trekster
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Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:56 am

Hi guys.

Am planning (way in advance) my 27th Bday trip, and have decided on doing the Empire Builder Amtrak Service from ORD to SEA in June.

I know there are alot of people here that use the Amtrak services alot, so was wondering if anyone here has used it, and also if anyone has pictures from inside the train.

I have been to the sister train site and had a look at some of the stunning scenery it passes through  Smile

I cant wait to travel on it, even though I have a while.

(bmiflyer, no need to reply, i know u have used it)

Dan
Where does the time go???
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:41 am

Like Mark said in the other thread. Make a stop in Mpls and we'll party it up.

Also, rather than buying a ticket, look into buying the USA Rail Pass. Unlimited travel for 15 or 30 days.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:48 am

Ta for the offer  Smile

But I think doing it straight thu will be good, and as its only 3 days for a good price, around $850 all inc + tips, i dont think the pass is right for the journey. I have looked at it before, and may use it when i do my longer US trip in a few years.

Dan
Where does the time go???
 
Superfly
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:49 am

Enjoy your trek Trekster!
I have a friend that has done it and I plan on doing it at some point. I'd recommend getting a sleeper cart if finances permits. They can be expensive. It is nice to be able to shower.
The view of the Rockies are impressive and you'll go through Glacier National Park. I'd like to see those before they are all melted away. The California Zephyr goes through the Colorado Rockies which are more impressive than in Montana (so I've been told).
Before your trip to Chicago, make sure you eat Giordano's Chicago style pizza. The best in the world. Take lots of pictures.
Bring back the Concorde
 
aloges
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:57 am

Quoting Trekster (Thread starter):
ORD to SEA in June.

I have no idea about Seattle, but you'll love Chicago in June... very nice! Where and how long are you staying?
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:01 am

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...am2Copy&cid=1080080554041&ssid=142

Were hoping to get one of these.

June is not going to come soon enough
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Superfly
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:06 am

Meals included
Space for four to six passengers
Large picture window
Private sink, vanity, private toilet and shower
Upper and lower berths
Armchair
Sofa (converts to lower berth)
Electrical outlets
Climate control
Individual reading lights
Garment rack
Fold-down table
Fresh towels and bed linens
Soap and shower amenities
Personal service (turn-down, coffee, paper, make-up bed)
Bottled water
Daily newspaper





Nice!  Cool
You are going to see America in style.  bigthumbsup 
Bring back the Concorde
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:27 am

Love the pic  Smile
Thanks

This year im doing a sleeper train to St Andrews in the UK, next year this trip, and after that the Australia East to West Coast at some point  Smile
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KaiGywer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:29 am

Quoting Trekster (Reply 2):
But I think doing it straight thu will be good, and as its only 3 days for a good price, around $850 all inc + tips, i dont think the pass is right for the journey. I have looked at it before, and may use it when i do my longer US trip in a few years.

National Rail Passes
Adult
15-Day $389.00 Off-Peak $499.00 Peak
30-Day $469.00 Off-Peak $599.00 Peak
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
Superfly
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:31 am

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 8):
National Rail Passes
Adult
15-Day $389.00 Off-Peak $499.00 Peak
30-Day $469.00 Off-Peak $599.00 Peak

Are those Superliner delux private room prices?
Bring back the Concorde
 
57AZ
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:31 am

It's a nice trip-had a friend make a great circle trip of the US using Amtrak. Of course, if you can come up with the money the swankest way to go is by private rail car. There are numerous private cars that are Amtrak approved and can be chartered for 5-10 people. You get placed at the rear of the train, have a private view and a personal chef and steward to serve you.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:36 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 9):
Are those Superliner delux private room prices?

No, those are just the prices for a regular seat. Bedrooms are extra depending on the line and length.

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 10):
It's a nice trip-had a friend make a great circle trip of the US using Amtrak

I planned one of those the other day just for fun. MSP-SEA-LAX-MSY-NYC-MSP in 14 days  Smile
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:39 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 9):
Are those Superliner delux private room prices?

Forgot to mention, just in case you were asking for yourself. US citizens and permanent residents are not eligible  Sad

We need to buy this:

Travel North America!

