How Secure is Amtrak?
Last week I biked downtown to LoDo for my bi-weekly poker game, but I forgot we had moved the game to 7:30. I thought for a minute on how to kill a half hour of a beautiful summer night downtown, and decided to see what’s new over at Union Station.
I love trains. I love the machinery, the raw power, and the rail infrastructure. I have my old Lionel engines displayed on my desk, on a few single pieces of track. Downtown Denver is a prime place for trainspotting, so I thought I’d check out Amtrak’s California Zephyr parked on layover.
I’ve never traveled with Amtrak cross country – only short hops like the California Surfliner. A few months back my cousin passed through town, and I brought him to the station I walked him up to the platform. I had an inkling to check out the inside then, but was not permitted past the ramp. There were ticket takers at the doors of the cars, so I didn’t expect to wander around inside the train.
This time the California Zepher was on its layover between the San Fransisco to Chicago trip. According to the schedule it arrives at 7:38 and departs at 8:10, so like me it must have been early.
Generally speaking if you walk and act in a manner that you belong somewhere, people aren’t as likely to stop and question you. There were two city or Amtrak workers at the ramp entrance chatting with each other. I simply walked straight past them in a brisk manner. If stopped I would simply tell the truth: That I like trains and wanted to see the inside. I walked along the platform to the front. I was happy that I could meander around up close and see the details of the cars, engines, and inside – I walked the length of the train along the platform to the engines, and was quite surprised when I saw that the baggage bar was completely open and unattended. So of course this was the car I entered, and I walked the length of the train through the sleeper cars, dining car, and the domed viewing car.
Now I’m not worried that a suicide bomber is going to take out the dining car in the middle of Utah, and hopefully I won’t ruin it for other railfans like me who enjoy wandering around parked trains completely unimpeded. I just want to point out that the baggage car, and the owner of the bags in it, might benefit from some closer supervision.
Just some food for thought for Amtrak crew and those traveling with Amtrak. If this happened in Romania I’m sure the baggage car would have been completely picked clean by departure time.
Here are some more photos from my 15 minute adventure. A few are a tad blurry, as I was taking them in a surreptitious manner. Check out the nice dining car too!