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1337Delta764
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For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:52 pm

As many Amtrak fans should know, Amtrak plans on replacing about 65% of the Superliner I fleet with the new Superliner IIIs. With all the new technology available, I think Amtrak should introduce some new amenities to them, since the Superliners serve the longest routes in the Amtrak system.

Here is what I would like to see:
  • AVOD/live satellite TV
  • Wi-Fi
  • Adjustable headrests
  • LED mood lighting


Amtrak can market these amenities to attract more riders, and it would also help them better compete against low-cost airlines.

What does anyone here think should go into the Superliner III fleet?
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dumbell2424
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:20 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
Amtrak can market these amenities to attract more riders, and it would also help them better compete against low-cost airlines.

You still face the problem of time. I don't think any of the amenities listed will make a 3 day trip seem more enjoyable than an LCC.

Example:

Chicago-Emeryville on direct train= 52hr, 10min
Chicago-Oakland on WN, nonstop= 4hr, 40min

When something is almost 13 times longer, but still nets around the same price, sometimes even greater, it will never be worth it except to the select few who want the train/countryside experience. But those select few will not offset the cost of any AVOD/WiFi

I think they'd concentrate on big technology on Acela/NE Corridor before their transcon stuff.
 
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1337Delta764
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:10 pm

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 1):

I think they'd concentrate on big technology on Acela/NE Corridor before their transcon stuff.

There are indeed plans to replace most (about 95%) of the Amfleet I in the next 5 years, as well as complete elimination of the Heritage Fleet.
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BMI727
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:08 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
Wishlist 

Stop losing money.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
Stabilator
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:16 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
Wishlist  

Be on-time.

I took the train from Grand Forks to St. Paul and the train was delayed by 4.5 hours. A train that was supposed to leave around 12:30 left around 5:00 AM. Needless to say I'll never ride again. No apology was made by the representative at the station nor by anyone aboard. Big thumbs down IMO.

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 1):
You still face the problem of time. I don't think any of the amenities listed will make a 3 day trip seem more enjoyable than an LCC

  
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1337Delta764
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:33 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 3):
Stop losing money.

That is unless they can charge for AVOD movies and Wi-Fi, leaving only the satellite TV as free. Also, there should be the ability to purchase headphones at the store at the lower level of the lounge car.

Also, the PTVs should also include a moving map program, which would show the train on a map, as well as showing estimated arrival time to the next station, as well as the speed the train is traveling.
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BMI727
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:49 pm

Quoting Stabilator (Reply 4):
I took the train from Grand Forks to St. Paul and the train was delayed by 4.5 hours.

You're lucky you got a train at all. More than once, Amtrak decided with little warning to become Amroad and put passengers on a bus. Then there was the time Amtrak was going to strand the rest of my family in Salt Lake City for a few days because of flooding in Iowa, but my parents smartly decided to fly home instead.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 5):
as well as showing estimated arrival time to the next station

Might be embarrassing more than anything.
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greaser
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:56 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 3):
Stop losing money.

Well, that would mean:

1. Turning NEC into a high-speed rail exclusive line. The Acela gives Amtrak very generous profits.
2. Eliminating continental routes
3. Focusing on inter-city rail, such as the NEC, Hiawatha line, Chicago - Minneapolis, Los Angeles - San Francisco, Seattle - Portland - San Francisco, Miami - Orlando - Tampa (apparently will never happen).

High capacity, high speed rail on these routes would decimate the competition (auto, air). Needless to say if I owned Amtrak these would be the methods I would employ. Of course heavy capital investment, as with all trains, is required.
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BMI727
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:04 pm

Quoting Greaser (Reply 7):
Of course heavy capital investment, as with all trains, is required.

Which is exactly why I'd pull the plug on the whole thing.
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Stealthz
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:09 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
Then there was the time Amtrak was going to strand the rest of my family in Salt Lake City for a few days because of flooding in Iowa

A natural event outside their control, this is Amtraks fault... how?

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
Amtrak decided with little warning to become Amroad

All modes of transport have service difficulties sometimes and they made alternate arrangements, this somehow makes them a failure!!

Never had a cancelled or delayed flight???
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BMI727
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:17 pm

Quoting stealthz (Reply 9):
A natural event outside their control, this is Amtraks fault... how?

Their solution, to just wait, was not sufficient. No alternate routing, no other arrangements, just sit and wait.

Quoting stealthz (Reply 9):
All modes of transport have service difficulties sometimes and they made alternate arrangements, this somehow makes them a failure!!

