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Old 06-16-2008, 12:19 PM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 8,260,389 times
Reputation: 1984
Question Amtrak - DC to Denver

Has anyone taken Amtrak from the DC area to Denver or thereabouts? I see the on-time performance is pretty bad (thanks to CSX) but I was wondering about experiences in changing trains in Chicago and whether there is a big problem in missing the connections to the next train.

With the very expensive gas prices, the train is quite a bit less money than driving and in theory would take less time. I'm pretty fed up with the misery that is air travel so I don't want to do that if I can help it.
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
4,209 posts, read 5,865,662 times
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I took Amtrak from Boston to Oregon some 14 years ago. I swore I would never do it again, unless there were tremendous improvements. The train broke down before it even got to Conn. I then got myself to New York and then a cab to some other train station. Got a train to Philadelphia that went to chicago. The train hit a truck in Ohio and we sat on the tracks for 5 hours. I missed the train from chicago to Denver had to sleep in a god awful downtown hotel. I made it to Denver and got off the train there, I needed a rest. I don't know how they are now, they obviously were not interested in customer service when I took them, I can tell you that. I also noticed some real strange characters on the train especially boarding in the middle of no where in the west. If you do go spend the extra money for a cabin. I did not and it made the trip real hard sitting in the coach seats for 3 days. One thing to keep in mind with train travel that most peope do not know. Freight trains have the right of way. That translate into Amtrak just stopping in the middle of no wheres for some unspecified time while frieght uses the tracks. I could not understand why all the stopping in barren country until it was explained to me. Hopefully amtrak has improved, but do some research and ask alot of questions before buying a ticket. I also don't care for air travel any longer but what can we do.
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:50 PM
 
Location: US
1,185 posts, read 2,556,279 times
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I rode Amtrak for the first time about a month ago for a pretty short hop. The route is 3 hrs 30 min. by automobile and it took 4hrs by train. I loved it. Big seats, dining car, observation car, I didn't have to worry about @!(#*&@^$&* state troopers and wear and tear on my car.
The only bad part is they are never on time, but you can call their automated 1 800 and get fairly accurate time information. (At least in my experience) The conductors were pretty nice, I talked to two of them occasionally for a few minutes throughout the trip. As long as the train never got crowded I could ride coach for a day or two without going crazy. The seats don't have middle armrests so you can use two of them as a makeshift bed pretty easy.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:53 PM
 
1 posts, read 5,913 times
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Thumbs up Amtrak DC to Denver

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tesaje View Post
Has anyone taken Amtrak from the DC area to Denver or thereabouts? I see the on-time performance is pretty bad (thanks to CSX) but I was wondering about experiences in changing trains in Chicago and whether there is a big problem in missing the connections to the next train.

With the very expensive gas prices, the train is quite a bit less money than driving and in theory would take less time. I'm pretty fed up with the misery that is air travel so I don't want to do that if I can help it.
On-time will not be an issue. There is at least an 8-hour layover between trains frm Chicago to Denver. Use the time to take a tour bus around Chicago and see some sights.
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Old 06-18-2008, 07:14 AM
 
Location: pittsburgh
325 posts, read 710,783 times
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About a year ago I thought about taking a train from Pittsburgh to Seattle as my son has some breathing difficulties which make flying difficult for us. It seemed that Amtrak allows for very long layovers to avoid missing connections. I think the route was Pit to DC and the DC to Seattle and it seemed that there were hours in between. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 hours. I think you would just want to make sure that there is ample time when changing trains and you should be fine.
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Old 06-18-2008, 08:53 AM
 
430 posts, read 750,145 times
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Well my husband has taken the Amtrak several times in the last few months. This last tme was a mess. Anyway he has had layovers in Chicgo. It wasn't as long as your will be about 3-4 hours. He said there are food places and things right there. He didn't get lost or confused but didn't go wondering off too far. He said people are nice and will help you out. He said riding on the Amtrak was nice. He just left yesterday for Virginia as the trip on Amtrak would have tak0en as long as the bus because of the layovers. So he took the bus as it was cheaper and the time frame wasn't any difference.
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:26 AM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 8,260,389 times
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Thanks for the experiences. It helps a lot to get an idea of how the long distance trains are set up. I know there are risks of delays, but just this week a colleague didn't go to a meeting because his flight was canceled and he couldn't try to get out again until the next evening. I had that fun experience last year too. It's getting to be a real roulette wheel whether your flight will go anymore so the train is looking better and better.
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:53 PM
 
