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Steve's Winter 1998 Amtrak Travel
January 3 - 10, 1998

This is the travelogue of the segment of my rail travel on the Amtrak Adirondack from New York City to Albany - Rensselaer, New York and the Amtrak Empire Service from Albany - Rensselaer back to New York City.

Adirondack - Train #69

Thursday, January 8, 1998, 08:25AM, New York City,NY

I had never seen a train car like this before. The outside was painted in the Amtrak red, white and blue, but this was neither an Amfleet Car nor a Horizon Car. It was single level, so it wasn't a Superliner Car either. It was very modern looking and definitely seemed newer than the Horizon or Amfleet Cars. The ceiling was very high as were the overhead luggage racks. There was a lot of lighting in the car and the windows were very big which gave a great view.

On the inside, some of the cars had Canadian symbols on the walls. Best I could guess is that these were Canadian cars that were added to the mix of trains which connect cities on both sides of the border. This train is definitely superior to both the Amfleet and Horizon Car. I could live with these if they wanted to put them into service on the San Diegan Route!

Talk about smoke! For about 15 minutes, there was a VERY stong smell of cigarette smoke, and then it vanished. I think someone really was smoking in the restroom this time. The odor was unmistakeable. Since the entire car has one air system, the smoke from the restroom just circulates throughout the car and everyone can smell it. The Conductor from that other train could have had a field day here!

Thursday, January 8, 1998, 11:00AM, Albany-Rensselear,NY

I guess I should know better than to try to travel by Amtrak in January! The same thing happened this year as happened in January of 1997: my trip has been terminated in the middle due to bad weather!

There have been unusual ice storms in Montreal for the last few days. I had been watching the progress of this on the weather reports hoping that it would not affect my travel. Already most of this trip in the northeast has been in dense fog and heavy overcast. It was so dark all morning that there was no hope of using my camera. Even if there was more light, the fog was so dense that little could be seen out the windows.

The ice storms in Montreal had evidently taken down power and phone lines everywhere and made the streets treacherous. Hundreds of square miles in and around Montreal were without electric power. The Conductor announced that there were no taxis or bus service available in Montreal because of a state of emergency that had been declared. Just 10 minutes before we arrived in Albany-Rensselear, he announced that this train might be terminated. He said we would know better once we arrived into Albany-Rensselear.

I called the hotel to find out how far it was from the train station in case I had to walk, and if there was any available transportation. Just as I have come to expect from my travel agents, Slotsy Tours & Travel, the hotel they had booked for me was only one block from the station! I wouldn't have to worry about getting to the hotel, taxi or no taxi. The hotel also informed me that they had electric power, were in full operation, and that the taxis were running just fine, contrary to the Conductor's announcement. In case you would like to book that same hotel when you visit Montreal, here is their information: Marriott Chateau Cha, 1 Place Du Canada, Montreal, PQ CA H3B4C9, FAX: 514-878-6761, PHONE: 514-878-9000, with a rate of about $129 Canadian dollars per night (or about $100 U.S.). Or, since Slotsy Tours & Travel did all the research to find this hotel, you might want to support their efforts by booking your hotel reservations and other travel arrangements through them. Click here for more information.

While I was on the phone with the hotel, an announcement came over the speaker in the train by the Conductor that this train was being terminated in Albany-Rensselear and that there would be no futher transportation to Montreal this day. So, while I still had the hotel on the phone, I cancelled my reservation. Looks like there is no way I can make Montreal on this trip! That means I'll have to book a trip on the Adirondack and the Vermonter later this year to complete my travel of all the Amtrak miles.

Thus, I have only traveled two new routes on this trip: the International and the Maple Leaf, but did not travel a lot of new rail miles. The International was all new rail miles for me, but the only other part that was new was the travel from Toronto to the Buffalo. I had already traveled from Buffalo to New York on previous trips via the Lakeshore Limited.

I then called the hotel where I had just stayed in New York City last night and also had reservations for tomorrow night. I added reservations for this evening. Seemed like the thing that made the most sense was to just stay in the hotel until my flight on Saturday morning. The hotel where I always stay in New York City is the Lexington Services - Hotel Pennsylvania. It is directly across the street from Penn Station which makes it tremendously convenient when you are making overnight connections in New York City. Amtrak offers Carry Bus connections to both Kennedy and La Guardia Airports which makes the hotels convenient even for the air segments of your travel in and out of New York City.

We were told that a train would be heading back to New York City out of Albany-Rensselear at 12:15PM and that we could just present our stub for a free trip back. We were also told that we could exchange or get a refund for our tickets right there at the ticket desk, or we could do the same in New York, or we could mail them in for a rebate. I had nothing else to do for the next hour in the station, so I got a refund on the segments of my journey between New York City and Montreal.Radio Frequencies:

  • 64-161.070-New York City,NY to Albany-Rensselaer,NY

Empire Service - Train #254

Thursday, January 8, 1998, 12:15PM, Albany-Rensselaer,NY

I obtained credit slips for both my trip from New York to Montreal and for the return trip. Eventually the money will be credited back to my credit card. Thus, this round trip from New York City up to Albany-Rensselaer was free, but I would rather have paid and made it up to Montreal!

I'm sitting by an electrical outlet again in case I run out of batteries. This time I'm in seats 19 and 20 of an Amfleet Coach. I think the seats are reversed from the other train. The row right in front of me is 23 and 24. If these two rows were turned around, then the outlet would be at seats 23 and 24 again! Thus, when you want electric power for your notebook computer, check both rows on the train and hope those seats aren't already taken.

Radio Frequencies:

  • 64-161.070-Albany-Renssellaer,NY to New York City, NY

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