Since he’s been taking the train between here and New York so frequently, Kiddo1 has developed an abiding interest in all things train: from model trains to railway timetables.
“Do you know Amtrak has a Miracle Train?”
He’s not talking about the free Writers’ Residencies on Amtrak (which I would gladly take! Any route, any destination, thank you, but given how I’m on a line that regularly sells out, I doubt I’d get offered one) but rather a train that actually executes a miracle in order to be on time.
Here we go: the Northeast Regional and the Northeast Acela Express operate on the same set of tracks, except (of course) the Regional hits all the local stops and the Acela reaches a billion miles per hour and bypasses the less-used stations. Naturally the Acela takes less time than the Regional to make the trip.
Northeast Regional 176 leaves New Haven, CT at 5:11 PM and arrives in Providence, RI at 7:19PM.
Acela Express 2166 leaves New Haven, CT at 5:29PM and arrives in Providence, RI at 6:46PM. So it leaves about 20 minutes after and arrives about half an hour before the Regional.
Except there’s only one set of tracks between those two locations.
“It’s a miracle,” Kiddo1 says by way of explanation for how one train is able to jump right over the other.
You don’t mess with Kiddo1 when there are schedules and numbers involved. He found the same thing going on with Northeast Regional 94 and Acela Express 2170: the Regional leaves New Haven at 7:32PM and arrives at9:16PM, while the Acela leaves at 7:34PM (two minutes after) and arrives at 8:45PM (half an hour before.) Again, only one set of tracks. Kiddo1 grins. “See? Miracolo.”
He seems happy enough just leaving it as “And a miracle occurs,” but I’m curious, and I was wondering if anyone had an explanation. His guess is that since this only happens during Peak hours, they assume the southbound trains are going to be on-time and therefore send the Acela northbound on the southbound tracks. But I was wondering if anyone here (maybe an Amtrak employee?) knows what’s actually going on.