The Adirondack is named after the Adirondack Mountains, through which it travels on its daily route from New York to Montreal.
The Conductor is responsible for the entire Onboard Services staff, as well as ticket collection, the safety of passengers and the safe operation of the train.
The Keystone is named after the State of Pennsylvania — nicknamed the Keystone State.
by Mike Sowizral
In June 2012, I had the opportunity to take a beautiful train trip from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, to Montreal, Canada. I read about the Amtrak Adirondack route and that it was the most scenic train trips in the nation. I decided to see it for myself.
I left Elizabethtown on June 14 on the Keystone Service #656. I was booked to take the #650 earlier, but due to last minute conflicts, I had to take a later train. I called Amtrak, and explained the situation, and they said I would be charged a few dollars extra for the change because my AAA fare was not valid on Train 656. I brought my parents along on the trip. I personally enjoy the convenience of Keystone Service, as well as the comfort and fare prices. When we boarded the train, I explained to the Conductor that we had tickets to actually ride 650, and I was told by the Amtrak sales agent to pay him extra money. He was very polite, and said "Don't worry about it, last minute changes happen!" So, that made our trip to New York even more enjoyable.
The next morning, we got to Penn Station early, because we were required to get luggage tags and have our passports checked since we were going to Canada. My mother had a bad knee (severe arthritis), so I consulted a Red Cap to help us down to the train. He was very polite and helpful; he got us down to the platform in an elevator and onboard the Adirondack before the other passengers. The train (at least the last two cars) was almost completely full and so we were grateful for the Red Cap's service.
We left Penn Station at around 8:15 am, passing through a single-track tunnel (which I thought was very intriguing), and then along the banks of the Hudson. I saw many great old mansions, as well as the West Point Military Academy. After departing Schenectady, the most beautiful part of the trip began. We followed the shores of Lake George, and then Lake Champlain. There were cases where we were so close to the lake, it actually felt like we were riding on top of it. The line was mostly single-track, with jointed rail in many places. It felt like we were taking a step back in time to the glory days of the railroads. The staff on the Adirondack was friendly and accommodating; the Conductor allowed me to move to the largely empty front car so I could escape the crowdedness of my assigned car and take in the magnificent scenery.
Montreal was a very fun city, having a European feel to it. I enjoyed the Underground City and Old Montreal. Montrealers were very friendly and helped me to understand the unique cultures. I found it intriguing to be in a city that spoke mostly French, even though I was just a mere 50 miles north of the US border.
After returning to Penn Station from Montreal on June 18, we took the Pennsylvanian back to Elizabethtown the next morning. The Pennsylvanian was also a very nice train, with roomier seats than the Keystone Service, as well as a well-stocked Café Car. We were once again pleased with the courteous service of the onboard staff.
In conclusion, this trip with Amtrak was well worth the money. You get unmatched scenery, comfort, service with a smile and peace of mind. I was so awed by the Adirondack that I am building a model railroad layout of this route from Schenectady, New York, to Montreal. I am already planning a trip this year to Toronto with Amtrak. Thanks to all the staff of Amtrak who helped my parents and I enjoy a truly great train adventure.