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LSL return from Gathering


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#1 thully

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 03:02 PM

On my way to NYP, I was surprised to find that my 7 day MetroCard purchased last Thursday afternoon no longer worked. Thought it lasted until the same time a week later - as it stands I had to add value (wish they had a 1 day pass...) I ended up upgrading to a sleeper for the return trip on 49, as one popped up at a lower bucket (not quite the lowest, as I saw one even lower for Fridays 49 - unfortunately where I was staying was booked on Friday).

As such, I made use of the ClubAcela at NYP - I stored my bag there while walking around Midtown and getting Pizza Suprema for lunch (kept some things in a bag with me for safekeeping, as to my surprise ClubAcelas baggage room is unattended unlike the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge). I did notice many Business class passengers being turned away - I suspect Acela Business, as the ClubAcela makes it sound like a lounge for Acela passengers, not first class passengers.

Made it back there around 3pm, and am still waiting as the LSL is apparently delayed, with no estimated departure time available. Eager to get on, as I want to settle into my roomette (been 6 years or so since Ive done a Viewliner roomette), and see how this contemporary dining is. Though a delay may not be completely bad for me, as Id get a saner arrival time at TOL and perhaps some rare daylight Ohio mileage. I just hope they dont cancel it - doesnt look like much room on tomorrows 49...
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Trains traveled: Wolverine, Pacific Surfliner, Northeast Regional, Adirondack, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, San Joaquin, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, Pere Marquette, Amtrak Cascades, Hiawatha Service, VIA Corridor (Windsor-Toronto)

#2 thully

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 04:02 PM

The LSL eventually made it out about an hour late. Found my room, but then was surprised to find out there was no luggage rack in the Viewliners as in the Superliners (or even the Amfleet coach). I didnt check my bag because I wasnt sure I could (Im connecting in TOL to a bus without checked baggage) and though there would be space. Fortunately, there was an open roomette that the SCA let me place my bag in (surprised there was one, as this was booked..).

Now that thats taken care of, were making our way up towards Albany (and ultimately Chicago, or Toledo/Ann Arbor for me) along the Hudson River. I luckily managed to get a roomette on the river side - I think the scenery looks better out of a Viewliner window than Amfleet or Metro-North equipment. They did make an announcement that dinner is being served for sleeper passengers, though the cafe car will not open until after ALB. Glad I am in sleeper - wouldnt be thrilled to wait until after 8 with the delays to eat, wait in a large line, and possibly have them run out of what I want. I plan to ask for a boxed to-go breakfast for my Toledo bus ride (unless were delayed enough to eat breakfast on the train).
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Trains traveled: Wolverine, Pacific Surfliner, Northeast Regional, Adirondack, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, San Joaquin, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, Pere Marquette, Amtrak Cascades, Hiawatha Service, VIA Corridor (Windsor-Toronto)

#3 cpotisch

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 04:49 PM

The LSL eventually made it out about an hour late. Found my room, but then was surprised to find out there was no luggage rack in the Viewliners as in the Superliners (or even the Amfleet coach). I didnt check my bag because I wasnt sure I could (Im connecting in TOL to a bus without checked baggage) and though there would be space. Fortunately, there was an open roomette that the SCA let me place my bag in (surprised there was one, as this was booked..).

Why didn't you put your bags in your room's storage cubby across from the upper bunk?


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


#4 thully

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 06:25 PM

As for putting the bag in the upper compartment - Im not sure it would fit, and if it did it would be difficult to get it up and in there...

Anyway, the Hudson River scenery was quite enjoyable, and the Viewliner roomette and diner both offered great views. However, it did get dark before Albany due to our late departure, so I didnt get to see all of it (particularly the north of POU scenery we didnt see on the Gathering). As for the diner, I just returned from my first experience with contemporary dining. The dining car itself was quite nice - Ive been in the LSL single-level diner before, but I dont think it was that nice as far as windows/seating. Kind of reminded me of the Pacific Parlour Car (formerly) on the Coast Starlight.

