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California Zephyr


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#1 Guest_Joe_*

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:11 PM

Hi Alle

 

Basically a newbie that has traveled on an over night once or twice about 15 years ago.

 

I was looking to do CZ out of Chicago with my wife in a Roomette. From what I have researched there is only one train a day and it leaves at 2 p.m. out off Chicago.

 

 

My questions are these:

 

a) Based on the time and route (and no significant delays), the late nate/overnight hours on the route, would there be anything we would miss that if it was daytime we would be in awe of?

 

 

B) are there any stops on the trip that give significant time (say several hours) to look around that town or tourist attraction?

 

 

c) Can I request a second level Roomette, or is it just that, a request with no guarantee?

 

 

Thank you

 



#2 the_traveler

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:33 PM

The most scenic portions are done in daylight. There are no "hours" long stops, while some may be like 20-30 minutes. However, the train will leave with or without you - always check with your attendant how long the stop will be. (Note that some may be under 30 seconds!)

To request an upper level room (Bedrooms A-E and roomettes 2-10), book over the phone and ask the agent. If you book online, you get what the computer decides.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#3 KmH

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 10:20 PM

California Zephyr Schedule
 
On the California Zephyr route the longest stop is in Denver.
Denver is scheduled to be a 50 minute stop westbound, so they can wash the windows too, but only 30 minutes eastbound.
The train gets serviced, and re-fueled, just prior to making the climb up the Front Range of the Rockies to the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel that goes under the Continental Divide at James Peak.
 
If the train is ahead of schedule it cannot leave a station until the published departure time, so if the CZ is early to a stop it is there longer than usual.
If the train is behind schedule the train does stop at some stations long enough for smokers to get off the train to get a nicotine fix.
If a stop is not a smoke stop the train only stops long enough to board and disembark passengers.
If the train is behind schedule and no passengers need to board or disembark the train stops for just a few seconds before continuing on.
 
The main attraction after leaving the Chicago metroplex is crossing the Mississippi River just before the stop in Burlington, IA.
Once you're away from the Chicago metropolitan area until dark you'll be seeing Midwest agriculture and towns (lots of back yards) until dark somewhere in Iowa.
 
It's after Denver the morning of the 2nd day that the train climbs up into the Rockies.
 
The first attraction of the morning is the Big 10 Curve, the semi-official start of the Front Range. https://www.google.c...m/data=!3m1!1e3
Soon after the Big 10 Curve the Moffat "tunnel district" starts with 28 tunnels before the big kahuna - the Moffat Tunnel.
Just after the first tunnel you can look back and down at the greater Denver area. You might note that in the foreground is the now abandoned site of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons plant. https://en.wikipedia...cky_Flats_Plant
 
On the way you'll see the Gross Reservoir Dam on the right side of the train. 
On the west side of the Continental Divide (after the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel).
The Fraser River, Fraser Canyon, Colorado RiverByers Canyon, Gore Canyon, and Glenwood Canyon are major sights as the train descends the Western Slope of the Rockies.
http://discuss.amtra...lenwood +canyon
The train meanders next or close to the Colorado River for the next 240 miles or so before veering away from the river in eastern Utah.
Before that happens the train will be close to the Book Cliffs all the way to central Utah.
 
Soon after the Book Cliffs end it will again be dark.
In the morning the train joins the Truckee River in Western Nevada and follows it to Reno.
Reno is usually a smoke stop, but the train station is in a below grade trench so stopped trains don't stop traffic in downtown Reno by blocking the streets.
Leaving Reno and still following the Truckee River you start climbing up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
You'll see Donner Lake a few miles before the train tops Donner Pass and starts it's descent to the Sacramento area.
 
Photos from the CZ in the Rockies
Photos of Gore Canyon from the westbound CZ
and from the eastbound CZ
Glenwood Canyon


Edited by KmH, 24 February 2017 - 02:53 PM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#4 Lonestar648

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 02:26 PM

If you want a second level roomette and do your ticket on line, you can call Reservations to "modify" your reservation.  If the agent has a problem doing this, just hang up and call back so you get a different agent.  I did this the other day when the on-line system gave me #14.  The first agent said she would have to cancel my reservation and start over.  I just told her no thank you.  Waited a couple minutes, the agent who answered was a "pro".  She got me an upstairs room quickly and no issues, then emailed me the updated reservation. 



#5 crescent2

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 08:15 PM

California Zephyr Schedule
 
On the California Zephyr route the longest stop is in Denver.
Denver is scheduled to be a 50 minute stop westbound, so they can wash the windows too, but only 30 minutes eastbound.
The train gets serviced, and re-fueled, just prior to making the climb up the Front Range of the Rockies to the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel that goes under the Continental Divide at James Peak.
 
If the train is ahead of schedule it cannot leave a station until the published departure time, so if the CZ is early to a stop it is there longer than usual.
If the train is behind schedule the train does stop at some stations long enough for smokers to get off the train to get a nicotine fix.
If a stop is not a smoke stop the train only stops long enough to board and disembark passengers.
If the train is behind schedule and no passengers need to board or disembark the train stops for just a few seconds before continuing on.
 
The main attraction after leaving the Chicago metroplex is crossing the Mississippi River just before the stop in Burlington, IA.
Once you're away from the Chicago metropolitan area until dark you'll be seeing Midwest agriculture and towns (lots of back yards) until dark somewhere in Iowa.
 
It's after Denver the morning of the 2nd day that the train climbs up into the Rockies.
 
