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Considering taking the train to MKE


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#1 Guest_Guest_NEPA_*

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 08:30 PM

Hello,

 

I'm going to Milwaukee next month and I'm considering taking the train instead of my original plan of flying.  I'm coming from Northeast PA, and based on the schedules I've seen I've come up with the following plan:

 

To MKE:

 

Take a bus to NYC and take the Lake Shore Limited to CHI and then take the next Hiawatha to MKE.

 

Alternatively, I could take a bus to Syracuse and catch the LSL there.  This would be an over two-hour layover, but I would save about $30-40.  NYC would involve an over two-hour layover too, but unlike NYP, SYR seems more isolated from the downtown, so I would have to stay in the station the whole time.

 

To Get Back Home:

 

-Take the Capitol Limited to WAS and then either:

--Stay overnight in DC or Baltimore and then take a train to NYC in the morning, and finally take an afternoon bus back to NEPA.

 

or

 

--Try to get to NYC for the 7 PM bus back to NEPA, which would get me back to PA at an okay time.  Any later bus and I think I would rather just find a hotel.

 

My previous experience with Amtrak has been limited to the Northeast Regional, which was a good experience and is why I am considering using Amtrak instead of flying.  My questions are:

 

1) How is it sleeping in coach?  I could do a roomette for the Capitol Limited to DC, but not for the LSL.

 

2) How is the Syracuse station at night?  Is there a waiting area for Amtrak customers like at NYP?  Asking in case I choose that station instead of NYP.

 

Thanks in advance.



#2 Pere Flyer

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:58 PM

I can answer your first question from recent experience. Last month I rode coach on the Texas Eagle from CHI to FTW, a roughly 25 hour trip. I had a blanket, eyeshades, and neck pillow and found it tolerable. I didn’t sleep as well as I would have in a normal bed, but much better than in a car, bus, or plane. The TE is a Superliner train like the Cap Ltd with wider seats and more legroom compared to the Amfleet Lake Shore Ltd and NER’s. I recommend bringing your own food for the journey, since the dining car is expensive—especially with the unique dining options on the trains you’re considering.
I’d also factor in both long distance trains running late when you book your bus tickets. Other members here more familiar with the CL and LSL can give you more specific advice about that, and you can visit asm.transitdocs.net for historical data on timekeeping.

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#3 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 06:17 AM

I'm originally from NEPA and my parents still live there. I had thought about going up from there to Syracuse last time from my parents' house but decided against it.

 

My first LD experience was the old Broadway from CHI to Harrisburg and a bus to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (do they even have buses between Harrisburg and SWB anymore?)

 

There is a late Thruway bus on Fridays and Sundays only leaving PHL at 8:15pm returning to Wilkes Barre/Scranton so if you arrive back to WAS on the CL on either day you can take an NER from WAS off the CL and get back to NEPA the same night. The earlier bus leaves PHL 5:45pm which you probably can't make unless you're willing to change trains in Pittsburgh and get off the Capitol Limited at 5:05am and wait in PGH until 7:30am for the Pennsylvanian (and if the CL is late you miss the Pennsylvanian).


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore 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), Texas Eagle (CHI-DAL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
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#4 bms

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:32 AM

Syracuse's station seemed fine to me, there's an indoor waiting area there. It's nothing special, but it's a lot better than waiting at NYP. Also your bus would drop you off at the same building.

On the way back, assuming your bus leaves from the Port Authority, I would definitely not count on making a 7 p.m. bus after getting off the Lake Shore Limited. That's a situation where everything has to go 100% right, which rarely happens.

#5 cpotisch

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 10:35 AM

My previous experience with Amtrak has been limited to the Northeast Regional, which was a good experience and is why I am considering using Amtrak instead of flying.  My questions are:

 

1) How is it sleeping in coach?  I could do a roomette for the Capitol Limited to DC, but not for the LSL.

 

2) How is the Syracuse station at night?  Is there a waiting area for Amtrak customers like at NYP?  Asking in case I choose that station instead of NYP.

 

Thanks in advance.

Fortunately, coach on long distance trains is much better than coach on short distance trains. On single level trains like the LSL, you have larger windows, a leg rest at each seat, and about 30% more legroom (the same business class on a Regional). And on bi-level Superliner trains like the Capitol Limited, you get even more space. I would still go for a roomette on the CL, since nothing can really compare to having a private room and a bed, but I'm sure you'll be fine in coach.


