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Many questions from a foreigner !


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#1 globetraveller

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:28 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I am from India and will be travelling to the US in May to meet relatives in New York and Phoenix, AZ . I had this crazy idea of travelling from NY to Phoenix by train ! I genuinely think the best way to see a country and meet people is through train journeys !! I have travelled the length and breadth of India through numerous trains , and would love to experience the AMTRAK too . This is my first time in the US and I am slightly apprehensive about travelling such a long distance alone .

 

I have been scouring the web since the past few days , waiting to devour any information i can on the routes, schedules and all possible options between these two cities. This website has been a goldmine in terms of experience and knowledge sharing !! 

 

I noticed that Phoenix does not have an Amtrak station , or at least the AMTRAK website didnt show me any direct options !Could anyone here please guide me as to which station should i get down at, and which LD train would be most convenient for me ?

 

Thanks again for sharing such invaluable information on this forum .



#2 PaulM

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:12 PM

I'm sure others can give you more of the sad details, but the "Phoenix" station is Maricopa,, AZ, a small town 40 miles from downtown Phoenix.



#3 Gemuser

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:33 PM

As well as Maricopa, which only has a train 3 days a week, you can also use Flagstaff, AZ [which has daily trains] and connect by bus, although the schedule is not that convenient involving a very late [early!] arrival in Phoenix or a night in Flagstaff. You might also want to think about a detour to the Grand Canyon [possibly via the Grand Canyon Railway] or a bus tour.

 

Allen


Edited by Gemuser, 19 March 2017 - 04:33 PM.


#4 caravanman

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 05:05 PM

Hi,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

I have enjoyed many train rides in India, but am afraid that the Amtrak train service is very sparse indeed.

 

If you select "phoenix greyhound station" (code PHG) as your destination, it will show you the full connecting options. Broadly speaking you will travel from NYP station in New York, to Chicago, and change to another train there, and get down in Flagstaff, where you need to travel (taxi?) to the bus depot, and then on to Phoenix by "Thruway bus". Thruway is a guaranteed connection Amtrak bus service to some places without a rail station. (Sometimes run by greyhound bus company, but on behalf of Amtrak.)

 

 Sadly, as mentioned above, the arrival times into Phoenix are not nice!

 

If your relatives can collect you by car from Flagstaff or Maricopa station, that sounds like the best plan?

 

Do consider having a night or two in Chicago too when you change trains!

 

Good luck!

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 19 March 2017 - 05:10 PM.


#5 ehbowen

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 05:31 PM

If you are comfortable with renting a car and driving in the US you may also consider booking from New York to Tucson, Arizona, either via New Orleans (Crescent to New Orleans [1 night], overnight [at least 1 night] stay in New Orleans (at your own expense), Sunset Limited New Orleans-Tucson [one night]) or by way of Chicago (3 good train routes New York-Chicago [overnight]; direct transfer in Chicago to the Texas Eagle [2 nights Chicago-Tucson; direct through train if you book "Train #421" all the way]). Once in Tucson you may take a shuttle or taxi to the airport (should run about US$30 or so) and then rent a car for the easy drive to Phoenix. If you rent from a major car rental firm you should be able to drop the car off at the Phoenix airport for very little additional cost if you intend to fly out of Phoenix; otherwise make the easy drive back to Tucson.


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#6 oregon pioneer

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 05:54 PM

If you are comfortable with renting a car and driving in the US you may also consider booking from New York to Tucson, Arizona, either via New Orleans (Crescent to New Orleans [1 night], overnight [at least 1 night] stay in New Orleans (at your own expense), Sunset Limited New Orleans-Tucson [one night]) or by way of Chicago (3 good train routes New York-Chicago [overnight]; direct transfer in Chicago to the Texas Eagle [2 nights Chicago-Tucson; direct through train if you book "Train #421" all the way]). Once in Tucson you may take a shuttle or taxi to the airport (should run about US$30 or so) and then rent a car for the easy drive to Phoenix. If you rent from a major car rental firm you should be able to drop the car off at the Phoenix airport for very little additional cost if you intend to fly out of Phoenix; otherwise make the easy drive back to Tucson.

 

A few years ago, I went to Phoenix (to the suburb of Mesa). I took the Texas Eagle (same train as the Sunset Ltd) to Tucson, arriving in the evening. Stayed at the Hotel Congress, a convenient, historic hotel adjacent to the station. Some people complain because it is not soundproofed and they have performances in the building many evenings, also the street noise continued till midnight or 1am (and it was not a weekend). Personally, I loved it. The convenience, historic value of the hotel, and the "local color" were very much worth a little lost sleep.

 

Next morning we took a Greyhound bus to Phoenix (well, the bus stopped in Mesa, and then went on to end in Phoenix at the Greyhound station). It was a twenty minute walk (a little less than a mile, about 1.5 km) from the hotel to the bus station. We had no trouble walking it with our roller suitcases and tote bags.

 

Leaving Phoenix, we had a ride with friends to Flagstaff. The westbound Southwest Chief train we were boarding arrived in the evening, so the schedule was convenient for us. As said above, if you are arriving from the east and heading back east bound, the schedule is not very convenient, and involves an overnight stay in either Tucson or Flagstaff (unless you have a high tolerance for late hours).


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#7 niemi24s

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:58 PM

Welcome to the forum!

