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Experiences with Rail Tours and Group Travel on Amtrak


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#21 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:11 PM

Would Amtrak charge a private car rate though?

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#22 Lonestar648

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:22 PM

I would think Amtrak has to charge a decent fee because there are expenses to Amtrak to add the car to the train, plus the cost of pulling it for three days each way.  


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


#23 Bob Dylan

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:25 PM

I think crescent-zephyr is asking if tour groups riding in Amtrak Sleepers,not PVs, could have their own SSL added to the consist similar to how the Starlight has the SSL for everyone and the PPC just for Sleeper and Biz Class passengers!

Edited by Bob Dylan, 10 August 2017 - 01:25 PM.

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#24 Lonestar648

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:32 PM

I think the CZ needs 2 SSL during the summer, one for Coach and one for Sleepers, due to the number of passengers riding between Denver and California.  Everyone talks up the scenery, but with 400 on board, seating is impossible in one SSL.  Unfortunately, Amtrak would need about 7 free SSL to make that work.


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


#25 niemi24s

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:59 PM

Wonder if it would do any good to send a link to this thread to the rail tour companies?  Couldn't hurt, could it?  If not we're doing nothing but slobbering all over ourselves.



#26 PVD

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 02:07 PM

If the train was full in peak season, even if no tour passengers were aboard, you would have the same problems in the SSL in the most scenic spots. We have already had plenty of posts on this board about people tying up space unfairly where nobody was sitting. Didn't seem like anyone had a good solution for that. Heck of a lot harder to deal with seats taken by actual passengers. A single SSL is not sufficient for the few hours of peak viewing times on certain routes every day, but probably could not be economically justified for its added cost over the whole route.



#27 seat38a

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 02:18 PM

Wonder if it would do any good to send a link to this thread to the rail tour companies?  Couldn't hurt, could it?  If not we're doing nothing but slobbering all over ourselves.

Yeah they will get right on it to make changes, because what we think really matters to their business.  :rolleyes: Unless its Amtrak coming down on them WHAT WE THINK matters little to them.



#28 PaulM

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 03:35 PM

  Last year we could not grab breakfast on the CZ going into Denver as all the seats in the dining car were full when they opened and the same tour group was taking all the seats when we pulled into Denver Union Station.  Limiting the time that they are permitted to dine would be a good first step to fairness. Am I wrong about this?

 

About breakfast approaching Denver.  It (as I'm sure you know) is always first come, first serve; and then a wait list is started .  So unless you arrived when there was still space and were tuned away because you weren't of the group, or there were separate wait lists, one for the group and one for the rest, with the former having priority, then you are wrong.

 

The fact that a lot of other passengers beat you to breakfast does not make tour groups bad.

 

I usually get off in Denver and hate having to get up so early to get breakfast, but that's the way the schedule works.



#29 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:47 PM

I think crescent-zephyr is asking if tour groups riding in Amtrak Sleepers,not PVs, could have their own SSL added to the consist similar to how the Starlight has the SSL for everyone and the PPC just for Sleeper and Biz Class passengers!


Correct. Obviously it would cost money

Amtrak: - Coast Starlight*, Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin*, Cascades*, Empire Builder*, California Zephyr*, Southwest Chief*, City of New Orleans*, River Cities, Illinois Zephyr*, Wolverine, Cardinal, Capitol Limited*, Lake Shore Limited, Downeaster, Acela Express*, Crescent*, Carolinian*, Silver Star*, Silver Meteor*, Maple Leaf* Texas Eagle.

 

VIA: - Canadian*

 

Iowa Pacific - Hoosier State*, and City of New Orleans Pullman*.   


#30 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:51 PM

What I find crazy about the complaints about the tour groups taking up space is that if the train was sold out by normal means, you'd still have the space issue.  It's not like they added a sleeper or coach car but did not add an add'l SSL or diner to handle the additional passengers.


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#31 niemi24s

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:08 AM

 

Wonder if it would do any good to send a link to this thread to the rail tour companies?  Couldn't hurt, could it?  If not we're doing nothing but slobbering all over ourselves.

Yeah they will get right on it to make changes, because what we think really matters to their business.  :rolleyes: Unless its Amtrak coming down on them WHAT WE THINK matters little to them.

 

Not being quite as clairvoyant as you seem to be, I still think it'd be a good idea to let them know our feelings.  And as you implied, maybe Amtrak should also be made aware of all this stuff.  Otherwise, the situation is not likely to change.


Edited by niemi24s, 14 August 2017 - 08:32 AM.


#32 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:58 AM

What I find crazy about the complaints about the tour groups taking up space is that if the train was sold out by normal means, you'd still have the space issue.  It's not like they added a sleeper or coach car but did not add an add'l SSL or diner to handle the additional passengers.

 

While the number of souls may be the same, the tour groups often act as a single large entity, blocking out Diner and SSL space en mass.



#33 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 09:05 AM


What I find crazy about the complaints about the tour groups taking up space is that if the train was sold out by normal means, you'd still have the space issue.  It's not like they added a sleeper or coach car but did not add an add'l SSL or diner to handle the additional passengers.

