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Old 02-04-2017, 03:12 PM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
13,716 posts, read 8,612,921 times
Reputation: 19978

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We have an Amtrak trip coming up.

Past Amtrak Trips:
Birmingham to New Orleans. The Crescent.
Meridian, MS to Atlanta. The Crescent.
Meridian, Ms to Washington DC. The Crescent........... So we're not inexperienced. We kind of know what to expect. We got a roomette for Washington DC.

The Trip:
Memphis to Chicago. Overnight on The City of New Orleans.
Chicago to Reno. That's a 44 hour trip On the California Zephyr.

The Questions:
Anyone taken these routes in recent times? Can you compare your California Zephyr experience with The Crescent?

I am reuniting with an old friend and then attending a navy reunion in Reno. The whole thing will take about 10 days and we will fly back to Memphis.

Comments?
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Old 02-04-2017, 03:38 PM
 
9,228 posts, read 9,297,498 times
Reputation: 28940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Listener2307 View Post
We have an Amtrak trip coming up.

Past Amtrak Trips:
Birmingham to New Orleans. The Crescent.
Meridian, MS to Atlanta. The Crescent.
Meridian, Ms to Washington DC. The Crescent........... So we're not inexperienced. We kind of know what to expect. We got a roomette for Washington DC.

The Trip:
Memphis to Chicago. Overnight on The City of New Orleans.
Chicago to Reno. That's a 44 hour trip On the California Zephyr.

The Questions:
Anyone taken these routes in recent times? Can you compare your California Zephyr experience with The Crescent?

I am reuniting with an old friend and then attending a navy reunion in Reno. The whole thing will take about 10 days and we will fly back to Memphis.

Comments?
I have ridden on the City of New Orleans and the California Zephyr. Its been a few years ago though I am hesitant to say much.

I will say this: The two frustrating things for us were:

1. Sometimes, they would run out of dining car reservations before they got to us. Does Amtrak have a system now to make these in advance of your trip? If they did, I'd use it.

2. The trains we rode on were often late. I would call Amtrak about two hours before the train was supposed to leave and find out if it is on schedule. I learned not assume the train would be on time.
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Old 02-05-2017, 06:57 AM
 
Location: Fort Payne Alabama
1,221 posts, read 1,591,119 times
Reputation: 2320
We road the Crescent from Atlanta to NY and back. Never do it again!!
A, The bathrooms were nasty, worse than an outhouse
B, The seats were next to impossible to sleep in. If it was a day trip it would probably be OK but not traveling at night.
C, The announcements could not be heard so you really had no clue where you were or what was going on. Thankful for my phone so I could check our progress.
D, The employees were extremely rude, were never hardly saw them either.
E, My wife was seriously hurt on the trip, fell and fractured her shoulder in four places. We got no help from them except trying to get my wife to fill out an accident report when she was laying face down on the floor and could not move.
F, Did I mention how terrible the bathrooms were??
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Old 02-05-2017, 11:21 AM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
13,716 posts, read 8,612,921 times
Reputation: 19978
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggT View Post
We road the Crescent from Atlanta to NY and back. Never do it again!!
A, The bathrooms were nasty, worse than an outhouse
B, The seats were next to impossible to sleep in. If it was a day trip it would probably be OK but not traveling at night.
C, The announcements could not be heard so you really had no clue where you were or what was going on. Thankful for my phone so I could check our progress.
D, The employees were extremely rude, were never hardly saw them either.
E, My wife was seriously hurt on the trip, fell and fractured her shoulder in four places. We got no help from them except trying to get my wife to fill out an accident report when she was laying face down on the floor and could not move.
F, Did I mention how terrible the bathrooms were??
Wow. Lousy trip.

3 of our trips were day trips and they went well.
1 was an overnight trip so we got a roomette. Arrived in Washington DC right downtown at 10AM, which was perfect for us.

But, Lordy, THAT HORN! The east coast is fairly crowded so the train has to cross many, many roads and highways. And the engineer has to blow the darn thing every time.
Trouble is, the sleeper cars - where they have the roomettes - are right behind the locomotive. I'm telling you, it got a little old at 2 AM.

Some train crews are really good, but we got one lousy crew. They obviously did not like what they were doing, didn't like the passengers, and would rather be somewhere else. Fortunately, my wife and I are both retired salesmen, and have some experience at "punching through" and getting people to lighten up. In the end it didn't bother us, but we can see where it could get under other people's skin.

I am told that California Zepher puts the sleepers at the end.
Can anyone verify or comment on that?

FWI:
Bathrooms. I remember 25 years ago when you flushed the toilet on the train a flapper opened up and you could see railroad ties flying by underneath the train!
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Old 02-05-2017, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
6,164 posts, read 6,333,536 times
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have never ridden the Crescent. Has been about 5 years since I rode the California Zephyr.


If you are getting a roomette you get to use the first class lounge in Chicago. At one time the first class lounge had a baggage check room where you could ditch your carry-on for a while and go wander about for a while. There are lots of shops at the train station if you want to grab a bite to eat or need to restock you snack supply for the next leg of your trip. Also if time permits you are only a couple blocks from the center of downtown Chicago.


