2019 Schedules?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Hytec, Jun 19, 2019.

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  1. Jun 19, 2019 #1

    Hytec

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    Hytec

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    Have there been any rumors on 2019 schedule updates?
    I'd like to do a bucket list round-the-country trip and need to consider connections and/or hotels.
    Sorry if this a duplicate post, but I received no returns from a 2019 Schedule search.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Jun 20, 2019 #2

    Acela150

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    When you say schedule updates, do you mean when new updated timetables come out?
     
  3. Jun 20, 2019 #3

    bratkinson

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    In general, schedules posted online a reasonably accurate until November, give or take. Also, in general, when there's any spring or fall schedule changes, unless Amtrak is doing some serious train time changes like they did several years ago with the Sunset Ltd making quick turns at NOL, most of the time it's adding or subracting maybe 10-15 minutes between end points due to the summer trackwork season or its end in November. Sometimes, single trains like the Sunset Ltd have several hours added for a couple months only like they did earlier this year due to extensive trackwork on the Sunset route. Happily, that was all completed by the time I rode the Sunset in early April.

    But then, there's schedule changes that were made temporarily, like the current NEC slow down by a few minutes here and there, including some early departures from NYP on the Cardinal and possibly other trains, all due to NEC construction work. Last year, for example, the Lakeshore Ltd didn't go to NYP during the summer and Empire Service trains were routed to Grand Central Terminal vs Penn Station due to bridge and trackwork that lasted through the summer. A temporary schedule was issued for the summer that was replaced in September once the heavy maintenance was completed. It only took them a week or two to get the revised schedules in PDF format online after normal service resumed.

    The one thing Amtrak does keep current is the online schedules used when making a booking. They already have programmed, for example, the end of maintenance on whatever route and any schedule changes beyond the maintenance period. So, if you book a particular train for travel next week, you'll be presented with the current 'summer' schedule. But if you are booking a travel date in December, for example, then you'll be presented with whatever schedule will be effective in December. And should there be any changes, they will simply email and/or automated call you to advise you of a change in schedule. I get that a couple times a year because I generally book 4-6 months in advance.

    As far as a round-the-country trip, I do variations of that every year. There's two connections I no longer attempt to make...Coast Starlight #14 to the Empire Builder #28 at Portland due to poor timekeeping on #14, and ANY LD train from the west (422/22,4,6,8/28) with the Cardinal or Capitol Ltd. at Chicago. I've missed both of them in the past 6-7 years due to late arriving trains from the West. The only same-day connection I'll book is to the Lakeshore Ltd. and City of New Orleans giving me at least a 5 hour scheduled connection. An overnight in Chicago isn't a terrible thing, and I did that between trains last year when I had booked the Cardinal eastbound out of Chicago.
     
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  4. Jun 20, 2019 #4

    Hytec

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    Thanks for an experienced reply. I'll add overnights as CYA. Actually, I've never been to Seattle, Chicago has much that's fascinating, and New York has changed alot since I lived there 65+ years ago. After all, it's a bucket list, so I'll go with the flow. :cool:
     
  5. Jun 20, 2019 #5

    JP1822

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    I still miss the full National Schedule booklet of train schedules. It helped to plan multi-city trips much better since the online booking system often is not the best for these arrangements. I recently overheard an Amtrak ticket agent tell a customer that there was "NO WAY" one could travel from Chicago to Plattsburgh, NY. Well.....there is, it's just that you take the Lake Shore Limited eastbound and then overnight between Schenectady and NYC so you take the next day's Adirondack northbound. But that option doesn't even come up for an Amtrak agent.......Both trains operate through NY State too!
     
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  6. Jun 20, 2019 #6

    drdumont

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    I miss the System timetable book. So for now I just keep a subdirectory in my computer with the current schedule pdfs. Then I peruse them before trying to negotiate the morass they call an online reservation system.
     
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  7. Jun 20, 2019 #7

    acelafan

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  8. Jun 20, 2019 #8

    jiml

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    Not sure why they don't still offer it in PDF form if the cost of printing the paper one was the reason for discontinuance.
     
  9. Jun 20, 2019 #9

    bratkinson

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    Actually, they do. On the Amtrak home screen, click the 'schedules' tab and then the line 'go to downloadable schedules for all routes' that will get you to this screen: https://www.amtrak.com/timetables.html I download whatever routes I am thinking of riding to a folder on my computer and delete any older versions of the same timetable. Works like a charm. However, sometimes they are a little slow at posting updated versions of a timetable...about 2 weeks maximum, in my experience.
     
