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About Skyline

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  1. Not if you are a US citizen entering Canada from the US. The US Passport suffices. You may be asked additional questions at the discretion of border agents tho.
  2. Skyline

    EB/CL Connection in Chicago

    Be aware that if you miss a connection and had reservations in a sleeper (on the train you missed), there may not be any sleeping accommodations available on the next day's train.
  3. First hand experience in 2017. I never had a passport before, and needed one to enter Canada (last time I went to Canada it wasn't required). So I jumped through all the US government's obstacle courses enroute to getting a passport and actually had mine about 10 months later. You really have to cross ever y T and dot every i, or it will be rejected and you'll have to resubmit from the back of the line. This happened twice for me. The plastic wallet US passport card, photo ID, I received on the third try is all you need to enter Canada and re-enter the US by train, bus, foot, car. It was explained to me that if I only wanted to travel from the US to Canada and back -- not by air -- that the wallet card would suffice. Travel involving any other country (see possible exception, below) requiring non-land transportation I would need the more expensive book. Since I never fly, I opted for the less expensive card. It's good for 10 years from issue date. The passport card was also good for land travel to/from Mexico as of May 2017. I hope it still is, but can't personally vouch for that given current political hyperbole.
  4. Skyline

    BUF - Depew

    Anything you can dream of. I arrived way early for the Maple Leaf to Toronto, and then the train was way late. That gave me a three-hour nap, horizontal on a window bench. I could've dreamed of anything, but instead "dreamed" of my time on the Canadian leaving at 10pm the next night. Or was the whole thing a fantasy? Seriously, nothing remarkable in that neighborhood. Didn't go exploring.
  5. When I see the phrase "contemporary boxed fare," I think of the cold experiment. Hasn't the LSL and CL upgraded that dismal failure to include some hot entrees? Or does the Boston section of the LSL still go all-cold?
  6. Bureaucracy can be frustrating. Keep trying. I wonder why, in the quarterly Passenger Train Journal, RPA's ad still promotes its earlier, obsolete identity -- NARP. And on the same PAGE as the quarterly column from RPA! For at least the last two issues.
  7. Skyline

    Cafe on the Star gets 5 stars

    Come on. Have you actually experienced onboard staff wearing headphones, listening to music, while working in public view? If yes, management is to blame as much as the offending employee. I've ridden every train in the system and never personally witnessed this. Off duty? Maybe but again, I've never seen it.
  8. Skyline

    Current Leadership Letter

    Most issues, except the inept leadership that was put in place by Republicans to destroy Amtrak, would self-resolve if Amtrak had a significant, steady stream of dedicated funding on auto-pilot. So long as it is a political football things will not change. In fact they will likely get worse.
  9. Skyline

