Sunset Limited - NO to LA Questions

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Meow, Aug 22, 2012.

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  1. Aug 22, 2012 #1

    Meow

    Meow

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    Hi, I'm new ... I've taken Amtrak only a couple times and it was only within Texas and Louisiana (where I live) and it was a while back, so I have a few questions. I know when it comes to this part of the country, never go by the schedule when it comes to arrivals. I'm finally going further west and don't know what to expect. Can anyone tell me how on time arrivals are for Union Station in LA, though? My arrival time is 5:35am and I'm really hoping for a delay of at least a few hours. It seems like things become more organized time-wise where there are more travelers.

    Since I've never traveled west of San Antonio, I'm wondering if the amount of people increase the further west it goes? Maybe it was beginners luck, but my trip from NO to SA had very few people. Most of the trip, I had an entire car to myself.

    I'm thinking of possibly switching from New Orleans to Lafayette since it is closer to my house and allows me to wake up later / get home earlier. The only thing I worry about is my baggage. I plan on buying locks for my bags. Would anything else be necessary? I only remember the baggage compartments in the area right next to the stairs. Do they have big ones above the seats, too? I read that Lafayette has overnight parking. Has anyone ever used it? Is it free and more importantly, safe?

    Finally, anything to lookout for along this route? I love driving I-10 from here to there because of how beautiful it is. Any certain spots that I need to make sure I'm awake? Any nice looking stations that I should get out and take pictures (if there is time)? Are there any good bridges? The only thing that I don't like about possibly switching to Lafayette is not going over the Huey P bridge. I didn't expect that on my first trip and loved that part.

    Sorry for all the questions. I'm really excited for this trip. I normally fly it every other month or so, but I've been having panic attacks that were getting worse and worse. I loved the little time I've spent on Amtrak and I can't wait to take a longer trip. I'm a female traveling alone, which is how I took the train before, but my boyfriend is worried and I've done everything I can to reassure him that it is as safe as plane travel ... Plus, it won't have me stressed out our entire time together about my flight home. This is the first time I've looked forward to the traveling part of the trip. I also saved $200 from what I normally pay for a plane ticket, so I can use that for two tickets to Disneyland. :lol:
     
  2. Aug 22, 2012 #2

    Swadian Hardcore

    Swadian Hardcore

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    Welcome to Amtrak Unlimited! It's nice to see more and more Amtrak supporters, even if you aren't an enthusiast (maybe you are).

    This train is usually pretty crowded, with Sleepers sold out. There is usually a decent amount of people east of SAS, but people connect at SAS from Chicago on the Texas Eagle, which could make it more crowded. There are through cars from CHI but they are more expensive (usually) that just transferring.

    About the baggage, locks should be enough or you can check your bags at certain stations. They have luggage racks above the seats but they are far smaller then the ones downstairs.

    It does not seem that Lafayette has overnight parking. When I check on Amtrak's site it says that short-term and long-term parking are both "Unknown" with no parking attendant. I would suggest that you go tot he station for a look-see first, since it's so close to your house.

    To answer you remaining questions, I think the best way would be to just look through the info in here: http://www.trainweb....tes/route_1.htm. This site tells you loads about the SL some of which are hard to describe. Remember to chec k out the travelogues and the old 1977 route guide which provides more information that newer route guides. The route is mostly unchaged except the train now bypasses Phoenix. For more info, this site is good: http://www.trainweb....nsetlimited.htm.

    When you get to LAX, remember to check out Phillipe's for breakfast!

    BTW, here's an old SL timetable from 1950 just for fun: http://www.streamlin...nset195008.html. It's been running since 1901, but huge losses have earmarked this train for cancellation. :(

    Feel free to send a PM if you want to for some reason.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2012
  3. Aug 22, 2012 #3

    Devil's Advocate

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    First of all, welcome to the forum!

    Train #1 apparently reached LA on-time 57% of the time in July 2012. -_-

    [​IMG]

    Even inflatable Thomas keeps better time than Amtrak. ;)

    I can certainly understand your desire. The current scheduling puts the arrival into LA at a rather inopportune time in order to provide much better service to critical transportation hubs like Maricopa, Arizona.

    [​IMG]

    It is my understanding that once you reach LA you will be kicked off the train by the suddenly enlivened staff, in no uncertain terms, regardless of the hour or your accommodation level.

    Even though I've traveled the route west of San Antonio many times I have never once had (or have seen anyone having) a whole car to myself. Or even half a car. The only except to this is when a large group will be boarding and they block off half the car for that. In fact this train is usually packed west of SA and has been known to sell out from time to time.

    In general the Sunset Limited route looks a lot like I-10, so if you're familiar with that you'll already know about most of what there is to see, although part of the route follows US90 instead.

    One of the few things that is different between the road and the rail is the "Pecos River High Bridge" that replaced the original low bridge which had been washed away repeatedly. The bridge is indeed interesting when viewed from the ground, but traveling across the bridge is relatively brief and not nearly as photogenic. However, there's little chance you'll miss it seeing as how the crew almost always makes a big fuss about it. They typically include a claim it's the highest railroad bridge in North America or something like that, although I've yet to hear them explain what criteria they're using in that determination.

    If you have time I would recommend leaving the train in order to view the Sunset Station grounds in San Antonio, as well as the interior of the El Paso station, along with the interior and grounds of the Tuscon station. You can also take a gander at Beaumont's new multi-million dollar bus stop style station. The other station stops are either too short to enjoy and/or don't have much to look at. Also, be sure to keep your eyes open when heading West out of Alpine. There are some interesting cuts and other rock formations that are far more interesting than the I-10 route.

