Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s funeral service is today, and after the mourners gathered in Manhattan this morning, the New Jersey leader’s casket went to Secaucus, N.J., to the train station named after him, where it was placed on an Amtrak train headed to D.C.
Lautenberg was a fan and champion of the train system (which not everyone in Congress is particularly fond of). But anyone can have their remains transported on Amtrak. Here’s the official policy:
Amtrak Express offers station-to-station shipment of remains to many express cities. At most stations, funeral directors must provide staff to load and unload the remains onto and off the train. The level of assistance required must be confirmed with the local Amtrak station agent at the origin and destination points.
Lautenberg will be sent off from the Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Junction Station, which is a nice touch, although there might not have been much choice: Amtrak normally doesn’t ship human remains from New York Penn Station.
Before the age of cars and planes, luminaries regularly had their remains transported on funeral trains. Here’s the car that carried Abraham Lincoln’s body, for instance:
Bodies still get moved by train regularly, though. On a train forum, one railroad employee explains how often it happens:
on a national basis, daily if not darn near it. some trains more than others. ive had times working as a trainman that it was almost every trip at certain times. it is actually done fairly discretely. unless you really knew what you were looking at and saw the labeling on the box you wouldnt likely know thats what was getting loaded into the baggage car if it were being done right in front of you.
Another forum user suspects that Lautenberg’s posthumous train doesn’t have a baggage car, though — instead, they’d add an extra car to a regional train.
The way its worded looks like it will involve an already scheduled Amtrak train. I would assume it there would be an extra car attached. For that reason, I’m assuming it would be one of the regionals and that they’d use one of the Metroliner charter conference cars. Adding the baggage car would slow an already scheduled train. I don’t know that you’d have any room to maneuver casket anywhere on an Acela, even in an empty car.