The first attraction of the morning is the Big 10 Curve, the semi-official start of the Front Range. https://www.google.c...m/data=!3m1!1e3
Soon after the Big 10 Curve the Moffat "tunnel district" starts with 28 tunnels before the big kahuna - the Moffat Tunnel.
Just after the first tunnel you can look back and down at the greater Denver area. You might note that in the foreground is the now abandoned site of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons plant. https://en.wikipedia...cky_Flats_Plant
 
On the way you'll see the Gross Reservoir Dam on the right side of the train. 
On the west side of the Continental Divide (after the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel).
The Fraser River, Fraser Canyon, Colorado RiverByers Canyon, Gore Canyon, and Glenwood Canyon are major sights as the train descends the Western Slope of the Rockies.
http://discuss.amtra...lenwood +canyon
The train meanders next or close to the Colorado River for the next 240 miles or so before veering away from the river in eastern Utah.
Before that happens the train will be close to the Book Cliffs all the way to central Utah.
 
Soon after the Book Cliffs end it will again be dark.
In the morning the train joins the Truckee River in Western Nevada and follows it to Reno.
Reno is usually a smoke stop, but the train station is in a below grade trench so stopped trains don't stop traffic in downtown Reno by blocking the streets.
Leaving Reno and still following the Truckee River you start climbing up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
You'll see Donner Lake a few miles before the train tops Donner Pass and starts it's descent to the Sacramento area.
 
Photos from the CZ in the Rockies
Photos of Gore Canyon from the westbound CZ
and from the eastbound CZ
Glenwood Canyon

 

Great info, KmH!  I wish I'd known to look at the Rocky Flats site when I made the trip last year.



#6 ehbowen

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 06:06 PM

a) Based on the time and route (and no significant delays), the late nate/overnight hours on the route, would there be anything we would miss that if it was daytime we would be in awe of?
 
 
B) are there any stops on the trip that give significant time (say several hours) to look around that town or tourist attraction?

 


Amtrak's California Zephyr, like its Burlington/Rio Grande/Western Pacific predecessor, is specifically timed to traverse the most scenic portions of the route in daylight. Of course, if the train is significantly late, you may miss the descent of the Front Range into Denver when traveling eastbound.

While there are no stops long enough to leave the immediate vicinity of the station (and even leaving trainside at all carries a significant risk of being left behind), there are several stations where you can break your reservation with a 24 hour stopover and continue on the next day's train (extra cost likely). Glenwood Springs and Reno are two I would suggest.

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#7 eblkheart

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 11:56 PM

 


 

Great info, KmH!  I wish I'd known to look at the Rocky Flats site when I made the trip last year.

 

 

There's not much left. I live south of there. It's now a wildlife refuge with no buildings left: https://goo.gl/maps/DmLEeVmeG9H2


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California Zephyr (1999... and after 2007 I lost count). 

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#8 silmaril

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 01:56 AM

How do the doors work on Superliners? Do they lock automatically prior to the train leaving? Can one open a door and jump on as the train slowly moves off?

 

Asking for a friend... :)



#9 RSG

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:04 AM

There are occasional opportunities to have unscheduled layovers on the California Zephyr. Several years ago, I was onboard going westbound from Chicago when there was a mechanical or other issue which resulted in an approximately two-and-a-half hour layover. Denver was my stop, so I don't know how long it actually ended up being, but I was giving quick trip sightseeing pointers for passengers who definitely weren't looking forward to staying onboard a non-moving train in daylight hours.
 
Two years ago, I was returning from the Bay Area going eastbound and the usual small stopover in Glenwood Springs turned out to be around a three-hour long one, due to construction railwork in the canyon ahead. Long enough to visit the ice cream shop, the coffee shop, and walk around downtown. It's a pleasant diversion, so long as you're not hung up on getting where you are going.
 
All said, you will have no way of knowing how long any unexpected layover is until it happens. Often such diversions are longer than announced, but not always. If the crew says there will be a 40 minute layover, plan to be on board by 35 minutes into the delay. Odds are it will more likely be 45-50 minutes long, but as mentioned above, it's best to be on a train waving to the platform rather than on a platform frantically (and futilely) waving to the train.


#10 Lonestar648

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:07 AM

Once the Conductor yells "All Aboard" the attendants and Conductors manually close all the doors and lock them.  The Conductor generally is the last to close since they are making sure all doors are closed, the brakes released, platform clear, before radioing to the engineer to depart.



#11 FrensicPic

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:17 AM

How do the doors work on Superliners? Do they lock automatically prior to the train leaving? Can one open a door and jump on as the train slowly moves off?

 

Asking for a friend... :)

Generally speaking, crew members/trainmen are NOT supposed to step on/off moving equipment. Definitely not passengers!.


Edited by FrensicPic, 21 March 2017 - 09:18 AM.

John...

29,076 miles on the Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr and Capitol Limited.

More miles on the Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink, White Pass and Yukon Route, Grand Canyon Railway, Napa Valley Wine Train, Fillmore and Western and private railcars with LARail.com

 

Photos: http://www.flickr.co...rensicpic/sets/<p> 


#12 KmH

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:08 AM

How do the doors work on Superliners? Do they lock automatically prior to the train leaving? Can one open a door and jump on as the train slowly moves off?

 

Asking for a friend... :)

Your 'friend' is SOL.

 

On the inside of the door they have a handle/lever that rotates into a capture that prevents the door from being opened from the outside.

You can see the latch at the upper right of the door above the STOP! notice at 2:56 in this video:

 


Edited by KmH, 21 March 2017 - 10:18 AM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#13 chakk

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 12:44 AM

There are two latches on the inside of the door that prevent it from being opened from the ourside, once closed and latched.

There is no entry to Superliners like Steven Segal used to re-enter the train in the movie "Under Siege 2". That was artistic license.

But the fight scene in the lower level kitchen of the superliner diner was quite realistic. As Casey Ryback always says, "Nobody beats me in the kitchen."



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