Eric and Pat's Report for 2019

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Eric in East County, Jul 11, 2019 at 10:33 PM.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jul 11, 2019 at 10:33 PM #1

    Eric in East County

    Eric in East County

    Eric in East County

    Train Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    59
    Location:
    East San Diego County
    Eric & Pat’s Report for 2019


    When we submitted our 2018 San Diego-Toledo-San Diego trip report last summer, the word was that, within a year or so, the Southwest Chief would no longer be a Los Angeles to Chicago train. Even some of the Amtrak personnel we talked to were convinced that this change would be taking place.


    From a lengthy Amtrak Unlimited discussion thread regarding the SWC’s future operations, we learned that Amtrak’s management was committed to keeping it running as usual, at least through October 2019. Encouraged by this news, we went ahead with our plans for this year’s trip.


    To be sure of getting bedrooms on the east and westbound Southwest Chief trains for the travel dates we wanted, we made our reservations four months in advance.


    From our previous rail adventures, we’d accumulate a total of 20,771 travel points, which proved to be more than enough to cover our round trip Pacific Surfliner Business Class passage between Los Angeles and San Diego (7,542 points) and our Capitol Limited round trip reserved coach passage between Chicago and Toledo (6,762 points.) We paid cash for our Southwest Chief round trip passage.


    Four weeks before we were scheduled to depart, we started thinking about what we were going to pack into our various carry-on bags and the two suitcases that would travel as checked luggage. We also began paying closer attention to the arrival times of the Southwest Chief into Chicago. In order to continue on to Toledo, we needed to be in Chicago in enough time to connect with that day’s #30 eastbound Capitol Limited, scheduled to depart at 6:40 p.m. Since we’d never failed to make this connection during our nine previous trips, we felt reasonably sure that we’d make it again this year.


    Then, a little over two weeks before our departure, an unexpected medical issue arose for Pat that, while not life-threatening, made it necessary for us to cancel our trip.


    We got most of our Amtrak travel points back less a 1430-point penalty for the late cancellation. As for the refund for the SWC tickets that we’d paid cash for, right off the top there was a $250.00 penalty change. The balance was refunded partially in cash and partially as a credit voucher good for future travel within the next year. (If we can’t use this voucher ourselves, we will make it available to Eric’s brother and sister-in-law to use.) We also received some discount coupons.


    While we didn’t actually ride on the trains that we’d had tickets for, we were on them in spirit. Using Amtrak’s on-line train status feature, we followed their progress across country and kept a written record of their arrival and departure times. On June 26th, the #777 Pacific Surfliner left the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego on time at 12:05 p.m. and arrived at Los Angeles Union Station at 2:43 p.m., 3 minutes late. That same day, the #4 Southwest Chief departed Los Angeles on time at 6:00 p.m. and arrived in Chicago on June 28th at 5:50 p.m., 3 hours late but in enough time for us and perhaps our checked luggage to have connected with that day’s #30 Capitol Limited. As it turned out, we would not have needed to concern ourselves over this late arrival since the CL didn’t depart Chicago until 7:28 p.m., 48 minutes late. (According to Amtrak Alerts, this late departure was caused by “equipment issues.”) #30 eventually arrived in Toledo at 1:38 a.m., 1 hour and 59 minutes late. (Late arrivals into Toledo are always the least favorite part of our eastbound trips, particularly when our checked luggage doesn’t arrive with us.) On Jul 9th, the #29 west-bound Capitol Limited arrived in Toledo at 5:22 a.m., only 14 minutes late. Between Toledo and Chicago, nothing seems to have delayed #29’s progress since it arrived at Chicago Union Station at 8:42 a.m., 3 minutes early. That same day, the #3 Southwest Chief departed Chicago on time at 2:50 p.m. and arrived at Los Angeles Union Station on July 11th at 9:49 a.m., 1 hour and 49 minutes late. Even with this late arrival, we would have had plenty of time before our southbound Pacific Surfliner #572, departed LAUS for San Diego at 10:40 a.m. #572 arrived at the Santa Fe Deport in downtown San Diego at 1:59 p.m., 21 minutes late.


    If the Southwest Chief is still running between Los Angeles and Chicago in 2020, we plan to complete the trip that we were unable to take this year. Then, we’ll post a real trip report! In the meantime, for those who haven’t read them, our earlier San Diego-Toledo-San Diego trip reports can be found in the back pages of AU’s Travelogues/Trip Reports forum.


    Eric & Pat
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  2. Jul 11, 2019 at 11:44 PM #2

    dogbert617

    d

    dogbert617

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    462
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I'm sure you more than likely know that if #4 doesn't make it to Chicago in time before #30 departs, that you could change your reservation to go on train #48(Lake Shore Limited) instead. One of the few cases(other than regional trains) of transferring trains in Chicago where if you miss one train, another one will still allow you to get to your final destination in time. Never mind that sometimes I've heard of cases where passengers were told to board a bus, to catch up to a train to board later on its route after it departs Chicago. I still hope to do a SW Chief trip very soon, since I still worry about the future of the portion of its route(through Dodge City, KS to northern New Mexico) that still doesn't have positive train control. Seems like a stupid reason to eliminate service for a bustitution in the middle of the route that'll greatly hurt ridership, but that's just me.

    For the Southwest Chief part of the trip, did you ride in coach or sleeper? I see you did business class for Pacific Surfliner, and coach for Capitol Limited. And did you take any pics from that trip, that you will post in this thread later? Any interesting highlights you remember, as far as scenery and sights along the SW Chief route go? I really want to ride that route, while I still can.
     
  3. Jul 12, 2019 at 1:56 AM #3

    Eric in East County

    Eric in East County

    Eric in East County

    Train Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    59
    Location:
    East San Diego County
    Had we actually made this year’s trip, this would have been our first time traveling in Business Class on the Pacific Surfliner. From reading the comments of other people who have traveled via Business Class, we assumed that it would been a much better travel experience than riding in a regular coach, and we had been looking forward to it.

    We always book bedrooms when traveling on the Southwest Chief. From experience, we’ve learned to ask for Bedroom E which, being in the middle of the car, is supposed to provide the smoothest ride. (We’d like to think that the bedrooms we’d had tickets for but weren’t able to use were occupied by someone who enjoyed them as much as we would have.) Our earlier trip reports contain many interesting highlights from our rail travels and are worth the effort to go back into the archives to locate.
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  4. Jul 12, 2019 at 2:53 AM #4

    dogbert617

    d

    dogbert617

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    462
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks. I'll look up your earlier posts, to read through your previous reports.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white