When the point of a train is to avoid traffic, yes it does. And it seems to happen quite a bit, since they don't own a lot of the tracks they use. And never making a nickel makes them a failure too.

Quoting stealthz (Reply 9):
Never had a cancelled or delayed flight???

Plenty, and in my experience airlines seem to do a much better job dealing with it. And distance where a train makes sense, it also would make sense to drive and fly. There isn't much point dealing with Amtrak when I could just drive.
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N867DA
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:46 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 5):
Also, the PTVs should also include a moving map program, which would show the train on a map, as well as showing estimated arrival time to the next station, as well as the speed the train is traveling.

  

This is the biggest improvement I would like to see in any Amtrak coach. Even if there are no PTVs, there should at least be an overhead LCD screen with this information. I vaguely remember a TV in my Viewliner roomette back in the 1990s, but I haven't seen a TV in any of the rooms since then. The TV didn't have any route information, so I never really used it.

Here are my suggestions:

Seat back power outlets
Cup holders
An improved way to stow curtains
A front view camera that shows the track ahead of the engine. There's already a camera there, and it can't be that complicated to add the feature to a PTV system.

I'll hold my breath on this one, but a real dome car would be nice!
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jcs17
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:41 am

Quoting Stabilator (Reply 4):
Be on-time.

I took the train from Grand Forks to St. Paul and the train was delayed by 4.5 hours. A train that was supposed to leave around 12:30 left around 5:00 AM. Needless to say I'll never ride again. No apology was made by the representative at the station nor by anyone aboard. Big thumbs down IMO.

Welcome to the club.

In fact, I had the same thing happen to me on the Grand Forks-Minneapolis run, except worse. The train was two hours late into the Forks. I fell asleep on the train and woke up at 8AM, an hour before I should've checked in for my flight to Dallas via ORD. We were stopped outside of St. Cloud because a freight train derailed ahead of us. Seven hours later, I'm a mess, and we're on a bus to Minny. I had to pay $200 to get re-ticketed, with absolutely no compensation from Amtrak.

It's a government run organization, what can you realistically expect?
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dragon6172
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:49 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
No alternate routing

I do not think that is quite as easy as it sounds for a train.
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lhr380
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:22 pm

Quoting JCS17 (Reply 12):
with absolutely no compensation from Amtrak.

Why would you need comp? They fulfilled the agreements of the ticket to take you from A-B, there were major circumstances out of their control that delayed it, but they still did their part. Its the same in the airline Industry, the airlines do not do anything about onward transportation that is not part of the ticket (Normally)
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af773atmsp
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:14 pm

A few years ago I was going to ride Amtrak from St. Paul to Red Wing but the train was delayed for a couple hours because they had to replace a wheel or something like that. We decided not to take the train.
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wagz
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:22 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
Their solution, to just wait, was not sufficient. No alternate routing, no other arrangements, just sit and wait.

Easier said than done when it comes to a train. Obviously there are only railroad tracks in certain places. Not like a plane that can fly around weather, or a car that can take a road a couple miles out of the way. On top of that railroad crews are qualified on the piece of territory on which they work. That means they have to know literally every inch of hundreds of miles of track. They have to know by memory every switch/interlocking, signal location, curve, crossing bridge etc. This includes knowing speed limits/restriction for every one of those curves or switches down to the tenth or even hundredth of a mile. So even if there is an alternate routing available, your crew isn't qualified to operate on it. And I believe railroad crews must remain current on territory they're qualified on, so even if their qualified on said emergency routing, if they never have a need to operate there than they won't be current.

The only alternative is to get a "pilot" crew to ride in the cab with the regular crew for the trackage they're not qualified on, and if there's a flood like you mentioned, freight crews may be out of place with stranded trains and manpower may not be available to ride with Amtrak. Not much different than any major airline during a large blizzard etc.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
And it seems to happen quite a bit, since they don't own a lot of the tracks they use. And never making a nickel makes them a failure too.

Correct, the vast majority of Amtrak routes on over host freight railroads. But because of this Amtrak has really no control. The host railroads typically give their high priority fast intermodal trains priority over the railroad.

