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burning desire for the Capitol Corridor

By enelson
Friday, March 16th, 2007 at 2:08 pm in Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), rail.


Rooted by half in the frozen tundra of Scandanavian emotional development, I’ll have to admit that sometimes I withhold my love and affection much as one keeps religious fervor in check at a Lutheran worship service.

But the random Ellis Islander half of my upbringing forces the suppressed emotions to the surface every so often, and I’ll lay them bare right here, in front of God and everyone.

I love the Capitol Corridor.

There, I said it.

I know there are those of you who will go on about how inefficient it is to drag megaton double-decker rail cars around with the seats half-full most of the time. I know the Corridor has a bit of a problem with keeping to a schedule. And maybe, because I try to ride it every day when it’s within an hour of its departure time, I might be a bit quick to point out its failings and blame them for America’s addiction to the single-occupant vehicle.

But two things happened this week that made the love flow over the levee, as it were. The first was on Tuesday, when I hopped off of the train at Jack London Square in Oakland, jumped on my bike, pedaled a block or two up Webster Street and looked at my watch.

The train had been EARLY! By my rough calculation, as much as four minutes early. With all the things that could have gone wrong — freight traffic (first and foremost), rockslides, floods and people being hit on the tracks — on the way from the Central Valley to the East Bay, it managed to arrive before its appointed time. Expecting a minimum of 10 minutes of delay on a good day, I had to catch my breath.

 This morning the train wasn’t early, but it might as well have been.

When I approached the station, I rued not having checked the Web to see if my train had been cancelled. That’s because I spent the better part of an hour last night watching 1,100 feet of creosote-soaked train trestle in Sacramento blazing on KCRA-3 news. I might have missed it, had the extended live coverage not pre-empted “The Office,” which I had set my DVR to record.

My train is the only Capitol Corridor train that starts in Auburn, rather than Sacramento, so it occured to me that it could be stuck in Auburn and never get around to picking me up on the way to Oakland. Lo and behold, it arrived a mere 15 minutes late, much to everyone’s relief.

If that weren’t enough, it made up another eight minutes before it got to Oakland. I though it was going particularly fast when my coffee shot up through the hold in the lid in mid-bounce.

So there, in one week, I could forget the tie replacement program, the equipment failures and other delays, forget about the fare increases and remember the free wine and cheese, pastries and onboard massages on Customer Appreciation Day, along with the consolation ticket discounts.

I know, you’re thinking that a journalist needs to be dispassionate, but every now and then, the emotional containment seals just won’t hold.

Now where’s that onboard Wi-Fi? 

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2 Responses to “burning desire for the Capitol Corridor”

  1. Aaron Priven Says:

    For just a minute I thought the “tie replacement program” was what you needed when your coffee shot up through the hole in the lid.

  2. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    That a vital link in our transportation system was taken out so abruptly is yet another indication that we remain vulnerable, despite all the vaunted improvements in security that were supposed to have been put in place in the past 5 years. Early reports were that the fire was suspicious in nature. On the other hane, does it matter if it were accidental?

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