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Old 08-01-2014, 06:14 PM   #21
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I know a lot of people who have enjoyed long overnight Amtrak trips - particularly the "Starlight?" up the west coast. But when hearing their descriptions, I'm afraid we would be disappointed having been spoiled by European trains.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:45 PM   #22
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Fun. Seriously fun if you have the right mindset for it. Assuming you can think of it as an adventure and do not have a schedulde you have to keep (delays are common) it's a great way to travel, it's a fun trip through a world of nostalgia, and it's a fun way to see parts of the country you entirely miss when traveling by air. Many trips are surprisingly expensive, especially for sleeper cars.
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:28 PM   #23
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I posted recently about having taken Amtrak's Cardinal train from NY's Penn Station to Indianapolis and back, withmy final destination Louisville, Kentucky. The going trip (west) was okay but the return trip was awful because the train was 5 hours late arriving at Indy so my ladyfriend and I spent the wee hours (from midnight to 4:30 AM) in the dank Indy waiting room with about 40 other sleepy passengers waiting for the train to arrive. The train arrived at Penn just after 3 AM so we had anther 90-minute wait for a Long Island Rail Road train to get us home.

The food on the train was mediocre and they ran out of much of it due to the delays. I tried to get food from the food court at Washington when they had to change engines, but it wa just after 11 PM and everything was closed. No WiFi on this train, either.

No more Amtak for me.
That's the adventure!
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:48 AM   #24
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I enjoy Amtrak. I have taken the Coast Starlight over a dozen times (usually LosAngeles - Albany,OR) and spent most of my time in the lounge car, reading, watching movies, reading, etc. I took a roomette once and enjoyed it thoroughly. I always pack my own food and soda.

The trains have been up to 8 or so hours late, so they are not good for close connections. Most delays are for freight trains, but one was for a suicide investigation in Oakland, another was to check the track outside Barstow after an earthquake, and another was after the dining car caught fire.
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Old 08-02-2014, 04:49 AM   #25
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The majority of long-distance rail routes in the US lose money. The Northeast corridor does well (but we're not talking about overnight trains, there), and a couple of other isolated routes (which I think were also not overnight trains), but other than that it's something subsidized by a federal budget greatly overstretched by the revenue versus cost disparity. So as a result, the experience is somewhat less than some would hope for. Even this past year there have been some service reductions on some routes, to try to help the service lose less money. At this point, I think the majority of Americans would consider it a novelty (which is of some value, at least once every so often), or a very time-consuming and perhaps a mildly expensive way of traveling long distances without getting in an airplane.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:36 AM   #26
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While I've never been on one, I used to have to wait for them. We were in a very rural area, there was an unmarked crossing I had to go through. It had a sign, no lights or crossbars, wasn't cost effective to put in real signals. Very easy to miss the sign, a curve in the tracks each direction from the crossing, often go over the crossing look back in rear view to see a train doing about 50 mph, it only was 2 seconds from when I had passed through. That crossing always scared me. They generally pulled 3 passenger cars, most(75%) were empty. Short route one side of MO. to the other.
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:10 PM   #27
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I think you should do it, Al. Why not try it?

Have you seen "Welcome to Sweden" by the way?
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Old 08-02-2014, 02:27 PM   #28
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By the way Al what have you done with the Lena who slept in tiny tents in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed it ?
I asked her that, and she said "You don't have to spend 30 hours in the tent." But she realizes that that is not fair, since you don't spend all your time in the roomette.

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I think you should do it, Al. Why not try it?
I agree. I'm working on Lena, and I think I can sell her on it. I think we'll go with the room.

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Have you seen "Welcome to Sweden" by the way?
Yes. It's much more realistic than we expected, with real Swedes in some of the roles, and experiences that match ours. For example, when I went there the first time I'd say "Hi" to strangers we'd pass in the street until Lena explained that they don't do that there. Also, the Semla pastry that I saw at the start of an episode was accurate. We never "knullade sönder" a bed, but the attitude of the parents towards the American son-in-law was familiar.

BUT, we find the show itself so yucky that we can't watch it.
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Old 08-02-2014, 06:44 PM   #29
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[Welcome to Sweden" is] much more realistic than we expected, with real Swedes in some of the roles, and experiences that match ours. For example, when I went there the first time I'd say "Hi" to strangers we'd pass in the street until Lena explained that they don't do that there. Also, the Semla pastry that I saw at the start of an episode was accurate. We never "knullade sönder" a bed, but the attitude of the parents towards the American son-in-law was familiar.

BUT, we find the show itself so yucky that we can't watch it.
I saw maybe the third episode and the last half of the second episode, and parts of it really made me laugh, so I wondered if it rendered true at all. But right, it's another silly romantic comedy/fish out of water at heart. I was intrigued too in that it is a Swedish series now being aired in the US, which is probably a little unusual.
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:31 AM   #30
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Here's the answer:

It's fun, and worth doing once, but it's also boring. I can see how some people would love this, and I expected that's how I'd feel, but I will never do it again.

That is, the views are great:



and it's fun to have dinner with scenery going by, but it's a lot of time to spend. It's as if you have a great hotel room, but you have to spend all your time there.

I expected to sleep really well, as I did on my last overnight train trip, but that was not the case.

The food was good, but we had really bad luck with who we sat with (it's luck of the draw). The first woman's husband had just died. The next couple didn't have much to say, so we struggled to keep the conversation going. The husband of the next couple just talked about himself the whole time. The final couple was couple number two.