And news flash. No public transit operation in this country has ever made a profit, and likely never will. All public transit relies on government subsidies to operate day to day. The cost structure compared to what comes in the "fare box" from the passenger doesn't permit it. A recent discussion I read on a NJ Transit forum posed the question of what fares would have to be if NJ Transit was a normal private company with no government subsidy. The generally accepted answer was fares would have to be 3x what they are now to break even. And that didn't include capital funding to upgrade and replace old equipment. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor/Acela operations come closest to breaking even, or may actually make a small profit compared to their costs. But of course there is a lot more to Amtrak than just the Northeast Corridor.

Now don't get me wrong, you won't catch me taking Amtrak on long distance routes because 3 days to go 2000 miles is time I just don't have to waste. And the Europeans have us beat in railway efficiency by 100 fold. But it annoys me when everyone flat out blames Amtrak for every problem under the sun, when they physically can't do anything more. I'm sure we all here feel the same way when we hear disgruntled airline passengers ripping some poor gate agent a new one when they're flight is canceled and they aren't rebooked on to some other plane leaving 5 minutes ago. Its just the nature of the beast.

And as for the original topic at hand, I'm not really interested so much in Amtrak long distance. I'm much more interested in seeing the new Corridor cars being spec'ed right now and the ACS-64 locomotives they'll be getting from Siemens.
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N1120A
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:23 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 3):

Stop losing money.

I have an easy solution to that - force all the freight railroads to sell their tracks or grant Amtrak unlimited, free, priority trackage in exchange for the fact that the federal government basically built the rail network for them. Then, actually invest in a true, nationwide high speed rail system.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 8):

Which is exactly why I'd pull the plug on the whole thing.

Yeah, because we like hate efficiency.
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KevinL1011
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:41 am

Quoting N867DA (Reply 11):
An improved way to stow curtains


Good one. Sounds like you're a sleeping car rider. Better ventilation, larger showers and WC's that are more reliable would be my paramount suggestions.

Quoting N867DA (Reply 11):
A front view camera that shows the track ahead of the engine. There's already a camera there, and it can't be that complicated to add the feature to a PTV system.


Nice one again!

The rest of you cry babies should find other ways to travel.
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desertjets
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:19 pm

I do wonder if even in the golden age of railroading if the passenger services (long haul/regional/commuter) were ever profitable for the major railroads. Sure some of these trains brought prestige to their respective railroads, but I seriously wonder if they were ever money makers.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 17):
I have an easy solution to that - force all the freight railroads to sell their tracks or grant Amtrak unlimited, free, priority trackage in exchange for the fact that the federal government basically built the rail network for them. Then, actually invest in a true, nationwide high speed rail system.

what he said.

Part of the problem that plagues rail in this country are the ridiculous FRA regulations that make American trains considerably heavier. The Amtrak Cascades with the Taglo trainsets have to run a dummy engine on the back to meet FRA crash regulations. If we could rationalize those regulations and get all the pax rail lines upgraded to allow for faster running speeds that would be a major improvement.

To really develop our rail infrastructure is going to require a lot of money. The Japanese and Europeans began that push 50 years ago, the Chinese are doing it now, why the hell aren't we doing it?




Back to the OP.

While I am in the camp that the entertainment on the train is the scenery out the window, something like LiveTV would be a good idea -- w/ PPV options.

Taking a long-distance rail journey is something I really want to do soon.
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iflykpdx
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:48 pm

I'm for the plan of investing in short-medium length high speed routes in highly traveled corridors and leaving the transcon travel to the airlines. My only concern would possibly be affordability, but if transcon rail fares are truly on par with the airlines, I don't see any point in subsidizing them. I should point out that I'm a big fan of Amtrak, and rail in general, but I'm also realistic when it comes to looking at things the government should be investing in. Cost-benefit for high speed corridors is undoubtedly much more positive than the transcon routes. Let's try doing that the best we can and leave the things that aren't cost effective any longer to history.
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RL757PVD
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:43 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 3):
Stop losing money.
Quoting BMI727 (Reply 8):
Which is exactly why I'd pull the plug on the whole thing.

One common misconception about Amtrak losing money compared to airlines is in the way they each operate and fund infrastructure.

The way Amtrak has to build and maintain infrastructure would be as if Delta had to build and maintain ATL and a share of other airports.

If airlines had to build and maintain their infrastructure in the same manner that Amtrak does, they would all need subsidies from the goverment too!

We should have dedicated corridors build and maintained by the Govt with rails for public use (open to competition) that are paid for by a ticket tax like on the airlines (Amtrak tickets have no tax like airlines currently).

