter, joins the train to take us the rest of the way.
Washington Union Station originally opened in 1907. It is Amtrak’s headquarters and their second-busiest station. The annual ridership is just over 5 million.
The station is the southern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, an electrified line that goes north through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and on to Boston. It’s the busiest passenger railway line in the US.
The high-speed Acela Express, the Northeast Regional and several long-distance trains, including the Capitol Limited, Crescent, and Silver Service trains use the station.
About an hour after leaving Washington we reach this major seaport. It is named after Lord Baltimore, founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony. It is the largest city in Maryland.
We approach the station from the south through the two-track, 7,660-foot Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel. The tunnel, opened in 1873, has a 30 mph limit, sharp curves, and steep grades. Because of this it is one of the North East Corridor’s worst bottlenecks.
Amtrak owns Penn Station which is the eighth-busiest railway station in the United States. It serves nine of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor services. Because the tunnel bore is too small double deck Superliner railcars can’t use it.
In 2019 passenger numbers were 1,043,542 across the 9 Amtrak services.
Built in 1907 as Pennsylvania Station, the station was renamed in 2011 after Joe Biden because ‘Amtrak Joe’ frequently took the train from Wilmington to Washington, D.C. when he was a Senator .
Passenger numbers rose to over 705,259 in 2019.
If you enjoy these podcasts please join me in a couple of weeks for the final part of my journey on the Silver Star to New York.
To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.
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