I'd look over at some other tables of interesting people, and wish we could sit with them.



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Amtrak: Fun or Boring?
Old 11-28-2014, 11:23 AM   #31
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Amtrak: Fun or Boring?

If the train ride is part of the trip, it can be a lot of fun.
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Old 11-29-2014, 08:17 AM   #32
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We recently completed a college tour with my youngest from our home in Pennsylvania to Washington DC, Williamsburg, VA and Charlottsville, VA. We took the Amtrak to DC. Rented a car and drove to Williamsburg then drove to Charlottsville. Visited Monticello and UVA and took the Amtrak back home.

We loved the train trip. I think the round trip for the three of us ran about $750.00 (going business class on the trip home and coach to DC). Very relaxing and much more enjoyable than going to an airport etc...

I think for a trip under 700 miles I would again look for a train. I normally drive such distances but we decided this time to take a train for most of the trip. We are glad we did.

Amtrak does not (in my opinion) properly market the advantages of train travel. No security line (which may change one day), less crowds, larger seats and you get to see something. I think many people get sticker shock when thy first price out an Amtrak trip but when we took all factors into consideration it worked for us.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:06 PM   #33
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I did take a long train trip in 1982 and enjoyed it. Unlike TA, we had really interesting people at dinner and in the dome car. We even played cards with some folks. This was in Canada, eh?, so the train had a good crowd.

But more recently, sticker shock has kept me away. The scenery isn't as good, but a cruise is like 20% of the cost of sleeper.
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Old 11-29-2014, 05:50 PM   #34
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I toy with the idea of going on a trip by train.

We are reluctant to fly, because we are among those who do not relish enduring lines, TSA procedures, and naked body scanners or whatever the latest is. We used to drive more, but the older we get, the less we are inclined to drive long distances.

So I thought Amtrack might be just right for us. Unfortunately passenger trains don't seem to go to as many places as they did back in the 1950's, when I was a kid. Still, we might try Amtrack one of these days.

If we traveled by train, I'd just tuck our Kindles, my portable video game consoles, iPhone, and maybe some cards into my purse, and that would probably be enough to keep us busy.
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Old 11-29-2014, 06:20 PM   #35
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Good question, I'll ask her.



When going from Ann Arbor to San Diego (1976?), my luggage was lost in Chicago, so I had nothing but what I was wearing until La Junta, Colorado when I made a mad dash to the supermarket for toothbrush etc. during a stop.
I refueled the Amtrack trains in La Junta in 1974. I was a laborer for the Santa Fe for a winter. We would fuel the engines and add another engine for the trip over Raton Pass as the train headed into New Mexico. La Junta is my home town. By the way, the Safeway store is a few blocks down the street from the depot. You must have really hustled.
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Old 11-29-2014, 06:33 PM   #36
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I am thinking of taking Amtrak to Boston for JT/Bonnie. I've not taken one as an adult, but flying is terrible and getting worse. Even in first.

Amtrak's website is terrible, so I got their app, which seems to have more thought put into it.
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Old 11-30-2014, 05:44 PM   #37
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I toy with the idea of going on a trip by train.
We do too, but I keep seeing reviews/horror stories suggesting that they don't have a very good record of keeping to a schedule or giving much thought to the customer.

Like on another thread, I read of someone being dropped off late at a station at 3:00 AM, no busses running, no taxis, no rental car available, etc. So they sit on a bench for a few hours or walk a few miles.

Who is the braindead fool who would treat the customer that way? They would for sure never see another nickel of my money after pulling a stunt like that.
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Old 11-30-2014, 05:57 PM   #38
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Customer service is the furthest thing from their mind at this point. The service is still costing the American taxpayer more than Congress is willing to give them.
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Old 11-30-2014, 06:49 PM   #39
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We do too, but I keep seeing reviews/horror stories suggesting that they don't have a very good record of keeping to a schedule or giving much thought to the customer.

Like on another thread, I read of someone being dropped off late at a station at 3:00 AM, no busses running, no taxis, no rental car available, etc. So they sit on a bench for a few hours or walk a few miles.

Who is the braindead fool who would treat the customer that way? They would for sure never see another nickel of my money after pulling a stunt like that.
They do their best to schedule, but have to work around delays caused by freight trains. Keep in mind they share those tracks.

Who is the brain dead fool that assumes all services will be available at 3am? Why would they be responsible for taxi, etc, once the customer gets off the train? Planes and buses aren't. If a person is getting off in a small town or area where 24hr service is unlikely(and Amtrak serves a lot of small towns) they need to plan ahead. Just like for any other transporter.
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Old 11-30-2014, 07:03 PM   #40
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There is an Amtrak station in the small city where I reside, and I have considered picking up the train to Philly or Penn Station. I believe I could get on at 8 and be in NYC by 5 (unless delayed of course). I have wanted to see the new Barnes Foundation Museum in Philly ever since it opened, and I could easily catch a train and spend a night or two in a hotel there then return home.

I took the Starlight Express 20+ years ago from Salinas CA to LA. Train was 6 hours late and my BIL was waiting for me at 1:00 a.m. when I got off (felt sorry for him). When I graduated from high school I took the train with a couple of friends from Pittsburgh to Pasadena CA to visit my aunt. I recall it was a very long trip (3 days I think) with delays but we were young and had fun on the adventure.
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