Unlike the East coast trains, the Zephyr is a double decker train. If you are getting a roomette the upper floor rooms offer a better view. The roomettes on the Zephyr do not have toilets. Unless they have added a new sleeper car design in the past 5 years, there is one lavatory on the upper deck and two more on the lower deck along with a decent sized shower. If you get a good car attendant the lavs and the shower will be kept quite clean. If you get an attendant that is just collecting a paycheck then things might not be so nice. As you probably already know, sleeper car passengers get first crack at dinning car seating times. If you are not getting a roomette and just riding coach the lavs tend to get pretty bad.


From Chicago to Denver is pretty boring. After Denver you head into the mountains. Be sure to ask the conductor when you will be passing thru Glennwood Canyon in Eastern Colorado. There is lots to see while passing thru the canyon. If I remember right the train will be on the left side of the canyon so you will want to be where you can see out the right side of the train. The conductor can confirm this for you.
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Old 02-05-2017, 12:25 PM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
13,716 posts, read 8,612,921 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskan Mutt View Post
have never ridden the Crescent. Has been about 5 years since I rode the California Zephyr.


If you are getting a roomette you get to use the first class lounge in Chicago. At one time the first class lounge had a baggage check room where you could ditch your carry-on for a while and go wander about for a while. There are lots of shops at the train station if you want to grab a bite to eat or need to restock you snack supply for the next leg of your trip. Also if time permits you are only a couple blocks from the center of downtown Chicago.


Unlike the East coast trains, the Zephyr is a double decker train. If you are getting a roomette the upper floor rooms offer a better view. The roomettes on the Zephyr do not have toilets. Unless they have added a new sleeper car design in the past 5 years, there is one lavatory on the upper deck and two more on the lower deck along with a decent sized shower. If you get a good car attendant the lavs and the shower will be kept quite clean. If you get an attendant that is just collecting a paycheck then things might not be so nice. As you probably already know, sleeper car passengers get first crack at dinning car seating times. If you are not getting a roomette and just riding coach the lavs tend to get pretty bad.


From Chicago to Denver is pretty boring. After Denver you head into the mountains. Be sure to ask the conductor when you will be passing thru Glennwood Canyon in Eastern Colorado. There is lots to see while passing thru the canyon. If I remember right the train will be on the left side of the canyon so you will want to be where you can see out the right side of the train. The conductor can confirm this for you.
The Crescent:
Same in Washington, DC - if you have a roomette there is a lounge available in the station.
They will store your bags for you and the lounge is nice and and quiet.

And for everyone interested I will add that if you have time, the train is the right way to get started in Washington DC. Union Station is where all the tours start from, the subway is downstairs and there are lots of facilities of all sorts.
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Old 02-05-2017, 12:30 PM
 
Location: North State (California)
39,850 posts, read 3,021,832 times
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I would book a roomette for any over nights. We took the coast starlight from San Francisco to Oregon once, it was an over night trip, & I was too cheap to pay for anything other than a seat. But I couldn't sleep a wink, as a lot of the passengers looked kinda shady & I did not want to wake up to find my wallet missing. Some people also yakked all night long. The bathrooms were fine on that train. I had packed a picnic for us to eat, & I would recommend taking some jerky or nuts for a snack.
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Old 02-05-2017, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
7,751 posts, read 4,764,587 times
Reputation: 28420
Quote:
Originally Posted by evening sun View Post
I would book a roomette for any over nights. We took the coast starlight from San Francisco to Oregon once, it was an over night trip, & I was too cheap to pay for anything other than a seat. But I couldn't sleep a wink, as a lot of the passengers looked kinda shady & I did not want to wake up to find my wallet missing. Some people also yakked all night long. The bathrooms were fine on that train. I had packed a picnic for us to eat, & I would recommend taking some jerky or nuts for a snack.
We've done San Jose to Portland a number of times. We always get roomettes. I say roomettes plural, because neither of us can sleep on that appalling upper bunk. I don't know anyone who can.

Usually two roomettes are cheaper than 1 bedroom. They really jack the prices up on the bedrooms.

When I travel from San Jose to Eugene alone, I get a roomette as well. On any train I prefer a lower level roomette if I can get one. The view isn't as good but the rocking side-to-side is less. And I'm only a few steps away from four bathrooms and the shower room.

In answer to an earlier comment, the sleeper cars are generally behind the crew car in the consist. They're not connected directly to the loco. There was even one trip where we were quartered in the crew car, in a section converted for passenger use. Strange.
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:43 PM
 
11,285 posts, read 8,459,734 times
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Always seems so expensive compared to flying with the travel time spent.I'd love to do more train travel. It's getting mixed reviews here.
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Old 02-05-2017, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
6,164 posts, read 6,333,536 times
Reputation: 100718
Quote:
Originally Posted by hunterseat View Post
Always seems so expensive compared to flying with the travel time spent.I'd love to do more train travel. It's getting mixed reviews here.
Getting a roomette usually does make it more expensive than just flying. However I look at it as part of my vacation and not just getting from point a to point b. I have met many interesting people when riding the train. Also get to see things you can't see when flying.
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