Offered jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada, the North America Rail Pass provides you with 30 consecutive travel days with unlimited rides and stopovers throughout the United States and Canada. VIA Rail Canada is Canada's premier passenger rail provider.

Pass Highlights

* Travel for 30 consecutive days
* More than 28,000 miles and more than 900 destinations

Cost

*
Peak: $999.00 — US ($899.10 with senior, student and child discount)
*
Off-Peak: $709.00 — US ($638.10 with senior, student and child discount)

Travel Periods

*
Peak: May 25, 2007 - October 15, 2007
*
Off-Peak: October 16, 2007 - May 22, 2008

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...am2Copy&cid=1081442673918&ssid=295
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:40 am

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 10):

Now that would be nice  Smile

Who fancys it, Train trip across the us  Wink haha

Next US trip will be MCO-NYC-SFO
Now that will be a fun one
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Superfly
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:51 am

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 12):
Forgot to mention, just in case you were asking for yourself. US citizens and permanent residents are not eligible

I'll just fake a Cuban accent.
Works everytime.  Smile
Bring back the Concorde
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:00 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 14):
I'll just fake a Cuban accent.

You'll need to fake a Cuban passport too  Smile
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
stlgph
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 11:43 am

Hrmm ... the rail pass is a hell of an idea. I have four weeks of vacation time I need to burn up!  Wink
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jcs17
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:19 pm

There are a bunch of people here who have never taken that line who encourage you to give it a shot. They're train junkies. I've had the "pleasure" of taking the Empire Builder a few times from Grand Forks, ND. to St. Paul, MN. A six hour trip... that is usually from hell. Two out of three times the train was horribly delayed, including one time when a freight train derailed ahead of us, and eight hours later we had to take busses to St. Paul from St. Cloud (a 70 mile journey... that I ended up having to pay $250 to ATA for rebooking fees and such for my flight to DFW). If you're not planning to get a sleeping car, have a great time talking with guys who are in freight train gangs or other Euros who don't understand the concept of Amtrak=sucks. The Empire Builder is the Greyhound of the Upper Midwest/Great Plains.

Do yourself a favor, find a cheap fare on an airline, probably WN SEA-MDW... and take it. You might have a great trip on the Empire Builder and good for you, but from experience stick to air travel over our fine part of the nation.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:43 pm

Riding coach isn't bad. The seats recline quite a bit and they're wide with killer pitch.
I have no trouble sleeping in them. They're like sleeping in a La-Z-Boy chair.





Seating in the lounge is nice.



Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Damned MSP...Red tail...Red tail
 
jcs17
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:53 pm

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 18):
Riding coach isn't bad. The seats recline quite a bit and they're wide with killer pitch.
I have no trouble sleeping in them. They're like sleeping in a La-Z-Boy chair.

Yep, that La-Z-Boy is fantastic when Amtrak overbooks the train and you're stuck sitting in a hard seat in the observation car. The other time I was badly delayed, I slept next to a smelly vagrant who told me about his rides in the hinterlands of Montana.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
BMIFlyer
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:59 pm

Ah, I thought you might post here Dan!  Smile

As soon as I get my 2008 leave allocated at work, i'll help you arrange the trip. Still just 3 of us going?

You just won't find me flying BA tho to get to the states, sorry  duck 

Quoting Trekster (Thread starter):
(bmiflyer, no need to reply, i know u have used it)

Yes, I've travelled on the following trains the entire length of the journey:-

The Sunset Limited (MCO to LAX)
Southwest Chief (ORD - LAX)
Capitol Limited (IAD - ORD)

Also been on the Acela from New York, to Washington D.C as well Big grin




Lee
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:10 pm

My God! Lee's alive and kicking. Well I'll be damned.
Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Damned MSP...Red tail...Red tail
 
57AZ
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:21 pm

Quoting JCS17 (Reply 19):
The other time I was badly delayed, I slept next to a smelly vagrant who told me about his rides in the hinterlands of Montana.

