Several important changes have been instituted for the upcoming Washington RailFest 2005, and in preparation for a fest in nearby Baltimore in 2006.
For one thing, since Baltimore has little to do except for Metro and two light rail lines, it was decided that the Baltimore-Washington MARC lines (Camden and Penn) would work better if riding them were associated with a future Baltimore fest. The Brunswick/Frederick Line, the small portion we can ride, would work better with Washington since it does not serve Baltimore.
However, as you know, we can only go as far as Rockville, since if we went further that that on Friday we would be stranded until Monday morning (except for the CAPITOL LIMITED if we go to Harpers Ferry, MD or Martinsburg, WV). So I re-worked the itinerary to include Rockville on the Brunswick/Frederick Line, with a return on the Metro Red Line. By doing the western leg of the Red Line on Friday evening (including the short distance between Rockville and Shady Grove), we don't have to do that segment on Saturday. That has allowed me to remove one hour from the schedule. The hour was removed in the morning; thus we start one hour later on Saturday morning that was scheduled before. Doing it the other way (finishing an hour earlier) might have put us in the post-game crowds for a Nationals game that is taking place that afternoon.
So we still have dinner scheduled at the same time, at Golden Corral near the Largo Town Center Blue Line station.
I also added a return trip on the Orange Line at the end of the fest, since it appears that few will be taking Amtrak from New Carrollton to points north. Many will be returning either to Union Station, or to hotels in Washington, DC and Virginia. The fest will end off at Metro Center, just an arbitrary point since we will all have different final destinations.
As mentioned before, all Amtrak travel was removed from the itinerary to allow everyone to ride the trains and classes of their choice. Some are coming to town as early as Wednesday, while others will travel on Friday morning.
The other major change was to the VRE travels on Friday. Due to preparations for the Eagle Railfest, I did not take note of an important VRE schedule change that took place in early July. The midday train that we are taking was rescheduled to run 15 minutes earlier than before. Thus our fest officially kicks off as we leave Union Station at 1:15 PM, not 1:30 as before. We will still try to meet in the 12:00 hour for lunch before catching that first train. All subsequent times (Broad Run arrival and departure, and return to Union Station) are also now also earlier. Inbound train is now #336, not #334.
This earlier arrival back at Union Station will in turn allow for earlier travels on the MARC train to Rockville as mentioned above. Depending on an on-time VRE arrival and our members' needs for using the facilities, we may be able to catch an earlier MARC train that the one chosen.
And finally, since we are now going to Rockville and returning on the Metro Red Line on Friday evening, we don't need to return to Union Station. I am looking into where we can stop for dinner along that leg of the Red Line, perhaps near the Rockville station or at White Flint Mall.
I will be taking a preview trip into Washington and doing this research tomorrow (Saturday). This trip will be on restored Acela Express service and it will also serve as a GR points-gathering trip. Our round trip for the fest will most likely be a freebie.
Updated itinerary is here.