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I took a short ride on Amtrak’s Virginia Service on 12 August 2013. The trip began with a drive to a Park & Ride Lot near the Richmond Staples Mill Road station and a bus ride to the Richmond Main Street station. I spent some time exploring the station and talking to some of the other travelers who were heading back home, and then boarded my train to Ashland. The train was pretty crowded for a Monday evening but I still had no problem finding a window seat. Not surprisingly, I was the only one getting off the train in Ashland. I spent my time in Ashland looking around the station and hoping to find someplace nearby to get some quick food, but almost everything was closed. While waiting I noticed a small sign on the station / visitor’s center door saying that trains may stop on either platform, so to move to the correct platform before the train arrived. I was surprised to learn that both platforms were used but that there was no set schedule to determine which one. I expected the few trains that stopped at the station would use the wide, better maintained platform next to the station, but sure enough, as the train approached I went out on the crossing and determined it was on the far track. Once again, not surprisingly I was the only one boarding the train for the short ride back to the Richmond Staples Mill Road station. Once back at the station I walked back to my car and headed home.
My next trip was on 13 April 2014 when I rode round trip between Norfolk and Richmond. I began my journey with a drive to Norfolk early in the morning, arriving at the station well before dawn. With only one train departing each day, I was surprised to see that a nice new station with waiting room available. Our train arrived just as the sky began to lighten. Although the ride to Petersburg was quite long, we moved along at a fast pace the whole way, arriving in Petersburg well ahead of schedule. This allowed an unexpected few minutes to wander the platform and take some pictures before continuing our journey to Richmond. Once in Richmond I walked down the street to get some breakfast and then sat out in the warm spring sun in the boarding area watching the trains go by. Our train arrived at the same time as a train bound for Washington, but the station personnel did a good job of keeping the crowds separate, and soon we were on the train headed for Newport News. On this leg of the trip the last car on the train was open, so I stood at the back window for most of the trip taking pictures down the tracks. Soon we arrived in Newport News where I had to transfer to a bus to get back to Norfolk.
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