As you know, conditions permitting we will be doing the Pacific Northwest RailFest in the summer of 2010. This promises to be a very long one, roughly the same length as the SoCal one was earlier this year. Those crossing the country should expect about 13 days on the rails, during which time we will visit Portland, OR, Tacoma, WA, Seattle, WA, and Vancouver, BC. Our featured Amtrak train will be the Empire Builder, and the open jawed round trip allows us to sample both of its branches west of Spokane.
What about before the summer?
For several reasons, I won't be seeing Boston this November. After our Fests in November of 2007 & 2008, we only had one more MBTA line to ride anyhow, so a weekend visit would not be worth it. Perhaps we can work on an excursion to take place in warmer weather and at a time when we 're not in between two major transcontinental trips.
This past January we froze in abnormally cold weather during our Metro New York fest. Our discussions in person and some of you via e-mail have indicated that you would miss having a Fest in the winter months. How soon we forget almost losing our extremities!!
I think after what we went through at the 2009 event, it may be in our best interest to only meet two days instead of three. A Friday trip, given the time of day and what we still have on our plate to do, would not afford us the best scenery since it would run into darkness. So this Fest would be Saturday and Sunday only. To have a Fest in January in the New York area, I have been analyzing three different modules of activities, two of which can be done in the next Fest:
- Module #1: A round trip on Metro North between Grand Central Terminal and Waterbury. Keeping in mind the weather, this would include a layover in Waterbury (during which time we can have a quick lunch) of 51 minutes. In addition, a change of trains at Bridgeport is neccessary in both directions; it would be about 5 minutes each time provided everything is on schedule. One alternate option would be a return from Bridgeport to New York Penn Station on a Northeast Regional train.
- Module #2: Round trips on the Port Jefferson and Hempstead Branches of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Port Jefferson would include changes of trains at Huntington in both directions, scheduled for 7 or 8 minutes. Downtime in Port Jefferson between outbound and inbound runs would be 51 minutes (and inddoor shelter on a weekend day is questionable). Between the PJ trip and the Hempstead trip, we would layover at Jamaica 1 hour 48 minutes. This gives us time to go get lunch. If previous visits are our guide, there are not many places to eat near the Jamaica LIRR station. However the amount of time available allows us to take the E or J one stop to Jamaica Center where there are more lunch choices. The layover in Hempstead between outbound and inbound trips would be 44 minutes. Again I am not sure about availability of the train station as shelter from the cold on a weekend, however there is a bus terminal across the street. We would remain on the LIRR train from Hempstead into Brooklyn (Flatbush Avenue), then take the subway to Manhattan. A side trip to the new South Ferry subway station would be the last activity of the day before returning to Penn Station.
- Module #3: Round trips on the LIRR West Hempstead, Long Beach, and Oyster Bay Branches. Trips to West Hempstead require a change of trains at Valley Stream. These changes of trains would be 23 minutes and then 17 minutes. Layover time at West Hempstead would be 45 minutes. Layover at Long Beach would be 1 hour 44 minutes, and it would include having lunch within one or two blocks of the station. There would be a layover of 52 minutes at Jamaica Station between the Long Beach and Oyster Bay turns. Finally, the layover in Oyster Bay would be 34 minutes, again with the availability of shelter questionable.