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LA to DC - Routing Question


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#1 Guest_Eliza_*

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:32 AM

I've been wanting to do a cross-country train trip for some time, but timing has never worked out.  My vacation schedule just aligned so that this July I will be able to take the train from LA to DC.   I'll be traveling coach, unfortunately, but looking forward to the adventure.

 

My plan is to take the California Zephyr from Los Angeles to Chicago.  There I can connect to either the Capitol Limited or the Cardinal --- which would you recommend? 

 

I've done overnight Amtrak travel on the LSL between Chi and Erie, PA a number of times, so I have some experience, but I've never done a longer trip --- any general advice for surviving coach for that long would also be appreciated. 

 

Thanks and Happy Travels!



#2 Guest_Eliza_*

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:40 AM

And, of course, I meant I'm taking the Southwest Chief from LA to Chicago, not the Zephyr.



#3 Chessie

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:52 AM

Well I have a similar trip planned from LA to PHL and I chose the Texas Eagle and the Cardinal. The Cardinal goes through a beautiful range of mountains in West Virginia and I was kind of looking for excuses to ride it. :giggle:

For you though, the connection between the SWC and the Cardinal is tightER but still guaranteed. If the Cardinal is available on that day I would still book it. If the connection is missed they can always put you on the Capitol Limited.

Eta: another possibility is the dreaded bustitution from Galesburg to Indianapolis. It's a six hour bus ride and it will get you to connect to the Cardinal if the SWC is very late. I would personally take that option over the Capitol Limited because the Cardinal is very high on my priority list. :) Ymmv.

Happy travels!

Edited by Chessie, 18 May 2017 - 11:26 AM.


#4 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:54 AM

Either take the Cardinal (via Indianapolis, Cincinatti, Clifton Forge) or the Capitol Ltd (via Toledo, Pittsburgh, Cumberland). However, only the latter runs daily as of right now, although there are efforts to make it daily. If you want flexibility, take the Cap Ltd. If you don't mind, take the Cardinal, but by doing so get ready for a more rigid travel dates and higher ticket prices. However, if I were you, I'd take the Cardinal from Chicago to DC, as the views are spectacular on the Cardinal.


Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 20271 miles plus 130 Ambus miles


#5 the_traveler

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:55 AM

A few suggestions would be to take some non-perishable foods with you, and also bring something like a sweater or jacket that you can roll up and use as a pillow. Getting a window seat helps. Try to have at least some meals in the Dining Car. (Breakfast is the most reasonable meal.
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!

#6 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:01 AM


For you though, the connection between SWC and Cardinal is tightER. But if Cardinal is available on that day I would still book Cardinal. That way in worst scenario if the connection is missed they would just put you on Capitol Limited.

Happy travels!

 

The CL only gives you less than one extra hour of leeway (5:45pm to 6:40pm). Worst worst would be LSL (9:30pm) to NYP and then regional rail to WAS.


Trains Traveled:
 
Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA) 
Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI)
Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS)
Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI)
Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL)
Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX)
California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY)
City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)

 

Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 

https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

 


#7 oregon pioneer

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:06 AM

I have taken both the Cardinal and the Cap Ltd. As a first-time rider on each, I found both trips to be beautiful. Given a choice of which to take a second time, I would take the Cardinal again. It's a different kind of train -- slower, a more folksy feel to the people riding it AND the stations passed. And the scenery is drop-dead gorgeous all day! Be prepared for a few miles of rocketing and slamming along a jointed track.


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.


#8 Lonestar648

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:35 AM

Going Coach or Sleeper I would suggest multiple outlet so you can plug in your electronics, more than one at a time. A sleep mask to block out light, in case someone nearby is watching a movie.  Ear plugs help block out talking or someone playing their device too loud. A pillow or something soft that be rolled up by a sweatshirt.  Have layers for hot and cold times on the train.  Typically night is cold.  A couple bottles of water that hold back for use when you need something to drink and the cafe is closed.  Snacks like the Lance PB or Cheese crackers don't take much space.  At Walgreens they have packages of body wipes like are used in the hospital that you can used for bathing and feeling clean. Have your toiletries bag easy to access. Doing this is refreshing and improves your trip.  Noise canceling headphones for your music and.or videos. I listen to music while watching the scenery pass by. If you get the window, you are next to the outlet and you most likely can control the curtain at the window.  It is most annoying to have people keep the curtains closed all day long so you can not see anything. I set my meds up for each day in little snack bags so I can easily take them with me if I eat in the DC.  I use a thick black marker to label each bag. Eat breakfast in the DC, less expensive and is filling.  I get in before 7 so there is no waiting to be called.  Also, I enjoy watching the sun come up while I am eating.  Have a great trip.  Take lots of pictures, you can always delete some afterwards.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000


#9 FrensicPic

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:03 AM

Two years ago we did LA to DC round trip ... LA to Chicago on the Texas Eagle then the Capitol Limited to DC. The return was the Capitol Limited to Chicago and back to LA on the Southwest Chief. On this particular trip the connections in Chicago worked out well.