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 rspenmoll

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 02:49 PM

Another option is that you can take a thruway bus to Philly from Scranton (really a thru-ticked Martz Trailways line run), take a Regional train to DC, and then go to Chicago on the Capitol Limited, as shown below. Attached File  Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 3.46.38 PM.png   342.63KB   15 downloads


Edited by rspenmoll, 07 September 2018 - 02:50 PM.

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#7 jebr

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 03:03 PM

If it's an option, I'd definitely suggest going with a through-ticketed Thruway ticket from Amtrak. Theoretically, that should guarantee your connection and require Amtrak to accommodate you should something happen along the way.



#8 Guest_Gracious traveler_*

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 03:59 PM

Following what bms and others wisely wrote; Don't forget that NYP and Port Authority are not exactly next-door to each other.  It will involve Subways (steps and long walks) or cabs  (can be frustrating when traveling).

 

Also, Penn Station waiting area is busy, crowded and also frustrating by day, and most unpleasant at night. Port Authority can be the same -- even worse at night.

 

Have a wonderful trip.  Amtrak is always a great idea, NEPA.    You'll be glad you did.



#9 cpotisch

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 07:32 PM

Following what bms and others wisely wrote; Don't forget that NYP and Port Authority are not exactly next-door to each other.  It will involve Subways (steps and long walks) or cabs  (can be frustrating when traveling).

 

Also, Penn Station waiting area is busy, crowded and also frustrating by day, and most unpleasant at night. Port Authority can be the same -- even worse at night.

 

Have a wonderful trip.  Amtrak is always a great idea, NEPA.    You'll be glad you did.

I disagree that it's hard to get from NYP to Port Authority. You just take the A, C, or E one stop, and you're there. Both stations are accessible and easy to access.


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


#10 Guest_Guest_NEPA_*

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 11:27 PM

Thank you all for the replies.

 

Pere Flyer: thanks for the link. 

 

 I agree with cpotisch.  I have ridden the subway between NYP and PABT quite a few times, I think the the two places are really easy to get to.  I checked the train status of the LSL just now on the Amtrak app and it arrived a half hour late.  I have experienced lateness on Amtrak before with my trip from NYP to BAL on the Northeast Regional back in July, so I'm keeping lateness in mind.  I doubt I would've made it to PABT had I rode the LSL tonight.  I think I'm ruling out taking the LSL back to the northeast.

 

Taking the Capital Limited into CHI is something I've considered and the extra legroom sounds really appealing.  Though it would be fun to take one route in and another route out.   I think I've at least settled on taking the CL on the way back (CHI to WAS).

 

 

 

 



#11 cpotisch

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Posted 08 September 2018 - 04:33 AM

Taking the Capital Limited into CHI is something I've considered and the extra legroom sounds really appealing.  Though it would be fun to take one route in and another route out.   I think I've at least settled on taking the CL on the way back (CHI to WAS).

Just to clarify, coach on the Capitol Limited is only marginally better than coach on the LSL, though both are way better than on short distance trains. You get a ton of legroom either way, and I doubt you'll really notice the difference. I would personally recommend you take both trains, since the two are very different, but if the CL is the only one that works both ways, you won't be missing out on that much.


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


#12 NEPATrainTraveler

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 11:24 AM

 

Taking the Capital Limited into CHI is something I've considered and the extra legroom sounds really appealing.  Though it would be fun to take one route in and another route out.   I think I've at least settled on taking the CL on the way back (CHI to WAS).

Just to clarify, coach on the Capitol Limited is only marginally better than coach on the LSL, though both are way better than on short distance trains. You get a ton of legroom either way, and I doubt you'll really notice the difference. I would personally recommend you take both trains, since the two are very different, but if the CL is the only one that works both ways, you won't be missing out on that much.

 

 

OP here.  Thanks for the clarification.  

 

I booked the LSL from NYP to CHI.  I will be riding in Coach.  Haven't decided on the way back yet, but I'm leaning towards the CL to WAS and then NER to PHL and then take the bus home.  Martz's PHL schedule moved the 5:45 bus to 6:45, so I think I should make it.


Edited by NEPATrainTraveler, 13 September 2018 - 11:37 AM.




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