Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Martinsburg to Washington on the Brunswick Line Train

There's nothing quite like traveling by train.  You have to give up a little freedom that a car provides, and you can't be late for departures, but the trade off is well worth it.  I had to travel into Washington, D.C. from Martinsburg, West Virginia, the closest rail station to where I live.  Here is the story about the Brunswick Line, photographed with my iPhone camera. 
The first train from Martinsburg each weekday morning leaves this restored 19th Century station in the the older section of Martinsburg at 5:25 a.m.  If you want to take advantage of some free parking in the area, you need to arrive no later than 4:45 a.m..  Moving backwards from there you get the idea when you need to wake up to prepare for the journey. 
As with most trains I've ridden, you can buy your ticket on the train or at the station.  A few years ago they replaced a ticket clerk who used to open one of the three windows at 5:00 a.m. sharp and service the line of customers waiting to board the train, but he's been replaced by an ATM-style machine that will sell you a ticket to about anywhere you need to go in the United States by train.   In this case two one way tickets to Washington cost $12.

To put the $12 ticket into perspective you have to consider Washington is about 80 miles and gas is around $4.00 a gallon (at this writing).  You don't judge the weekday morning drive to Washington in miles, you judge it in time and stress and stops and starts.  One morning it may be an hour and a half drive (on a good day) and another it may be a three hour drive.  You can never tell.  Then, you have to park for the day so add another $15-$20.  You get the idea.  

All Aboard!  Because Martinsburg is the starting point for the Brunswick Line, passengers pretty much get the best seats on the train for the two hour ride.   I found a seat, put in my ear-pods, turned on some Smooth Jazz and drifted away.   Later, passing over I-95 (the Beltway) this time of morning reminded me why I love the train.  Eight lanes of cars moving bumper to bumper.  Suckers! 

The train arrive Union Station, Washington, D.C. at 7:25 a.m.  A quick cup of coffee from McDonald's and I'm on with my day. 
In the afternoon I return to Union Station, glance at the board and keep moving through the cavernous hall that greets passengers coming in the south entrance.   The August 2011 earthquake damaged the ceiling and netting and scaffolds can be seen everywhere.  Union Station is a great place to begin or end any journey.  I've spent a lot of time photographing inside and out on other visits.  It's truly one of the great stations in the country. 
I check the departure schedule and it's almost time for my return trip, but not before I spend $5.00 on a   small Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone.  One for the road. 

The train waiting at Union Station.  All aboard!
Your humble blogger right before I put on my music for the return trip to Martinsburg.  After a day on my feet, I couldn't bear the thought of the drive out of the city.  Oh no, the train is just the ticket after a long day in the city.  
Pulling out of Union Station into the yard (below).  Later, this car filled with passengers after stopping at other stations.  Trains arrive/depart this Union Station from Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, as well as several East Coast cities to the south. 

A conductor collecting tickets.
After winding along the Potomac River in Maryland, the train crosses over into West Virginia at Harper's Ferry (I will do another blog about this famous small town).  At this point three states converge:  Maryland is behind the train, the buildings of Harper's Ferry are in West Virginia and the hillside to the left is Virginia.

At 6:45 p.m., the train arrives back in Martinsburg.  I feel rested, but still a little tired, and grateful for the train and this great way to travel.  As I walk up the few steps to get to my car, I turned and snapped one last picture at the old station.  I will be back to do this again one day in the near future.  I've promised my daughter a day on the train.  She's never ridden one before.  It will be like taking this journey for the first time with her, but seeing it through her eyes ...and I'm really looking forward to it. 

1 comment:

  1. Great pics! Your gonna have to show me how to link my blog pages together better. They seem to want to come up as different blogs, or all in one linear fashion where you just keep scrolling and each one follows the one previous...