 
While the number of souls may be the same, the tour groups often act as a single large entity, blocking out Diner and SSL space en mass.
Can you describe how you have seen this done?

I've seen small groups from vacations by rail sitting together in the ssl... But I've never seen them block off seats. Same for the diner... I've been seated with members of tour groups for meals so I know they don't block off tables or seatings just for groups.

Edited by crescent-zephyr, 11 August 2017 - 03:55 PM.

Amtrak: - Coast Starlight*, Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin*, Cascades*, Empire Builder*, California Zephyr*, Southwest Chief*, City of New Orleans*, River Cities, Illinois Zephyr*, Wolverine, Cardinal, Capitol Limited*, Lake Shore Limited, Downeaster, Acela Express*, Crescent*, Carolinian*, Silver Star*, Silver Meteor*, Maple Leaf* Texas Eagle.

 

VIA: - Canadian*

 

Iowa Pacific - Hoosier State*, and City of New Orleans Pullman*.   


#34 PRR 60

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 03:39 PM

Topic is reopened.  Let's discuss tour groups and Amtrak, but avoid making it personal with other posters and their opinions.



#35 Lonestar648

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 10:33 PM

A couple Dining Car simple suggestions, 1. The tour director can not block out huge blocks of seats like breakfast, everyone is on their own. 2. Those on the tour like to sit and talk after their meals, but this slows the table turn over that the Dining Car is expecting in order to not run out of time. I think the LSA could politely ask if they would like a refil for the SSL or something similar, or something like we have a lot of people to feed waiting for their number to be called. Something polite that the seats are needed. As far as the SSL, on the CZ, there are just too many people, tour group or not, during the summer for one SSL.

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


#36 Ryan

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 06:57 AM

1. Have you ever seen seats go empty because they were blocked for a tour while others stood there and waited?

2. How is that any different than any other passenger not a part of a tour?
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#37 railiner

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:56 AM

I think the CZ needs 2 SSL during the summer, one for Coach and one for Sleepers, due to the number of passengers riding between Denver and California.  Everyone talks up the scenery, but with 400 on board, seating is impossible in one SSL.  Unfortunately, Amtrak would need about 7 free SSL to make that work.

This brings up an interesting comparison....anyone know the ratio between total revenue seats (or berths), and SSL upper level, as compared with the original Vista-Dome California Zephyr?

IIRC, coach passengers on the latter were permitted in any of the three or four coach domes, but Pullman passengers got exclusive use of the dome in the coffee shop car, as well as the dome in the rear lounge observation car....


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#38 ehbowen

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 10:35 AM

 

I think the CZ needs 2 SSL during the summer, one for Coach and one for Sleepers, due to the number of passengers riding between Denver and California.  Everyone talks up the scenery, but with 400 on board, seating is impossible in one SSL.  Unfortunately, Amtrak would need about 7 free SSL to make that work.

This brings up an interesting comparison....anyone know the ratio between total revenue seats (or berths), and SSL upper level, as compared with the original Vista-Dome California Zephyr?

IIRC, coach passengers on the latter were permitted in any of the three or four coach domes, but Pullman passengers got exclusive use of the dome in the coffee shop car, as well as the dome in the rear lounge observation car....

 

 

Interesting question! Well, when the CZ was nearly new in 1950, it rostered a tail end dome observation-sleeper (sleeping capacity 9), two 10-6 sleepers (22 each, or 44 more), and a 16-section sleeper which would have a normal capacity of 32 (but you could share a section berth with a second passenger if you didn't mind being cozy). So, a normal capacity of 81, and two domes reserved for sleeper passengers with a capacity of 24 each. So 81 passengers had access to 48 dome seats reserved exclusively for their use, plus a lounge on the main floor level in the tail-end observation car (which apparently could seat 36 more). [Reference: "Cars of the California Zephyr"] For the coach passengers there were three dome coaches with a capacity of 42 passengers each; each coach had a dome which could accommodate 24 sightseers. In addition, coach passengers had access to the lounge area (but not the dome) of the mid-train dome-buffet-lounge.

 

A standard Superliner sleeper these days has an all-up capacity of 42. The present-day CZ usually runs with two through the mountains, plus I suppose they could sell a few of the rooms in the trans-dorm. Say 92 passengers maxed-out. It normally runs with two or three coaches; a Superliner coach seats 75 (or 62 for a coach/baggage or snack coach). So we're talking roughly 220 passengers sharing the facilities of a single Sightseer lounge, which accommodates...what, roughly 60 or so on the upper level, plus about another 20 in the lower level cafe?

 

We're making progress, but I don't think it's in the right direction....


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#39 Lonestar648

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 12:29 AM

The CZ had three sleepers this summer and four coaches. The Conductor said they had about 400 on the train. He said most days in the summer had this number.

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


#40 chakk

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 11:39 AM

When I saw 6(10) last week near Davis, it had 3 coaches and 3 sleepers, plus the crew dorm-sleeper.




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