Scenes from a Train

The inside track on life aboard Amtrak’s new service from Norfolk

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After making several more train friends, we arrive at Union Station promptly at 9:32 a.m. People are bustling, and we take a brief tour of the station led by Media Manager Kimberly Woods.

“Union Station is a great place to grab something to eat and relax, whether they’re staying in D.C. or continuing north to New York or Boston,” she says. The station is basically a transportation hub plus a huge mall with a two-story food court. We pass by a Victoria’s Secret and an Au Bon Pain on the way to the ticket counter to secure our return trip to Norfolk. Continuing on, we stop briefly at the Metro Station, which is also inside Union Station.

“It’s the red line at Union Station,” says Woods. “A few stops away, you can transfer to all the other metro lines, which makes it easy to get to hotels and government offices, tourist attractions and museums, or a Nationals or Redskins game.”

After completing the tour, Mike and I head into the city to take in the sights. We take a quick walk to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. A presidential motorcade speeds by us in front of the capitol. The cherry trees are in full bloom all over the city. And busloads of school children are touring the museum when we arrive.

After watching a planetarium show, and after lunch with my nephew and a friend from college at Uno Chicago Grill back at Union Station, we tour the Earth Fair that Amtrak is hosting inside the station. Signs announce a summer famers’ market coming soon.

Just before 4 p.m., we board our southbound train to head back to Norfolk. The train leaves on time, and it’s full of passengers.

Catherine Boyd was in D.C. for business and is headed back home to Norfolk. “The train is my primary way to going back and forth to D.C. when I have to come up here for meetings,” she says. “Driving can take up to seven hours, but this is a consistent four hours, and with the Wi-Fi, I don’t lose any work time. Plus the air circulation is much better than an airplane.”

After the Woodbridge stop, there’s a buzz in the cafe car. There was a big accident on I-95 south. People actually got off the interstate, headed to the Woodbridge station, parked their cars and hopped on the train because the freeway was closed.

Mike and I relax for the rest of the trip. As we pass rivers and branches and lakes, Cypress knees jut out of the water. Kids play soccer on trimmed fields. And we stay at a constant speed.

When we arrive back in Norfolk, the sun is still shining. Families are waiting for their loved ones. And the bus from the Newport News station—from a train that left Washington nearly two hours before our train did—actually arrives at the Norfolk station just after we pull in.