430 posts, read 750,145 times
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Also if you travel a lot with them they have a program that earns points and you can build the, up to use on other things. They also let you take two carry ons and two other bags and don't charge you.
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:06 PM
 
4,285 posts, read 9,737,423 times
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Default Please Be Advised:

Recent flooding in the US mid-west has severely impacted Amtrak service from Chicago to points west.

Particularly affected are the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and South-West Chief, the 3 trans-continental trains.

From the Amtrak web site Amtrak :

Quote:
Service Alert: Southwest Chief, Empire Builder and California Zephyr Service Restoration Plans From Midwest Flooding Disruption

June 18, 2008
4:30 pm CDT

Amtrak has plans to restore rail service on two of the three routes disrupted due to flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. These plans are subject to change but are based on information from the BNSF and Canadian Pacific railways, which host these trains on tracks they own, maintain and dispatch.

Plans are to restore service on the Los Angeles-Chicago route of the Amtrak Southwest Chief this Friday, June 20, and a detour route is expected to be established this Saturday, June 21, for the Seattle/Portland-Chicago Amtrak Empire Builder. Service restoration plans for the San Francisco Bay-Chicago route of the Amtrak California Zephyr are still pending, due to flooding in Iowa.

Passengers are urged to call Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL if they have travel plans on the three routes below, through June 21. Those passengers with telephone contact information in their reservations are being called by Amtrak and offered options including future travel dates.

Southwest Chief, Trains 3 & 4

Service by the Southwest Chief between Kansas City and Chicago, temporarily suspended due to flooding on the BNSF Railway route in Iowa since June 17, is expected to resume June 20.

Alternate transportation will continue to be provided June 19 between Kansas City and Galesburg or Chicago, with the exceptions of La Plata, Mo., and Fort Madison. Passengers ticketed at those stops are being offered travel at other Amtrak stations in Illinois.

Empire Builder, Trains 7/27/807 & 8/28/808

Service by the Empire Builder between St. Paul and Chicago, suspended due to flooding on the Canadian Pacific Railway route in Wisconsin since June 10 and the closing of a detour route since June 15, is expected to resume on the BNSF Railway detour route June 21.

Alternate transportation by chartered motorcoach will be provided between St. Paul and Chicago, with the exceptions of Portage, Columbus and Milwaukee, Wisc., and Glenview, Ill. Passengers ticketed at those stops are being offered travel at other Amtrak stations. Amtrak Hiawatha Service trains are available as alternate transportation to and from Glenview and Milwaukee.

California Zephyr, Trains 4 & 5

Service by the California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver is temporarily suspended due to flooding on the BNSF Railway route in Iowa, effective June 13.

Alternate transportation will be provided between Denver and points in Nebraska, including Omaha, by chartered motorcoaches. No alternate transportation is available to or from points in Iowa. Alternate transportation between Chicago and other points in Illinois will be provided by other Amtrak trains.

Amtrak regrets any inconvenience. This information is correct as of the above time and date. Information is subject to change as conditions warrant. Passengers are encouraged to call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for schedule information and train status updates.
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:56 AM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 8,260,389 times
Reputation: 1984
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornerguy1 View Post
Recent flooding in the US mid-west has severely impacted Amtrak service from Chicago to points west.

Particularly affected are the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and South-West Chief, the 3 trans-continental trains.

From the Amtrak web site Amtrak :
Yeah, they don't run the trains with the tracks under water. Those floods are pretty bad. When they can't run the train thru, it makes it impossible to give service down the line too. My commuter trains gets stopped cold by flooded tracks too. My trip isn't until December so this mess should be long over by then.
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