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First-time Carolinian Riders


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#1 abc509

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 07:37 PM

Hi! I've been voraciously reading this website for days. I finally registered today because I have questions that I can't find the answers to. I hope you can help so I'm uberprepared for my DNC to NYP trip. I am traveling with four other graduate students for a conference in NYC.

First, I'm really interested in any tips you have. I have read the secrets of Amtrak thread already but if you have something else a first time rider might need to know, I'd really appreciate you sharing.

Questions:

1. If there are five us traveling together but we booked tickets separately, will we be able to sit together if they assign seats or are seats assigned in some other way? We get on fairly early in the grand scheme of the train ride so do they only start assigning seats when the train is beginning to get crowded or do they do it from the beginning?

2. I read in another thread that seats aren't often put to face each other, much like we all enjoyed in Europe, but there was at least one person who said he/she had seen it done on the Carolinian. If you were successful in getting a four seat together, how or who did you ask to do this? In Europe, we could just do it ourselves but that seems to be a no-no.

3. Can a group of people just hang out in the lounge car? Part of the reason we did the train is because it is a fun way to travel the Eastern seaboard and particularly in the company of others. It wouldn't be so much fun if we had to sit apart or in pairs away from each other. We promise not to be too loud.

4. Anyone left out of DNC before? How long ahead of time should we plan to be at the station? We will probably check bags. I know at least 30 minutes in advance but how much earlier than that?

5. Any suggestions on where to sit to get good scenery? Does the train have a viewing car that we can sit in?

Thanks for your help! We are so excited to experience the train from the South. A few of us have taken it in the NYC area (NYP to Providence for me when I was a kid!) and can't wait to do it again.

#2 The Metropolitan

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 09:10 PM

I haven't ridden this route south of Richmond, but will do my best.

1 - Provided you can find 5 seats close together, they are yours. I've heard the Carolinian tends to fill up near Raleigh, but since you're boarding a couple stops up in Durham, you may very well be fine.

2 - There are 2 pairs of seats facing each other at the forward end of each coach. They are typically reserved for groups, of which you'd be. so if you see them, they'd be yours. Only slight catch to these seats is that they're over the wheelsets, so the ride will be a tad rockier. Also, no one will have a tray table since there are no seat backs in front of you.

3 - Usually is not a problem. I just might concede to buy a soda every now and then to keep myself a paid customer of the lounge, but you don't have to. It's lounge space there for you to use, and I've never seen someone booted from there for not buying something.

4 - 30 minutes should be more than enough time, but since you're checking bags, 45 might be ideal.

5 - I would tend to recommend the left side, mostly for the approach into DC over the Potomac River. There is no special viewing car on this train, but you can sit in the Amcafe-Lounge as you please.

Enjoy the ride!!!!
PRR to Harrisburg...WM to Hagerstown...B&O to Cumberland...Ma&Pa to York...

Oh, the trains I missed being born too late!

#3 VentureForth

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:03 PM

1) I envy your trip. I really enjoyed my ride from KAN to SAV via SEL last January. Going all the way to NYP and even BOS is on my list of things to do when my wife lets me. This train can get pretty crowded. Your tickets have no bearing on your seating whatsoever - except that if they were booked on one itinerary your SA may notice on the manifest and have the seats blocked for you prior to your arrival. If there is no 4+1 available when you board, your SA should be able to play musical chairs to help you out.

2) Here in the US, it seems like they don't like to make a club seating arrangement. I say here in the US, because I've done it in Japan on the bullet train without anyone complaining (maybe just 'cause I was a foreigner and they wrongly thought that I couldn't talk to them). If you can't get the pre-arranged ones, ask. Since you're going all the way to NYP, it should be a bit easier to convince them to be a little more flexible.

3) Not going to be a whole lot different than your seats if you get club seating (except you will get a table). You'll want to be sure to leave something personal at your seats to keep them 'reserved' and not lose your seat check. Check back every now and then.

4) Call 1800USARAIL about 1 hour prior to scheduled departure and ask Julie if the train is on time. I think 30 minutes before Julie's arrival time should be enough. Remember - the train can always (and tries real hard to) leave on time or late. It is not allowed to leave early in most cases.