Under an Airline like infrastructure construction and maintenance program, Amtrak might very well make money.
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DocLightning
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:52 pm

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 1):

Chicago-Emeryville on direct train= 52hr, 10min
Chicago-Oakland on WN, nonstop= 4hr, 40min

True, but on shorter trips it becomes more competitive.

Quoting rl757pvd (Reply 21):

We should have dedicated corridors build and maintained by the Govt with rails for public use (open to competition) that are paid for by a ticket tax like on the airlines (Amtrak tickets have no tax like airlines currently).

The problem is that if you do this, you get into scheduling nightmares with different trains. You'd need a centralized scheduling system.

The HSR and intercity systems in Europe and Japan work very well and rather than trying to re-invent the train, we should use their model.
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RL757PVD
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:03 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
The problem is that if you do this, you get into scheduling nightmares with different trains. You'd need a centralized scheduling system.

You'd have to make it work like airport slots sort of but the ownship is whats exacerbating the problem, even in areas like MA and CT... im CT Amtrak is limited to I believe 38 bridge crossings per day, and in MA, Amtrak is limited to 2 trains per hour. Its little BS like this that holds our system back and is the reason it is not profitable.
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canoecarrier
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:07 pm

Quoting Stabilator (Reply 4):
Be on-time.

This is my number one complaint with Amtrak. Although, to be fair I've only ridden Amtrak once in the past 15 or more years, but it was just last winter. I took the train from Seattle to Whitefish, MT. The train was delayed 4 hours out of Seattle and rolled into Whitefish 6 hours late. Since it was a ski trip we missed a half a day. We did get a roomette for the trip, and of that I was quite happy.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
You're lucky you got a train at all. More than once, Amtrak decided with little warning to become Amroad and put passengers on a bus.

This happens quite frequently on the Seattle to Vancouver segment. But, it isn't Amtrak's fault. We have frequent landslides on the tracks which parallel the coast and with nearly no notice you could end up on a Greyhound bus.

Quoting Wagz (Reply 16):
Now don't get me wrong, you won't catch me taking Amtrak on long distance routes because 3 days to go 2000 miles is time I just don't have to waste.

That's a matter of personal preference. People take long distance train trips for different reasons than people take plane trips. I came away from my Amtrak experience thinking that taking a cross country train trip would be fun. But, I'd want to have a bigger room than a roomette, which was two opposite facing seats that folded down and had a pull down rack for the second person to sleep on above.

As for things that would have made my trip more enjoyable... Yes on the PTVs, the camera seeing the tracks in front is a cool idea but I really doubt I would have used it much, better storage around your seat, cleaner bathrooms. If I remember right they had two big bags of towels shoved in the dirty bathroom I had to use on the train.
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DocLightning
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:42 pm

Here's the real issue.

My hubby and I wanted to take a "land cuise" on a Superliner from Emeryville to Denver. Rent a room, chill out, sip wine, read books, and watch the Rockies float by. Trip is 32 hours long. On arrival in Denver, we'd hop on a plane and fly back to SF.

If we want to rent a room for the two of us for that one-night trip, it's over $1,000. And that's with a shared bathroom. A night in a fancy suite at the Ritz-Carlton wouldn't cost that much, and we'd get our own bathroom (marble, no doubt).

For that money, we could take a 5-day cruise.

And so, we won't be taking that little trip.
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canoecarrier
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:00 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 25):

And so, we won't be taking that little trip.

Our overnight trip to Whitefish wasn't really all that expensive. If I recall it ran about $230/person with the roomette. At the time we booked the fare it was comparable with the cost of an airline ticket on QX.

Just looking at ticket prices today one way from Seattle to LA with a roomette is $459. The Family Bedroom starts to make more sense when you actually have a family traveling with you. For that same routing it's $870 for one person, but $1078 total for 2 adults and 2 children under 15. In my opinion that would be better than driving/flying with kids.
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DocLightning
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:18 am

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 26):

Just looking at ticket prices today one way from Seattle to LA with a roomette is $459.

Then I wonder why San Francisco to Denver is so hideously expensive.
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canoecarrier
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RE: For Amtrak Fans - Superliner III Wishlist

Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:17 am

Might be your travel dates Doc. I looked at the 25th and got 2 people and a roomette for $705.00 SFO to DEN. Some of the closer dates were in that range as well. The roomette is a little like a domestic F class setup. Let me clarify that...don't expect the seat or the service to be like F, expect the space you get comparable but you get a seat that turns into a bed. If it were me I'd spend the extra $100-$150 and get the family room.
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