  10. Jun 21, 2019 #10

    niemi24s

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    I suspect Jiml was referring to the Amtrak System Timetable which, at 130+ pages, had much more than just the timetables for each of the routes. Fortunately, the double-wide system map is still available... https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/...lic/documents/Maps/Amtrak-System-Map-1018.pdf ...at least for now. But as soon as it needs revision, some bean counter may see it go the way of the Route Guides <poof!>.
     
  11. Jun 21, 2019 #11

    Barton Keyes

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    The old System Timetable was excellent and a great source of inspiration. It can't have cost all that much to produce and should be brought back, perhaps with a small charge for postage and handling, etc.
     
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  12. Jun 21, 2019 #12

    ScouseAndy

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    https://www.europeanrailtimetable.eu/ lists all Amtrak rail services as well as most major European, Indian and Japanese timetables as well as numerous other countries and is available in paperback and electronic form. I purchase this twice a year without fail.
     
  13. Jun 21, 2019 #13

    bratkinson

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    Simply put, it's cost prohibitive to print a system timetable.

    Why? Recalling the last printed timetable I had, it was a collection of what is now individual PDF timetables plus various advertising,etc. While collecting the PDFs together, having them printed (not Xeroxed) and bound would add maybe $0.50 per copy, in addition to maybe 2 cents for paper. One of the big problems is assembling the 'extra' stuff such as pretty photographs, someone to do the artwork and assembly for the cover, and various other inside advertisements and articles. Essentially, what is being assembled is a 50 page version of Trains Magazine! Ask yourself...how many people are involved with putting Trains Magazine together each month...

    And the last time I saw a Trains Magazine 'circulation report' printed in their magazine (annual filing, I think) I think it had about 150,000 copies mailed each month. And the cover price is $7.99 + postage, handling, and bagging for mailing.

    And outside of 'collectors' and 'railfans', about HOW MANY issues of the national timetable would you expect to 'sell'? I'll be very generous in my estimate...2,000. And, when any single timetable changes (some last for the summer only, for example, and what about 2 months of Sunset Ltd revisions this past Feb & Mar?), it's time to assemble and reprint the national timetable AGAIN! Would your 2,000 subscribers be willing to pony up ANOTHER $7.99? Oh...and $7.99 would have to be more like $27.99, and you'll have to have far less staff than Trains Magazine, too, just to break even.

    As a comparison, I used to be a subscriber to Traction & Models Magazine by Vane Jones while he was alive. I know his son carried on the magazine for a year or so before quitting publication. T&M carried paid advertising (who solicited the advertisers?), and 100% donated articles to be printed. It was about 20-25 pages each month, and had a street price about $1.00 more than Trains Magazine, as I recall. It was largely a one-man show with perhaps a secretary/odd-job person and printing was farmed out to some print house. I vaguely recall his circulation about 3-4,000/month, including hobby store sales.

    SO, let's put our hypothetical Amtrak National Timetable staff back together again. Maybe 3-4 people that also maintained the individual timetables. The person that actually created the schedules of each train is not part of this discussion as he/she is responsible for online ticketing schedules first and foremost. Let's use 4 full time, college degreed (that's a given in the white collar community these days) people at $50/hr including benefits (don't forget RRR Tier II matching!). That works out to collectively $200/hr x 40hr/week = $8000/week payroll. Mulitply by 52 = $416,000 per year just for salaries. Throw in another $5000 for paper and printing costs bringing the grand total to $421,000/year. Now divide that by our theoretical 2,000 subscribers. Let's be EXTRA generous....make that 5,000 subscribers. That works out to $84.20/subscriber (of 5000)/year. Would you or anybody else pay that much just to have printed timetables in their hands when they can print them at home for under $10/year (paper, ink, printer wear and tear)?

    And if you are Amtrak, cutting out the national timetable yields a SAVINGS in the budget of $421,000! THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a noticeable budget reduction and savings!
     
  14. Jun 22, 2019 #14

    dogbert617

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    Amtrak made a stupid as f decision, to get rid of the national timetable. All for $421K? That is total stupidity, that the national timetable is no more, and you only can read it in pdf form. Also as of now, you can't even download a national timetable pdf, and can only read individual ones! :( Hopefully this is a temporary situation and Amtrak will soon come out with a 2019 national timetable pdf, since I remember in summer 2018 being able to download a national timetable pdf off of Amtrak's website with no problem. Sigh. And as much crap as we sometimes rant about the current Amtrak CEO, this was a decision I really wish Mr. Boardman hadn't had done.