5) The Metropolitan's suggestion is pretty good - I only rode to Selma, so I enjoyed a naked-tree tunnel for most of the journey.

14,223 Amtrak Miles. Many more to go.
Completed Routes: Capitol Limited, Palmetto
Also Ridden: Carolinian, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Piedmont, Southwest Chief, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Texas Eagle


#4 BobWeaver

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:03 PM

Hi! I've been voraciously reading this website for days. I finally registered today because I have questions that I can't find the answers to. I hope you can help so I'm uberprepared for my DNC to NYP trip. I am traveling with four other graduate students for a conference in NYC.

First, I'm really interested in any tips you have. I have read the secrets of Amtrak thread already but if you have something else a first time rider might need to know, I'd really appreciate you sharing.

Questions:

1. If there are five us traveling together but we booked tickets separately, will we be able to sit together if they assign seats or are seats assigned in some other way? We get on fairly early in the grand scheme of the train ride so do they only start assigning seats when the train is beginning to get crowded or do they do it from the beginning?

2. I read in another thread that seats aren't often put to face each other, much like we all enjoyed in Europe, but there was at least one person who said he/she had seen it done on the Carolinian. If you were successful in getting a four seat together, how or who did you ask to do this? In Europe, we could just do it ourselves but that seems to be a no-no.

3. Can a group of people just hang out in the lounge car? Part of the reason we did the train is because it is a fun way to travel the Eastern seaboard and particularly in the company of others. It wouldn't be so much fun if we had to sit apart or in pairs away from each other. We promise not to be too loud.

4. Anyone left out of DNC before? How long ahead of time should we plan to be at the station? We will probably check bags. I know at least 30 minutes in advance but how much earlier than that?

5. Any suggestions on where to sit to get good scenery? Does the train have a viewing car that we can sit in?

Thanks for your help! We are so excited to experience the train from the South. A few of us have taken it in the NYC area (NYP to Providence for me when I was a kid!) and can't wait to do it again.

Having ridden 80/79 multiple times, I can tell you that it is slightly different than the long distance trains in the area (Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent) in that it does not have sleeper cars or a dining car. However, Carolinian does run with a Business Class car and I would recommend it for the length of your trip. I know that it is $39 for the upgrade but for me the extra space, as well as the relative serenity of the car, is worth it. But to answer your questions:

1. The fact that you bought tickets separately doesn't matter, as you aren't assigned a seat when you purchase the tickets like you would be if you had booked on an airline. From my experience on all trains that I have ridden/observed in the southeast, the conductor/service attendant generally asks for those traveling together first so that he or she can accommodate them before those traveling alone start boarding. It should not be a problem to get your group of 5 to sit in the same area. About assigning seats. I have been assigned a specific seat twice over the course of my 20 or so trips - once during Thanksgiving on Crescent and once in June '07 in Carolinian business class. On both occasions, these trains were operating at or close to capacity, so this was necessary to make the job easier for the conductor/service attendant. So unless your train is operating with a full load on that particular day, you'll be free to pick your seat(s). When I ride 80, I always originate in Charlotte or Salisbury, and the conductor/service attendant assigns me a particular car based on my destination rather than a specific seat. As far as boarding at Durham goes, from what I've seen the load is in the light to medium range by the time that stop arrives.

2. The seats are in a 2X2 forward facing row configuration except at the head end of the car, where there is a row of seats that face a forward row. From what I've seen, the onboard personnel like to save these seats for families with children as well as groups, but keep in mind that these are the very first seats in the car, so you'll hear a lot of noise when the door to the next car is opened by people walking through the train, not to mention the noise from the wheels themselves since these seats are basically on top of the trucks of the car. I'd stay away from those group of 4 seats if you'd like a peaceful journey.

3. Absolutely. Being able to walk around and change cars is one of the beauties of taking a train. It'll probably get crowded around the lunchtime hours though, so unless you're eating, you might want to be considerate and go back to your coach seats and free up the table(s) to those eating during that time if need be.

4. I have never left out of Durham before, but I've seen the station from onboard. The current station is not much to look at, but the city of Durham is supposedly looking into property across the street for a new station. 80 is almost always ontime into Durham, if not a few minutes early. I'd go ahead and plan for 45 minutes before departure time because it will be 5 of you picking up your tickets and checking bags. It can't hurt to be early.