    Seating Protocol

    I pretty much empathize. One matter does trump (sorry!) the common sense you and some others here have written on this topic. Coach attendants and conductors depend on those seat checks they place above where they tell you to sit. If you are allowed to move around at will, those seat checks become useless. You might sleep through your stop, because you won't be awakened by staff to get off the train. Others may not be able to use the seat which has your original seat check above it (now empty). Confusion will rein supreme. Much better to let pax choose their seats upon boarding, before the conductor makes his or her rounds. But you should not move from that seat after the seat check is placed above you. And, if extenuating circumstances require, you should expect to be told to vacate the seat you've chosen -- such as if the conductor's manifest shows a group travelling together may need it. But other than that, I see no (good) reason why pax should not be able to choose their own seats upon boarding.
  10. There are many Appalachian Trail hikers who would struggle to get down to that pack weight. Kudos!
  11. Well now I'm jealous. 27 trains, 10 days. Wow. And you layered! Smart... Did y'all carry luggage or do backpacks? You just shaved 20 days off your opening post. I don't know if that would make a difference re: CUS, but it couldn't hurt. Best to check with them, and make sure you're speaking with a knowledgeable person or better yet a supervisor.
  12. If I understand your post correctly, you want to leave baggage at CUS for nearly a month? I can't imagine Amtrak would want to promote anything like that with a policy that allows it, but you should ask Amtrak to clarify. I mean, what if a significant percentage of pax started doing that or something like that? The shelves would be filled with long-term storage and little room left for same-day storage. And then there are the post 9-11 security issues to be considered that would escalate if long-term storage was an option. A better option might be to re-think your clothing choices. Layering comes to mind. You can be totally comfortable in Chicago during winter with a maximum of four or five layers of varying weights, no heavy coat needed. Let Polartec and similar clothing be your friend. I've spent many nights hiking and/or camping in the backcountry during deep winter with this kind of system, and never felt very cold; in fact at times I overheated and had to shed a layer. YMMV. Don't forget a warm pullover hat that can cover your ears, and some decent mid-weight water resistant gloves. None of this stuff needs to be very heavy; modern non-cotton fabrics are lightweight because they are designed for folks who will be transporting in a backpack when not wearing, 8-12 hours per day. To us, every ounce counts. Some of this clothing will give you sticker shock, but if you invest the time you can find bargains. Focus on weight and insulating properties; if going for a system with as many as five layers, go a size larger for the outer two layers. Your lightest layer would be a moisture-wicking "base" layer against your skin, getting progressively heavier (relatively speaking) the further from your skin you get. The outer layer would be a "shell" that is water- and wind-resistant but avoid super-heavy options (does not need to be heavy if you've made good choices underneath). The sort of clothing I've described can be easily stored in your travel suitcase or better yet, a comfortable, well-fitting 50L or more backpack which I see more and more train pax using in lieu of luggage. Another advantage is much of it does not wrinkle like cotton clothing would, and as a further bonus is quick-drying. As for footwear, a mid-height hiking boot would work as well in colder climates, with possibly two pairs of socks and a vapor barrier ("aqua socks") if you'll be trudging thru water or deep snow. They could conceivably be packed too, and you'd wear another type of lighter shoe/sock beyond that. Get professionally fitted for the boots, and break them in -- your feet will thank you. The problem would be if you must have some "formal" clothing anywhere along your itinerary. But if not, you could investigate the myriad effective layering and footwear options available thru merchants like REI and their discount competitors. Even Target and WalMart, tho they don't really have the selection. If you make good choices, this clothing, footwear, and backpack can serve you well for many years in a number of scenarios beyond backcountry travel. Think outdoor concerts, sporting events, a January 20 Presidential inauguration. It need not be thought of as an expense just for one trip. AFAIK, you may already possess some of the items I've described. Best wishes; hope I've given you some out-of-the-box ideas that could work if long-term CUS storage is a no-go.
  13. Perhaps, but the bean counters can establish a timeline starting when the cold menu went into effect, and the corresponding drop in pax. Matched with complaints by actual pax, which includes at least some of us who frequent internet forums. Amtrak didn't upgrade "fresh and contemporary" to something more like a traditional diner because a ouija board told them to.
  14. Skyline

    Writers' Residencies

    MODERATOR NOTE: This new thread was merged with the existing thread on the same topic. Just came across this story about a "competition" Amtrak is running... "Amtrak Is Giving Out Free Trips On Its Most Scenic Routes." https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/amtrak-free-trips-scenic-routes-social-media-contest Seems like a natural for this site; you just have to be an ordinary citizen (not an "influencer" with millions of followers) who can convince Amtrak you love the passenger train experience. You do need social media skills, however. Leaves me out! Good luck folks...
  15. Skyline

    New Menus on #8

    Bottom line: If Amtrak was trying to create unique brands with each of its trains -- especially long distance trains -- I think having unique menu covers would make sense. That train left the station a LONG time ago. The menu contents are all identical now, so slapping a different name or logo, and a regional photo on each train's menu cover isn't fooling anyone. It's a waste of precious resources. If Amtrak wanted to seriously brand each train, that would be a worthy project if the $$$ were there to do so. But they should go all in and truly bring a sense of uniqueness and pride to each of those brands. Menus would be a small part of that effort. Current management is obviously not interested. And ... until the freight railroads are forced to seriously improve On Time Performance, what's the point?