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Students embark on ‘Summer By Rail’ journey at Penn Station

Two New Jersey residents attending Catholic University are taking a trip across North America to highlight rail travel.

As many travelers are avoiding Penn Station during its “summer of hell” repair work, two New Jersey residents are embarking on an epic rail journey from the busy transit hub.

Caitlyn Boyle of Leonardo and Victoria Principato of Haddonfield, both students at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., were in the middle of Penn Station Monday morning to kick off “Summer by Rail,” a 27-day Amtrak journey that will take them to 22 cities across the U.S. and Canada.

The journey will conclude in Washington, D.C., on Aug 26, and Boyle and Principato, who did not know each other prior to this adventure, will share their traveling tales through their blog, SummerByRail.com, and on Twitter and Instagram.

“I’m excited to see different cities and people we’ll meet along the way, the people who take trains and to learn how else they’d get there if they didn’t have train travel,” said Boyle, who graduated in May but is now pursuing a master’s in civil engineering.

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Boyle is also interested in learning more about the infrastructure of rail travel, especially at Penn Station, which is now in its third week of repair work following a spate of service issues for Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road this year.

“People complain about (Penn), but if it wasn’t here, it’d be even worse,” Boyle said. “They’re doing work, and there’s always innovations. As an engineer, I’m interested in looking into the infrastructure issues and how they really are improving it to show that side of the story.”

A joint challenge Boyle and Principato faced was what to pack for the trip. 

“You do not want to unzip my suitcase,” Principato, an incoming senior majoring in finance, said with a laugh, adding that doing laundry was also a concern.  

“And we have a lot of different climates that we’re traveling to, so that was really difficult,” Boyle added.

The duo will kick off their rail trip after touring the Penn Station construction and biking through the city.

This is the second “Summer by Rail” event sponsored by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP). 

“Trains are an integral part of our 21st Century transportation system and bring so many benefits to travelers and communities,” NARP CEO and President Jim Mathews said in a statement. “Caitlin and Victoria will explore the joys of rail travel from city to city and coast to coast … and bring back important insights that they learn and can help us advocate for more and better trains in America.”