That's why I always book a sleeper-even if it's the economy unit. As for quality, the Sunset is usually late but to varying degrees. I do remember at least one time that I was called to drive an Amtrak sub due to a very late train-the company I was working for at the time has the contract to handle Amtrak substitutions west of Tucson. Rather than make the passengers from Tucson and points west wait several hours for the train, they gave us sufficient notice and we ran two coaches out of Tucson on the advertised schedule. The other driver went to LA by way of Maricopa, Palm Springs, Pomona and Ontario. I went by way of Yuma. Had one through passenger out of Tucson and picked up two more in Yuma. Then when Amtrak turned the train short at Tucson, we had several coaches as everyone had to transfer to the bus. Everyone else got to go either express to LA except for the guy that went via Yuma. I got to do all the local stops besides Yuma, which put me in an hour later than everyone else. The real fun was staging the bags in the baggage bay

Despite all the delays that Amtrak gets thrown, I don't mind taking them when I have the time. You may occasionally find an indifferent train crew member now and then, but most of them are doing their best with the little amount of resources Amtrak has. As I have said previously, if Amtrak is a viable choice I will give them my business over the airlines. At least the crews on Amtrak are glad to see you.

Quoting JCS17 (Reply 19):
Yep, that La-Z-Boy is fantastic when Amtrak overbooks the train and you're stuck sitting in a hard seat in the observation car.

It would be nice if Amtrak installed different seats in the Lounge Car. As for Observation Cars, the only ones you'll see on Amtrak are the private cars being handled on the rear-Amtrak got rid of Obs cars I'm aware of years ago for operational reasons.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:40 pm

Quoting Jcs17 (Reply 17):

That would defeat the whole purpose of the trip. We training it to SEA, and then flying out of there 2 days later, after of course paying a visit to the local plane making company, cant recall who they are though  Confused  Big grin

Lee, I knew you would post here haha, and yea, just the 3 of us for the trip (unless a few netters wanna get together and hire that private coach as mentioned above  Wink
Where does the time go???
 
skidmarks
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:10 pm

Dan, Lee - I hate the pair of you with a passion! Far too much freedom and not enough responsibility from either of you!!  cry   cry 

Enjoy it. I'll get back to the States sometime and do MY trip! Big grin

Andy  old 
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seb146
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 12:56 am

I always take coach when I go on the "long haul" trains. I can't afford the sleepers. I did PSC-FAR on the Empire Builder once and, way back when, I did PDT-Lincoln, Nebraska a few times before they stopped that service. The Empire Builder splits at GEG. Three or four cars go south to PSC and on to PDX and the rest go on to SEA. My mom lives on the southern Empire Builder, so I take that sometimes to see her when the weather is bad. You will enjoy the scenery once you get past Havre, Montana. It seemed to take forever to get through Eastern Montana and North Dakota. I would like to go PDX-SEA before they restore Talgo service so I can experience something different.

As far as SEA in June, the weather is usualy cool--highs only in the 70s(F) if they are lucky. Enjoy the trip!
You bet I'm pumped!!! I just had a green tea!!!
 
AzoresLover
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:54 am

One time on the Empire Builder...

It was in early March, and the train was a couple hours late out of Wenatchee WA for SEA. It was very wintery in Wenatchee, lots of snow and cold. We left Wenatchee around 8am, in daylight. The trip over the mountains was just spectacular, with all the snow, tall trees, etc. Then down the other side we dropped out of winter, and it became warm and clear, blue sky. During the ride along Puget Sound between Everett and SEA, the water was so beautiful due to the sun and blue sky, and the Sound was covered with recreational boats of all types. It looked like a beautiful summer day!

How many train trips can you take where, within the span of just over 4 hours, you can go from hard winter and heavy snow to clear blue sky, warm temps, and loads of boats on the water enjoying the great weather!

And Trekster: From one train nut to another...enjoy the trip across the northern US!!

[Edited 2007-08-10 18:57:49]
Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
 
Superfly
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:02 am

Quoting Trekster (Reply 23):
That would defeat the whole purpose of the trip.

I wouldn't let his experience deter you. Keep in mind, he complained about no PTVs on Amtrak.  boggled 
Riding a train is not about isolating yourselves from others like on an airplane.
Bring back the Concorde
 
aloges
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:09 am

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 26):
How many train trips can you take where, within the span of just over 4 hours, you can go from hard winter and heavy snow to clear blue sky, warm temps, and loads of boats on the water enjoying the great weather!

