Riding the Rails
Amtrak's Twilight Shoreliner
They don't call Trains 66/67 (65 on weekends) the Twilight Shoreliner, any more, but that's what they were called when I rode them. On my first trip, my husband and I planned to spend my birthday in Colonial Williamsburg. We caught the train at 7:00 in the morning in Alexandria, Virginia, and set out down Chessie's (CSX's) Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac subdivision, toward Richmond. The Budd Company's Amfleet cars were pulled by an EMD FP40 locomotive.
We crossed inlets and rivers as we skirted the banks of the Potomac River. We passed through Quantico, the training grounds for marines and FBI agents. We stopped in Fredericksburg and saw the Georgian station that stood beneath the tracks and the surrounding colonial houses. We rolled into Ashland with beautiful Randolph-Macon College as its backdrop. There, another Georgian station greeted us, this time on eye level. And, then, we rolled under the I-95 / I-64 interchange and into Richmond. We stopped at the Main Street station, which still served Amtrak, before we turned to the East and began making our way toward Williamsburg.
As the train pulled into the station, there, we realized that we'd already toured Colonial Williamsburg and really didn't want to do it again. So, we asked the conductor if we could stay on the train until we reached the terminus in Newport News. He said yes and didn't even charge us an additional fare for the extra miles. Wasn't that nice of him! From Newport News, we caught the James River Bus Lines on to Virginia Beach -- but that's another story for another venue.
My second trip came not long afterwards. My husband had to go to Tidewater (the region that included Newport News, Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, and other towns) on business. Our children had left the nest, and so, I went with him. Of course, I wanted to ride the train, but he needed to take the car, so he could get around the region. he told me that, when we went home, I could ride the Twilight Shoreliner, and he would meet me in Fredericksburg for lunch!
I enjoyed that ride, although I did wish the tracks ran closer to the James River and the river houses (mansions) from yesteryear. Even so, we passed through beautiful green forests and past the Richmond airport before we pulled into the Main Street station. Then, on up the tracks we went until we reached Fredericksburg, where we enjoyed lunch in a restaurant located in the train station. Who could ask for anything more?
When I rode the Virginia Railway Express to work in DC, we sometimes arrived in Alexandria at the same time as the Twilight Shoreliner. Each time, I looked on with great fondness as I recalled my own journeys aboard what now is known only as Northeast Regional 66/67. So sad. All trains, not just the long-distance ones, deserve to have names, not just numbers.