 

If your dates of travel have some flexibility, you can use AmSnag...  http://biketrain.net/amsnag/amSnag.php ...to find the least expensive days to travel on AmTrak.  And if you hadn't already found it, there's a link to the Amtrak System Map showing the routes in the next post. By looking at the map you can see there are many different ways to get to Arizona from New York - somewhere around 21 by my estimate.  Even more if you're really adventurous.

 

My only recommendation, if it can be afforded, is to book a sleeping berth.  The meals are included with the sleeping berth and you'll meet people from all over the world at the table - and different ones at very meal.  


Edited by niemi24s, 19 March 2017 - 09:51 PM.


#8 niemi24s

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:02 PM

Link to Amtrak system Map:  https://www.amtrak.c...mMapMar2015.pdf   (Never have been able to find the trick for having two links in the same post). 


Edited by niemi24s, 19 March 2017 - 09:04 PM.


#9 chakk

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:48 AM

Expect air temperatures in Phoenix to exceed 38 C during your May visit.

#10 Don Newcomb

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:30 AM

Expect air temperatures in Phoenix to exceed 38 C during your May visit.

 

Unless he's from northern India, he'll probably find those temperatures very pleasant. Most Indians I know find it it very nice when the air is about body temperature or above. 

 

I'd say that the train is the 2nd best way to see the country and get to talk with people. The best would be to hitch-hike but it's potentially dangerous and not recommended. If you travel in coach you will have plenty of opportunities to talk with people. In a sleeper compartment, you only visit during meals, when you are normally required to share a table with other passengers. If you are vegetarian or don't eat beef or pork you may find the meal selections in the dining car somewhat limited. Yes, they do have a vegetarian option but it will often be the same thing for lunch and dinner. If you are in a sleeper, the meals are included. In coach they are not and cost about 50% more than a similar meal in a restaurant.  

 

The cost of long-distance travel by train in the US is roughly equal to a discounted air fare in coach and considerably more expensive in a sleeper. Rates for both train and air travel are highly variable, so this is just a general observation. There are days when it can go either way. 



#11 oregon pioneer

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:42 AM

I have been more-or-less vegetarian at most times in my life, and still prefer to cook and eat vegetarian food. Here are my recommendations, if you are vegetarian:

  • Check out the menus for the trains you plan on taking. They don't vary much, but there are seasonal rotations and a few train-type variations. This will allow you to choose if you are going to eat in the dining car. I think it's been mentioned that three dining car meals per day are included with sleeper fare.
  • Take plenty of your favorite nutritious snack foods, like dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. There are also other on-board options for food, as shown here. But you will get higher quality snacks by bringing them yourself. Your New York relatives should be able to get you well set-up for the trip, knowing how many days it will take. Allow enough snacks for an extra day, in case of delays.
  • Another tip: if you have a particular type of tea you prefer: they will give you a cup of hot water at the cafe car just for the asking. I always tip a quarter in the attendant's cup, just to ensure they are willing to do it again later, and I don't ask for too many, but yes, I do prefer my own quality tea sometimes.
  • If you change trains in Chicago, and have a few hours, there are many options for eating and food purchase near the station. Try googling for your favorite food type! it is perfectly acceptable to carry your own food on board the train. The only restricted areas, where you cannot eat your own food, are where they are selling food in the cafe car or dining car. You can eat your own food (and will see others doing the same) at your coach seat, in your sleeper compartment, or in the upstairs of a 2-level sightseer lounge car (as they have on western trains).
  • You will not stop long enough at most mid-point stations to purchase food off the train. 

I hope this advice is helpful - really, I would do this no matter whether I am in coach or sleeper, and no matter whether I am willing to eat everything on the menu or not. It is just common sense and being prepared.


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#12 Maglev

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:38 PM

If you have the time and money, I would recommend circling the nation by taking the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited,  and Crescent, with layovers in as many places as possible.  My favorite city in the US is San Francisco, while there are many great museums in Washington, DC.


Northeast corridor Heritage, Amfleet and Acela, CN Super Continental, Broadway Limited, Lone Star, Sunset Limited, Coast Starlight, San Joaquin, Southwest Limited, National Limited, Champion, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Wolverine, Crescent, Empire Builder, Cascades, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Cardinal. 


#13 maxbuskirk

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 03:38 PM

Possible exception to oregon pioneer's last point is an early arrival into Albuquerque on #4 or on-time on #3, and the burrito lady at El Paso if she's still there. If shops are open in San Antonio late at night, that's an option too.

Edited by maxbuskirk, 23 March 2017 - 03:41 PM.

I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have seen, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (with luck), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), and Empire Builder #28 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#14 leacrane

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 05:52 PM

Globetraveller,
You may have heard that long distance trains in the USA are not one of our strengths. As I do not fly, I have travelled most of the ld routes.
I would consider flying to Chicago from NY. that part of the trip by train is an overnight, has some good scenery but not spectacular in my opinion.
You can see Chicago if you have the time.
The Southwest Chief from.Chicago to Flagstaff Arizona is spectacular in my view. You'll see America almost like it was in the movies of the 1930s. Farms, tunnels through the mountains, etc. Plus, this train has an observation car with windows all around. Whether you travel in a sleeping car or coach you can spend daylight hours there enjoying the view. You'll also meet a lot of other travellers, Americans and other visitors like yourself.
If you can afford the sleeping car, it's a much better ride, your meals are included but it's very expensive.
Enjoy your trip
(I don't know the details of getting from Flagstaff to Phoenix as others do, but on the way, Sedona is quite spectacular especially if you like to take photos)




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