Bay Area - NYC

Discussion in 'Guest Forum for Amtrak Questions' started by g__ross, Jun 25, 2019.

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  1. Jun 25, 2019 #1

    g__ross

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    g__ross

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    So I am thinking about going from SF bay Area (EMY, MTZ, or SJC) to New York. Which Routing is the best?

    Route 1:
    Train 1: 6 California Zephyr EMY - CHI
    Train 2: 49 Lake Shore Limited CHI - NYP

    Route 2:
    Train 1: 14 Coast Starlight SJC - (PDX) or SEA
    Train 1B (if I go through PDX) 28 Empire Builder PDX - SPK
    Train 2: 8 Empire Builder SEA (or SPK) - CHI
    Train 3: 49 Lake Shore Limited CHI - NYP

    Route 3:
    Train 1: 11 Coast Starlight SJC - LAX
    Train 2: 4 Southwest Chief LAX - CHI
    Train 3: 50 Cardinal CHI - NYP

    Route 4:
    Train 1: 11 Coast Starlight SJC - LAX
    Train 2: 2 Sunset Limited LAX - NOL
    Train 3: 20 Crescent NOL - NYP

    Thoughts? Should I do a variation of any route, such as train 422 Texas Eagle, Cardinal instead of Lake Shore Limited, thoughts??
     
  2. Jun 25, 2019 #2

    dogbert617

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    dogbert617

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    I've ridden both the Cardinal and Lake Shore Limited, and for sure if you can deal with the annoying fact it runs only 3 days a week(Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays eastbound leaving Chicago), the Cardinal hands down has better scenery vs. Lake Shore Limited. The scenery between Charleston, WV, and Staunton, VA, is especially AMAZING to see. I recommend(going eastbound) a seat on the right, to get the best views along the New River, and to see the more interesting station depots along that route(i.e. Thurmond, WV, Alderson, WV). Although I'll note the exceptions are that the depots in Prince, WV, White Sulphur Springs, WV(regret my pic didn't come out of this depot, but it looked really nice. this is also the same town the famous Greenbriar Country Club is in), and Staunton are on the left. And as I remember going through Staunton, most of the interesting views I saw of that town were on the left side of the train. The interesting views I saw of Charleston, WV were mostly on the left, going east. So to me, I think the most interesting(plus would improve your odds for successfully connecting to the Cardinal, the same day per checking the regular train arrival times for the last 6 months on juckins.net ) would be route 2, except to alter Lake Shore Limited and do the Cardinal if you can. You'd probably be able in most cases(per juckins.net ) to pull off the same day connection, between 14 and 28. Only sucky thing is that the California Zephyr is OFTEN late going east into Chicago if you're trying to do a same day connection, hence why if timeliness and on timeness matters to you to do Empire Builder. Also, the part along the Mississippi River for the EB train east of St. Paul, is very scenic.

    If you have any questions about the better side to sit on for more interesting views, I'll gladly answer them. Not long ago I rode the Cardinal east for my first time, and am so glad I finally did ride this train. It isn't as direct of a train to get to NYC vs. Lake Shore Limited's timetable(Card takes a few hours longer to get to NYC), but I'd recommend riding that train at least one way(even if you do Lake Shore the other way) to see the scenery on the Card.
     
  3. Jun 25, 2019 #3

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    Route 1 is obviously the fastest and there's great scenery on the California Zephyr (CZ).
     
  4. Jun 25, 2019 #4

    bms

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    bms

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    I vote for the California Zephyr to the Cardinal as well. Stay in Chicago for a night if you want to be certain to make the connection. If you are connecting the same day, be sure to book that as a single trip so any missed connection is Amtrak's responsibility to fix (probably by putting you on the Lake Shore Limited to NYP).
     
