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Guest Jan C

A few questions for a group of 4 first time Amtrak travelers

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Guest Jan C

I am hoping someone can help me out with a few questions. We are 1st time Amtrak travelers. We have booked 2 roomettes for travel between Sandusky Ohio to Fort Lauderdale Florida. There will be a transfer of trains in Washington DC.

Question Number 1-the roomettes are too small for 4 people to hang out in, correct? Since we will be on the train for an extended period of time where can we hang out together?

2-We have a long layover in Washington DC and want to leave the terminal. My understanding is that since we have roomettes we can store our luggage for free in the lounge. What type of storage do they offer? Is it in a secured locker or closet or do we just leave it sitting out?

3-There is no baggage check on the Capitol Limited. Will we have enough room in the roomette to store our luggage?

4-The second leg of our journey is on the Silver Meteor, which does have luggage check but since it is not our originating destination can we check our luggage or do we still have to keep it with us?

I am really excited about this trip. I hope that traveling on Amtrak turns out to be a great experience. Thank you for helping me understand how everything works.

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1. Correct. You can call and try to have the roomettes across the hall from one another and hang out there (as long as you don't get too rowdy). Or, there's a lounge/cafe car with seating that you can hang out in.

 

2. It's an open closet next to the check in desk. Not strictly supervised, but I don't have any issues with dropping a bag in there and leaving it. Only people with access to the lounge can get to it.

 

3. There is bag check on the CL, just not from the station you board at. Depending on exactly where you live, if you want to check bags you can look at starting at a different station. Depending on what you bring, there isn't much room at all in the roomette, but there is a luggage rack on the lower level of the car you can put bags in. Like the lounge, it's reasonably secure, but I'd bring the valuables upstairs into the room.

 

4. Yes, you can check the bags you don't want on the Meteor at Washington to your destination. Probably a good idea, since that is a single level train there isn't a baggage rack (although there is some storage space in the roomette above the hallway, but it isn't all that big.

 

Enjoy!

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You may be able to drop off your checked bags at Cleveland or Toledo the day before your travel day and check them to FL.

 

 

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1 - Yes, the roomettes are the size of closets, about 3' x 6'

2 - Since you are traveling by sleeper, you can store bags at Club Acela in Washington. There is a luggage storage room (to the right of the desk as you come in, IIRC). Access is not controlled, but I have never felt uncomfortable leaving my luggage at Club Acelas/Metropolitan Lounges and have never had a probelm.

3 - There is a large luggage rack on the lower level of the Superliner sleeper right by the stairs you can put your large pieces in.

4 - Assuming the Capitol Limited is not so late as to cause you to be unable to make the 45 minute cut off rule for checked baggage on the Meteor, yes you can check it at WAS.

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The above drawings are not to scale and give the impression there is more room in the roomettes than there actually is. The photograph shown is of the more than twice as large Superliner Family Bedroom, not a roomette. Tricky advertising at work.

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The luggage shelves on the lower level of the CL Sleeper can hold a lot of luggage. I have never had a problem finding space. In the Club Acela, the baggage room has always been safe place for my bags. I have never heard of any issues. Being that Toledo is only an hour west, I would suggest checking your bags there.

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The luggage shelves on the lower level of the CL Sleeper can hold a lot of luggage. I have never had a problem finding space. In the Club Acela, the baggage room has always been safe place for my bags. I have never heard of any issues. Being that Toledo is only an hour west, I would suggest checking your bags there.

Two hours of driving to check luggage. Not good, and very inconvenient, especially for seniors. Seems to highlight the diminishing of service that has taken place over the years.

Edited by Palmetto

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The timetable will show you that. If there is just one time listed, the train will only pause briefly enough to let passengers on and off. A handful of stations will show arrival and departure times. Typically these are places where the train is fueled, serviced, or crews change out. If the train is running late, it may not stay in the station for the entire time that the schedule indicates (e.g. if a scheduled 9:00 arrival and 9:30 departure (30 minutes dwell time) turns into a 9:20 arrival, the train may leave any time after 9:30, as long as the station work is complete).

