Quick trip to Denver to ride their system and take 6 back to Chicago

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Steve4031, May 18, 2019.

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  1. May 18, 2019 #1

    Steve4031

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    Steve4031

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    On Friday I flew Chicago Midway to Denver in the evening. A typical southwest flight. A little late but it gets you there. Since this was a last minute decision I purchased the business select ticket which scored me an A4 boarding position. In turn I snagged an aisle in the first row with extra legroom. Poor mans first class.

    In Denver I arrived at the main terminal just as the train to downtown was leaving. It was 30 minutes until the next one. So I took a Lyft.

    There is a new HGI, HGI Denver union station that is located two blocks from the station. The hotel is brand new and the rooms are nicely designed. The well placed usb plugs did not work. But I found a wall outlet for charging electronic devices. Breakfast is standard hgi
     
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  2. May 18, 2019 #2

    Bob Dylan

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    How much was the Lyft Fare from Denver/Kansas Intl. as opposed to the Train? I know Taxis are Very Pricey and even the Shuttles used to be sort of High Dollar!
     
  3. May 18, 2019 #3

    Steve4031

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    The walk to union station is 2 blocks. It is easy to access the station area from the West on foot. There is a sidewalk that connects directly to tracks 7 and 8. From there you could walk to the underground walkway to get to light rail stops. Or you can take an elevator to the overhead walkway that goes over to union station.

    My first trip is to Westminster.
     
  4. May 18, 2019 #4

    Steve4031

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    The first is an interior shot of a commuter car. 3-2 seating is a minus imho. But seats are comfortable.

    The Westminster station is extravagantly designed. The parking areas are separated from the station by land scaled entrances that are not covered for inclement weather.

    I found out that I could have ridden for free. Apparently there are free rides on the weekend. I had already purchased a day pass and activated it on my phone. No big deal but good information for anyone else planning a trip to Denver.
     

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  5. May 18, 2019 #5

    Steve4031

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    The Lyft fare was 35 vs 10.50 for the train. That 10.50 includes a day pass. So if you arrived on a morning flight you could take the train down town and use transit for the rest of the day at no charge.
     
  6. May 18, 2019 #6

    Steve4031

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    The Wheatridge station is not as extravagant. There are fences and gates with warning signs for pedestrians crossing tracks to get to the parking lot. The signs cautioned people to be aware of “high speed trains!”

    There are no bathrooms on the commuter trains. Nor in the stations.
     

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  7. May 19, 2019 #7

    Steve4031

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    I ride back into Denver Union station and checked the deli to see if a bagel lox and cream cheese fix could be addressed in the station. Nope. So off to ride the 16th street bus to an Einstein bagels place for a snack.

    After the snack I hopped on the next tram passing and looped around downtown. Then determined that I wanted to take the H to Florida. I got off at 10th and Osage and caught the H. Lots of median running along interstates with wide vistas of clouds and mountains. Along the way I got the munchies and discovered a diner near the Illiff station. I walk about 10 minutes to get there. The elevation caught up to me and I made the executive decision to take a lyft back.

    At the diner I ate buffalo wings and a hot fudge sundae. The sundae was the best part. Their lemonade was also good. The wings could have had more meet. Service was pleasant.

    I took lyft back to the station and caught the R line to Peoria. The Peoria station allows an easy switch to the A line to the airport.

    Two trains arrived at the same time.
     

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  8. May 19, 2019 #8

    Willbridge

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    It's always interesting to see how visitors perceive a transit system. However, it would not be a good idea to try riding without paying. The free rides were G-Line rail only, which is why the ticket machines were not shut down (Denver's bus and rail are integrated.) The free rides were in celebration of the opening of the G-Line after a long delay for regulatory reasons. Free rides are also available on the entire rail system today, Saturday, May 18th in celebration of opening of the 2½-mile extension of the E, F and R-Lines into Lone Tree.
    Otherwise, pay.
     
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  9. May 19, 2019 #9

    Steve4031

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    The Denver airport station is connected to the main terminal and the Westin Hotel. It is possible to to use elevators and escalators to get where you need to go. And a public bathroom. Phew.

    The architecture is modern. I don’t know what the wood things are on the side of the embankment.

    The airport trains have 2 and 2 seating with more room for luggage. Top speed is 70 mph.
     

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  10. May 19, 2019 #10

    Willbridge

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    There are bathrooms at both ends of the Union Station complex. The reference to "high speed trains" always seems comic to visitors, but it is in reference to crossings in areas where pedestrians have grown up expecting slow-moving freights. For an example, see scenes in this video:


    There also are deadhead and training trips that do not stop:
     
  11. May 19, 2019 #11

    Steve4031

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    I actually had my day pass activated for the entire day. A fare collector on the A train from the airport was advising pax NOT to purchase tickets on their smartphones as it was free today. She specifically cited the extension of the E, F, and R lines.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my riding today. I don’t begrudge my 10.50 day pass. Lol. At all.

