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Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 1:24 am

I've always been a big Amtrak fan. My love of the rails is not as much as my love of aviation, but still, something about train travel just fascinates me.
My grandparents used to take me day trips on Amtrak when I was a kid, and I was pretty much hooked from there.

Over the past few years, I've been on a few Amtrak journeys, the most scenic one being the 7-hour ride on the "Vermonter" from New Haven,CT to Burlington,VT. It was just stunning.

Now, in about 2 weeks, I'm returning to the rails for a long day and a half trip....14 and 1/2 hours each way from New Orleans to San Antonio on the only Amtrak New Orleans' train I have yet to ride on, the "Sunset Limited".

It cannot get here soon enough.

Here's a list of my Amtrak travels:

Train: Colonial
Originates: Boston
Terminates: Newport News
Route taken: Providence,RI to New Haven,CT

Train: City of New Orleans
Originates: Chicago
Terminates: New Orleans
Routes taken: New Orleans to Hammond,LA, Jackson,MS and McComb,MS
Total times on train: 5

Train: Crescent
Originates: New York City
Terminates: New Orleans
Routes taken: New Orleans to Hattiesurg,Laurel,Meridian,and Picayune,MS, and Tuscaloosa,AL
Total times on train: 8

Train: Pacific Surfliner
Originates: Los Angeles
Terminates: San Diego
Route taken: Los Angleles to Anaheim,CA
Total times on train: 1

Train: Sunset Limited
Originates: Los Angeles
Terminates: Orlando
Route taken: New Orleans to San Antonio,TX (August 18/19th,2003)
Total times on train: 1

Train: Twilight Shoreliner
Originates: Boston
Terminates: Newport News
Route talen: Boston to Providence,RI
Total times on train: 2

Train: Vermonter
Originates: Washington D.C
Terminates: St.Albans,VT
Route taken: New Haven,CT to Burlington/Essex Jct.,VT
Total times on train: 1

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Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2002 6:45 am

RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:00 am

I rode on Amtrak once, a couple years ago from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. I wanted to try the Acela (which was just coming out), but my parents didn't. So we rode on I guess it was the Metroliner, and the ride was okay, except for the "food." If given the chance, I'd like to ride Amtrak again, because I also like trains, and that was my first time on a train, unless you count the el.
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:09 am

My only Amtrak trips have come on the Acela going from Boston to NY twice, and NY to Washington once. Pretty comfortable, especially the time I bought a first class ticket. The scenery between Boston and New York is gorgeous when you are along the Long Island Sound.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:28 am

Sadly, you've chosen one of Amtrak's tardiest trains...especially the S.A. to/from Houston section.

Nevertheless, welcome to S.A.

My Amtrak travels:
NY Penn - Poughkeepsie - NY Penn
Chicago - Milwaukee - Chicago (Hiawatha Service)
San Antonio - Houston (Sunset Ltd.) Twice
College Station - Houston (Lone Star?)
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:42 am

I love travelling on trains. I did the Eurail thing for 2 months when I was 21 and I really enjoyed tracelling on trains. You get to see so much because unlike cars or buses they're not limited to travelling on ugly highways with lots of fastfood restraunts, shops, etc. They go off into the countryside and offer you great views.

I've also taken the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward which had some of the most impressive views I've ever seen. And I sometimes take the Metroliner or Acela from NYC to DC to visit my relatives there. I like to splurge sometimes and buy a first class seat on Acela because its like domestic F/C on the airlines and you get served a beverage and a meal at your seat.
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." --Stephen Colbert
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:56 am

I rode on Amtrak once (roundtrip)

Boston-NYC(Penn) on the Acela. Flying is so much better!

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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 3:19 am

Never have done the train scene, why does it take so long to get from SAT-MSY?
Go big or go home
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 3:53 am

I've found for the destinations that I want to get to, flying is faster as well as less expensive then rail.
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 4:15 am

I take the train any chance I get. But we are limited in where we can go by rail in the Northwest. When I go to Seattle, I take the Cascades Taglo. It runs 4 times a day between PDX and SEA and one round trip from PDX to EUG. Superliners run once a day from PDX to SEA and PDX to GEG and east to ORD. When there was service from PDX-BOI-SLC-DEN-LNK-ORD I did that three times and once from PSC-FAR bus to TOP then train from LNK-PSC. That was a great trip!