5. For reasons that elude me, I always pick a seat on the right side of any train I ride, and I can say that I've really never wished that I had picked a seat on the other side. You can always see the scenery through the opposite side's windows from your own, and if you haven't been assigned a seat, feel free to move around the car. Unfortunately no train in the southeast (except Auto Train) runs with any kind of specific viewing car. But rest assured, you shouldn't have any problems seeing the scenery from your car's windows.

If you're interested, your train's consist will be: locomotive, baggage car, business class car, cafe car, and 4 coaches. Let us know if you have anymore questions. :)
Amtrak miles: 9,933
Northeast Regional (13), Carolinian (7), Crescent (6), Palmetto (4), Piedmont (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Silver Meteor (2), Lake Shore Limited (1), Silver Star (1)

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 05:01 AM

Thanks for your help everyone! We leave tomorrow!

#6 VentureForth

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 06:36 AM

Having ridden 80/79 multiple times, I can tell you that it is slightly different than the long distance trains in the area (Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent) in that it does not have sleeper cars or a dining car. However, Carolinian does run with a Business Class car and I would recommend it for the length of your trip. I know that it is $39 for the upgrade but for me the extra space, as well as the relative serenity of the car, is worth it.

When I rode in January, BC was just a coach car with service. There was no extra space, and being packed, there was absolutely no serenity. How many trainsets do they run on the Carolinian? Are they all the same consists?

14,223 Amtrak Miles. Many more to go.
Completed Routes: Capitol Limited, Palmetto
Also Ridden: Carolinian, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Piedmont, Southwest Chief, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Texas Eagle


#7 BobWeaver

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 07:47 AM

Having ridden 80/79 multiple times, I can tell you that it is slightly different than the long distance trains in the area (Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent) in that it does not have sleeper cars or a dining car. However, Carolinian does run with a Business Class car and I would recommend it for the length of your trip. I know that it is $39 for the upgrade but for me the extra space, as well as the relative serenity of the car, is worth it.

When I rode in January, BC was just a coach car with service. There was no extra space, and being packed, there was absolutely no serenity. How many trainsets do they run on the Carolinian? Are they all the same consists?

Not sure. From when I've ridden it, the BC car is always an Amfleet II versus coach's Amfleet Is. When I said serenity, I meant that there are less people coming and going through the car and what not.
Amtrak miles: 9,933
Northeast Regional (13), Carolinian (7), Crescent (6), Palmetto (4), Piedmont (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Silver Meteor (2), Lake Shore Limited (1), Silver Star (1)

#8 AlanB

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 08:35 AM

How many trainsets do they run on the Carolinian? Are they all the same consists?


Not sure. From when I've ridden it, the BC car is always an Amfleet II versus coach's Amfleet Is. When I said serenity, I meant that there are less people coming and going through the car and what not.


I would think that there are only two trainsets assigned to the Carolinian. Don't need more than that.

Perhaps the AMF II was bad ordered the day that you rode it and they didn't have a spare handy.
Alan,

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#9 DanCorvera

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 11:21 PM

In riding the Carolinian for the long haul, it has a tendency of running behind schedule as it moves along east then North at Selma, NC. I took the Carolinian back and forth between Greensboro and Washington, DC and almost every trip had a delay that caused it to get behind, whether it was a slow freight train ahead of it, a natural cause (brushfire), or a medical emergency. It's nice to take a train to the big city than fly, but Amtrak in the south isn't as good as the Amtrak in the Northeast.

Business class on the Carolinian does offer more than Coach, but its not the business class you'd find on other Amtrak trains (Acela, etc.). Go with it if even on a short trip you don't mind paying extra for extra space, power outlets, and a free soda every now and then. I'd take business class again for the service and the quiet.

#10 BobWeaver

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:17 AM

Business class on the Carolinian does offer more than Coach, but its not the business class you'd find on other Amtrak trains (Acela, etc.). Go with it if even on a short trip you don't mind paying extra for extra space, power outlets, and a free soda every now and then. I'd take business class again for the service and the quiet.