Completely off topic, but the train from Oslo to Bergen is quite like that. 'twas funny seeing all those people with their skis enter the train I had boarded in abut 20°C weather.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:37 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 27):

It aint goin to detur me at all, trust me. Nowt will stop me taking this trip  Smile
And Regarding IFE, they do have it haha. You can rent a digiplayer, though there will be 2 laptops so no need to spend $30

Quoting Skidmarks (Reply 24):

What you talking bout lol. I will have to take leave for this, and am planning it so far in advance lol
Where does the time go???
 
N1120A
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 12:32 pm

Quoting Trekster (Thread starter):
Am planning (way in advance) my 27th Bday trip, and have decided on doing the Empire Builder Amtrak Service from ORD to SEA in June.

If you want the really scenic ride, go ORD-PDX and then ride a Cascades train to Seattle. The Spokane-Portland leg follows the amazingly beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

Quoting Superfly (Reply 3):
Before your trip to Chicago, make sure you eat Giordano's Chicago style pizza.

One piece of advice: take the normal amount of pizza you can eat and divide by 1/4th. LOT767-300ER had his head crashed on the table after 2 slices.

Quoting JCS17 (Reply 19):
Yep, that La-Z-Boy is fantastic when Amtrak overbooks the train and you're stuck sitting in a hard seat in the observation car.

Um, the seats are reserved, so if that actually happened, they would have to compensate you.

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 22):
You may occasionally find an indifferent train crew member now and then, but most of them are doing their best with the little amount of resources Amtrak has.

One good thing about Amtrak is that they tend to treat their employees decently and that means you get people who care about their job.

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 22):
As for Observation Cars, the only ones you'll see on Amtrak are the private cars being handled on the rear-Amtrak got rid of Obs cars I'm aware of years ago for operational reasons.

Well, the Sightseer Lounge cars are like modern observation cars and offer an even better view. Also, Amtrak brings their own heritage classic observation cars out of mothballs for popular trains at times.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 12:57 pm

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 26):
How many train trips can you take where, within the span of just over 4 hours, you can go from hard winter and heavy snow to clear blue sky, warm temps, and loads of boats on the water enjoying the great weather!

The Empire Builder passes through Glacier National Park and stops at East Glacier station and West Glacier station. Last time I rode that train, we went from 70º F in Shelby, Montana, to 32º F at East Glacier in 90 minutes.
Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Damned MSP...Red tail...Red tail
 
TPAnx
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:19 pm

I've always wanted to take a cross-country train trip . But Mrs. TPAnx will have no part of it. She and my youngest
took the train (coach) from TPA to ORH...they got no sleep...the car lights were always on..the loud card game never stopped....said the food was bad.. Yet I can remember taking the train from Valparaiso, Indiana to NYC when I was in college..and having a restful night of sleep...waking up and having one of the best breakfasts ever in the dining car with the heavy silverware, starched tablecloths, and a beatiful view of the Hudson River Valley....guess times have changed.
Wish we had adopted the European system...but it willl probably take 20 dollar a gallon gasoline to even start....
TPAnx  old 
I read the news today..oh boy
 
aaflt1871
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:36 pm

Quoting Skidmarks (Reply 24):
Enjoy it. I'll get back to the States sometime and do MY trip!

Where is that to Skiddy? Would that be to Pfizer Incorporated Headquarters in New York City to complain in person that your little blue Viagra pills are not helping you and you still have permanent limp noodle syndrome? (AKA ANCFlyer-itis)

 duck 
Where did everybody go?
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:39 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 30):
One piece of advice: take the normal amount of pizza you can eat and divide by 1/4th. LOT767-300ER had his head crashed on the table after 2 slices

oh lol, i can eat a fair amount of food lol

Quoting TPAnx (Reply 32):
waking up and having one of the best breakfasts

just seen the menu exampls and it really does look good
 Smile
Where does the time go???
 
N1120A
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:06 pm

Quoting Trekster (Reply 34):
oh lol, i can eat a fair amount of food lol

Trust me on this one, 2 slices and you want nothing but salad for 2 days.