Patriotic and Proud Liberal
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 4:15 am

I used to ride the Northeast Corridor trains between Newark or Wilmington, Delaware, and New York Penn. A few times I took it through NYP to New Rochelle, NY. I took a variety of local, express, and Metroliner trains. (I loved the Metroliners, but they were *expensive*!)

I have taken the Pennsylvanian several times: its origin/destination have changed several times, so here are the segments I've taken: Philadelphia to Altoona, PA (westbound only); and Cleveland, OH to Lancaster, PA (round-trip.)

My Amtrak tour-de-force was a five day round trip from Cleveland to Las Vegas, NV, via Chicago, Burlington, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Caliente. The westbound train was three hours late leaving Chicago Union Station and eventually six hours late arriving Las Vegas due to a stalled freight train and track congestion at Salt Lake City. Still, the ride was well worth it, and because of our delays we saw the Rocky Mountains/Continental Divide at high noon.

Up, up and away!
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 4:35 am

I've taken the Vermonter from New York up to Montpelier and from Montpelier to Washington DC Round-Trip, this was in the days before jetBlue.
Acutlaly I think WAshington was when B6 was there, not sure.
What now?
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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 5:09 am

My family and I took the train from Kansas City to St. Louis. It's about the same amount of time as driving since it stops several times. And the "station" at St Louis is sadly lacking...pretty much a small building under a highway overpass. The seats were pretty comfortable though, although on the return trip the air conditioning was freezing us out. It was the middle of July and we would stand by the doors at every stop trying to warm up a little. Blankets were available for you to buy...but I'm pretty cheap so I didn't. There was a food car, but the prices were pretty steep for what you got.
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 5:30 am

I've taken the Acela from Boston to New York/Penn before, in Business Class. It is actually not that bad compared to flying, for the following:

1.) I got miles on Continental for this trip. Since I will be transitioning over to CO next year (now that I can get CO miles on the DL Shuttle), I have two options to get me to New York.
2.) Time. I live about 45 minutes from both BOS and South Station. It takes about 20 minutes to clear security/board on the shuttle, then an hour flight, then a 45 minute cab ride to midtown (in rush-hour). All in all, it takes about 3 hours. While it is about an hour longer on the train, you can get up and walk around, grab a snack, and 2-2 seating is always a little more comfortable than 3-3.

The only negative with the Acela is once you get to New Haven, when you have to deal with Metro-North trains. That can really throw a monkey wrench into the works.

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Joined: Thu May 18, 2000 12:22 pm

RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 6:00 am

All Ive taken is the Metroliner between Philly and DC...I really would like to take a long train trip across the country someday...that sounds like a ton of fun...

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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 6:27 am

It's worth considering trains further afield...

I was once given a copy of "The Great Railway Bazaar" by Paul Theroux. Since then I've been hooked. It can be an amazing way to holiday...!
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 11:51 am

The only Amtrak trip I took was a one-day trip to Raleigh from Greensboro.
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 1:30 pm

I used to do the Jackson(JAN)- New Orleans run quite a bit during my first year in college. You can do it in 2.5 hours driving...the train took 4, but it was so much more enjoyable. After the train left at 11:20am, I used to go to the dining car and get some lunch (you can always count on meeting interesting people in there) then made my way to the Sightseer Lounge Car with the floor to ceiling windows. Really comfortable seats in the coach car with the leg rests and foot rests.

San Antonio here I come...late or early, doesn't really matter. Of course, if it's tooo late, I have some Continental passes so I can make sure I get home on Tuesday.  Smile

Steve in N.O

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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 5:27 pm

Sorry, I don´t wanna rewrite it all again, so here my Amtrak travels I took last year:

The Metro might be the Sub(optimal)way
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Tue Aug 05, 2003 10:24 pm

As we are speaking about trains... is it possible to travel coast-to-coast by train, lets's say, from NY to LA?

