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Anyone travelled Amtrak on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

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I've traveled with Amtrak on several holidays including Thanksgiving, Xmas, and New Years. Other than the discontinued holiday meal that wasn't specific to any given day it's generally been roughly the same experience as any other trip. Which is pretty much the same thing as you find when flying on a holiday. Occasionally there's an elf hat or a light string or some garland taped to the wall/ceiling but that's about it. I think most people are just trying to get where they're going. I've seen this and similar questions asked many times but I'm not sure where the idea of a "holiday party train" comes from. It must have been before my time or in another part of the country/world.

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Being a super-regular on the AT, yes...every Holiday including every Xmas Eve. We string colored lites in both rooms. Dinner the same. We bring a battery mini-Xmas tree table decoration at dinner. Coming back occasionally on New Years Eve, balloons and streamers (others did that too). Would add a few more bottles of champagne for any rooms nearby that stop in.

A fun thing is: I have a clip on my laptop (I bring to the Lounge car.).. from White Xmas where Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye sing the Snow song IN A TRAIN LOUNGE CAR!

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Edited by RichieRich

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Besides traveling home on business on a late train on Christmas Eve, I did remember that the only Christmas day travel was departing Chicago Christmas afternoon after Santa came for our kids early morning. Thinking about it, nothing special happened, except a few cheerful "Merry Christmas" greetings from those who had to work on their Christmas.

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It was on purpose. Spent Christmas Day with family, and turned it into a mini train/bike tour.

 

Of the few that have travelled on Christmas day was that deliberate choice or just it was the day that fitted into a schedule?

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I think a lot depends on the mood of the crew. The crew I had on VIA 15 was in an incredibly good mood. Most were passing thru the railroad life on the way to other fields and they all seamed to enjoy their job. That train was special because they were warm, hospitable, and inviting. It wasn't any of the "what do you want" service that I've frequently had on Amtrak.

 

So I think a lot of it has to do with the crew. The part on the passengers revolves around the crew as well because an inviting crew puts people at ease. And once in a relaxed and more jovial mood I think the passengers are more welcoming and talkative themselves.

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On Dec. 24, 2013 I took the CL to Wash DC, arriving Dec. 25.

I did the same on Dec. 24, 2014, arriving Dec. 25th 40 mins ahead of schedule.

I did it again the next year (2015), arriving this time on Dec. 25th 45 mins ahead of schedule.

I skipped 2016 but took the CL on Dec. 24, 2017, arriving in DC on time on Dec. 25.

 

On each trip, I ate dinner in the dining car at the first seating. On no occasion was there any special menu, any departure from the ordinary menu, any decoration of the season, nor anything other than ordinary Amtrak service.

 

The trains were a little less crowded than normal, and as noted occasionally we arrived ahead of schedule. I am guessing this was because of lighter freight on Dec. 24-25.

Edited by Manny T

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Maybe this year, Amtrak will have a contemporary tree in every dining car.

 

This... your breadless lunchmeat will come with a red and green ribbon on the box instead of string... :P

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We did a Christmas day transfer a few years back, from the Sunset Ltd. to the Coast Starlight, at LAX. Even Philippe's was not open, so we trekked across the city to a deli that's open 365 days a year.

 

No special decorations or meals on either of the trains, except what the train staff might do themselves. As others have said, a light passenger load and no freight traffic at all.

 

Here's my report from that part of the trip, complete with what the train staff did to liven things up:

http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/58020-around-the-country-december-epic-part-3-sunset-ltd-and-coast-starlight/

Edited by oregon pioneer

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We took the CZ from Chicago to Emeryville--departing on Christmas Day in 2015. It seemed a pretty full train to me. Nothing special was going on from what I could tell; people seemed to be in a relatively good mood.

 

The reason we traveled on that day was because I was using AGR 1.0 points, and Christmas Day was one of the only non-blackout dates that entire holiday period.

 

It was a great trip!

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On Dec. 24, 2013 I took the CL to Wash DC, arriving Dec. 25.

On Dec. 24, 2014, I took the CL to Wash DC, arriving Dec. 25 (40 mins ahead of schedule).

On Dec. 24, 2015, I took the CL to Wash DC, arriving Dec. 25 (45 mins ahead of schedule).

In 2016, I didn't take the CL to Wash DC on Dec. 24

On Dec. 24, 2017, I took the CL to Wash DC, arriving Dec. 25.

 

On each trip, I ate dinner in the dining car at the first seating. On no occasion was there any special menu, any departure from the ordinary menu, any decoration of the season, nor anything other than ordinary Amtrak service. The trains were a little less crowded than normal, and as noted occasionally we arrived ahead of schedule.

 

I don't remember the special holiday meals after the early 2000's.

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Before 2015, I traveled on several LD Trains on Holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day,( using AGR Points to avoid the Blackout days)and enjoyed,special Dinners in the Diner and decorations by the Crews.