Another reason to take Business Class is the fact that the upgrade is only $8 if you are riding within North Carolina. B)
Amtrak miles: 9,933
Northeast Regional (13), Carolinian (7), Crescent (6), Palmetto (4), Piedmont (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Silver Meteor (2), Lake Shore Limited (1), Silver Star (1)

#11 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 07:23 PM

I saw an Amfleet II on the Northbound Silver Star yesterday at Penn carrying car number 25049, which was marked as "Businessclass". Would that be one of the Carolinians cars?

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#12 BobWeaver

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 09:55 AM

I saw an Amfleet II on the Northbound Silver Star yesterday at Penn carrying car number 25049, which was marked as "Businessclass". Would that be one of the Carolinians cars?

I don't think so. My Business Class car on #80 last time I rode was 81534, which OTOL has listed as a Regional Business Class car, renumbered from 44703 in the Capstone program. My Business Class car on #95 was numbered 81520 on that trip too. Maybe what you saw was a substitute car grabbed from NEC service? From what I've seen/ridden on, most coaches on the LD trains (on 19/20 and 91/92 at least) are in the 25--- series.

Edited by BobWeaver, 26 March 2008 - 10:02 AM.

Amtrak miles: 9,933
Northeast Regional (13), Carolinian (7), Crescent (6), Palmetto (4), Piedmont (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Silver Meteor (2), Lake Shore Limited (1), Silver Star (1)

#13 VentureForth

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 10:29 AM

I may have been on an Amfleet II, but still, it has not advantage over non-BC Amfleet II's along the NEC. So it may have been a slight step up from the Amfleet I's. Maybe there was some seat pitch advantage, but nothing that I could perceive.

Incidently, I DID notice that the label "Coach" outside of the car was overlayed with "Business Class". I'm sure this was a regular service train because it was completely sold out. It was sold as whatever it actually was (as opposed to an Amfleet I being sold as an Amfleet II, you would have seats left over if "sold out").

Sure, the Carolinian portion of my trip was only $8, but I didn't get but $2 of value.

14,223 Amtrak Miles. Many more to go.
Completed Routes: Capitol Limited, Palmetto
Also Ridden: Carolinian, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Piedmont, Southwest Chief, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Texas Eagle


#14 BobWeaver

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 11:01 AM

I may have been on an Amfleet II, but still, it has not advantage over non-BC Amfleet II's along the NEC. So it may have been a slight step up from the Amfleet I's. Maybe there was some seat pitch advantage, but nothing that I could perceive.

Incidently, I DID notice that the label "Coach" outside of the car was overlayed with "Business Class". I'm sure this was a regular service train because it was completely sold out. It was sold as whatever it actually was (as opposed to an Amfleet I being sold as an Amfleet II, you would have seats left over if "sold out").

Sure, the Carolinian portion of my trip was only $8, but I didn't get but $2 of value.

Carolinian's Business class runs with an Amfleet II whereas coach class runs with Amfleet Is. The Amfleet II is configured to sit 60 vs. Amfleet I's 74, and the resulting space (seat pitch) is definitely noticeable.
Amtrak miles: 9,933
Northeast Regional (13), Carolinian (7), Crescent (6), Palmetto (4), Piedmont (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Silver Meteor (2), Lake Shore Limited (1), Silver Star (1)

#15 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 04:56 PM

Also, Amfleets have notably larger windows, and have legrests like recliners, whilst the Amfleet Is do not.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#16 Guest_Durham Bound_*

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 10:53 AM

Hi All -

Great Site.

I've got two questions:

I'm thinking about taking the 79 on a Thursday down to DNC from Washington, DC. How frequently does this train arrive late to Durham? And, generally speaking, how late does it normally arrive?

Finally, I get the impression that the coach cars DO NOT have AC power outlets. That AC power is only available in Business. Can anyone confirm this? Does the dining car have AC power?

Thanks,

Isham

#17 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:04 PM

It varies, coach wise. Check out Amtrakdelays.com. BUMP.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
Most important: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
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Avatar and sig were done by my fiance, Corvidophile.


#18 Guest_abc509_*

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 10:23 PM

It varies, coach wise. Check out Amtrakdelays.com. BUMP.


All of the trains I've had in the last two weeks had at least one A/C outlets at each two-seats. We were on one with two A/C at each two-seats. Our train ran 6 hours late because of the Fredricksburg area derailment and Alexanderia rail work.



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