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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Amtrak's 'Pennsylvanian' .... Suggestions?

   
Author Topic: Amtrak's 'Pennsylvanian' .... Suggestions?
dmwnc1959
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I'm in the final planning stages for my first BIG [Wink] Amtrak trip in almost 2 years. Nothing impressive or trans-continental, just Amtrak's Pennsylvanian out of Pittsburgh, but it's a route I've never taken. The configuration appears to be a lot like Amtrak's Carolinian out of Charlotte with Business Class, Coach Class, and a Snack Car. I was wondering several things...

1) Is there a point on the route were the train switches over to electric lines or is it diesel Genesis all the way?

2) If you werent taking the train all the way to NYC, is there a point along the route (prior to Philadelphia) that would be a nice place to stop and spend 2-3 nights for a nice quiet birthday?

3)For the majority of the route, is there a better side to sit on going in either direction for the best scenery?

4)I have heard of the famous Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, PA. Is is pretty impressive and what side would you want to be sitting on?

THANKS [Smile] in advance for any advice or help. Looking forward to getting back on the rails again...it's been too long.

[Cool]

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Steve O.
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I took the Three Rivers a couple of years back from PHL to CHI(same route as today's Pennsylvanian to PIT), so I can offer some help...

* Since you're going East, be sure to sit on the right ride of the train to get the good view of Horseshoe Curve. It is really interesting to see. Worth the trip just for that I would say.

* We were all diesel once we left PHL...I seem to remember an engine change there. You'll be diesel for much of the trip. Not

* I sat on the left side of the train going West bound and I generally had great views the whole way...not sure what the other side was like. [Smile]

Hope that helps a little...

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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RRRICH
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David - I believe they will switch from diesel to electric in Harrisburg heading east....

And yes, sit on the right going around Horseshoe Curve if you are going east

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20th Century
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Prior to Philadelphia one can stop in Lancaster,PA. From there you can visit the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) country. It's beautiful farm country.There are tours of Amish farms,a museum,and the Strasburg Steam Railroad in proximity to the Pennsylvania State railroad museum. You might need a car to get around. Also it can become very busy in the summer season.
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dmwnc1959
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THANKS so far for the tips and advice!

For any place I would stop b/t Harrisburg and Philadelphia for a 2-3 night stay I would be on foot for the duration or rely on Public Trasnportation. No rental cars on the budget :-(

Any other ideas out there for any of the stops of Elizabethtown, Lancaster, Downington, Exton, Paoli, or Ardmore? Are any of them recommended for a 2-3 night stay, or am I better off heading into Philly and just hitting the museums?

[Confused]

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palmland
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I highly recommend the Lancaster area for all the reasons 20th century mentions. But a car is essential and the best place to get one would probably be Harrisburg. Sometimes you can get real good deals on the weekends. But if not in the cards, then I'd head into Philly.

I suspect the car rental cost might be offset by lower hotel cost in the Lancaster / Strasburg area as compared to Philly. We stayed in Strasburg last fall and I think the cost for a nice room was less than $70.

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dmwnc1959
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Does anyone know if the Pittsburgh Amtrak station has parking available?
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jp1822
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Motive power is switched at Philly from electric to diesel (not Harrisburg). Electric is operated on the NEC for the Pennsylvanian (only Keystone corridor trains Harrisburg to Philly are all electric service).

At Philly you also have a change in direction of travel. That is if you board in NYP and sit on the right side of the train in the head-end direction of travel, after Philly you will be seated "backwards" and not in direction of travel. Hope that makes sense.

I typically sit backwards for the trip on the NEC and in direction of travel for the trip from Philly to Pittsburgh, as this is the longer part of the journey. You'll have some passenger turnover at Philly just in case you want to change seats. The seats on the Pennsylvanian are such that half face one way, and half face the other way. Just make sure after you depart Philly, eastbound, you are sitting on the right side of the train.

