As vaccination continues to move along and normalcy lurks around the bend, there can’t be a better time to share the highlights of railroad travel. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Boston, MA and Washington, DC is one of the most picturesque routes in the country. The Northeast Corridor spans 457 miles from end to end, with more than 100 trains racing back and forth daily. No matter where anyone may be traveling, there’s much to look forward to. It’s not just the peace of mind of being on board and traveling at 100 mph, but taking in the beauty that lies outside the window. Between New York Penn Station and Washington, DC, what highlights should any passenger be on the lookout for? Who has their camera ready? Here are the top five highlights of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, DC.
#5 New York Penn Station-Moynihan Hall: For more than fifty years, New York Penn Station was an eye soar. It was located below ground underneath Madison Square Garden. In 1966, the original Penn Station that once graced the streets of midtown Manhattan between 31st and 34th Streets was torn down. January 1, 2021, Amtrak turned the page. No longer do Amtrak passengers board from the dungeon beneath Madison Square Garden. Now, they feel like royalty again. Moynihan Hall is modeled after the atrium in the original station. The station platforms are well marked. Even better, Acela 1st class and long distance passengers can enjoy a drink and relax in the new Metropolitan Lounge on the second floor. Then, it’s all aboard!
#4 New Jersey Meadows: Once having left the cavernous confines of New York Penn Station, the train enters the north river tunnel to pass beneath the Hudson River. The train picks up speed-accelerating to sixty miles per hour hour. Ten minutes later, the train emerges from the tunnel on the New Jersey side. The train makes the left turn as it passes through Secaucus, NJ. At the immediate left, passengers are sure to snap a few photos of the New York City skyline. The train then crosses over the Hackensack River on the Portal Bridge. Portal Bridge, built in 1910, will soon be replaced by a fixed span. Passengers should take it all in before the bridge is nothing but a memory. Soon after crossing the Hackensack River, the train parallels the Passaic River. Next stop, Newark Penn Station!
#3 Delaware River: Approximately forty-five minutes out of New York, the train arrives at New Jersey’s capital-Trenton. Departing Trenton, the train crosses a stone arch viaduct over the Delaware River. On the right, passengers should not miss out on taking a picture of the bridge along side. The bridge reads “Trenton makes…the world takes!”. Crossing the Delaware River is a sure reminder of what’s yet to come on the trip. With the Delaware River in the rear view mirror, the train crosses the border into Pennsylvania. Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station is just thirty-five minutes away.
#2 Susquehanna River: South of Wilmington, DE, Amtrak’s trains are really moving as they reach their highest sustained speeds. The Acela Express races up to 125 miles per hour. The Northeast Regional trains are racing along between 100-115 miles per hour. The long distance trains reach approximately the same speeds as the Regional trains. Shortly later, the train crosses the border into Maryland, racing through the rural countryside. Having passed the Perryville, MD station, the Northeast Corridor tracks cross a long steel bridge over the mighty Susquehanna River bridge. Here, passengers should have their cameras ready. Between New York and Pittsburgh, Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian crosses the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg on the Rockville Viaduct. The Susquehanna River is nowhere shy of breathtaking and utmost mesmerizing. Crossing the Susquehanna River is the swift reminder that the journey to Washington, DC is half over.
#1 Arrival at Washington, DC’s Union Station: Having left New Carrollton station, there is just ten more minutes until arrival at Washington, DC’s Union Station. The Metro subway’s orange line can be seen out the left window. Soon, the subway tracks disappear from sight as the tracks curve to the right. Just after passing Amtrak’s Ivy City yard on the right, the train travels under and overpass. The train is now entering the approach to Union Station. The train begins to slow down, negotiating through switch points on its way to its arrival track. In the distance, out the right hand window, passengers with an eagle’s eye can spot the Washington Monument. Passengers on the left side of the train can spot the dome of the US Capitol, peaking above Union Station’s roof. Soon enough, the engine’s bell can be heard as the train slowly enters the dead end track-that time when passengers begin to collect their belongings and stand by for arrival. Once the train comes to a complete stop, the journey is over. Washington DC’s Union Station is nowhere shy but a storybook ending to the journey. Setting foot in Union Station is like walking into heaven-just like boarding at Penn Station’s Moynihan Hall. In the proper analogy, the journey from New York to Washington, DC is a picture worth a thousand words. The Northeast Corridor is the horse drawn carriage path linking the two. It’s like leaving a modern palace in a concrete jungle and arriving at a castle laden within the epicenter of political and historical culture.