South Bend to Seattle via Portland

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by NapTown Jim, Sep 10, 2019.

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  1. Sep 10, 2019 #1

    NapTown Jim

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    NapTown Jim

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    My wife has a bucket list item to visit all 50 states. North Dakota and Oregon are the last two to check off. Naturally we want to do this by rail and see the rest of the country.

    Our plan is to board the Capitol Limited in South Bend (we're from Indianapolis), pick up the Empire Builder in Chicago. Take that to Portland, then the Cascades north to Seattle where we will take an Alaskan cruise.

    Can I assure my wife's concerns that the two times in the past 60 days that the Capitol Limited has been 5+ hours late isn't something she needs to worry about? We ought to get to Chicago in time for the EB, right?

    If we check our bags in South Bend to go to Seattle, I'd expect they'd arrive in Seattle before us on the #7. Will we be able to pick them up there when we arrive on the Cascades? I guess I'm just wondering if they'll still be in the baggage room when we get there several hours later.

    Thanks,
    James D
     
  2. Sep 10, 2019 #2

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    I think the safest solution for the checked baggage would be to check it to Portland and when you pick up your bags there, immediately check them again to Seattle. That way they won’t be ‘laying around’ for 5 hours or more and the baggage people in Seattle scratching their heads ‘where is the owner?’ This also covers you in case #27 is late into Portland missing your planned connecting Cascades train resulting in a couple hours additional that Seattle would have to do something with your bags. I’d be more concerned with someone grabbing them from the baggage claim area before the Seattle staff realizes you’re not coming for them just yet and moves them somewhere for safe keeping.

    Another concern I have is taking the train from/to South Bend. As the South Bend station is ‘in the boondocks’ western suburb of Bendix, there is no long term parking there. Your best bet would be to go to the South Bend Airport and park there and ride the CSS&SB from there. I don’t know what their daily parking fees are, though. Either way, you’d need to leave home about 5 AM or earlier to make it on time. I’d most likely have a family member or friend drop you off and pick you up, getting you home about Midnight, give or take.

    In my opinion, you’d be better off having someone drop you off and pick you up at Indianapolis to/from the Cardinal. Hopefully the 3x per week schedule would fit your plans. That way, someone drops you off about 5:30 AM or so, and picks you up at Midnight. Less miles by road, less stress on drop off/pick up person. I don’t know about parking at Indianapolis, though. If you’re closer to Crawfordsville or Lafayette, that might be a good choice over South Bend, but neither handles checked baggage.

    I’d certainly plan to spend the night in Seattle before the cruise. If the Cardinal schedule doesn’t ‘mesh’ just right, spending an extra night in Seattle or Chicago would allow some sight seeing and dining options.

    edit: I just hand a brain flash...at South Bend, the Lakeshore Ltd is scheduled to be about an hour behind the Capitol Ltd. If the Cap is running really late, have the station agent change your reservations for the Lakeshore, instead.
     
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  3. Sep 11, 2019 #3

    NapTown Jim

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    Thanks Bratkinson. I thought about the South Shore Line. Its actually cheaper and more reliable than Amtrak. What's making me lean against it is that we're going to have a lot of luggage with us and there is no on-board storage (from what I could see) on those trains.

    The Cardinal would be a desirable option, but if the EB is 90 minutes or more late we'll run a serious risk of missing that connection. I simply don't trust it to run within 1 hour of scheduled arrival.

    I parked my car there for a week a few years ago when I took the Lake Shore Limited to New York. It was fine when I got back. I'll call the ticket office up there and see if its OK to park there for 13 days.

    Also, I do plan on arriving in Seattle the day before we board our cruise. I'd hate to miss the fresh salmon, glaciers and whales of Alaska because I gambled on Amtrak arriving within 4 hours of arrival.
     
  4. Sep 11, 2019 #4

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    It didn't dawn on my that you'd have a lot of luggage. The trip from CSS&SB at Randolph St Station (now called Millenium Station?) to Union Station would definitely be an uber/lyft/taxi ride. I've walked it a number of times but that's with nothing other than a collapsible cooler when I'm out joy-riding commuter trains in Chicago.
     
  5. Sep 13, 2019 #5

    SubwayNut

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    I live in South Bend and we left our older car at the station for a 10 day trip a few months ago. It was fine

    We just got a new (much nicer) gently used car and have agreed that we wouldn't leave it at the Amtrak Station for an extended period of time. The airport costs $9 a day for parking. We often will take trips to Chicago that involve taking the South Shore Line (NICTD is the abbreviation I know for the CSS&SB, I don't know of anyone locals who use that abbreviation) to Chicago since the South Shore is more reliable and Amtrak home since it originates in Chicago is genrally faster and much more comfortable home from a trip. We just Uber/Lyft or take the Transpo bus from our home to and from the Airport/South Shore Station and the Amtrak station.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2019 #6

    SP&S

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    I don't think you would have a luggage problem. Slightly different but we went from Syracuse to Portland via Seattle (Lake Shore Limited/Empire Builder/Cascades). The checked bags stayed on the Builder and got to PDX hours before us and there was no problem. They were waiting for us in the baggage room.
     
  7. Sep 15, 2019 #7

    NapTown Jim

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    I saw in their FAQ that they don't check luggage. Does the South Shore have luggage storage? We'll have 4 bags plus 2 smaller bags
     
  8. Sep 15, 2019 #8

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    That's funny. As of last time I was through SOB on the train, I saw the baggage cart go by with luggage on board. I'll check back tomorrow morning when I pass through on #49.
     
  9. Sep 16, 2019 #9

    NapTown Jim

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    I'm talking about the South Shore station, not the Amtrak SOB station.
     
  10. Sep 16, 2019 #10

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    I rode the South Shore to South Bend Airport. It's a typical commuter train...no checked baggage.

    And as we stopped at SOB this morning, I saw the station man with the baggage trailer.
     
  11. Sep 16, 2019 #11

    railiner

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  12. Sep 17, 2019 #12

    NapTown Jim

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    I guess that officially eliminates the South Shore Line. We'll be booking our Amtrak tickets next month. Thanks guys!
     
  13. Sep 19, 2019 #13

    MARC Rider

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    The Empire Builder leaves Chicago at 2ish in the afternoon. The Capitol gets to Chicago at about 8:45 AM (Central time). The Cardinal gets to Chicago at about 10:30 AM. That's if the trains are on time. You could make the Empire Builder if the Capitol is 4 hours late; you have less leeway with the Cardinal. I think they sometimes hold the Empire Builder for connecting passengers, but I'm not sure what the policy is.

    The last time I made a connection through Chicago, I just bit the bullet, spent the night and took the connecting train the next day. But I like hanging around Chicago, so I don't see it as a problem.
     
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