Greg pointed out in the comments for American Shinkansen part 1 that Amtrak is aiming their service levels too low by trying to be like the airlines. That might be, but unlike the airlines, Amtrak has managed to get me pay extra for their premium service. I pretty much never take the “regional” train now that the “express” is available, and sometime even spring for first class, especially northbound from New York in order to take advantage of the lounge rather than wait in the pit of Penn station.

First class includes priority boarding, slightly larger seats, and hot food and free drinks. But business class has one thing that first class doesn’t: the Quiet Car, where cell phones and loud conversations are prohibited. So are radios, according to the sign, but it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen somebody shouldering a boom box on a train. Anyway, the cell phone chatter in first class can be annoying at best, and frightening in its careless airing of business and personal secrets at worst. I think I could make back the fare with a few well-placed insider trades based on what I’ve overheard on some journeys. On good quiet car trips, parents stretch the truth and tell their children that it’s actually the silent car. I saw one family passing notes rather than chatting. Who was I to harsh their mellow?

On the photo side, I decided to sit coast side, and tried out the intervalometer. The camera clicked every 15 seconds between Providence and Route 128 while I did my best to hold it steady and in the same place. You can see the safety glass label I used for registration.

Click the montage below to go to flickr and see the full set. Not full size, but big enough.