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Southwest Chief vs Texas Eagle

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Traveling to Chicago via California Zephyr and will return to Los Angeles.

 

Thoughts - preferences - opinions between Southwest Chief or Texas Eagle? I've no strong preference nor am I trying to visit specific cities.

 

Thanks for any input.

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If you desire a longer ride, take the TE. Not known for being that scenic, but parts of Texas do have some appeal. The arrival time in LA is rather awkward. The SWC has some pretty fine scenery in CO and NM, although most would say it is not as good as the CZ. This train has the fastest schedule Chicago to the west coast. Enjoy.

 

 

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Agree wholeheartedly with greatcoats. I have traveled most on the SWC, as it is the most direct route for my travel needs. The scenery is fantastic. Another reason that IMHO is my preferred route is that the SWC has a full dining car and the TE is a Cross Country Diner, like the CONO - my "get to points west" train. While the "microwaved" food on the CONO is tolerable for an overnight trip, I don't care for it all the way across country. Sorry if I sound like a "snowflake" but you asked for opinions.

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The Texas Eagle does has a Cross Country Diner but it serves a regular menu. Scrambled eggs and steaks and other regular items.

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...and I had two fine meals on the Eagle (including breakfast) before detaining earlier today. I am going to add a full-length CHI-LA ride to my wish list as a result of an overall great experience Carlinville IL - Marshall TX!

 

 

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The Texas Eagle does has a Cross Country Diner but it serves a regular menu. Scrambled eggs and steaks and other regular items.

And between San Antonio and LA the Sunset/Eagle has a Full Diner that is on #1 out of NOL and # 2 out of LAX.

 

The Eagle has some really good Diner Crews,SCAs and Conductors. ( Unfortunately a few of the OBS,Just like all LD Routes are turds on a couple of crews!😣)

 

If you want more train time take the Eagle, for a quicker trip and a little better scenery the Chief is the way to roll. ( it can be pricey thanks to its popularity!)

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I guess “spell check” would rather “detain” than “detrain”! On second thought so would I...

 

 

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I agree with the others, I'd do the Southwest Chief. The Texas Eagle has a triweekly schedule west of San Antonio which complicates scheduling. I think service on the Texas Eagle is good, and I've had several nice rides on this train. The Cross Country diner is run like a regular diner, and in my experience the service quality and food is as good if not slightly better than the norm on Amtrak. However, the Southwest Chief does offer neat scenery, interesting history, Raton Pass, Semaphores, and interesting Santa Fe depots and at least two former Harvey House hotels along the route (Barstow and Las Vegas). Scenery in the California Zephyr is better, but the Southwest Chief is a good ride with excellent crews.

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If you desire a longer ride, take the TE.

 

Understatement. Almost an entire day longer if not an entire day (you leave CHI earlier on the TE than the SWC and you arrive almost 24 hours later).

 

 

The arrival time in LA is rather awkward.

 

Something like 5:35am.

 

 

If you want to go from CHI-LAX I don't understand why anyone wouldn't go via the SWC unless maybe the TE was cheaper by some chance. If you really wanted to spend more time on a train and wanted scenery you can just take the extra day you save and ride a Pacific Surfliner from LAX to and from San Luis Obispo along the Pacific Ocean and/or San Diego with time to spare. I can see a few extra hours to see a different route but a whole extra day?

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Last summer I took the SWC to LA from Chicago and returned via the Texas Eagle, simply to get two different experiences. And did I ever. A reroute through Texas on the return trip put us hours behind schedule with countless long delays. I am glad I did it but will likely never do that one again. Then again, the SWC had its own share of major delays last summer; not sure what it's been doing of late. The CZ is the far superior trip to any of the western trains, in my opinion, but the SWC would be a good return trip with much different scenery than you'll see on the CZ, and far better than you would see on the Texas Eagle. But again, just one man's opinion.