    An unofficial rule of thumb if you're traveling east, is that the California Zephyr(running mostly on Union Pacific tracks) is more likely to be significantly late arriving into Chicago, vs. the Southwest Chief or Empire Builder. And ditto with Texas Eagle, as well(which like CZ, suffers from running on UP tracks). I'd say of all those west to east trains, the Southwest Chief is most likely to have the least delays getting into Chicago.

    Also if you're transferring to the Cardinal in Chicago, BE WARNED it only runs east from Chicago 3 days a week(leaves Chicago Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/...es/Cardinal-Hoosier-State-Schedule-110818.pdf ). And sadly due to the state of Indiana stupidly not including the Hoosier State train(service between Chicago-Indianapolis) in the 2019 budget, it'll no longer run after 6/30/19. :( This cut will especially suck, for those not going to either Lafayette or Indianapolis(which at least still will have bus service, to/from Chicago). And as I remember, Cincinnati does have direct bus service to/from Chicago as well.

    Finally, you are right with occasional hours long delays on west to east long distance Amtrak trains if you're transferring in Chicago, that it's best to only hope for sure that you can safely connect to the City of New Orleans or Lake Shore Limited to go beyond Chicago. Usually the delays aren't so late that you miss the Capitol Limited, or say the last 2 Michigan trains(354 and 370) or the last Saint Louis bound train(307), but sadly delays have often caused connecting passengers to miss any of those trains(354, 370, 307, 30). Where like bratkinson is saying, sadly those 2 trains(59 and 48) seem to be the only 2 trains that for sure you more than likely can safely assume you'll make a same day connection to, in Chicago if you're traveling long distance. That said of course, if you miss your connecting Chicago train, Amtrak will make it up for it somehow(i.e. put you up in a hotel for the night and give you a ticket on a train the next day, or sometimes give you the option to get on a bus to either make it to the place you're trying to go to, or take that bus to connect to a train you missed the departure out of in Chicago, i.e. the Galesburg-Springfield, IL thruway bus).
     
  15. Jun 22, 2019 #15

    jiml

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    I was referring to the download version of the system timetable that was available until a year ago. I realize it was likely a scan of the print version, however a no-cost solution for Amtrak would be to provide a single download link for a folder (zip-file?) of all the individual timetables. This would duplicate what you have done without the dozens of downloads and time-consuming organization.
     
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  16. Jun 22, 2019 #16

    bratkinson

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    That would make too much sense! Besides, it would take one of the usually-these-days-several-days-late-PDF-creator-person (I doubt there are 2 of them any more) an extra step or two to put any new PDFs into the single downloadable PDF folder and remove the superseded PDF.
     
  17. Jun 23, 2019 #17

    dogbert617

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    I totally agree, and it's very sad they didn't come up with a systemwide pdf for all routes for summer 2019! BTW, here's the one they did for summer 2018(thanks web archive, for preserving it): http://web.archive.org/web/20180922...timetables/Amtrak-System-Timetable-060118.pdf
     
  18. Jun 23, 2019 #18

    jiml

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    I'd bet I'm not the only one with a copy of this on my desktop for quick reference during my daily read of AU! The timings may be a little off, but the station details and mileage stats remain accurate.
     
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  19. Jun 24, 2019 #19

    dogbert617

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    Yep, I also have that summer 2018 one downloaded to my smartphone and computer as well. Hope they do come up with a new national timetable, at some future point. And you are right, that any schedule changes would be extremely minimal between 2018 and 2019. The only big one I can think of that's about to happen, is that Hoosier State (trains 850 and 851 between Chicago and Indianapolis) will sadly be eliminated after June 30th, no thanks to IN lawmakers stupidly not finding that train for 2019. Who cares if it had fewer riders(29K about?) than other regional Amtrak trains, to me it still deserved to be funded!
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  20. Jun 24, 2019 #20

    acelafan

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  21. Jun 25, 2019 #21

    dogbert617

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    Never knew juckins.net had archived Amtrak timetables, from 2008 to present. Nice to see in a way, they took over the role that Museum of Amtrak Timetables used to do, years ago. Too bad that site doesn't have timetables uploaded, after some year in the late 2000s or early 2010s.
     

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