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221BMike

15,000 miles or so criss-crossing the country.

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Hi, I hope this is in the right section of the forum.

 

I’m about to leave London for Boston to start something of a senior solo marathon (for me at least) Amtrak journey in February and early March. I’ve travelled across America several times by train, usually east to west and flying back, but this time I’m going every which way. I have a slew of questions before I start, but first my itinerary.

 

BOS – NYP business class seat (points)

Following all roomettes

NYP – ORL Silver Star

ORL – WAS Silver Star (1 hour 20 min transfer)*

WAS – CHI Capitol Limited (5 hours)

CHI – SFW California Zephyr

SFW – LAX Coast Starlight (1 hour)*

LAX – NOL Sunset Limited

NOL – CHI City of New Orleans (9: 40)

CHI – WAS Capitol Limited (3 hours)

WAS – CHI Capitol Limited (5:30)

CHI – PDX Empire Builder (4:10)

PDX – SFW Coast Starlight

SFW – LAX Coast Starlight (1 hour)*

LAX – CHI Texas Eagle

CHI – NYP to be booked (hoping to use points)

 

Frankly, the * transfers seem a bit tight. I bought insurance on the Amtrak site, but I wonder how valuable that will be if I miss a train and have to reschedule.

 

I’m passing thru Chicago several times. I used to leave my bags in the left luggage at the lounge, but I understand that’s not available in the new lounge. Is there anywhere else to safely leave bags?

 

And I’d be grateful for any advice on things to do in the 5/9/5 hours I’ll have to wait in Chicago. I have a tentative plan for lunch at the John Hancock (or maybe the ex-Sears as I’m a Ferris Bueller fan) and shopping. And I have 4 hours in Portland, a new city for me.

I’m staying 3-4 days each in Boston, New York, San Francisco (twice) Orlando and New Orleans. Any insider dining/attraction suggestions would be very gratefully received. I shame to admit that museums/galleries are not my strongpoint, but anything railway or WW2 or Civil War related would interest me. My day job is writing historical mystery/detective novels, so anything related (like good bookshops) would be excellent.

 

I’ve been allocated cars and cabins, so I guess I don’t have a choice, but is there a site on which I can see where I will be? I recognise train set-ups may vary, but do cars keep their numbers?

 

Many thanks for your patience with my many questions and for any help you can offer. I will keep the site updated in the travelogue forum as I go along.

Mike.

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Hi Mike,

 

Sounds a great adventure that you have in store, will you be starting out from Baker Street tube station? :D

 

I have to say that the * connections you wish to make are very tight, and may well cause you problems. If you were "allowed" to make a connection as one "through" journey on the website, say Orlando to Chicago, then if it goes wrong, Amtrak will foot the bill for a hotel in Washington, for example.

If you book these as two seperate trips, then you are on your own as to missed connections, as far as I know.

I seem to recall that the website will not "allow" through connections which are less than 5 hours on the timetable, but I may be wrong.

Never looked at the insurance offered, so maybe our USA chums can elaborate on its cover once America awakes?

 

I believe you can still leave luggage in the lounge at Chicago, although the "secure" room is not in use?

 

Your post is exactly the sort to get AU members attention, so I am sure you will get lots of advice!

 

I will mention Powells Bookshop in Portland as a gem well worth visiting.

 

I am most envious of your trip!

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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Left luggage in the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge is now self serve, and you must have a sleeper or business class ticket to use it.

Edited by KmH

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I don’t quite understand that extra round trip Chicago- Washington, unless there is some specific activity in DC that you have in mind

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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On those connections where you're traveling in the reverse direction over the same rails you came in on, if you're running overly late, check the status of your outbound train. It may be running just as late. Alternatively, figure out which stop you can bail out early to ensure the connection to the outbound train. HOWEVER...if you do this, be sure to contact Amtrak to change your outbound reservation to the new boarding stop. Otherwise, you'll risk the outbound train conductor cancelling your reservation as a no-show and wiping out all subsequent trips on the same reservation.

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Here are floor plans of a Superliner Sleeper (for most of your trains):

 

amtrak-diagram-superliner-sleeper.jpg

 

 

...and a Viewliner Sleeper (for the Silver Star and maybe your CHI-NYP train):

 

 

amtrak-diagram-viewliner-sleeper.jpg

 

Cars with a certain number will always be in the same position within a train (except that some trains reverse seasonally). Here is a thread about where cars are located within a train: http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/32610-line-numbersconsist-listings/

 

I would book a hotel room for a night instead of hoping the trains will not be late for some of your connections. If you miss the Coast Starlight to Sunset Limited / Texas Eagle connection, the next train will be two or three days away, and this would seriously impact the entire rest of your trip. Also, even if Amtrak guarantees a connection that you miss and puts you on a later train, you might not get a Roomette on the substitution.

