My trip began when I stepped out the door of my apartment. Union Station was a short streetcar ride away, and I arrived about an hour before my train was scheduled to leave. It turns out I needn't have shown up so early; the check-in process was to show my e-ticket to the conductor, who scanned it and wrote my stop on a piece of paper. There was no security, no scans, no questions about how much liquid I'm carrying; it was awesomely simple and painless.
The train was running about half an hour late, and boarding was as relaxed as checking in was. We all lined up, showed our little slips of paper, and were told what car to go to. Mine was the very last car.
The seats were spacious and comfortable, with plenty of space for even someone as long as I am to stretch out. The train was sparsely packed, and not only were there plenty of empty seats, most of the people in my car had a pair of seats to themselves. I was happy to see a pair of electrical outlets at my seat, although it turns out coach did not include wifi access.
The coach cars were at the back, preceded by the lounge car, with tables to play games or eat at, large windows with angled seats to observe from, and a galley downstairs to get snacks from. Forward of the lounge car was the dining car, the sleeper (read: first class) cars, and the engine.
Dinner was at 8:00, and I was seated with Alan and Ellen, a lovely retired couple. They were travelling a bit further south to visit a grandchild, and like me, it was Ellen's first time taking the train. The vegetable pasta was delicious and the company was wonderful, and the hour passed quickly. They were kind enough to share some pro tips on things to do in London, which I wrote down to research and consider.
Around 10:30pm or so, they announced that there would be no more announcements, with a nice long break for us to savor that irony, and that there would be more stops, so please sleep in your seat so that the conductor could wake you at your stop.
I curled up as best I could and tried to get some sleep.