David P. Lubic's good experience with Amtrak {"By Plane -- or Train?" letters, Aug. 17} begs another's tale of aggravation. I, too, chose an overnight Amtrak trip (Washington to Chicago) on July 22 and anticipated a scenic and restful journey. What I experienced was a pageant of horrors.

Every seat had been sold to adult ticket holders. Many adults were lugging infants, for whom parents had not purchased seats. These parents had hoped to pirate a few open seats for their squirmy offspring. My car had no fewer than 25 babies in it -- with three unkempt toddlers and two obese adults in the two seats ahead of me. Imagine a "restful" evening in that carnival setting.

Then we were informed of a problem in Pittsburgh, necessitating a re-routing. The parade of teeth-gnashing frustrations continued as the air conditioner failed, and 1 1/2 hours later we were still in the Union Station switching yard, ponderously changing tracks. I was aurally assaulted by the staccato of rap music from an ominously large boom box nearby.

Fortunately for me, I live near Union Station. Overcome with panic, I fled the aluminum thermos of torment, threw my bags into my petroleum-consuming pickup truck and drove all night to Chicago -- arriving many hours ahead of the train for half the cost, and just as rested as I would have been after a night confined in that train of hell. AMY L. SMITH Washington