Rail Ridin' Redux, or CelticWhisper Goes to Providence

Discussion in 'Railways, Highways, Waterways' started by CelticWhisper, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    30 minutes to boarding for sleeper pax (that's-a me!). Need to start gathering up my things, probably put my laptop back in my backpack in the storeroom, and call the fiancee to let her know I'm about to head out.

    So far, I've heard a total of one announcement about APD screening or inspecting select Amtrak passengers or their bags, and about not approaching APD dogs.

    I don't like the bit about screening "passengers OR their bags" - I don't want my person to be "screened or inspected" but realistically I don't expect that APD would do it.
  2. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Got out of CUS with no security interaction whatsoever. APD was present as usual, and they were idle where publicly visible and certainly busy behind the scenes, as usual and as it should be. They led the sleeper pax out of the Metro lounge too early and there was some confusion as to where we were going, since the crew hadn't had time to set the consist numbers yet. Couple minutes and what was once sordid was then sorted.

    Just arrived at DC Union Station. Holy crap, is this place busy. Relaxing in the ClubAcela lounge which is about as nice as the Metro Lounge in Chi-town, albeit styled differently.

    I'm seeing a lot of bluster about "security screening" in looped videos, pamphlets, posters and the like but still no blue-shirted domestic terrorists roaming around. So far so good on the preservation-of-civil-liberties front. I have a sneaking suspicion that APD is posting all these notices to keep DHS/TSA off their backs by making it painfully obvious that "Yes, we got this, WE DON'T NEED YOU."

    Oh, and on a lighter note, one kinda weird and kinda cool thing about train travel (which is probably true for sea as well) - I can still feel a rocking sensation as I sit here in the station. It's pretty trippy.
  3. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Just saw an APD officer (You know, the real kind of officer) in ClubAcela with his dog, talking to the people behind the desk. Looked like he was making idle small talk, not looking intent or anything. Then again, he could have been watching for something without giving himself away, kind of the same way TSA smurf-clerks always "Look intent" without actually doing jack (expletive deleted).
  4. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    APD was there (as in standing and helping direct pax to their tracks) during boarding but no screening was performed as far as I could tell.

    Now aboard the 178 NER. It's zippy but bumpy. Kinda hard to type accurately with the vibration.
  5. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Approaching NYC. Ride still bumpy and the engine is really loud (I think it's an HHP-8, going by the shadow, though I thought Amtrak had retired them all) but it's fun to watch all the scenery whipping by. Noise-killing headphones and Ayreon address the noise easily.

    Going to grab a bite to eat in the cafe car in a few minutes - haven't eaten since before arriving at WAS at 1:10. Going on time, going on time.

    Aaaaand we're passing by an NJ Transit train now.
  6. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Newark Liberty Int'l Airport. Let's keep moving.
  7. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Parked at Newark, NJ DERRRRRP NY Penn Station. Not much to see, just an indoor station stop. Next to what I think is another NJ Transit train.

    Just had a vegetarian entree salad from the cafe car. Nice and fresh, really good. I've been consistently impressed with the quality of food on Amtrak ever since I sampled the Greek salad on the Pennsylvanian last year.

    First major negative point, though: There's something screwy with the PA system in the Business Class car and it makes a horrific buzz, like a fire alarm, every time they use it. I HATE alarms. Throwing my headphones back on and gritting my teeth.
  8. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    "I'm seeing a lot of bluster about "security screening" in looped videos, pamphlets, posters and the like but still no blue-shirted domestic terrorists roaming around. So far so good on the preservation-of-civil-liberties front. I have a sneaking suspicion that APD is posting all these notices to keep DHS/TSA off their backs by making it painfully obvious that "Yes, we got this, WE DON'T NEED YOU.""

    Yeah, well, belly of the beast and all.

    The direct access from Club Acela helps. In fact, I went out that side door and down to the platforms about 2 hours before my train, just to nose around, because someone forgot and (SECURITY BREACH!!!!!!) left the door open.
  9. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Now aboard Acela Express 2151, just leaving a stop in Stamford, CT.

    I was groggy and bleary-eyed, but I think I spotted a lone smurf-clerk at PVD. It was waddling slack-jawed around the station, puffing itself up and trying to look official (succeeding only in looking officious) but otherwise not actually doing anything. I was scheduled to be on a 6:43 train, but there was a 5:45 train just about arriving so I changed my ticket and hopped aboard that one instead. Not sure if the smurf-clerk was programmed to harass passengers or not, but I figured it'd be best to just get away. Interestingly, as I surreptitiously glanced around the station after changing out my ticket for the earlier train, it seems the smurf-clerk had disappeared.

    Of course, for all I know it might have been a private security guard or an Amtrak employee in a uniform whose colour unfortunately closely matched that of a TSA clerk-not-officer-not-agent's. I thought I saw a white embroidered badge-like decoration on the breast instead of the signature TSA fakey-fake cop-a-like police impersonator badge, so I can't say for 100% certain that it was a smurf-clerk. I wasn't about to take chances, though. Better safe than sorry, and thus better to get away from anything that even has a chance of being TSA-related.

    As for the Acela itself, I'm impressed. Not necessarily with the speed, as there are plenty of times we're just cruising along at low-speed-rail velocity, but the comfort of First Class, the customer service, and the smooth, quiet ride are amazing. Air travel has a lot of shitty aspects to it (cramped space, dry air, pressure headaches/earaches, (expletive deleted) PED restrictions) that result in me really not missing it since having sworn it off due to TSA. Conversely, I will be PISSED if they succeed in sinking their greasy, disease-ridden fingers into rail travel. This is too nice an experience to have sullied by that worse-than-useless agency and its trash employees.
  10. RB

    RB Founding Member

    You don't have to candy coat things here. Go ahead and speak up.
  11. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Oh, you! :D

    Amtrak Police Dept. just came through with a dog. Fast, not harassing anyone, not even interacting. By the time I realized what was going on (Thought process was "Coffee, coffee, coffee, cream, sugar, dog, stir, stir, lid...wait, what?") they were already at the end of the car, moving on. I estimate they took maybe 45 seconds to traverse the length of the train, end to end.

    A concern occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about this sort of thing, and that is that I don't want to fall prey to a sort of Stockholm Syndrome vis-a-vis the APD and TSA. I'm very glad I've had zero TSA interaction the whole time I've been riding Amtrak, but I should also take care not to succumb to the trap of "All hail APD, our saviours and protectors, those who keep TSA away!" APD is a police department, part of the government security apparatus. This means that they are as susceptible to corruption and misconduct as any other agency which wields authority over private citizens.

    That said, however, I do have to genuinely credit APD with a lack of, to put it bluntly, fuckery in their day-to-day actions. While I have my concerns about a subconscious tendency to sugar-coat APD in those cases where they act as an alternative to TSA, I think I can safe(!)ly say that they have given me no reason, either in person or by way of news articles, to be uncomfortable around them. Ever since Occupy UC Davis I've been distrustful of police by default. APD is the sole exception and I'm happy to see that they're continuing to uphold the practices that have led me to adopt that position.

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