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Ottumwa, Iowa to Denver and Back


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#1 como

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:48 PM

I took a short trip to Denver to see my mother. My wife and I planned to do this trip at Christmas but we waited to long to make reservations, the price for coach seats and the California Zephyr approached $300 so we drove.

The train was close to on time both ways. We arrived in Denver about 5 minutes early and back into Ottumwa about 10 minutes late. The train was close to full when I left on a Tuesday night and returned on a Friday night. Lots of people ride for relatively short distances, Ottumwa to Omaha, Denver to McCook etc., so there was a lot of activity both nights. I ate breakfast both mornings and 5 of 6 people at the table were on relatively short trips.
Some observations:

1. The dining car and sightseer lounge crew were all black women on the way out and all white men on the way back. This was interesting only in that as someone who rode on trains before Amtrak, I remember that those folk used to be all black men.

2. Spending the night in coach isn't that bad, although sitting next to a stranger eliminates opportunities for snuggling and stretching.

3. The Colorado Rail Alliance had a train host at Denver Union Station. He gave talked with every passenger in the waiting room and gave them a flyer titled "Traveling on Amtrak." He talked about the track improvements on Union Pacific, the improved on-time performance of the Zephyr, and was a great advocate for Amtrak service in Denver.

4. Denver has good public transportation. RTD light rail and regional busses stop at Union Station and the Market Street RTD regional station is two blocks away

4. The Amtrak conductor and assistant conductor checked in passengers in the waiting room. They assigned each passenger to cars based on destination and this seemed to speed the boarding process.

On both trips I got on the train, drank a beer and read a book in the lounge for a couple hours then went back to my seat to sleep. My family took seven or eight train trips between Denver and Chicago when I was young so this brought back nice memories. Riding through the midwest at night is still fun.

#2 MrEd

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 09:24 PM

thank you for your report.
-MrEd, Charlotte NC



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