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Old 03-29-2019, 06:17 PM
 
Location: ATL -> HOU -> DAL
4,392 posts, read 3,554,976 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
The Crescent heading to New Orleans.. It's 3 hours late.

and.. Train tickets for longer routes.. Are about the same cost as a plane ticket.. Just take 10 times as long, so.. It doesn't make alot of sense anymore to take a train outside of the northeast.
I did Atlanta to New Orleans. 13 hours, was almost 2 hours late. Came to a stop a few times. Never again.

Even the Keystone Express in PA would occasionally run behind schedule.

Other reason I have no desire is that they continue through the night. I don't want to sleep through portions of the trip and miss scenery.
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Old 03-29-2019, 07:22 PM
 
Location: 2 blocks from bay in L.I, NY
1,767 posts, read 1,435,997 times
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Default Half-way across the country

I've done half-way across the country on the California Zephyr route, this past Dec. 2018 as a solo traveler. I'd do it again with my SO because he's never experienced it at all and we've never experienced it together. I would not want to do it again alone. Once was enough for me as a solo but I recommend anyone who hasn't experienced it to give it a try.

There are pros and cons.

Pros:
The observation cars which have large windows allowing you to take in the sights.
The food was pretty good.
I forgot the meal (salmon and rice pilaf?) I had but I remember enjoying it at the time.
You get a chance to meet and converse with some very interesting people - not just creeps or criminals.
The ride is more comfortable than Greyhound or other long distance buses.

Cons:
Other than Chicago, there are no long layovers so you're riding all day and night for days.
If you're not in a sleeper car, you have to sleep sitting up.
Amtrak shares the rails with other railways. There will be long waits for the rail to allow Amtrak through.
The dining car is only one car long. Service is first come first serve.
The hours of food service is limited. If you miss it, you've missed it until the next meal time.
The electrical outlet for phone charger is on the window side. Passengers in aisle seat have their cord across
their seat mate. Very inconvenient and uncomfortable to seat mate.
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Old 03-29-2019, 09:06 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
6,544 posts, read 3,650,165 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodHombre View Post
The biggest downside is the price. If you want to travel comfortably, you have to get a sleeper which is very expensive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eureka1 View Post
The secret to enjoying AMTRAK is to get a roomette. Coach is bad.
Demand keeps the price up but prices seem to fluctuate by day so be flexible with your dates and reserve early. There's only so many roomettes in a sleeper car. I have heard of amazing last minute low prices if there are empty roomettes. Included in the price is all of your meals and some personal service from the car attendant.

I compared the cost of driving and the cost of Amtrak with a sleeper and it was fairly close based on how I would drive the distance (1000 miles one way, single driver, motel and restaurant costs, etc.). Of course, you have the cost of a rental car at your destination or rely on public transportation.
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Old 03-30-2019, 12:07 AM
 
Location: Tulsa
1,800 posts, read 803,616 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
Demand keeps the price up but prices seem to fluctuate by day so be flexible with your dates and reserve early. There's only so many roomettes in a sleeper car. I have heard of amazing last minute low prices if there are empty roomettes. Included in the price is all of your meals and some personal service from the car attendant.

I compared the cost of driving and the cost of Amtrak with a sleeper and it was fairly close based on how I would drive the distance (1000 miles one way, single driver, motel and restaurant costs, etc.). Of course, you have the cost of a rental car at your destination or rely on public transportation.
Sure, you need to be flexible. Also, consider the possible delay.

I think I won't be that flexible before retiring.
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Old 03-30-2019, 05:30 AM
 
Location: Great Britain
11,584 posts, read 3,963,981 times
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Long train journeys are very pleasant if you are on a sleeper with a cabin.

However in terms of just sitting there, I think most people get fed up after a while, and I think any train beyond five or six hours is starting to push the limits, unless you are on a sleeper train.

I think the longer a train jouney, the more chances of the plane (or ferry with a cabin on some routes) increasingly becoming the better option unless you have a comfortable sleeper cabin on the train.

Last edited by Brave New World; 03-30-2019 at 06:44 AM..
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Old 03-30-2019, 10:19 AM
 
38,085 posts, read 14,878,695 times
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I love traveling by train in coach. Stretch out in the seat, cooler of snacks under my feet. So pleasant.

Though I enjoy business class when it its available, I dislike the rooms.

I've gotten those roomettes in the past. Yikes! Far less comfortable and crowded. Even the family bedrooms are claustrophobic.

One of my favorite train stations is Chicago's Union Station. Love their food court. Great sandwiches, juice, ... Stock up my rolling cooler, hop on the train, open a book, and let the scenery drift by.

Paradise.
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Old 03-30-2019, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Crook County, Illinois
3,492 posts, read 1,594,226 times
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I've never ridden Amtrak cross-country, but I rode it a few times within Illinois. It's very interesting how different Amtrak routes are from expressways. When you drive, you generally see nothing at all, other than trees, corn fields, service stations, and restaurant chains. It's boring. Amtrak routes, on the other hand, give you a peek into redneck-looking backyards, smelly farms, grimy industrial areas, ruins of telegraph poles from early 1800's, dilapidated but beautiful abandoned train stations, small towns that time forgot, etc. After all, those tracks and their surroundings were in place long before the first expressway was built.

