Night Trains No. 5 Washington Union Station, 2 AM
It’s 2 AM on a Sunday night and most of the passenger train activity along Amtrak’s
busy Northeast Corridor is tucked in for the night, at least at the Washington end.
At Union Station, a heavyweight passenger car dating back to the steam era provides a sort of “time machine” counterpoint to two of Amtrak’s modern electric locomotives. At left is one of the two locomotives (“power cars”) of an Acela Express, the premium high speed trains running between Washington and New York or Boston. At right, the ACS-64 “Sprinter” class locomotive is the primary power for most of the (non-Acela) trains on the NEC.
The vintage car is most likely part of a private car consist that will be attached to the rear of an Amtrak Northeast Regional train departing later in the day for New York and points north. As such, it would have been reworked to accept head-end AC power from one of those “Sprinters” for its lighting, HVAC, and other electrical needs…
But if you’d like to imagine steam hissing from her rear, as it once did, adding clouds of vapor
and a sense of mystery and romance to the scene…well, that’s fine with this photographer.
©2017 Steve Ember