For dinner, I had the short rib - the meat was pretty good, though there were some things in the box I wasnt a huge fan of (cheesecake, cooked vegetables). Granted, I dont usually like those things in general, though it would be nice to have some alternatives (always liked the ice cream and baked potato before). Or just bring back the old dining service (which the attendants seemed to prefer as well).

Overall, the meal was OK (and the ability to use the dining car as a sleeper lounge is somewhat nice with no SSL), though I do prefer the old dining service. It still beats what Id get if I had stayed in coach - as coach passengers cant buy those meals, and the cafe car isnt available until after ALB when it is attached with the BOS section (and Im sure they will be mobbed). Speaking of ALB, we are currently stopped there waiting for our train to be combined with 449. Ill probably get my bed put down relatively early for an early arrival (no scenery to see anyway) - I may get to sample a breakfast box, though probably only if were late as they open at 6...
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Trains traveled: Wolverine, Pacific Surfliner, Northeast Regional, Adirondack, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, San Joaquin, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, Pere Marquette, Amtrak Cascades, Hiawatha Service, VIA Corridor (Windsor-Toronto)

#5 railiner

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 10:36 PM

Approximately, how full was the sleeper lounge...and how many ate their boxed meals there, as opposed to taking it to their rooms...relatively speaking...

 

And how many used it just as a 'lounge', and not eating their dinner there.   I don't know if you could purchase drinks there, or have to go to the coach lounge to purchase and bring back.

 

 

Just curious as to how 'useful' these expensive new cars are in their current operation....And if passenger's socialize in them at all....


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#6 thully

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 06:34 AM

With respect to the sleeper lounge, it was fairly empty when I went there. A few people eating dinner, but Id say there were as many crew as passengers in that car. Every person or family had their own table (with plenty to spare), so not much socializing going on. I suppose that could be because passengers dont know that they can be there other than for meals, though the lesser crowds at dinner time as well suggest some are taking meals to their room. It does seem like a bit of a waste for how nice those diners are.

The rest of my trip went OK. After I had some drinks in the lounge car, I had my bed put down fairly early, and went to sleep. Didnt sleep the greatest - the one brief time I feel into deeper sleep was interrupted by what I thought was the SCA knocking on my door to tell me Toledo was coming up. Except it wasnt, and we hadnt even reached Cleveland yet. From then on I was basically lying down awake, anticipating when that knock would come.

Eventually I got up at 5:30, before there was such a knock so I could take a shower and get breakfast before arriving in Toledo. Shower was a bit difficult to get into with the trash can in there, but eventually I squeezed in. Was the first in the diner at 6, seeing as the train was showing a 6:25ish arrival time. Sampled everything - the blueberry muffin and some of the fruit was good (though the packaging was somewhat difficult to open), but Im not big on yogurt (though I tried it) and avoided the almond Kashi bar since Im allergic to nuts. I did get coffee and OJ to go, though. In my opinion, they should try a cold continental breakfast with multiple options (or just go back to the old way)

As we approached Toledo, we had to pull into a siding to let a freight pass about a mile out of the station. Ugh. While waiting there, I started to worry given the delay that 29 had last night - would the bus make us wait 3 hours in TOL for 29 passengers? Eventually we arrived in TOL about an hour late, and was happy to find the bus outside waiting for us (and only us). I do wonder what happens to 29 passengers who are on our bus - do they send another bus, a cab, or have passengers ride to CHI and catch a Michigan train? I do know in usual circumstances one bus is used for both trains - my bus to catch the CL going to the Gathering was in fact 6048.

In any case, Im now on my bus en route to Ann Arbor as the sun rises. Not sure when Ill take another eastern LD train given the food and board/alight times (or burning days backtracking), but glad I did it on this trip. Definitely glad I didnt try the Pennsy-Cap connection on the return trip with 29s woes - Id have been waiting in PGH until 3:30am! Had a great time in NYC, and glad I got a chance to ride a Viewliner...
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Trains traveled: Wolverine, Pacific Surfliner, Northeast Regional, Adirondack, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, San Joaquin, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, Pere Marquette, Amtrak Cascades, Hiawatha Service, VIA Corridor (Windsor-Toronto)

#7 Bob Dylan

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 10:36 AM

When I rode #29 Sunday/Mon from PGH-CHI, I only had the Boxed Breakfast in the "First Class Lounge",ie Diner.