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The Texas Eagle does has a Cross Country Diner but it serves a regular menu. Scrambled eggs and steaks and other regular items.

 

From what I understand the "downstairs" (kitchen) on the CCC is no different than a straight Diner, mainly because the CCCs are converted Diners.

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If you desire a longer ride, take the TE.

 

Understatement. Almost an entire day longer if not an entire day (you leave CHI earlier on the TE than the SWC and you arrive almost 24 hours later).

 

 

The arrival time in LA is rather awkward.

 

Something like 5:35am.

 

 

If you want to go from CHI-LAX I don't understand why anyone wouldn't go via the SWC unless maybe the TE was cheaper by some chance. If you really wanted to spend more time on a train and wanted scenery you can just take the extra day you save and ride a Pacific Surfliner from LAX to and from San Luis Obispo along the Pacific Ocean and/or San Diego with time to spare. I can see a few extra hours to see a different route but a whole extra day?

 

Philly, all you seem to care about when taking train trip is getting a short ride without layovers. Some people enjoy the time on the train, and aren't in a hurry to get to their destination. I took the TE/Sunset two weeks ago and it was almost certainly my favorite Amtrak ride yet (and I've taken the Zephyr). How would it make sense to take an unnecessary PacSurf roundtrip to San Luis - to take a commuter train to a place you don't care about, wait in the station, and take the same train back. I think it makes a lot more sense to taking a somewhat indirect route home than to spend a day doing a pointless roundtrip on a regional train.

Edited by cpotisch

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The Texas Eagle does has a Cross Country Diner but it serves a regular menu. Scrambled eggs and steaks and other regular items.

 

From what I understand the "downstairs" (kitchen) on the CCC is no different than a straight Diner, mainly because the CCCs are converted Diners.

 

Since the Diner-Lounges (Cross Country Cafe is a service offering, not equipment) are Superliner Diners with the upstairs remodeled, yes, they have a full, unmodified galley downstairs.

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If you really wanted to spend more time on a train and wanted scenery you can just take the extra day you save and ride a Pacific Surfliner from LAX to and from San Luis Obispo along the Pacific Ocean and/or San Diego with time to spare. I can see a few extra hours to see a different route but a whole extra day?

 

And under your logic to just use the time saved by taking a quicker route to take a short separate roundtrip, why not go one further? Just fly to LA, and take the Surfliner for fun. Flying is faster, so it must be better to do that than the train (be it the SWC or TE). Wait..you say that the train is enjoyable and it's nice to spend a couple days on it? In which case, there might be a case to be made for getting more time on the train. It's not a chore, it's enjoyable. You see my point?

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Texas Eagle is one of the very few Amtrak long distance trains I have not taken. As of May I will complete the punch list except for the Texas Eagle with the Boston section of the Lakeshore and the Crescent.

 

With that said, I don't feel any great urge to ride it just for completeness' sake. The Southwest Chief is one of my very favorite trains, and I can't seem to bring myself to forgo a ride on the Southwest Chief in favor of the Texas Eagle, especially because I can't imagine the scenary being a draw, having spent a reasonable amount of time in Dallas area.

Edited by zephyr17

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. . . I can't seem to bring myself to forgo a ride on the Southwest Chief in favor of the Texas Eagle, especially because I can't imagine the scenary being a draw, having spent a reasonable amount of time in Dallas area.

But for a guy who lives deep in the woods just south of Lake Superior, the following scene from the Texas Eagle was absolutely mesmerizing:

 

post-9586-0-89501700-1520562250_thumb.jpg

 

Miles and miles of miles and miles, someone said. It may be ho-hum for you, but for me it was - WOW!

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. . . I can't seem to bring myself to forgo a ride on the Southwest Chief in favor of the Texas Eagle, especially because I can't imagine the scenary being a draw, having spent a reasonable amount of time in Dallas area.