If yes, how long would it take? And off course, how much would it cost compared to an air ride..


"ad astra per aspera"
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 12:21 am

S.p.a.s - You can most certainly take a train cross-country from New York to Los Angeles. The Lake Shore Limited runs from Boston and New York to Chicago, and the Southwest Chief goes from Chicago to Los Angeles. Connections would be made in Chicago, and possibly Albany (if you have to switch to a Boston-Chicago train). It takes about 48 hours each way (8 times longer than a flight...). In reserved coach, using a date of 5 Dec to leave, and 12 Dec to return, it would cost $253. The same trip by air would cost as low as $216 on Delta, with your option of leaving from JFK or LGA and going nonstop or via the ATL, SLC, DFW, or CVG hubs (LGA flights go through a hub, JFK has the non-stop). And people wonder why Amtrak is losing money on these March it cost me $225 for BOS-NYP...only another $28 and I could have done a trans-continental run.

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RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 10:14 am

Here's a trip report I wrote after my trip to Tuscaloosa,AL last March...enjoy!!


Before all of my previous rides on Amtrak’s Crescent, I made it a tradition to make a brief stop at Morning Call coffee stand to get a cup of their world-famous “Café Au Lait”, or coffee with hot milk. I always passed on the temptation to get an order of beignets, for I knew I would be enjoying a nice “breakfast on wheels” in just a couple short hours.

This trip would be no different.

At about 5:15am, I left my house, full of excitement. With no traffic at that time, I made it to Morning Call…which is open 24/7 every day of the year…just about seven minutes later. As usual, there is always a good number of people in the place. This morning, I counted about twenty-five. Within minutes I had my cup of hot coffee in hand and proceeded to make the 15-minute to the Union Passenger Terminal located in downtown New Orleans. The interstate was pretty much traffic-free at this time, and I arrived at the parking lot adjacent to the terminal by 5:50am.

The NOUPT is an adequate facility when all is said and done. Convenient to all of downtown, it serves both Greyhound and Amtrak. Inside, there is a gift store, a food court area which includes a Subway, a first-class lounge for Amtrak sleeping car passengers, and seating for regular passengers in the middle. In the past, the landscaped lawn in front of the terminal was home to a few homeless people, but I did not notice any this time, perhaps due to the NOPD cruiser parked outside the door as well as the officer inside. It’s good to see stepped up security at the terminal. Not that it’s a dangerous place, but it just gives you an extra sense of security. Hey, let’s face it, there are some wierd people out there, many of whom ride Greyhound.

Anyway, the terminal was fairly busy this morning. Besides my Amtrak train departing at 7:00am, they had quite a few Greyhound’s loading for parts unknown. At any given time throughout the day, you can see a minimum of six Greyhound’s at the terminal. I would say they had a good 200 people inside.

Boarding for Amtrak #20, the Crescent, with direct service from New Orleans to New York City via Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington D.C, and points in between, began promptly at 6:15am. Sleeping car passengers boarded first, of which I counted roughly fourteen. Regular boarding began at 6:30am. The train’s consist this morning included the following cars: Four “Amfleet” coaches, two “Viewliner” sleeping cars, one lounge car, and one dining car. One sleek Genesis locomotive provided the power for the train this morning.

I got a nice window seat in the second coach, and settled back. The conductor told me they had 92 coach passengers this morning, which is an average load for a weekday morning, and that the train usually fills to capacity by the time it leaves Atlanta.

We departed the station on Track #3 on-time at 7:00am. As soon as the train leaves the station, passengers on the right side are afforded a great view of the Superdome and New Orleans Arena complex, which is just a stone’s thrown away from the station. Minutes later, we were paralleling Interstate 10, skirting the historic above-ground cemeteries. By 7:20am, we had reached Lake Pontchartrain, speeding past the Lakefront Airport and Bally’s Casino. This is a good straight section of track where the train reaches speeds of over 75mph. Passengers on the left side of the train get an un-obstructed view of the lake during this portion of the journey…literally bordering the tracks…which lasts for around five miles. Moments later, the train left terra firma and started its 7-mile journey over the Lake Pontchartrain trestle. There are no railings on this long bridge, and it gives you a feeling like you’re on a ship, not a train. Looking down to the water out the window, you cannot see any part of the track or bridge.