 

Two different routes just to "bag" two different routes and have different scenery. I enjoyed the extra time on the train by taking the Texas Eagle!


Edited by FrensicPic, 18 May 2017 - 11:04 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> 


#10 Guest_Eliza_*

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:11 AM

Thanks all for the quick and helpful replies.

 

 

Either take the Cardinal (via Indianapolis, Cincinatti, Clifton Forge) or the Capitol Ltd (via Toledo, Pittsburgh, Cumberland). However, only the latter runs daily as of right now, although there are efforts to make it daily. If you want flexibility, take the Cap Ltd. If you don't mind, take the Cardinal, but by doing so get ready for a more rigid travel dates and higher ticket prices. However, if I were you, I'd take the Cardinal from Chicago to DC, as the views are spectacular on the Cardinal.

 

 

I have taken both the Cardinal and the Cap Ltd. As a first-time rider on each, I found both trips to be beautiful. Given a choice of which to take a second time, I would take the Cardinal again. It's a different kind of train -- slower, a more folksy feel to the people riding it AND the stations passed. And the scenery is drop-dead gorgeous all day! Be prepared for a few miles of rocketing and slamming along a jointed track.

 

 

On my date of travel, both Cardinal and Cap Ltd were available and both were the same price.   I think I'm going to go for the Cardinal for the scenery and for the general atmosphere. 

 

 



#11 Guest_Eliza_*

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:18 AM

Going Coach or Sleeper I would suggest multiple outlet so you can plug in your electronics, more than one at a time. A sleep mask to block out light, in case someone nearby is watching a movie.  Ear plugs help block out talking or someone playing their device too loud. A pillow or something soft that be rolled up by a sweatshirt.  Have layers for hot and cold times on the train.  Typically night is cold.  A couple bottles of water that hold back for use when you need something to drink and the cafe is closed.  Snacks like the Lance PB or Cheese crackers don't take much space.  At Walgreens they have packages of body wipes like are used in the hospital that you can used for bathing and feeling clean. Have your toiletries bag easy to access. Doing this is refreshing and improves your trip.  Noise canceling headphones for your music and.or videos. I listen to music while watching the scenery pass by. If you get the window, you are next to the outlet and you most likely can control the curtain at the window.  It is most annoying to have people keep the curtains closed all day long so you can not see anything. I set my meds up for each day in little snack bags so I can easily take them with me if I eat in the DC.  I use a thick black marker to label each bag. Eat breakfast in the DC, less expensive and is filling.  I get in before 7 so there is no waiting to be called.  Also, I enjoy watching the sun come up while I am eating.  Have a great trip.  Take lots of pictures, you can always delete some afterwards.

 

 

A few suggestions would be to take some non-perishable foods with you, and also bring something like a sweater or jacket that you can roll up and use as a pillow. Getting a window seat helps. Try to have at least some meals in the Dining Car. (Breakfast is the most reasonable meal.

 

 

Thanks for the suggestions on what to bring.  I'm flying out to LA, then doing a cruise, before taking the train back so it's going to take some intelligent packing.  I'll definitely be making a stop for snacks/food/water in LA before heading to the train station.  Probably a dumb question, but can you bring on alcohol or do you need to buy on board?  I'm most looking forward to relaxing with a full kindle, the scenery passing by, and a glass of wine.



#12 Lonestar648

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:51 AM

Personal alcohol can only be consumed in the privacy of your room.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000


#13 the_traveler

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:50 PM

If you need "to resupply" while in Chicago, there's a CVS 1/2 block away and a Walgreens 1 block away from Union Station. Both have snacks and ready made foods also.

Edited by the_traveler, 18 May 2017 - 12:51 PM.

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!

#14 Guest_Keith harrod_*

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:27 PM

Personal alcohol can only be consumed in the privacy of your room.

At least that is Amtrak's stated policy.
No doubt, they would prefer you buy from them.
 
As a practical matter many coach passengers consume private stock alcohol at their seats and OBS leave them be as long as they are not indiscreet, over-indulging, or in some other way causing problems.
None the less, being discrete and/or using a plastic Amtrak cup gotten from the Lounge car Café is a way to make it easy for OBS to ignore that you are technically breaking the rules by consuming private stock alcohol - if they even notice what you are doing.
 