But for a guy who lives deep in the woods just south of Lake Superior, the following scene from the Texas Eagle was absolutely mesmerizing:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_1258a.JPG

 

Miles and miles of miles and miles, someone said. It may be ho-hum for you, but for me it was - WOW!

 

Agreed! We've done the TE twice to Temple Tx and return to LA and LA to Chicago and loved every minute. Found the scenery (although not the same as on the SWC) West Texas to Eastern Arizona enjoyable. I wouldn't hesitate to ride the TE again and yes, we've done the SWC LA to ABQ and return and Chicago to LA and loved that as well.

 

Sierra Blanca Mountain, Texas

9986279966_fc55334e34_z.jpgIMG_8311 by John, on Flickr

Edited by FrensicPic

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. . . I can't seem to bring myself to forgo a ride on the Southwest Chief in favor of the Texas Eagle, especially because I can't imagine the scenary being a draw, having spent a reasonable amount of time in Dallas area.

But for a guy who lives deep in the woods just south of Lake Superior, the following scene from the Texas Eagle was absolutely mesmerizing:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_1258a.JPG

 

Miles and miles of miles and miles, someone said. It may be ho-hum for you, but for me it was - WOW!

 

 

The first time I saw the sky in New Mexico, I was absolutely amazed. I'm so used to Michigan's haze/clouds and trees.

When I was in Albuquerque, I felt like I could see FOREVER. Despite many follow-up trips, it never felt less than breathtaking.

 

Also, during my EB trip three years ago, I got to see exactly why Montana is called "Big Sky Country". :) It had sort of the same effect on me, but it wasn't quite as powerful as the feeling I had in the Southwest.

 

As for the OP's question, I definitely prefer the scenery along the Southwest Chief's route. Plus, the arrival time in L.A. is a bit more tolerable for someone who isn't an early bird. Also, if you're running a bit behind, you'll get to see Cajon Pass in the daylight like I did. It was worth being a couple hours late. :)

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I like both of them - being smack in the middle between Lamy and Fort Worth, and preferring the drive to Lamy, I have a slight preference for the SWC but it's usually more expensive going east.

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. . . I can't seem to bring myself to forgo a ride on the Southwest Chief in favor of the Texas Eagle, especially because I can't imagine the scenary being a draw, having spent a reasonable amount of time in Dallas area.

But for a guy who lives deep in the woods just south of Lake Superior, the following scene from the Texas Eagle was absolutely mesmerizing:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_1258a.JPG

 

Miles and miles of miles and miles, someone said. It may be ho-hum for you, but for me it was - WOW!

 

To each his own...picture just reinforced my "meh".

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The TE from Chicago to Los Angeles offers an opportunity to see so many variations of landscape. Illinois has the flat fields, racing along I-55 with the Interstate traffic, Crossing the Mississippi into St. Louis. In the morning, you breakfast through the thick trees of Arkansas, before crossing into the East Texas Piney Woods which gives way to farming and ranch lands. Dallas and Ft. Worth are two great cities. Once outside Ft. Worth, you are passing through the many cattle ranches until reach the Austin area. The city of Austin has many things to see out the windows. Ther next morning you are in the West Texas Mountains which their own beauty and are very different from New Mexico and Arizona. After EL Paso the New Mexico landscape has changed significantly from Texas. Several times we have seen hot air balloons in the sky. Nearing the NM/AZ border are some great rock formations in the mountains. The Arizona landscape is mountainous with various formations and colors.

 

So, it is all how you look at the trip. I look for the uniqueness of each state as well its beauty. Yes some states are more spectacular than others, but having slept in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico, I so enjoy being able to discuss the scenery and what I experienced. Each of the Western LD trains have so much to offer. I am so glad that I was able to travel each of trains, to experience the variety this great country has to offer.

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Ditto on Lonestar 648s Post!

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Just make sure to turn off International Roaming on your phone if you decide to take TE around El Paso. Too many people get hit with roaming charges when their phones get locked to cell towers south of the border.

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