Edited by Maglev

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What a wonderful adventure. I've ridden all of these trains, but to imagine doing them in sequence is mind-blowing. There is scenery all the way, but the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to New Orleans is my favorite. From arid desert, through historic West, through the bayous, and over the Mississippi into the Big Easy. Maybe it's the time schedule's magic of arriving in New Orleans at night, just in time to make it to the jazz clubs. Laissez les bon temps rouler. (Let the good times roll)

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Sounds like a great trip. I agree that a few of your connections are so close you could miss them on any delayed train...Silver Star to Cap Ltd is usually not guaranteed. Should consider taking S Meteor and spend connection time exploring Washington. You might also look at riding the Cardinal Was-Chi on one of your return trips. Have fun and look forward to a trip report after completion

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I don’t quite understand that extra round trip Chicago- Washington, unless there is some specific activity in DC that you have in mind

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Yes, meeting my publisher.

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On those connections where you're traveling in the reverse direction over the same rails you came in on, if you're running overly late, check the status of your outbound train. It may be running just as late. Alternatively, figure out which stop you can bail out early to ensure the connection to the outbound train. HOWEVER...if you do this, be sure to contact Amtrak to change your outbound reservation to the new boarding stop. Otherwise, you'll risk the outbound train conductor cancelling your reservation as a no-show and wiping out all subsequent trips on the same reservation.

That's a very helpful suggestion - I'd not thought of that.

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Here are floor plans of a Superliner Sleeper (for most of your trains):

 

amtrak-diagram-superliner-sleeper.jpg

 

 

...and a Viewliner Sleeper (for the Silver Star and maybe your CHI-NYP train):

 

 

amtrak-diagram-viewliner-sleeper.jpg

 

Cars with a certain number will always be in the same position within a train (except that some trains reverse seasonally). Here is a thread about where cars are located within a train: http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/32610-line-numbersconsist-listings/

 

I would book a hotel room for a night instead of hoping the trains will not be late for some of your connections. If you miss the Coast Starlight to Sunset Limited / Texas Eagle connection, the next train will be two or three days away, and this would seriously impact the entire rest of your trip. Also, even if Amtrak guarantees a connection that you miss and puts you on a later train, you might not get a Roomette on the substitution.

Thanks very much for this - great information. Yes, I'll think about some of the tight connections.

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Are you aware that the Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited are the same train coming out of Los Angeles? They split in San Antonio Texas.

To go back to Chicago from Los Angeles the second time, try the Southwest Chief.

One of the trips between Chicago and Washington (either way) should be on the Cardinal

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The connection in LA from the Coast Starlight to the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle - despite being only 1 hour - is fine. If the CS is running late, Amtrak may bus you from a station before LA to a station after LA to meet the SL/TE.

 

I have not been to it, but in New Orleans is the National WW2 Museum.

 

In Sacramento, CA is the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM)! There are numerous trains daily from EMY (San Francisco area) to SAC. CSRM is located in Old Sacramento - a very easy walk from the station.

Edited by the_traveler

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Not a very experienced Amtrak traveller but many here are and will give as good advice as you will get anywhere. Can you put dates to each departure as we are also on the rails from 21 Feb on and who knows.

 

But mainly I just want to say that your journey looks 'Heroic' and wish you Bonne chance

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Hi, and very many thanks for your help, everyone.

Just as I thought I was done and dusted, I read the latest posts. Here was my first revision, based on information offered by members for which many thanks. I rationalised the itinerary and rearranged my appointment in Washington DC.

I've been asked for dates.

 

Arrive Boston 31 January - I chose Boston because I've not visited in thirty years.

163 Northeast Regional Feb 3 - 3 nights in NY meeting friends. One of my favourite cities.

91 Silver Star 6 Feb - Orlando for a warm-up and the Titanic Experience (and Harry Potter, he admitted).

98 Silver Meteor 9 Feb - WAS (9 hours) - my meeting and excuse for the trip.

29 Capitol Limited 9 Feb - CHI (5:30)

27 Empire Builder 11 Feb - Portland (4)

11 Coast Starlight 13 Feb - SFW - 3 nights in my favourite US city.

11 Coast Starlight 17 Feb - LAX - 1 night in one of my least favourite.*

2 Sunset Limited 18 Feb - NOL - 4 nights in a new place for me.

58 City of New Orleans 24 Feb - CHI (4:45)

421 Texas Eagle 25 Feb - LAX (4:25)

14 Coast Starlight 28 Feb- SFW - more nights in SF

At this point I decided on San Francisco to NY, and was about to book the Zephyr and Lake Shore Ltd, but a couple of people have recommended the Cardinal. My problem (aside from my burning credit card) is that the Cardinal gets into NY at 10pm, a bit late for dinner. While the Lake Shore gets in at an agreeable 6:30 pm. I have a feeling that by the end of my trip I will be a bit jaded with the Amtrak menu - my only real gripe with the company. I'll have a think.