    Correction on top speed. I observed 80 on my iPhone app which was most likely 79 mph on the engineer’s speedometer.
     
  12. May 19, 2019 #12

    Willbridge

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    Visitors should note that there are 15-minute headways every day of the week departing the airport between 0512 and 1927. Before and after those times there are 30-minute headways. As the population of non-airport commuters grows, the 15-minute headway span is likely to be extended.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  13. May 19, 2019 #13

    Steve4031

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    Arrive Union station and 6 is their more than 35 minutes early.

    So I walk around to board because I see people on the platform. And see the dreaded sign. Wait here for conductor check in. Time for a few pictures.
     

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  14. May 19, 2019 #14

    Willbridge

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    The platform check-in, for as many as 160-180 passengers, is a result of real estate redevelopment gone wild. The good news is that it is a compromise over the city's original dream of no tracks at all. At below freezing temperatures passengers sometimes are allowed to line up indoors. As a single passenger not expecting to see any scenery till the Missouri River, I usually take the end of the coach line by waiting indoors. For Train 5, there is a scenery incentive for getting a good spot in the coach line.
     
  15. May 19, 2019 #15

    Steve4031

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    I really am perplexed by the boarding process in Denver. They make the passengers line up on the platform to scan tickets. Then send the coach passengers before sleeping car passengers. The platform is wide enough to let all of us go at once. Thankfully the weather is not inclement.
     
  16. May 19, 2019 #16

    Willbridge

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    I've seen it done in both orders. It might have to do with word from the car attendants as to whether they have their cars ready to receive passengers. I'll check on this with an informed source.
     
  17. May 19, 2019 #17

    Steve4031

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    I thought about the issue of rooms needing to be prepared. If the conductor had stated that I would definitely understand. There was a bench available so I just sat and waited. If the weather was that bad I would have waited in the station.
     
  18. May 19, 2019 #18

    Steve4031

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    I thought about the rooms not being ready vid the conductor told us that I would have understood.

    After leaving Ft Morgan the conductor made an announcement that there would be delays do to track work. BNSF is replacing ties between Ft Morgan and McCook. Speed restrictions are in place.

    We rolled slowly out of Ft. Morgan and then took a siding and sat. Conductor came on and explained we were being held for a wb Z train. He described this as not politically correct. Been sitting for about 20 minutes now.
     
  19. May 19, 2019 #19

    basketmaker

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    Steve I believe the "wood things" are probably a snow fence of questionable effectiveness most likely designed by one of our freaky artists. i.e. red-eyed Blue Lucifer at the airport entrance. Hope you enjoyed the area (short of finding a "real" deli!)
     
  20. May 19, 2019 #20

    Steve4031

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    The trip east has been uneventful. We are still about 1 hour late. Approaching Galesburg slowly. Must be freight traffic.

    The diner crew is ok. They are tired. Walked in at breakfast at 6:30 and got the challenging look from the crew which says, “why are you here.” Breakfast. Obviously. They did grudgingly seat me. Lunch was better. Food quality was consistently good.
     

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  21. May 19, 2019 #21

    Steve4031

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    On the home stretch into Chicago. We will arrive about 40 minutes late. Over all a great trip.
     
  22. May 19, 2019 #22

    Barb Stout

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    What is a wb Z train and why are they politically incorrect?
     
  23. May 19, 2019 #23

    AmtrakBlue

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    My guess is a Z train is a freight train. Not politically correct is probably referring to the fact that the freight railroads are supposed to give Amtrak priority. Unfortunately, the freight RR's are running longer and longer trains and they don't fit into the sidings, so Amtrak must take the sidings in these situations.
     
  24. May 20, 2019 #24

    Pere Flyer

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    “wb” is shorthand for “westbound”
    “Z train” is a freight train with highest dispatching priority. AFAIK, Union Pacific is the only railroad that uses such designation.
     
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  25. May 20, 2019 #25

    Willbridge

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    My source confirms that the extra cleaning and straightening up is why the sleeper passengers end up boarding after the coach passengers. In extreme weather the conductor walks around in the Amtrak waiting area inside the historic building and scans tickets. We usually ship our extreme weather on east, so the platform line-up is most common.

    The turnover in Denver is a constant reminder that in a better world -- outlined in a 1991 Amtrak study -- there would be a second train between Denver and Chicago. In the alleged real world that we live in, the Washington Post refers to us as "rural America" not warranting trains at all.
     

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