Empire Builder-Wolverine connection no longer permitted?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by thully, Jan 14, 2020 at 1:55 AM.

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  1. Jan 14, 2020 at 1:55 AM #1

    thully

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    thully

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    I was looking at taking the Empire Builder later this year after the Gathering as that is the only western LD train I have yet to take. Anyway, when looking at PDX/SEA-ARB itineraries, I noticed that Arrow only offers a connection to a Thruway bus arriving at 4:40am (!) to return to ARB. I could have sworn that the 354 Wolverine was a legal connection, but it isn’t showing up.

    Does anyone know if this connection was in fact removed or if this may just be a glitch in the system? Also, would I have any issues if I were to book the “illegal” connection on a multi-city or separate reservation and just plan on changing the ticket (and booking a night in Chicago) in case of misconnect? I know they won’t pay for accommodations (though even if it were legal I figure they’d stuff me on that red-eye bus instead of a hotel), but just want to make sure they don’t cancel my reservation. I know many here plan an overnight in CHI, though seeing as I’m not connecting to a sleeper I’d rather get home a day earlier (and not take a bus at ugly hours).
     
  2. Jan 14, 2020 at 2:18 AM #2

    zephyr17

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    Yes, it was removed as a legal connection.

    If you force book it, it won't be cancelled, but if you miss the Wolverine because the Builder is late, you will not only not get overnight accommodation, but you will also likely lose the value of the Wolverine ticket as a no show.
     
  3. Jan 14, 2020 at 2:28 AM #3

    thully

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    In that case, I would plan on changing the ticket online or by phone from the train before the Wolverine departs - which should work unless the EB gets stuck in an area with no cell coverage during the time the Wolverine departs.
     
  4. Jan 14, 2020 at 3:35 AM #4

    bratkinson

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    I just did a historical check on connecting between #8 and #354 for the past 13 months.

    https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/connections.php?a_train_num=8&c_train_num=354&station=chi&date_start=12/14/2018&date_end=01/13/2020&df1=1&df2=1&df3=1&df4=1&df5=1&df6=1&df7=1&buffer_mins=95&sort_dir=DESC&dfon=1

    There's a dismal 60% failure rate to connect with a 95 minute connection time. Although the timetables show 1 hour 55 minutes, I figure checked luggage transfer and people unfamiliar with the layout of Chicago Union Station would consume at least 20 minutes of that time. It's simply too risky to make it a guaranteed connection...and costly too, for hotels, food and transportation for misconnects.
     
  5. Jan 14, 2020 at 4:14 AM #5

    thully

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    It’s not quite that bad - your search was showing as missed connections all #8s arriving less than 95 minutes before #354. If you put 20 min for the connection time, it shows 35% missed connections. Still not great, but not nearly as bad - and that’s during winter. Perhaps too iffy for Amtrak to guarantee it (at least in winter), but still more likely to make the connection than miss it. Figure if I make the trip I’ll try to make it if I can...
     
  6. Jan 14, 2020 at 4:58 AM #6

    bratkinson

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    Having passed through CUS several hundred times in the past 42 years, I'd have no problem booking it as separate tickets and 'go for it'. At worst case, modify the reservation from the train while passing through Milwaukee (90 minutes consistently to CHI with cell phone coverage all the way...I used to live in MKE) and then check the Holiday Inn a couple blocks south of the station to see what's available for the night.

    I've been known to run from the 2nd last car on #49 to catch the train to Milwaukee and made it in 8 minutes, but that Hiawatha had been cancelled when I got to the platform due to that trainset hitting a car a couple hours earlier. Can't win 'em all, unfortunately.
     
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  7. Jan 14, 2020 at 5:36 AM #7

    tim49424

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    Connections from the Empire Builder to any Michigan Services train were discontinued last summer. What I have done is booked a hotel room overnight near Glenview, completing the trip to Chicago via the Hiawatha on the following day. That allows me to book to Michigan (via the Pere Marquette to Holland). I have another EB trip planned in about a month and that's what my itinerary will include, being it worked very well last fall.
     
  8. Jan 14, 2020 at 5:51 AM #8

    SarahZ

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    They do the same thing with the SWC. They won't allow a connection to the Blue Water because it departs around an hour after the SWC arrives, but I cannot tell you how many times I've made that connection without breaking a sweat.

    Once we hit Cicero and all looks well, I book the Blue Water as a separate reservation. I don't cancel the Wolverine until we actually arrive, though, juuuuust in case of last-minute shenanigans.
     
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  9. Jan 14, 2020 at 2:13 PM #9

    thully

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    At least as of now, connections to the Pere Marquette from the Empire Builder seem to be bookable as a single ticket. It’s just the Wolverine (and Blue Water, but I’m not sure that ever was a connection given the departure time) that aren’t.

     
  10. Jan 14, 2020 at 3:35 PM #10

    tim49424

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    Interesting....I wonder when it happened that they allowed the connection to the PM.
     
  11. Jan 14, 2020 at 9:05 PM #11

    thully

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    It seems 354 now shows as an allowed connection from 28 again, though not 8. Saw a post on Trainorders remarking about 14-28 connection no longer showing up, but that to seems to have reappeared recently. They suspected the recent Amtrak server maintenance may have inadvertently removed connections. As I’ve seen this happen in the past, I tend to agree - though if 28 to 354 has been disallowed for a while, it is a bit strange to readd it now.
     

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