Spokane to Houston

Discussion in 'Guest Forum for Amtrak Questions' started by Sis Caudle, Oct 10, 2019.

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  1. Oct 10, 2019 #1
    What route takes you from Spokane to Houston? I guess it’s a LONG trip! I suppose there’s a change of trains somewhere?
     
  2. Oct 10, 2019 #2

    jiml

    jiml

    jiml

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    I'll gladly defer to the experts, but I'm thinking there would be no way around 2 train changes. You would either take the Empire Builder to Chicago, then you'd have two options requiring a change in either New Orleans or San Antonio, or go west to Portland and take the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles to connect to the Sunset Limited (to Houston). If you're looking at the schedule don't forget that the Sunset only runs 3 days a week.
     
  3. Oct 10, 2019 #3

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

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    If you're most concerned about time or minimizing connections:
    • Take the Empire Builder eastbound from Spokane to Chicago. Leave Spokane @ 1:25 am (or thereabouts), arrive Chicago next (full) day at 3:55 p.m. Note: Often runs late into Chicago; sometimes quite late.
    • Spend the night in Chicago (on your own nickel).
    • Next day, take the Texas Eagle south from Chicago. You'll leave Chicago at 1:45 in the afternoon and, if on time (big if) arrive Longview, TX the next morning at 8:28 a.m.
    • Take the bus connection from Longview to Houston. The bus will wait for the train if the train is late.
    If your priority is spectacular scenery or to avoid buses:
    • Take the Empire Builder westbound from Spokane to Portland. Leave Spokane @ 2:45 a.m.; if on time you'll arrive Portland @ 10:10 a.m.
    • In Portland, connect to the Coast Starlight southbound. It departs Portland @ 2:25 p.m.; if your westbound Empire Builder is hours late be prepared to be taken off and put on a bus to "cut the corner".
    • The Coast Starlight is scheduled to arrive Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. Spend a night and a day in Los Angeles (again, on your own nickel).
    • The next Sunday, Wednesday or Friday night, take the Sunset Limited eastbound from Los Angeles, departing at 10:00 p.m. While this is technically after the scheduled 9:00 pm arrival of the Coast Starlight, Amtrak will not normally allow you to book less than a two hour connection as a guaranteed connection. And, since the Sunset only runs three days a week, you'd be stuck there at least two days. Plan on (at least) an overnight layover.
    • The Sunset Limited is scheduled to arrive in Houston on the second day at 11:10 a.m.
    For completeness this alternative is offered:
    • Empire Builder eastbound from Spokane, departing 1:25 a.m., arriving Chicago 3:55 p.m. next full day.
    • Connect in Chicago to the City of New Orleans, departing 8:05 p.m. Your chances of making this connection are only so-so and missing the connection in Chicago almost certainly means that you'll miss your next connection in New Orleans as well, so best to plan an overnight layover again here.
    • The City of New Orleans arrives New Orleans at 3:47 p.m. Plan to spend at least one night in the Big Easy.
    • On the next Monday, Wednesday or Saturday morning, take the Sunset Limited westbound from New Orleans to Houston. Depart @ 9:00 a.m.; arrive Houston about 6:18 p.m.
    And raise a glass in salute to the modern world of 'one-a-day' trains.
     
    Mike G, F900ElCapitan and pennyk like this.
  4. Oct 10, 2019 #4

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    If I were to do it, I'd ehbowens' choice number 2...sort of. I basically would want to avoid any overnight hotels.

    'Making' the connection from #27 to #11 at PDX -should- be OK as long as the Empire Builder is within a couple hours of on time. If not, they'll likely take you off and bus you to meet #11 somewhere south of Portland...Salem or Albany, I'd guess. Given the schedule padding into PDX, I'd not worry about making the connection. For what it's worth, I rode #27 this past April to PDX and another railfan I encountered in the diner said he had booked same-day connection in PDX. We were perhaps 2 hours late leaving SPK, but came to a stop at PDX about 15 minutes later than advertised.

    The 'key' to the trip is booking it such that you arrive at LAX on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, the same days' the Sunset Limited departs. Unless there is some kind of major, major interruption, Amtrak will make sure that you connect to the Sunset. This April, I spent a day in Portland riding streetcars and light rail. Boarding an already 2 hour late Coast Starlight at PDX, being still 2 hours late at SAC, they arranged to bus connecting California Zephyr passengers from there, but for Sunset passengers, we were instructed to get off at Martinez. We had been re-ticketed for a San Joaquin train to Bakersfield, then onto a waiting Thruway bus to LAX. We beat the Coast Starlight by 2 full hours, and it arrived at LAX only 30 minutes late. The Sunset Limited departed about 10 minutes late that night due to being backed into the station late. Of special note is to book it all on one single ticket. Otherwise Amtrak will be unaware that you are making same-day connections unless you specifically instruct the agent to link them together when booking the 2nd and/or 3rd trains.

    Why PDX and LAX train changes? At Chicago, it's impossible to connect from #8/28 to #21/421 at CHI. So a hotel on your dime is required. Add $150-200 or more plus meals and transportation to the cost. A 4 1/2 hour bus to Houston from Longview isn't the end of the world. Or, if you'd rather spend an extra day and a half, arriving about 10PM at San Antonio, take a hotel (there's one 2 short blocks away) or stay in the station until 6:25AM Tuesday/Friday/Sunday to Houston, arriving a bit after 12 Noon. Work backwards from Texas Eagle arrival (M,Th,Sa) to determine when to leave Spokane.

    Ehbowens' last option, EB to CONO to SL is quite workable. An overnight in CHI and NOL will be required. From what I've observed online and from a couple experiences of my own, connecting from #8/28 to ANY overnight train is risky. A couple of years ago, I missed my booked connection to the Capitol Ltd at CHI and only 'made' it to a coach ticket on the 9:30PM Lakeshore Ltd by 15 minutes and my running into the station to get my ticket changed as I know the Chicago staiton exceedingly well. Right now, I'm planning my annual AGR point redemption joyride for next April, coming in on #8, and overnighting in Milwaukee as I used to live there and have ex-family there. Depending on connections from Chicago, there's 5 Hiawathas from MKE to CHI to make any connection needed, either to the Texas Eagle or the City of New Orleans.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  5. Oct 10, 2019 #5

    zephyr17

    z

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    If you do elect to make the same day Starlight-Sunset connection, make sure it is guaranteed (do a test booking through from a Starlight point to a Sunset point without using the multi-city option. If it will do it, the connection will be guaranteed). Amtrak has removed the guarantee on that connection and then put it back at least a couple of times.
     
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  6. Oct 11, 2019 #6

    dogbert617

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    From what I see on the juckins.net website and looking at how often western trains arrive late into Chicago, the only ones for sure I'd trust to more than likely(99.9% chance) make a connection to on the same day would be Lake Shore Ltd(48/448), and also City of New Orleans(59). All other trains I'd be nervous on my odds of being able to connect between long distance trains on the same day, especially if you are coming from California Zephyr and trying to switch to another train on the same day!

    At least for certain western trains(mainly Empire Builder and Southwest Chief, as they run on BNSF tracks, and to me BNSF is a more reliable railroad than Union Pacific is with CA Zephyr), I'd prefer my odds of successfully making a same day connection in Chicago if I was coming from EB or SWC, over the CZ. Never mind I do not doubt, that sometimes even trains like EB and SWC have been late.
     
  7. Oct 12, 2019 #7

    F900ElCapitan

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    Um, the CZ runs on BNSF for just under half of it’s trip, from Chicago to Denver, and Iowa and Nebraska have been one of the most heavily delayed areas for this train.
     

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