 

As others said, the passenger loads we're light, and freight traffic was really sparse resulting in Early arrivals into most Stations.😎

 

Perhaps the New Fresh "Choices" Menu will have some Cold Turkey and Dressing as a Holiday Brightner? NOT!

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Thanksgiving and Christmas are just another day to me, so traveling on those dates is no big deal. I like the cheap fares and low passenger loads.

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I was surprised that trains ran on Xmas day anyway, don't usually in the UK. Then I was curious if Amtrak created a 'Christmas' diner or observation car or was it just business as usual?

 

I find it that very interesting that the British rail system basically shuts down on Christmas Day (and Boxing Day also, I believe). I find it hard to believe that everybody wants to stay home on those two days. What about buses and the underground? Airplanes?

Edited by MikefromCrete

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Yes, I have -- Traveling out from Saint Cloud, MN, there were a couple of Christmases where the train was late ( by a couple hours ), so I could see the engineer appear in a Santa Claus outfit while driving the train. The engineer would ring the engine bell a couple more times than usual. He appeared to be having a good time. Unfortunately, I cannot recall one single instance of the train being on time on Christmas day. The trains at Chicago and DC were packed.

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What about buses and the underground? Airplanes?

 

The tube runs on Christmas, but on a reduced schedule. Some buses still run. And finally, a quick search on Skyscanner tells me that hundreds of flights will be flying throughout England.

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The answer is the usual answer for Amtrak, it depends. I havn't traveled on Christmas, that week but not Christmas, but I have on New Year's Eve. It depends upon the crew. Amtrak does nothing special. No special meals or decorations. The crew may well alter their uniforms, may put up some decorations, may even pass out candy canes or such And let them know you appreciate it. Bring along a small set of LED lights and string them around your sleeper door and you might put others in a more holiday spirit.

 

Insert pining for the "good old days" here.....

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Occasionally you will get a locomotive engineer who will do Jingle Bells on the horn in the Christmas season.

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The reason we traveled on that day was because I was using AGR 1.0 points, and Christmas Day was one of the only non-blackout dates that entire holiday period.

 

Precisely. Several times I either began a trip on this day or timed a transfer for this reason. This was the case most years depending on what day of the week 25 fell on. Amtrak presumably expects light loads on LDs on this 1 day

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Not risen Amtrak on Christmas Day but have celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my son’s family and then flown to Baltimore to visit my daughter and family on Christmas afternoon on Southwest Airlines. The crew is always wearing elf and Santa hats, rainier horns etc and in a jovial mood and passing out candy canes and the like.

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Been on the CZ a couple of time on Xmas Eve and Xmas Day... honestly, not much difference than the other trips on the same line that I have taken. We do like the snow and the consequent scenery...

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I have been a passenger many times on the Coast Starlight during the Thanksgiving and Christmas periods over the years, but never on the actual holidays. As many have mentioned, the dining car used to offer a special holiday turkey meal which I always ordered. That went away a couple of years ago. The crews decorated the diner and Pacific Parlor (late lamented) cars in holiday decorations, which I always thought was classy. With all the cutbacks taking place, it has to have depressed employee morale, so I dread what is coming later this year.

 

My Amtrak travel on holidays began in the 1980s when my wife and I rode the "Spirit of California" (remember that short-lived train?) between San Jose and Los Angeles on New Years Eve. My wife expected partying and joyful hub-bub in the Amdinette, but there was absolutely nothing. It was open but quiet.

 

A few years ago we took an airline flight on Christmas day and were surprised that things were pretty much the same as the rest of the year. There was a "a Merry Christmas" announcement on the intercom, but that was it. My brother once took a cruise over Christmas and there were holiday decorations aboard, but nothing big. He said Santa Claus visited the restaurants Christmas Eve -- the ship photographer took photos and charged passengers through the nose for prints.

 

It's fun to ride a train in the late evening during the Christmas season to see all the holiday decorations that abound on houses throughout America. I think it's a time that binds us together ...

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Mentioning viewing the Christmas lights brought back memories of how some people decorated their homes so the RR crews and passenger trains could see decorations as they came by. Remember those nights on the CL and the LSL.

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... on an Amtrak LD train? If you have, is it any different to any other day?

 

Thanks

Yes - Zephyr westbound. SCA had decorated our car, which was fun, but nothing special otherwise.

 

However, on the Coast Starlight on New Year's Eve (I want to say 2011 going into 2012), they had a half-sized bottle of champagne and two plastic champagne glasses waiting in our Bedroom, with a small box of chocolates. Had the same thing waiting for us the next day in the Empire Builder Sleeper out of PDX.

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Yes, we do the lites in the rooms (2-adjoining with the movable wall). AND, as you pass thru Ashland, VA. the tracks are in the median strip of the town...you see all the Victorian houses on both sides all lit up!.

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