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Is there any type of guide that shows how long a train is at each station?

No. The length of time at each station (dwell) is a variable, basically driven buy if the train is or isn't on time.

As a general rule the train cannot depart a station earlier than the published departure time.

A train running ahead of schedule will be at a stop longer than the normal dwell time. A late train will leave as soon as it can with the dwell time being reduced to a minimum.

 

Most stops are so passengers can get on or off.

Some stops are longer 'fresh air/smoke' stops. Those stops are shortened if the train is running late.

If a train is running late and the manifest shows no passengers are scheduled to get on/off the train will stop for just a few seconds.

 

Plus the schedule has some 'padding' in it to help keep delayed trains on schedule.

 

The last time I rode the California Zephyr westbound we were 24 minutes early into Denver.

Though only 78 miles apart the CZ schedule allows 130 minutes between Fort Morgan and Denver, a fair amount of 'padding'.

We departed on time but had been there for 74 minutes.

 

Denver is a service stop listed on the schedule for a 50 minute dwell westbound and a 32 minute dwell eastbound.

The difference is because westbound the train arrives in the morning and is about to start a 4000 foot climb up and across the Rockies. So the SSL car windows are washed so passengers get a good view and the fuel tanks are topped off.

Eastbound the train departs in the evening and is going downhill. The SSL windows aren't washed and the fuel tanks only need enough fuel to get to Chicago

Edited by KmH

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You may be able to drop off your checked bags at Cleveland or Toledo the day before your travel day and check them to FL.

 

 

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On my DLB-NYP last week, we attempted to check our bag through West Palm Beach (DLB doesn't offer it) the day before departure, and the woman at the station refused, saying that you can only check bags at your ticketed departure station. This was extremely frustrating, given we had called 1-800-USA-RAIL beforehand (twice) to verify it was an option, and were told we could. Because if this we were stuck with a $57 Amtrak Express bill.

 

My point is, checking it through a different station is likely a no-go, and attempting to do so is likely to just waste your time, and quite possibly your money. I strongly advise the OP to just put his bags downstairs on the Capitol Ltd. (minus his valuables), and check 'em at WAS for the Meteor.

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You may be able to drop off your checked bags at Cleveland or Toledo the day before your travel day and check them to FL.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

On my DLB-NYP last week, we attempted to check our bag through West Palm Beach (DLB doesn't offer it) the day before departure, and the woman at the station refused, saying that you can only check bags at your ticketed departure station. This was extremely frustrating, given we had called 1-800-USA-RAIL beforehand (twice) to verify it was an option, and were told we could. Because if this we were stuck with a $57 Amtrak Express bill.

 

My point is, checking it through a different station is likely a no-go, and attempting to do so is likely to just waste your time, and quite possibly your money. I strongly advise the OP to just put his bags downstairs on the Capitol Ltd. (minus his valuables), and check 'em at WAS for the Meteor.

 

Just because it happened to you at ONE station does not make it "likely a no-go" and a waste of time.

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You may be able to drop off your checked bags at Cleveland or Toledo the day before your travel day and check them to FL. Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

On my DLB-NYP last week, we attempted to check our bag through West Palm Beach (DLB doesn't offer it) the day before departure, and the woman at the station refused, saying that you can only check bags at your ticketed departure station. This was extremely frustrating, given we had called 1-800-USA-RAIL beforehand (twice) to verify it was an option, and were told we could. Because if this we were stuck with a $57 Amtrak Express bill. My point is, checking it through a different station is likely a no-go, and attempting to do so is likely to just waste your time, and quite possibly your money. I strongly advise the OP to just put his bags downstairs on the Capitol Ltd. (minus his valuables), and check 'em at WAS for the Meteor.

Just because it happened to you at ONE station does not make it "likely a no-go" and a waste of time.

 

OK, so how does a passenger realistically confirm they can check their luggage from another station before they drive there and risk wasting their time?