Amtrak will always have a special place in my heart: it took me to a college town where I lost my virginity.

Last edited by MillennialUrbanist; 03-30-2019 at 10:56 AM..
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Old 03-30-2019, 12:34 PM
 
Location: equator
3,410 posts, read 1,523,023 times
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The Coast Starlight was a terrific experience, as already posted. Magnificent scenery! But we weren't on any schedule, so there's that. And with no TSA, we snuck our pet chickens in our luggage.

DH took Amtrack from UT to Oceanside, CA, landing a block away from our condo. He loved it.

We crossed the entire length of Italy by train, and it was fantastic. But the terminals are so crowded and huge, it was rather intimidating. Boy, do THEY leave on time. We couldn't find one, and by the time we did, it was pulling away, 3 minutes early. But the ticket allowed us to catch the next one in a couple hours.
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Old 03-30-2019, 03:39 PM
 
20,707 posts, read 13,720,547 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
Well, a couple of things.. first.. TSA.. Not always. If you leave Union Station in DC, or Penn Station in NY.. You're probably encountering TSA. Though they usually aren't as.. 'thorough'? as they are with plane travel.

But, the schedule, honestly.. You can't really blame Amtrak. Since they don't own the rails.. They are treated as third class citizens, basically. Here in the southeast.. It's all Norfolk Southern with a touch of CSX thrown in.

So.. In those situations, Amtrak goes on their tracks.. Who gets priority? Not Amtrak.

Now.. While I'm saying you can't blame Amtrak.. I'm certainly not saying "Well, you have to live with it".. Nope, you've got other choices with your dollar, and.. THAT is the problem. While I don't blame Amtrak for the issue.. I also am not going to give them my money because of the issue.

Hey.. Remember the Crescent that I talked about yesterday being 2 hours and 45 minutes behind? Want to know where that train is now?


Outside Gastonia, NC. 10 hours behind schedule. It's supposed to be in NY at 1:46pm today.. It's estimated to get there at 9:50pm tonight.

Look at this site.


https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/ar...ml/history.php


Plug in train 20 and GRV as the station. Train has been under 30 minutes late 10 times THIS YEAR. It runs every day. On AVERAGE, it's been 2 hours and 5 minutes behind schedule.


Now.. The same train going opposite direction. From NYP to New Orleans.. That train averages being less than an hour late. Mainly because it's coming from the northeast, but also because it gets here at 5am, so, it's had the overnight hours to makeup some time.




So.. This is an odd situation where you say you can't blame them, it's not their fault.. But that doesn't change the fact that it happens and is unacceptable.

Yes, freight RR's own much of the ROW outside of northeast that Amtrak needs. Equally true there are times when passenger (Amtrak) service is delayed due to priority being given to freight. However it all isn't the fault of those big bad old freight railroads.


Amtrak is given a window of time to get their trains over certain tracks. If they are running late (which frequently happens for a host of reasons), then it can be just to GD bad for them; as now that freight train which is scheduled or whatever to go through now is making that move.


Back in days when private Tier 1 RRs offered passenger service things were done to mitigate delayed passenger trains. Far more ROW was double tracked in one or both directions, that and or extensive use of sidings. All of which allowed a slower train to be overtaken by faster. Much of all that duplicate ROW has been ripped up/abandoned, leaving just single tracks.


The other thing done (while officially discouraged) was for a passenger train engineer was to open up the throttle and increase speed to make up for lost time. That of course caused no end of accidents so RRs and federal government long have cracked down and began enforcing speed limits.


Good part of freight RR traffic isn't that time sensitive. But there are trains (usually carrying produce, livestock or other goods) that must run on schedule/on time, period.


As have said numerous times in these sort of discussions; passenger service then and now is all very good; but freight is what pays the bills. That was true in back in the day and still so today. CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and other major freight RRs aren't going to allow themselves to be put in position of ticking off customers because their shipments aren't arriving because stuck behind some slow/delayed Amtrak train.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uJPycRAnuY
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Old 03-30-2019, 08:25 PM
 
9,423 posts, read 7,067,523 times
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I actually did the math on this one time before.. Let's look at it again.


Greenville, SC to Los Angeles, CA


I want to leave April 22nd.


Amtrak will get me there for $383


American Airlines gets me there for $187




Now, let's look at the travel. With American.. I have to fly from GSP to Charlotte, transfer, then a direct flight from Charlotte to LAX. Total time.. 8 hours 11 minutes




amtrak.. Get this.. I board at 11pm on the 22nd. Travel to Union Station in DC, arriving about 10am on the 23rd. Wait at Union Station 6 hours and 12 minutes, boarding and departing on the Capitol Limited at 4:05pm. arriving in Chicago at 8:45am on the 24th. Wait 6 hours and board the Southwest Chief at 2:50pm.. Arrive in LA at 8am on the 26th. And this is all assuming things go on time. 5 times this year, the Crescent arrived in DC after the Capitol Limited had already departed. Total travel time, at a minimum.. 84 hours.

So you add another day. That's all coach. To get a roomette the whole way.. $1500.


if I were retired.. Ok, maybe I could see it. Where I'm just out having fun.. No time concerns at all.

Going from DC to New York or Philly or Boston or something? Sure.. I'd do that in a heartbeat. Again, northeast.. Even DC to Chicago.. Maybe.
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