Quoting Trekster (Reply 34):
Quoting TPAnx (Reply 32):
waking up and having one of the best breakfasts

just seen the menu exampls and it really does look good

Meh, maybe for English food  . Amtrak's food used to be top notch, but thanks to John McCain and his cronies, the budget cuts have meant rather mediocre cuisine.

[Edited 2007-08-11 07:06:46]
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
skidmarks
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:48 pm

Quoting AAFLT1871 (Reply 33):
Where is that to Skiddy? Would that be to Pfizer Incorporated Headquarters in New York City to complain in person that your little blue Viagra pills are not helping you and you still have permanent limp noodle syndrome? (AKA ANCFlyer-itis)

You sir are a bounder and a cad! If I didn't have to lug this walker everywhere and had full control of my bowels, why for two pins I'd give you a sound thrashing!  snooty 

And my "noodle" is never limp when faced with a woman (any sort), just a tad small thats all!
 embarrassed 

Andy  old 
Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:13 am

Quoting Skidmarks (Reply 36):
just a tad small thats all!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Just spilt my drink thanks
Where does the time go???
 
57AZ
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:45 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 30):

Well, the Sightseer Lounge cars are like modern observation cars and offer an even better view. Also, Amtrak brings their own heritage classic observation cars out of mothballs for popular trains at times.

They're nice, but they're still more a parlor car design than a true solarium/observation car. Having worked on old fashioned, open platform business-observation cars, I still prefer their comfort over the Amtrak parlor car. I do wish that the Amtrak cars had the swivel chairs found on the older cars. As for the view, the observation rooms on traditional cars offer more of a view-you can look out either side or to the rear. The car that I rode and worked with most was ex-Baltimore and Ohio No. 98. She was built in 1917 by Pullman as part of a two car order and has never carried paying passengers, othen than being chartered. She is now owned by Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and used as the office car for the Tennessee Valley Railroad. She is stored at Grand Junction (Jersey) when not on line and is not open for public viewing or visitation. She only goes on line when chartered or for official railroad business. Her maximum capacity is 12 riders and 2 crew in day configuration-night configuration is 8 riders and two crew.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
redngold
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:08 am

Before it was discontinued, I rode the Desert Wind from Chicago to Las Vegas and back. Like it was stated above, the coach seats were very comfortable. On the second and third nights of the westbound trip, I was able to take my ticket to a different seat where I could stretch out.

My best suggestion: pack your own food if you can - the dining car is expensive and the cafe food is fast food. Apples, crackers and cured meat will make for good eating.
Up, up and away!
 
trekster
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:27 am

Quoting Redngold (Reply 39):

Well, we get the meals included in the cost of the accomodation, so wont need to worry there.
Will take snacks though, and of course some booze  Smile Its my bday on the 10th so will wanna get merry  Wink
Where does the time go???
 
N1120A
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RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:33 am

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 38):
They're nice, but they're still more a parlor car design than a true solarium/observation car. Having worked on old fashioned, open platform business-observation cars, I still prefer their comfort over the Amtrak parlor car.

The AKRR uses similar double deckers for their higher class service while the older obs cars are used for the basic service because of the difference in view.

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 38):
I do wish that the Amtrak cars had the swivel chairs found on the older cars.

Yeah, that would be nice

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 38):
As for the view, the observation rooms on traditional cars offer more of a view-you can look out either side or to the rear.

The problem there is that they are connected to Superliner double deckers, which significantly obscure the view.

Quoting Redngold (Reply 39):
My best suggestion: pack your own food if you can - the dining car is expensive

He is doing a sleeper, which means dining car meals are included.

Quoting Redngold (Reply 39):
the cafe food is fast food.

It isn't really even that, though those crappy frozen pizzas they have been serving for 20 years are somehow tasty.

Quoting Trekster (Reply 40):
and of course some booze

They sell booze on board
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
trekster
Topic Author
Posts: 4319
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 2:47 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:38 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 41):
They sell booze on board

And if they dont have what i like  Wink lol
We can have a couple of six packs for the room to enjoy the trip more lol
Where does the time go???
 