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  5. Jun 25, 2019 #5

    caravanman

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    I guess it depends on what you want from the trip?
    Zephyr has the best scenery, in my opinion. Mountains, valleys, rivers.
    Combine that with either the Cardinal or Lake Shore Ltd, the latter seems to be the sensible choice for best chance of making a same day connection in Chicago.
    Some folk desire scenery, some a quick journey, some the maximum time aboard the train, what do you value most?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  6. Jun 25, 2019 #6

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    You can also use the CL between CHI and transfer to either the Pennsylvanian in PGH (although it is an early morning wake up call and a tight transfer) or in WAS. The attraction in the Pennsylvanian is Horseshoe Curve.
     
  7. Jun 25, 2019 #7

    PVD

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    NER/CL (was) or Penn/CL (pgh) often price out favorably compared to the LS or Cardinal...If you are doing a round trip, it may be worth it to use 2 different routes checking availability and pricing in both directions...
     
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  8. Jun 26, 2019 #8

    bratkinson

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    Scenery wise, option 1, the California Zephyr wins, hands down.

    Most boring scenery, option 4, the Sunset Ltd route. Coastal scenery on #11 is partially in summer sunlight. Come October, it will be in the dark.

    Price wise, any option taking the Capitol Ltd #30 from Chicago to either PGH (then coach or BC to PHL) or WAS. The Cardinal will always have the highest prices from Chicago and the sleeper is usually at or near sold out most of the time. The Lakeshore Ltd is scenic along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers for most of the day portion going into NY. The Capitol Ltd and Lakeshore Ltd have 'contemporary dining' for sleeping car passengers...precooked, prepackaged food in a box.

    REALLY EARLY train departure, #20 and it's 7:00AM NOL departure. The street cars don't run early enough to make it. Walking from the Hyatt (3-4 blocks) or Holiday Inn (9-10 blocks) is safe at that hour. Or call a cab. I walked from the Holiday this past April. Take a day or two in NOL and do some sight seeing, eating, riding the trolleys, listening to music, etc.

    For me, my biggest concern is 'making same day connections'. I've learned from experience that trains from the west are about a 50/50 chance of connecting to #50 (Cardinal) or #30 (Capitol Ltd). So I usually plan my connections to #48, the Lakeshore Ltd. Spend the night in Chicago. That guarantees making connections. This past April, I connected to #59, the City of New Orleans. It's rough track throughout most of the night. And just for kicks, I booked a connection from #6 to #30 this coming September. "I feel LUCKY!"

    Option #2, connecting same day from #14 to #28 at PDX has a 44% success rate over the past year, as shown here: https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/a...6=1&df7=1&buffer_mins=20&sort_dir=DESC&dfon=1

    Option #3, #11 to #4 at LAX requires a night in LAX. If #11 is running more than about 2 hrs late at Sacramento, they bus passengers from Martinez to LAX to catch #2/422. They did that to me this past April. What they may do for passengers connecting to #2/422 for a late #11 at EMY is unknown.

    Note that for missed connections, Amtrak would put you up for the night at a nearby hotel/motel and give you some money for food. That part is OK. But the odds of having sleeping car space on the next train to <wherever> is quite small, and zero during peak travel times such as summer or the holidays. So you may end up riding coach and getting a voucher for the cost difference from a sleeper. About 5 years ago, I missed my #8 to #30 connection at CHI, so I settled for coach on #48 that departed about 20 minutes after arriving on #8 and a voucher for the difference.
     
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  9. Jul 7, 2019 #9

    dogbert617

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    dogbert617

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    I forget on juckins.net , that there is a search you can do to check how often on time connections between Amtrak trains are successful, and how often they are missed! That's too bad about the northbound Coast Starlight to eastbound Empire Builder connection, that passengers miss that connection 43% of the time. And only connect, 57% of the time. Didn't realize it was that bad, going north to east and connecting in Portland. :( I wonder if Amtrak has ever done a bus to help those passengers that are barely late off of 14, ever make it to 28 and have those passengers catch up to an eastbound 28 further down that route(i.e. in Wishram, or Pasco)? This would kinda be like to facilitate California Zephyr to Texas Eagle connections, that one can take a bus between Galesburg and Springfield, IL, or vice versa if you're doing a TX Eagle to CA Zephyr connection to go west.
     

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