By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Today's train ride from Washington back to New York was far from ordinary. I spent much of the journey in the "head end," as they refer to the cockpit in the train business. I was in the single passenger seat, alongside the locomotive engineer, a very friendly 39-year-old Amtrak veteran from Long Island. In front of me was a wraparound dashboard of guages. Central among them is the speedometer, which for a lot of our trip registered 130 mph. It's a great way to travel, along the same track bed first established in the early 1800's, alongside track that FDR travelled, back and forth between Washington and his beloved boyhood home in Hyde Park.
I had to wear safety goggles (the occasional thrown rock has in the past breached both layers of thick safety glass), but otherwise it felt like a bouncy, vaguely floating ride in a Captain's chair. Amtrak officials know that I'm planning to commission a story for Nightly News on the status of high-speed passenger rail in this country -- especially along the vital Northeast Corridor. It's difficult to ride on France's exquisite TGV high-speed rail (averaging more than 200 mph) and not wonder why the nation of the Iron Horse isn't able to offer travel at the same level of speed, stability and comfort... if not better. It's quite a juxtaposition -- rumbling at a crawl in a sleek, Canadian-made train through the old, leaky, stone-lined Baltimore tunnel, "1870" carved in the archway above. But it was a great experience today and did a lot for my understanding of the issues along the rails from Washington to New York.
So it's back to New York with senior members of our team -- back to our editorial meeting and an actual template of the broadcast heading into tonight. Always the producer, our Executive Producer Alex Wallace has already scratched out a rough outline of the major stories and their placement in the broadcast while on the train... and as I write this, we're about to pull into Penn Station.
We'll see what the staff has cooked up for us at 30 Rock, and we hope you'll tune in for the final product tonight.