N1120A
Posts: 26541
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:08 am

Quoting Trekster (Reply 42):
And if they dont have what i like

They have a pretty well stocked bar. Also, you wont have to worry about some pikey moron getting in a fight with you in the Cafe Car  Silly
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
jetstar
Posts: 1414
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 2:16 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:05 am

I have taken Amtrak’s Auto Train to and from Florida and their Superliner lounge cars are different than the one shown in the previous pictures. Instead of the side facing seats they have dinette seating. On one train it was a Viewliner car with the larger windows and the other just a Superliner car. Because the Auto Train has a larger amount of families traveling they have their lounge cars configured this way so the families can sit together and play games.

Amtrak’s Auto Train is very unique, it runs nonstop except for a fuel and engine crew change in Florence SC, from Lorton VA, 30 miles south of Washington DC to Sanford FL, 30 miles east of Orlando. It departs each location around 4:pm and arrives the next day at 9:am.

The Auto Train is by far Amtrak’s longest train, on our trips there were 14 passenger cars and 17 car carriers for a total of 31 cars. I was told that during the high season the train can have as many as 57 cars total, almost a mile in length. The consist on my trip northbound was first the crew dormitory car, a sleeper dining car and a sleeper lounge car and 5 sleeping cars, then 4 coach cars a coach lounge car and 2 coach dining cars followed by the 17 car carriers.

On the Auto Train dinner and breakfast is included in the price and it is also the only Amtrak train that allows smoking, the lower level of each lounge car has a small separate smoking compartment. The sleeping dining car has a larger selection of entrees than the coach dining car. Dinner in the coach dining cars was served on disposable plastic dishes with metal utensils. The food portions were small but very good. Dinner was just an entrée and desert with rolls on the table. Breakfast was bagels, cereal and juice and muffins.

The train travels over CSX transportation tracks the entire route. South of Richmond VA the track was mostly single line so we passed a few freight trains holding in sidings and even we had to take to a siding to allow other Amtrak trains to pass us.

While the ride was very good on most of the tracks, there were some long stretches that CSX has never upgraded from joined rail to welded rail and on these sections the ride was very rough. Unfortunately some of these sections we traveled on during the early am hours and it was tough sleeping. At times I had my Magellan GPS set up and showed speeds up to 72 mph. It seemed that the engineer was constantly blowing his horn as he approached the grade crossings because of the numerous grade crossings. On the first trip we sat ear the front of the coach car and it rode very rough. On the next trip we sat in the middle and it rode much smoother. During dinner one time, we sat in the very front of the dining car and we were on joined rail and it made for a very rough ride, the waiter spilled some water on the table when trying to fill the water glass on this rough track.

The Auto Train differs from other Amtrak long distance trains because you cannot book passage without a vehicle, and tickets must be purchased in advance, you cannot purchase the tickets at the train station. Also coach seating is assigned at check it, it is not open seating.

When arriving at the terminal, you first stop at a booth where you show the attendant your ticket, he then attaches a magnetic number board to the side of the car and issues you a boarding pass. Then you drive up to the terminal where another attendant then takes the vehicle and drives it on to the car carriers. The car carriers are bi-level, the lower level can take vehicles up to 65 inches high and the upper level can take taller vehicles like SUV’s. Also small car towed trailers and motorcycles can be carried. Motorcycles are driven by the owner on to a platform with wheels, which hold 6 bikes, the owner has to assist in strapping down the bike. The platform is then towed on board the car carriers

There is no access to the vehicles after they are loaded onto the train so you have to take whatever you need with you on board for the overnight trip.

After dropping off your vehicle, then you have to go into the terminal and to the counter and check in where you are assigned a seat and make you dinner reservations. There are 3 seatings, 5, 7 and 9 pm. Breakfast is open seating from 6 to 8 am. Boarding starts at 2:30 pm and closes at 3 pm when the doors are closed. It takes around 45 minutes for the switcher engine to assemble the car carriers which are split up to 4 sections and attach them to the back of the train. Once the brake check is done and they get clearance from CSX off they go. Both times we were on the main track at 3:45pm. I found the coach seats very comfortable and once boarding was finished, there were quite a few open coach seats so some couples would split up and take the empty seats. On the northbound trip they announced on the train that there were 149 vehicles and 355 passengers on the train with a train crew of 27.