The announcement was made as soon as the train started its overwater journey: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your first call for breakfast in the dining car.” I proceeded to walk four cars down and found a nice dining car attendant named John who graciously offered me a booth to myself in the mid part of the car. Dining on a train is an experience into itself, and the food isn’t half bad. Everything’s cooked to order in the kitchen occupying the back portion of the car. Just as my breakfast got to the table, the car started to fill up, and I found myself talking to a couple across the way from me going to New York. The neat thing about traveling alone on the train is that you can meet some interesting people. This was their first time on the Crescent, so I, being a Crescent veteran, offered them a good suggestion on what to order. Homemade southern style grits and biscuits! They took my advice and seemed to love it.

In between Slidell and Picayune…the first two station stops….I made my way back to my comfortable coach seat to so some window-watching. The scenery is mostly forest with the occasional bridge and small town every now and again. Nothing terribly exciting, but pretty nonetheless. About two hours and fifteen minutes after we left New Orleans, we passed through the small town of Poplarville,MS. My grandfather used to own land here until I was 13 years old. We came up here every weekend, sometimes by car, sometimes by train (the Poplarville stop has since been abandoned). It brought back some good memories.

Time quikly passes on the train. It was 11:00am before I knew it, and we pulled into Meridian, MS, home to a nicely restored train depot. About fifteen passengers boarded in Meridian, which is a major rail junction location. Quite a few rail yards in the area.

Once we departed Meridian, I made my way to the Lounge Car to grab a coke and do some reading. The next station stop was mine: Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Before arriving, we crossed a good-sized river, the name of which eludes me at this time.

As usual, we were right on schedule for the entire trip, which has a duration of 5 hours and 20 minutes. The return trip to New Orleans is a little longer, since the trains back up into the New Orleans terminal, just as they do in Chicago.

Another great Amtrak journey comes to an end.

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RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 10:55 am

I've only been on the train from Chicago to Toronto (I got on, and off again, at East Lansing, MI). The trip there was kinda long. I guess it was ok. (This was about five years ago).

On the way back, we had an extremely crabby conductor named Kenny Lpage. He was all mad and yelling at us because we got off to stretch our legs at a station (I think Port Huron). We had been told that we were welcome to do that on the way there. Mr. Lpage had a problem with it, and made sure we knew about it. I believe he also snapped at me for some stupid reason (like going to the snack bar, or something). I've never had the desire to ride on Amtrak since. Just goes to show how one employee can blow the entire reputation of a company.
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:54 am

I've taken four Amtrak trips (all in 2001)

Stamford, CT- Washington DC (not too scenic, to say the least)
Baltimore- Stamford, CT

Kingstown, RI- Boston
Boston- Kingstown, RI

That's all for me. I've taken Metro-North (local commuter rail) more, cuz I usually take it whenever I go to NYC.

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Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2001 9:24 am

RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 12:12 pm

I really like the train too. I rode Amtrak twice and it was great. I had only one problem but the trips were nice and the service was good. the funniest thing was when I was on a Amtrak train from Pontiac, MI to Chicago and there were a lot of people on the train and once when I went to the back they were out of food and all they had were mufins and diet soda. Also they neeed to fix the PA system on their box style trains they run to michigan and other places. A lot of Garbling is not a good way to say thanks for riding Amtrak and this is the end of the line. Smile/happy/getting dizzy
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
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RE: Amtrak Trips

Wed Aug 06, 2003 4:30 pm

Yes,coast to coast travel is offered.
As mentioned above you will most likely have to connect at Chicago or you take the Sunset Limited. Which runs from Orlando,FL to Los Angeles,CA.

Amtrak is fun and when you´re travelling on an international rail pass they offer it´s way cheaper than Greyhound. No option to flying though.
The Metro might be the Sub(optimal)way

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