Seattle to Denver run

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by samoberly, Jun 29, 2018.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jun 29, 2018 #1

    samoberly

    s

    samoberly

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    I am planning on a Amtrak trip in May'19, from Seattle to Denver.

    I am a first-timer and would appreciate advise on options for class of service, sleeper car and dining arrangements.

    Regards

    Stan
     
  2. Jun 29, 2018 #2

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    You pretty much have two choices for routes. You can either:

    • Take the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Emeryville (San Francisco), and then the California Zephyr from Emeryville to Denver
    OR

    • ​Take the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago, and the California Zephyr from Chicago to Denver
    Those are some of the prettiest routes in the Amtrak system, so you can't really go wrong! They all offer almost exactly the same accommodations, classes of service, and equipment, so you really only have to think about what route you most want to see, and probably how the prices work out. Those trains all offer a Sightseer Lounge (a lounge car with large panoramic windows and a snack bar downstairs) and a dining car which serves hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    Here are the available accommodations

    All sleeper passengers (so anything above coach or business class on those trains) get a private room, included meals, access to a shower, along with a bunch of other benefits. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting a sleeper for such a long trip, since it's just so much more comfortable and relaxing than coach.

    That's a very basic overview of what those trains have to offer, but I think that should give you a good sense of it!
     
    Chey, crescent2 and LookingGlassTie like this.
  3. Jun 29, 2018 #3

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,879
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I would suggest that you start in 1952...

    Sorry for the snark. It's just depressing reading the recent and unrelenting cuts to so many of the amenities which once made rail travel special.

    In your case, the obvious choice is to take the Coast Starlight down from Seattle and change in the Bay Area to the California Zephyr. Sacramento is the transfer point Amtrak will default to, but as the trains share a common route between Sacramento and Emeryville and since Sacramento is an oh-dark-thirty wakeup call (if the Starlight is on time...big if!), many of the posters here choose to stay on the Starlight to Martinez or even Emeryville (where the Zephyr originates). This allows them to sleep in and perhaps get breakfast on the train.

    Very important! If you do this, structure your ticket so that your main purchase is Seattle to Denver via Sacramento. Then, buy two "stub" tickets...one from Sacramento to Davis, Martinez, or Emeryville and one from that station back to Sacramento. This way, if the train is late, you can bail out in Sacramento and not have your eastbound leg on the Zephyr canceled when you no-show at the earlier station. If the train is very late or if there is a service disruption, Amtrak will know to bus you or otherwise get you to the Zephyr with whatever means is at their disposal. (You'll just have to write off the two stub tickets.) If you're in a sleeper and don't want to get kicked out at Sacramento but also don't want to pay sleeper fare between Sacramento and Emeryville, it might be cheaper to buy your Starlight ticket through from Seattle to Martinez or Emeryville, have a stub ticket from there back to Sacramento, and "link" the reservations for the Seattle-Martinez/Emeryville and Sacramento-Denver legs (don't tell them about the stub ticket!). This might still protect you in the event of a service disruption, but I give no money-back guarantees....

    The trip from Seattle south to California is very scenic and the scenery on the Zephyr is spectacular. If the latter is not too late, you should be coming down the Front Range as the sun sets. I highly recommend a sleeper accommodation on both legs for privacy and comfort...unfortunately, some important amenities such as the "Pacific Parlour Car" are already gone and the food service, which used to be worthy of recommendation, is now on the chopping block. I can't say what will still be offered ten months from now. I wish you the best of luck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2018
    Chey and cpotisch like this.
  4. Jun 29, 2018 #4

    Maglev

    Maglev

    Maglev

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    675
    Location:
    Orcas Island, Washington
    I would choose the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr routing for convenience and scenery, but I would spend at least one night in San Francisco between trains. Also, I would take the CS as far as San Jose to have time for breakfast on board, and then catch Caltrain up to San Francisco.

    Some of the pictures on the linked pages are inaccurate. There are exterior photographs focusing on a Sightseer Lounge instead of a Sleeper, making the windows look bigger. Also, both the Bedroom and Accessible Bedroom pages show a view of a Family Bedroom.
     
    cpotisch likes this.
  5. Jun 29, 2018 #5

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    True, but the descriptions are accurate, and the diagrams are correct. I feel like the photo of the outside of an SSL and of the mom and her son in a Family Bedroom don't really matter that much.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2018
    Maglev likes this.
  6. Jun 29, 2018 #6

    Maglev

    Maglev

    Maglev

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    675
    Location:
    Orcas Island, Washington
    Oh, I was just pointing out another case where Amtrak's marketing skill leaves a bit to be desired.
     
    cpotisch likes this.
  7. Jun 29, 2018 #7

    Anthony V

    Anthony V

    Anthony V

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Messages:
    160
    Too bad the Pioneer isn't running anymore. That would've made for a no-transfer trip.
     
  8. Jun 29, 2018 #8

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,742
    Location:
    Southmost Texas
    I was thinking the same thing. Columbia River Gorge on the south bank, the Blue Mountains, and the vast high desert, which to me, has its own charm.
     
  9. Jun 29, 2018 #9

    Skyline

    Skyline

    Skyline

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    487
    Did a Pioneer trip in the 1970s and agree! For a LOT more money, I have an extended RIVER cruise on the Snake and Columbia on my radar for 2020, using Amtrak and/or VIA to get from the East and return. Aren't I being optimistic that the Amtrak portion will even be a reality by 2020?
     