Because of the large amount of families with small kids traveling, Amtrak designates the coach car closest to the coach lounge car as the family car and assigns this car to these families, this leaves the other coach cars for adults and families with older kids

On arrival in Sanford, after they detach the car carriers, they split up the passenger cars onto 2 tracks because the station cannot hold all passenger cars like in Lorton. Once this is done then you go into the terminal and as they unload the vehicles they call out the numbers, but you can see the cars as they are driven off the car carriers, this can take as long as an hour if you car is one of the last to be unloaded. They do not turn the train around, they just unhook the engine from one end and hook it up at the other end and turn the coach seats around in the cars. For the passenger car section that is unhooked from the train in Sanford, they hook it up to ground power for air conditioning and lighting.

The terminal in Lorton VA was totally rebuilt in 2000 and is really nice, the Sanford terminal is the original terminal from the first privately owned Auto Train and the only comparison I can make it is like the main terminal at LGA, old and not enough seating.

I heard from the staff that Amtrak is looking for some property nearby so they car built a new terminal, but there is no money available at this time.

Taking the Auto Train saves over 800 miles of driving and a hotel stay so the cost is almost the same as driving without the wear and tear and the fatigue. It is a very popular train from the Northeast to Florida and it is one of the most profitable trains Amtrak runs.
 
trekster
Topic Author
Posts: 4319
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 2:47 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:58 pm

Well, looks like im going to get my first try or Amtrak earlier then i thought. Going to HOPEFULLY do the ORD-IAD trip next month on the 15th?

Good short route to try out, and I have a free Air ticket so will only cost my the train fare and getting to and from the station's

Anyone done this route?
Where does the time go???
 
MSYtristar
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:08 pm

Quoting Trekster (Reply 45):
Anyone done this route?

Well, there are two Chicago-D.C trains:

1) Capitol Limited. This is a Superliner train which operates via CLE and PIT and makes the run in around 17-18 hours. It operates daily.
2) Cardinal. This is a single level train which takes a long route via IND, CVG, and remote parts of West Virginia and takes about 24 hours to complete...this one actually continues on to NYC. It operates 3x weekly.

If you pick the Cardinal, get a sleeper. Also, the dining car on the train has a limited menu. Also, no checked baggage service is available on this train.

The Capitol is a lot better in terms of service and comfort...of course, expect to be a couple of hours late, but like I always say, more time on the train is a good thing.  Wink
 
trekster
Topic Author
Posts: 4319
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 2:47 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:12 pm

Its the Capital i have picked to go on.

Does it always run late?
Where does the time go???
 
MSYtristar
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:15 pm

Quoting Trekster (Reply 47):
Does it always run late?

Here is the Capitol's arrival status into Washington over the past two weeks. Actually, it has been doing pretty good as of late...well, REALLY good for an Amtrak long distance train!


2007-08-22: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:40 pm Delay: 40 minutes

2007-08-21: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:36 pm Delay: 36 minutes

2007-08-20: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 3:29 pm Delay: 89 minutes

2007-08-19: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 1:54 pm Delay: 0 minutes

2007-08-18: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:38 pm Delay: 38 minutes

2007-08-17: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:46 pm Delay: 46 minutes

2007-08-16: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:22 pm Delay: 22 minutes

2007-08-15: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 4:49 pm Delay: 169 minutes

2007-08-14: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:08 pm Delay: 8 minutes

2007-08-13: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 1:51 pm Delay: 0 minutes

2007-08-12: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:27 pm Delay: 27 minutes

2007-08-11: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:12 pm Delay: 12 minutes

2007-08-10: Scheduled: 2:00 pm Actual: 2:58 pm Delay: 58 minutes
 
trekster
Topic Author
Posts: 4319
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 2:47 am

RE: Empire Builder - Amtrak

Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:18 pm

My trip ends in Washington with me heading from the station to the airport to catch 1 of 2 BA flights that night.
Do you think its worth getting a hotel (cheap one) in IAD for the night!
Where does the time go???

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