The Pennsylvanian has regular Amfleet coach cars (I think they added Amfleet II coaches to the consist for those travelling the longer distances, but don't quote me on that) and then a cafe/business class car. That is, 1/2 the car is business class seating, and 1/2 is dedicated to the cafe (table seating). There's no separate business full Amfleet business class car. The business class car used on the Pennsylvanian is a refurbished one offering either leather seating or refurbished cloth seating (new at-seat fold down tables etc.).

The business class is 2-1 seating and you are seated facing backwards for the journey on the NEC. But just consider that the NEC part of the trip is only like 1.5 hours. I typically book business class for the added space, A/C plugs, leg rests, and the comfort business class offers.

As far as getting off the train for an overnight - Philly would likely be the best option if car rental is out of the picture. Otherwise, you may want to look into Harrisburg. The Harrisburg Hilton Hotel is within walking distance to the train station. Not sure what public transportation or museums are in the area. You can definitely do some train watching from the Harrisburg train station - if that's an interest. I was just out to Harrisburg for a business meeting and stayed at the Hilton (pretty reasonable rates can be had and nice hotel in general). The Harrisburg train station has some interesting displays to occupy maybe an hour or two of your time (plus a GG1 and PRR caboose on display). But I did not have time to do any sightseeing or visit museums, nor look into the public transportation scene. You may be able to get a bus down to Gettysburg from Harrisburg. But once in Gettysburg - you are not going to get public transportation. But if the bus drops you off in the downtown area, there are places to visit and you may be able to book a tour etc. Again, this would require some research - on Harrisburg and Gettysburg. Lancaster's public transportation is limited at best. At one time I looked into taking a Keystone train out to Lancaster and then trying to get public transportation to local towns and was out of luck. But perhaps you can get a hotel in Lancaster and some how book a tour that picks you up at the hotel? Just a thought. Course most of the nicer hotels, or the one's I prefer are out in the countryside of Amish country.

In Pittsburgh there is a Hyatt or Hilton (I think it may have been a Hilton) that is within walking distance to the Pittsburgh train station. You can call Amtrak and see if they can give you some hotels within the area of the train station (don't have them connect you to hotels.com if you can avoid it). That's about the only hotel I noticed within walking distance to the train station. There was a descent bar/restaurant across the street from the hotel. I didn't stay at the hotel, but it was quite impressive. Had a brunch there that was great! It may be a little expensive, but you may be able to get a good rate - you never know!

Good Luck!

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AHALL
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The Pittsburgh Amtrak Station only has short term parking for pick-up and drop-off. The parking garage and the former Greyhound Bus Station across the street has been demolished to be replaced by a new facility. If there is alternative parking, I have not found it.
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dmwnc1959
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quote:
Originally posted by jp1822:
That is, 1/2 the car is business class seating, and 1/2 is dedicated to the cafe (table seating). There's no separate business full Amfleet business class car. The business class car used on the Pennsylvanian is a refurbished one offering either leather seating or refurbished cloth seating (new at-seat fold down tables etc.). The business class is 2-1 seating...

Are there any diagrams available that might show this half and half arrangment?
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jp1822
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Don't know of any diagrams, but its simply an Amfleet car that has the cafe in the center that is flanked on either side by table seating on one side and business class seating on the other (only the business class seating is 2-1 seating). A curtain is usually drawn between the cafe and the business class seating. Nothing too fancy. But as mentioned, you do get extra legroom, leg rest, and leather or refurbished cloth seating. These cars used to be former Amfleet "Club" cars or used as the First Class car on the Metroliners.
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dmwnc1959
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quote:
Originally posted by jp1822:
...cafe in the center flanked on either side by table seating on one side and business class seating on the other. A curtain is usually drawn between the cafe and the business class seating....

Sorry to keep droning on about this, but I was wondering about the noice level from the cafe? All I can picture is the microwave door slamming shut every 120 seconds! [Eek!]
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RRRICH
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I think the constant beeping of the microwave when the food is finished is more annoying than the constant slamming shut of the door.......
Posts: 2427 | From: Grayling, MI | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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