Posts tagged “st pancras

USA October 2009 : VI – Boston, MA

In Boston, MA. Finally. Thanks a bunch, Amtrak…

Custom House Tower, Boston, MA

The experience was instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever had a track break on an electric trainset, except that in the real world trains are heavy and have significant momentum. Thus, deprived of current they don’t skid to a sudden, plasticky halt but rather slide on for half a mile, slowly but inevitably losing speed. Everything bar the fire escape signs suddenly and simultaneously went out, and slowly, deliberately, the whine of the engine dipped and eventually ceased. After an ominous silence, the first of a succession of interruptions began. The hilarious announcements from the man on the tannoy (who probably had a ridiculous job title, but it’s slipped my mind) who seemed to know remarkably little about the man who was apparently trying to “recycle” the engine, let alone whether such a process was wise or likely to succeed. The banter between the passengers was fascinating, and delightfully American in its world-weary but essentially optimistic humour. The English train traveller would have been swearing under his breath at some unseen authority figure responsible for all such disasters, whereas the Americans started sharing anecdotes and advice, calling ahead to their relatives or cracking jokes. At one point we seemed destined to be shunted onto another train in what sounded like a spectacularly dangerous line-up-the-trains-and-jump-across manoeuvre, but then, miraculously, it sprang to life again and we were off, our 45-minute stay in that particular stretch of Rhode Island over with. (more…)


USA October 2009 : I – New York, NY

Taxi to station, train to airport, plane to JFK. Gonna be a long day.

…and so it proved, and not just because I would end it 5 time zones to the west of where I began it.

5th October
Even the date is exciting today.  It’s been on the horizon for so long I feared it might never arrive.  On the 1027 EMT service to St Pancras, travelling First Class; this is the way to do it.  A whole other world.

1041
Still here.  Technical difficulties.  What a day for it!  Doing my best not to panic, but contingency plans are forming.

Movement!

After the initial hiccup, all seems to be well now.

The tone of mild dread apparent in the above was because the train was not moving.  It was a farcical scene, passengers stood on the platform wondering when the doors were going to open, then giving up and filing through the  single set of doors that did open.  Once we’d walked the length of the train to get back to our seats, we waited while 10:27 came and went and nothing happened.  Somehow, it wasn’t reassuring; just like your temperamental Windows 95 machine (remember those days!), the answer is to turn it off and turn it back on again. Trains can be rebooted apparently, and eventually this seemed to have the desired effect. (more…)