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What I meant is that since there’s a decent chance it wouldn’t work out, I wouldn’t recommend the OP takingtime out of their vacation to visit the Cleveland or Toledo stations and check the bags. Not saying it definitely wouldn’t work out, just that it might not work out. If it didn’t he/she would have wasted a trip to the station.

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On my DLB-NYP last week, we attempted to check our bag through West Palm Beach (DLB doesn't offer it) the day before departure, and the woman at the station refused, saying that you can only check bags at your ticketed departure station. This was extremely frustrating, given we had called 1-800-USA-RAIL beforehand (twice) to verify it was an option, and were told we could. Because if this we were stuck with a $57 Amtrak Express bill.

Have you contacted Customer Relations about this? :huh: After all, you asked an Amtrak agent if this can be done, and you were told (twice by 2 agents) that you could. The ticket agent at WPB said it could not be done and charged you an extra $57!

 

One of these conflicting answers is incorrect, and additional training may be necessary. Remember that it may not only have been you that received these answers, do it also for whoever comes next.

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What I meant is that since theres a decent chance it wouldnt work out, I wouldnt recommend the OP takingtime out of their vacation to visit the Cleveland or Toledo stations and check the bags. Not saying it definitely wouldnt work out, just that it might not work out. If it didnt he/she would have wasted a trip to the station.

 

 

On my DLB-NYP last week, we attempted to check our bag through West Palm Beach (DLB doesn't offer it) the day before departure, and the woman at the station refused, saying that you can only check bags at your ticketed departure station. This was extremely frustrating, given we had called 1-800-USA-RAIL beforehand (twice) to verify it was an option, and were told we could. Because if this we were stuck with a $57 Amtrak Express bill.

Have you contacted Customer Relations about this? :huh: After all, you asked an Amtrak agent if this can be done, and you were told (twice by 2 agents) that you could. The ticket agent at WPB said it could not be done and charged you an extra $57!One of these conflicting answers is incorrect, and additional training may be necessary. Remember that it may not only have been you that received these answers, do it also for whoever comes next.

 

We may well contact CR. $57 is not so outrageous that well break our backs over it, but well try.

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Always get names. The call center agent may be wrong, or the station agent may be wrong, but you operated in good faith based on the answer you were given. You should not be stuck for the 57 dollars in either case.

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But unlike airlines, which sometimes depart early if all booked passengers are on board, Amtrak trains by railroad rules may never leave a scheduled stop earlier than the posted departure time in the timetable.

 

 

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Do note that the Auto Train does leave even way before its scheduled departure if all station work is done. So it is likely that there is no uniform “railroad rule” as you appear to believe, or there are exceptions.

 

 

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There are a few odd spots where passengers are received and discharged where the train may leave early. They are designated with an L on the timetables, and some marked D which are discharge only where the train leaves when ready.

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Since railroads no longer operate using timetable and train order authority,it is no longer a railroad rule. The public timetable conveys no operational authority and the railroad employee "timetable" has no times in it.

 

However, Amtrak will not leave before time in most cases and the exceptions are noted in the timetable(the "D" note for a lot them). But that is for passenger convienence, not operational rule.

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I agree that TT&TO is no longer used on any Amtrak route. And that some trains at some stations have designations in the timetable that said train may leave early when its work is complete. And that the Auto Train is a special case for which all passengers and their vehicles must be checked in by a certain time well before the posted departure time. Once those vehicles are loaded and the train is buttoned up, it may depart — there can be no “last minute” arrivees at Lorton or Sanford desiring to purchase their ticket 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

 

But for other LD trains that arrive at a regular station early, THEY WAIT until their published departure time, even if all passengers on the manifest are aboard. Because someone MIGHT show up at the last minute to purchase a ticket on board. I’ve experienced this dozens of times on the CZ, with dwell times at places like Elko being as much as 30 minutes waiting for the departure time printed in the timetable. And all the smokers had already reboarded the train.

 

 

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Edited by chakk

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Unmanned stations dwell time seems to be very short, the conductors being very efficient to get stopped and going again in a couple minutes. Barely stopping if there is no manifest work and no one on the platform.

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