* on information from the-traveler, I'm going to rethink my overnight in LA and trust Amtrak to get me on the Sunset Limited.

Cancelling and rebooking on Amtrak is addictive.

 

 

 

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I do recommend the eastbound Cardinal scenery wise. But if you take the Lakeshore, there will be zero dinners; with the Cardinal 2, which could get rather old.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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I do recommend the eastbound Cardinal scenery wise. But if you take the Lakeshore, there will be zero dinners; with the Cardinal 2, which could get rather old.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Hmmmm, two dinners and then crash out in NY: tempting if I manage to leave a couple of entrees untouched for 10,000 miles :). Actually, I'll go for the scenery anyway and pick up a Subway or two.

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Looked at your dates and see that we'll just miss you or will be at opposite ends of the country. Can't wait to read your impressions and in particular how so much travel in just a few weeks pleases you.

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Looked at your dates and see that we'll just miss you or will be at opposite ends of the country. Can't wait to read your impressions and in particular how so much travel in just a few weeks pleases you.

Oops - still a work in progress however.

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Why not Southwest Chief from CHI to LAX so you get to LA a day earlier (plus you'll already be on the Sunset Limited between SAS-LAX anyway)?

I considered that, but speed is not my objective. Plus as I see it (probably wrong) the City of New Orleans and SWC is $1256. I got CONO and Texas Eagle for $954.90.

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Hi Mike,

 

Sounds a great adventure that you have in store, will you be starting out from Baker Street tube station? :D

 

I have to say that the * connections you wish to make are very tight, and may well cause you problems. If you were "allowed" to make a connection as one "through" journey on the website, say Orlando to Chicago, then if it goes wrong, Amtrak will foot the bill for a hotel in Washington, for example.

If you book these as two seperate trips, then you are on your own as to missed connections, as far as I know.

I seem to recall that the website will not "allow" through connections which are less than 5 hours on the timetable, but I may be wrong.

Never looked at the insurance offered, so maybe our USA chums can elaborate on its cover once America awakes?

 

I believe you can still leave luggage in the lounge at Chicago, although the "secure" room is not in use?

 

Your post is exactly the sort to get AU members attention, so I am sure you will get lots of advice!

 

I will mention Powells Bookshop in Portland as a gem well worth visiting.

 

I am most envious of your trip!

 

Ed.

Many thanks for your good wishes - Amtrak allowed booking the one hour connection from Coast Starlight to Sunset Ltd, but I wimped out. After reassurance from a an Amtrak member, I'm going to cancel my night in LAX and add a night in NOL I won't leave my bags unattended in Chicago, so I'm looking for an alternative. I will certainly look for Powells.

:)

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Hi Mike,

 

Sounds a great adventure that you have in store, will you be starting out from Baker Street tube station? :D

 

I have to say that the * connections you wish to make are very tight, and may well cause you problems. If you were "allowed" to make a connection as one "through" journey on the website, say Orlando to Chicago, then if it goes wrong, Amtrak will foot the bill for a hotel in Washington, for example.

If you book these as two seperate trips, then you are on your own as to missed connections, as far as I know.

I seem to recall that the website will not "allow" through connections which are less than 5 hours on the timetable, but I may be wrong.

Never looked at the insurance offered, so maybe our USA chums can elaborate on its cover once America awakes?

 

I believe you can still leave luggage in the lounge at Chicago, although the "secure" room is not in use?

 

Your post is exactly the sort to get AU members attention, so I am sure you will get lots of advice!

 

I will mention Powells Bookshop in Portland as a gem well worth visiting.

 

I am most envious of your trip!

 

Ed.

Many thanks for your good wishes - Amtrak allowed booking the one hour connection from Coast Starlight to Sunset Ltd, but I wimped out. After reassurance from a an Amtrak member, I'm going to cancel my night in LAX and add a night in NOL I won't leave my bags unattended in Chicago, so I'm looking for an alternative. I will certainly look for Powells.

:)

 

Yes, I will be having dinner at the Sherlock Holmes hotel in Baker Street with friends on Tuesday, the night before my flight. I'm bringing my antique Ulster overcoat and silly deerstalker hat and I intend to wear same whenever I have the nerve. Last visit travelling on the Crescent/Lake Shore Limited/ Zephyr I met a slew of people who, if not exactly Holmesians, knew the canon enough for a fun chat. And I learned a very great deal about re-rifling US naval canons for battleships from a breakfast acquaintance. I love trains.

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Re bag storage in Chicago

 

The station lists it has bag storage for a fee. My guess it is in the ticket hall but others here will know the answer.

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