If you’re thinking that flying in and out of the nation's capital for Donald Trump’s inauguration will be about as much fun as a colonoscopy, and that maybe traveling by train will be a cinch, consider this a warning: The train won’t be a joyride, either.
Amtrak is doing what it can to accommodate everyone who wants to ride the rails to and from Washington between Friday, Jan. 20, and Monday, Jan. 23 by expanding service to and from the nation’s capital. This week, the nation's largest rail service said it will be providing more seats and scheduling additional trains on its Acela Express and Northeast Regional services.
But large crowds are no match for even the best laid plans.
With thousands expected to travel that weekend, the railway is offering some convenient tips for inauguration-goers. Ignore them at your peril:
--All Amtrak trains in the Northeast require reservations prior to boarding. Customers are advised to book as early as possible on Amtrak.com, via Amtrak mobile apps or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL, and to pick up their round-trip tickets before boarding the train to Washington.
--Anticipate gridlock. You don’t want to wind up missing your train out of town, so allow extra time to get to Union Station.
--Some entrances to Union Station may closed. Special signs will be in place to direct travelers to boarding gates, commuter and transit services, the parking garage and bus deck.
--Amtrak personnel will be on hand to assist customers at Union Station and several other Northeast Corridor stations, including in New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.
--With numerous trains arriving at the same time, they may take turns unloading customers to prevent overcrowding in the station.
--Restroom facilities at Union Station are limited and will be extremely crowded. Consider using the restroom before arriving at the station for your return trip. Portable restrooms will be available outside the station.
-- Lockers and storage units may fill up quickly, so pack lightly.
--Tag your bag and keep it close. Amtrak personnel may not be able to respond to calls about lost items.
Amtrak is also ramping up security measures, which may incur additional delays. Customers are being advised to prepare for heightened security measures in train stations and aboard trains, including:
--Enhanced patrolling by Amtrak police officers and local, state and federal law enforcement.
--Additional K-9 units. (Customers are asked to let the dogs do their work. Do not approach or try to pet police dogs.
--Increased identification checks.
--Screening of passengers and their carry-on and checked baggage.
Amtrak is asking that all rail customers be alert and report any suspicious activity or unattended items to an Amtrak employee or a member of the Amtrak Police Department.