I pack an 8 oz stainless steel wine glass that I use all day to sip water.
Other passengers and OBS see me putting water in it often at the water dispenser in the coach car and in the SSL car.
At night my metal wine glass has some of my private stock alcohol in it instead of water.

#15 KmH

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:38 PM

The Sunset/Limited/Texas Eagle between LA and San Antonio is a scenic trip.

Between San Antonio and Chicago on the Texas Eagle is way less scenic. Much of the route has trees immediately adjacent to the train tracks blocking the view.

I did LA to Chicago earlier this month - May 3 to May 6.

 

If the timing works for you I would book the Sunset Limited LA to New Orleans, spend the night, and then take the Crescent in the morning.

 

Here is NOL Amtrak station and nearby hostels:

https://www.google.c...0.0788379,18.5z

 

http://thequisby.com/


Edited by KmH, 18 May 2017 - 01:45 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.

 

 

 

 

 


#16 Eliza

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:57 PM

Registered, so no longer a guest!

 

 

The Sunset/Limited/Texas Eagle between LA and San Antonio is a scenic trip.

Between San Antonio and Chicago on the Texas Eagle is way less scenic. Much of the route has trees immediately adjacent to the train tracks blocking the view.

I did LA to Chicago earlier this month - May 3 to May 6.

 

If the timing works for you I would book the Sunset Limited LA to New Orleans, spend the night, and then take the Crescent in the morning.

 

Here is NOL Amtrak station and nearby hostels:

https://www.google.c...0.0788379,18.5z

 

http://thequisby.com/

 

Thanks -- unfortunately the timing on that route doesn't work for this particular trip --- but I'll definitely keep it in mind for a possible routing in the future.

 

Personal alcohol can only be consumed in the privacy of your room.

 

That makes sense.

 

 

Personal alcohol can only be consumed in the privacy of your room.

At least that is Amtrak's stated policy.
No doubt, they would prefer you buy from them.
 
As a practical matter many coach passengers consume private stock alcohol at their seats and OBS leave them be as long as they are not indiscreet, over-indulging, or in some other way causing problems.
None the less, being discrete and/or using a plastic Amtrak cup gotten from the Lounge car Café is a way to make it easy for OBS to ignore that you are technically breaking the rules by consuming private stock alcohol - if they even notice what you are doing.
 
I pack an 8 oz stainless steel wine glass that I use all day to sip water.
Other passengers and OBS see me putting water in it often at the water dispenser in the coach car and in the SSL car.
At night my metal wine glass has some of my private stock alcohol in it instead of water.

 

 

That also makes sense.   :-D



#17 Eliza

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:04 PM

If you need "to resupply" while in Chicago, there's a CVS 1/2 block away and a Walgreens 1 block away from Union Station. Both have snacks and ready made foods also.

 

Thanks --- that's my plan (assuming the trains are running on time).  If we manage to get in right on time or early, I'm hoping to pop over to the Giordano's on Jackson for deep dish.



#18 Woodcut60

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 11:41 AM

I have taken both the Cardinal and the Capitol Limited. My Sleeping Car Attendant on the Capitol Limited said that the eastbound train has the best views of the Youghiogheny River. (I was on the westbound train...) The Cardinal crosses the New River Gorge which is really beautiful. It has a bad reputation though as far as OTP (on-time performance) is concerned. My train was several hours late into New York's Penn Station.


Edited by Woodcut60, 27 May 2017 - 11:45 AM.

Amtrak Routes Traveled: Lake Shore Limited, California Zephyr, San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Cardinal, Crescent, Sunset Limited, Southwest Chief, Hiawatha, City of New Orleans, Texas Eagle, Heartland Flyer, Missouri River Runner, Lincoln, Wolverine, Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Downeaster, Vermonter, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Capitol Limited, Pennsylvanian, Amtrak Cascades.

Other Routes in North America: Denali Star (Alaska Railroad), The Ocean (Halifax, NS-Montréal, QC), Corridor Montréal-Toronto, The Canadian (Toronto, ON-Vancouver, BC).

Amtrak: approx. 25,000 miles and 47 states.

VIA Rail Canada: approx. 4,300 miles and eight provinces.


#19 Lonestar648

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 03:09 PM

Eastbound CL is one of my favorites during the fall but the Cardinal views are great too, but there is no SSL, therefore I prefer the CL eastbound and Cardinal westbound.

Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000


#20 Eliza

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:01 PM

Eastbound CL is one of my favorites during the fall but the Cardinal views are great too, but there is no SSL, therefore I prefer the CL eastbound and Cardinal westbound.

 

Forgive my complete ignorance, but what is SSL?





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