  10. Jun 29, 2018 #10

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Way of scaring the newbies! But yeah, I would definitely be mindful that there could be some big changes to service or amenities, and that you might end up wanting to make changes to your itinerary accordingly. For example (sort of pulling this out of nowhere), if the Starlight loses full meal service, you might consider changing plans and doing the Empire Builder/Zephyr combo via Chicago. I'm not saying that that kind of thing is going to happen, but given all the changes that have taken place this year, it's definitely something I'd try to stay aware of.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2018
    Triley and Seaboard92 like this.
  11. Jun 29, 2018 #11

    tricia

    tricia

    tricia

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    Messages:
    777
    Location:
    Spring Creek, NC
    Davis is my preferred transfer point for Coast Starlight southbound to CA Zephyr eastbound--done this several times. The agent at the station there will hold your bags, and it's a pleasant town to walk around in, with good breakfast options.
     
  12. Jun 29, 2018 #12

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    South Carolina
    That is if the Builder is an option in a year. If you think the SWC is the only route on the cutting board you're mistaken.
     
  13. Jun 29, 2018 #13

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,742
    Location:
    Southmost Texas
    Source, please.
     
  14. Jun 29, 2018 #14

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Multiple people in the PV industry. You know I'm very similar in ways to others here. I can't give a source. I just know what I've been hearing from various owners across the Midwest. Cardinal is also on the block as well.
     
    cpotisch likes this.
  15. Jun 29, 2018 #15

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    17,914
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    This!
     
  16. Jun 30, 2018 #16

    JoeBas

    JoeBas

    JoeBas

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    1,017
    With a corresponding penalty for changing your reservation, of course. Because while Amtrak has no problem reneging on its agreements, it can and will charge you to change your reservation after they change the conditions of carriage.
     
    Seaboard92 likes this.
  17. Jun 30, 2018 #17

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    But under the current system, there is not a fee for changing a reservation (other than any premium for a more expensive fare).
     
  18. Jun 30, 2018 #18

    Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill

    Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,242
    Location:
    Northern Ohio
    You should use the term "modify" when making this type of reservation change, if allowable, since Amtrak will charge you a 10-20% penalty for some changes they consider to be a cancellation..

    And in many cases, moving from a trip on the CS to a trip on the EB will be considered a cancellation of the original reservation since they are not really related.
     
  19. Jun 30, 2018 #19

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I feel pretty confident that they wouldn't care about changing a reservation from from #11 and #6 it to the EB. In multiple cases, I've called Amtrak about modifying a reservation and changing our itinerary to completely different routes, and they've been completely fine with it.

    When I was booked on the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle and Lake Shore Limited from Pomona to NYP, I later called about possibly changing the itinerary to either the Sunset Limited and Crescent, or the Southwest Chief and Cardinal. For the latter, they didn't even care that we'd be departing from LAX instead of POS, and that the connection in Chicago would be a day earlier. Though we didn't end up changing our itinerary, the agent had made it very clear that there wouldn't have been any penalty for cancelling or changing it.

    So while Amtrak agents are anything but consistent, I would be very surprised if they considered a switch to the Empire Builder too significant a change to be allowed.
     
    Triley likes this.
  20. Jun 30, 2018 #20

    Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill

    Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,242
    Location:
    Northern Ohio
    And what year was this? My experiences over the past year have been quite different.
     
  21. Jun 30, 2018 #21

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,507
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think it was this past December. So pretty recent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2018
  22. Jun 30, 2018 #22

    brianpmcdonnell17

    brianpmcdonnell17

    brianpmcdonnell17

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,125
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    When I changed a few reservations last month, it was considered a modification as long as either the origin or destination remained the same. For example, a change from ATL-TPA to CHI-TPA was considered a revision. However, changing NOL-ATL to ATL-NOL required a cancellation and new booking as both the origin and destination technically changed. However, the agent was able to issue a full refund despite me booking the ticket after the recent refund policy changes.
     
  23. Jun 30, 2018 #23

    JRR

    J

    JRR

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2017
    Messages:
    746
    I’d like to take the Cardinal to Cincy but the 3 day s week schedule and the arrival time and departure time makes it impractical.
     
  24. Jul 1, 2018 #24

    samoberly

    s

    samoberly

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Thank everyone for the insight on the Seattle to Denver Amtrak booking

    Another question; why wouldn't buying a ticket from Seattle to Sacramento and then a second booking from Sacramento to Denver? The connection time in Sacramento looks adequate provided the trains are on time.
     
  25. Jul 1, 2018 #25

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,879
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    If the trains are on time... big if! True, 98%+ of the time you'll be fine, but if you hit the jackpot then with a combined reservation Amtrak will know that they have to get you to Denver some way, which might mean taking a bus to cut the corner. If you have separate reservations then for all they know they just have to get you to Sacramento... and when you no-show for the Zephyr you lose that reservation and ticket.

    Now at present there's no advantage to purchasing a round trip as a single reservation price wise and separate reservations gives you flexibility. But for a one-way trip with a connection you want to be in the system as a single reservation unless you're breaking the trip with an overnight layover on your own nickel.

    BTW, Sacramento is not a bad place to lay over between trains. The station is nice and there's a lot to do in the area; Old Town and the museum are just a short walk away.
     
    Seaboard92 likes this.

Share This Page



arrow_white