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First Timer Questions, Tips, Tricks, etc


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#1 PerRock

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 12:44 PM

I've begun updating the r/Amtrak wiki on Reddit. So I am reaching out to you all for your Tips, Tricks & FAQs that first time riders could use. Credit is given for the entries, if you'd like your Reddit account linked, feel free to post the tips in my thread on Reddit.

I've also gathered a listing of links that are useful for people. If you see any I missed, let me know & I'll add them. I do plan on adding the route-specific Twitter accounts, but haven't gotten around to it. Send me those as well, as I might not know of all of them.

Thanks a bunch!

Peter


Edited by PerRock, 06 February 2017 - 12:44 PM.

Given the choice; I fly Amtrak.
 
http://www.amtraktrainz.com

#2 cpotisch

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 08:35 AM

On trains that use both AM-Is and AM-IIs, always try for a seat in an AM-II. Windows are significantly bigger and seats are much more spacious. Seats and legroom are almost exactly the same as Business Class, but you don't have to pay extra. Trains that use both types of Amfleets include:

  • Palmetto
  • Maple Leaf
  • Adirondack
  • Empire Service
  • Pennsylvanian

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#3 cpotisch

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 02:51 PM

Always use Amsnag. Makes it incredibly easy to find the cheapest days and buckets, and was started by PaulM, another member here on AU!


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#4 cpotisch

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 02:59 PM

When booking more than one train, it's not uncommon that it will be cheaper to book it as a connecting ticket or multi-city, than as two separate reservations. Savings can be significant, so take the time to look.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#5 cpotisch

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 12:09 PM

If you're booking a coach ticket on an LD train, use this trick to determine the lowest possible fare. Select a sleeper for that segment (for any day), and see what the listed base 'rail fare' is. Since sleepers are priced as the cost of the room plus the lowest bucket coach fare, that base rail fare will be the cheapest coach price possible. Then when you find a day with charging that much for a coach ticket, book, since you've gotten the best possible price!


Edited by cpotisch, 28 April 2018 - 12:12 PM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#6 willem

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 03:59 PM

If you're booking a coach ticket on an LD train, use this trick to determine the lowest possible fare. Select a sleeper for that segment (for any day), and see what the listed base 'rail fare' is. Since sleepers are priced as the cost of the room plus the lowest bucket coach fare, that base rail fare will be the cheapest coach price possible. Then when you find a day with charging that much for a coach ticket, book, since you've gotten the best possible price!

 

I might have it wrong, but that's not my understanding. I thought the rail fare is based on the lowest bucket, while the Saver fare (which is not available for the rail fare portion of a sleeping car journey) is lower than the lowest bucket. If I'm correct, then the "cheapest coach price possible" is less than what your method would produce.

 

Where are you finding the "listed base 'rail fare'"? Again, I might have it wrong, but I don't believe the Amtrak web site will show that information, and if you expect a reader to check somewhere else, you should say so.



#7 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 05:48 PM

 

Where are you finding the "listed base 'rail fare'"? Again, I might have it wrong, but I don't believe the Amtrak web site will show that information, and if you expect a reader to check somewhere else, you should say so.

 

Once you make your selections and get to the "pay" screen, it shows the room(ette) cost and the rail fare cost, as I recall.  But who wants to do that - and tie up rooms - just to find the lowest fare.


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#8 cpotisch

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 05:55 PM

I might have it wrong, but that's not my understanding. I thought the rail fare is based on the lowest bucket, while the Saver fare (which is not available for the rail fare portion of a sleeping car journey) is lower than the lowest bucket. If I'm correct, then the "cheapest coach price possible" is less than what your method would produce.

 

You are correct that the Saver fare is lower than the rail fare. The rail fare is always the lowest bucket Value fare. However, Saver fares are not available on some routes or dates, and carry some limitations (primarily regarding refund and change policy) that don't apply to the Value fare.

 

And as to why you anyone would want to know the lowest possible Value fare, if your dates are flexible or you're on a budget, it can be useful to know the best possible price, as you might want to wait to book or look for a different date, if a significantly lower fare is possible.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#9 cpotisch

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Posted 28 April 2018 - 05:59 PM

Once you make your selections and get to the "pay" screen, it shows the room(ette) cost and the rail fare cost, as I recall.

  1. Select the itinerary, click 'add to cart'
  2. On the "Add a bike, pet or golf clubs" page, click the down arrow next to the price
  3. Click 'details'.

Then it shows the price of the room and rail fare. You don't have to go all the way to the 'pay' page.


Edited by cpotisch, 28 April 2018 - 06:01 PM.

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Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome





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