There were about 6 people eating @ the tables when I arrived @7am.. I did see the two SCAs from the Sleepers come in and take a few ordees to the Sleepers,and a few people came and went while I was eating, some just got coffee and juice.

I talked with Several people in the Sightseer Lounge Later from my Sleeper, it was unanimous that the Food could be of a much better quality with a heated choice and that there should be the ability to pick and choose the items received.( mix and match)

I enjoyed the fruit and the muffin, the rest was thrown away including the sugary,Granola loaded Yogurt.


Otther things mentioned were that it was difficult to open the items inside and the waste that evidently gets put in the trash bags and unloaded like Diners have done for years.( recycling?)

Also, the Crew doesn't get to eat the food,they have to being their own or eat in the Cafe just like Coach passengers.😣

Edited by Bob Dylan, 05 October 2018 - 10:36 AM.

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#8 railiner

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 11:55 AM

Good report...thanks for taking us along. :)

Sad, how those new diners are being wasted.... :(


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#9 cpotisch

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 01:22 PM

Sad, how those new diners are being wasted.... :(

I would note that at least sleeper passengers on the LSL now have a decent place to chill and take in the views. ViewDiners can function well as a sort of single-level SSL. I still think that this is a downgrade overall, but the car isn't totally wasted.


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 jis

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 01:45 PM

I would actually love to see the Amcan Diner Lite replaced by a ViewDiner on the Star. The only fly in the ointment is that a ViewDiner does not have a usable Counter to provide Cafe style Counter Service.


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#11 railiner

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 02:04 PM

What is a shame, is that their modern galley could have produced wonderful full service meals....

And how much would it cost, to rip out most of that galley to install a smaller cafe type counter area?


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#12 cpotisch

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 02:31 PM

What is a shame, is that their modern galley could have produced wonderful full service meals....

And how much would it cost, to rip out most of that galley to install a smaller cafe type counter area?

I don't think they'd have to rip out most of the galley. If you just cut back some of the wall to the galley and clear up some counter space, I think it could function well as a cafe car.  


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


#13 railiner

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 10:55 PM

 

What is a shame, is that their modern galley could have produced wonderful full service meals....

And how much would it cost, to rip out most of that galley to install a smaller cafe type counter area?

I don't think they'd have to rip out most of the galley. If you just cut back some of the wall to the galley and clear up some counter space, I think it could function well as a cafe car.  

 

Yes, you could do that, but....what about all the ovens, grills, toasters, dishwasher's, etc., that were arranged efficiently to provide full diner service?   They'd be wasting space that could have been better utilized, if the car was originally designed for the purpose it is now used.   

I haven't actually seen the new cars, but can vividly recall the difference  between an Amlounge and a Heritage diner...


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#14 PVD

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 01:09 PM

Just for reference, the ML in Chicago  no longer has attended luggage storage since it moved to the new location.



#15 NEPATrainTraveler

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:45 PM

Just for reference, the ML in Chicago  no longer has attended luggage storage since it moved to the new location.


Good to know.

#16 cpotisch

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:58 PM

It might not strictly qualify as "attended luggage storage", but I feel perfectly comfortable leaving my bags in the Chicago ML baggage area. It's behind a pretty well monitored front desk with multiple staff, so I really doubt anyone would have an issue. JMO.


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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


#17 JRR

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:36 PM

When I arrived in Chicago on the CONO, I promptly checked into the ML and stowed my bags. My wife and I then spent the day touring Chicago and then met my cousin after her work and returned to the ML to claim our bags. As we entered the ML, I told my cousin that she would not be able to come and just to wait at the door. The attendant said: “Just come on in honey, I remember you from this morning.”

While the bags are not technically checked or secured, it is clear to me that they keep a pretty close watch on things.
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