    I wouldn't be too worried, although I'm just a guy so maybe I'm not aware of everything you should be taking into account. If you do run into any problems DO NOT HESITATE to get the staff involved. You can start with the car attendant if they're close by, but if that's not solving the problem then by all means include the conductor. Amtrak conductors have the ability and the legal authority to forcibly remove anyone they think is jeopardizing the safe operation of the train. This can include drunks, jerks, and idiots who are disruptive toward other passengers. Other than that just keep your wits about you and avoid giving out too much personal information. If you don't want to be seated next to a male passenger just say so. If you have valuables keep them hidden. Basically you just need to follow common sense and use your best judgement for the most part. Other than that enjoy the ride and have fun at Disneyland!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2012
  4. Aug 22, 2012 #4

    stntylr

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    I just rode the Sunset Limited from San Antonio to L.A. last week. It as a great trip. The train as full the whole way. We had a couple of long stops in El Paso and Tucson. The train arrived in L.A. at 4:35 A.M.
     
  5. Aug 23, 2012 #5

    rusty spike

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    But LA Union Station isn't a bad place to spend a couple of extra hours, even early in the AM. The station has eateries, such as Subway, Wetzel Pretzel (for breakfast?), Starbucks, plus Phillippes across the street. Plus the most comfortable leather chairs in the waiting room.
     
  6. Aug 23, 2012 #6

    the_traveler

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    Welcome aboard![​IMG]

    As long as you maintain your knowledge of your surroundings, you should be safe. I'm a male who travels alone most of the time. I do realize it's different for a single female,but there's a sense of community on a train you hardly find anywhere else. Passengers are more likely to watch out for each other![​IMG] I feel much safer and part of the "community" on a train than on most streets in most towns and cities. Still I would not leave my purse on the seat while I go to the Dining Car to eat!

    You're much more likely to talk to many others, much more so than on a plane. And who knows - you may even meet some other members of AU on the train! Many of us have! Even if not, you'll probably talk to many people from around the country and from around the world!
     
  7. Aug 23, 2012 #7

    Swadian Hardcore

    Swadian Hardcore

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    Aw, man, it's so great to hear that the SL is finally EARLY for once! Even though it was at an undesirable time.
     
  8. Aug 23, 2012 #8
    I'm a 60 yr old female who recently traveled by myself from Albuquerque to LA and had a great trip both ways! This was not my first trip so I knew what to expect. I took a pillow and a blanket and slept on a couch in the Observation car and did not feel the least bit insecure. There are lots of people around. Of course you just use common sense. I never leave any valuable belongings at my seat or anything I can afford to lose. I got on the metro after getting on the train. It was my first time to do that and felt a little creepy because I had so much luggage but it went OK as did the two bus transfers I made! It was all an adventure. The luggage compartments above the seats are actually quite large and I think it's better than leaving your bag with all the others downstairs. They get crammed in there and you can't get to it if you want to. Take a cozy blanket as the trains get cold at night and spend lots of time in the observation car if you get stuck in a bumpy car. :giggle:
     
  9. Aug 23, 2012 #9

    Meow

    Meow

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    Thanks for all the replies! I'm considering the train ride a little pre-vacation vacation. While the two previous trips I took were short (much longer than any flight I've taken, but still not a long distance), they were great fun. I had a really interesting woman tell me the "true" meaning of Lord of the Rings. There wasn't any point when I didn't feel safe. It does make sense that I will probably feel more safe asleep with more people on board.

    It just felt like such a relief after purchasing my ticket to not feel this huge weight of anxiety that I normally feel from the moment I purchase a plane ticket until I get home again. As long as things don't completely awful (I could go into the "Why I'll never take Greyhound again" story, but it's a bit out of place) and prices stay this much lower than United's ticket prices, I'll probably end up taking the train a bit more often.
     
  10. Aug 23, 2012 #10

    Trogdor

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    For once? The Sunset Limited's on-time performance has been fairly decent for the past several years now. Early arrivals are not unheard of.

    This isn't the Sunset of 2004.
     
  11. Aug 23, 2012 #11

    rusty spike

    rusty spike

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    This is true.... A quick peek at the last 4 weeks of status history shows only one 90-minute tardy. The other 11 arrivals have been either early or less than 30 min. late.

    On my most recent trip, #1 arrived an hour and 15 min. early! :)
     
  12. Aug 23, 2012 #12

    Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate

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    Early arrivals are now part of the schedule. So early that you won't have squat to do for hours. Or at least that's what I've been told by those who have made the trip under the new schedule.
     
  13. Aug 23, 2012 #13

    Swadian Hardcore

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    I wouldn't codemn Greyhound that bad. I mean, I've had some really bad Greyhound buses, like a dirty, delayed, and broken eatra run by a then-new G4500, but still, they're cheap and they can get you to a lot of places you can't go by train. The new D4505 is also a great bus to ride, the best I've ever had. That's all I say without getting this off topic.

    Looks like I'm slow to catch up to new stuff. I do know about the schedule, though, because we discussed it here. It would be interesting to know excatly what did those pax on that 4:35A arrival do.
     
  14. Aug 24, 2012 #14
    Let's say since I work on sunset I never had to serve breakfast coming in to LA. We were 5 mins early last monday.now we leave Sunday I don't think it will be full coming in new Orleans but coming back we will be full ( sold out) . Hope to see you :)
     
  15. Aug 24, 2012 #15

    NOLA

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    Sunset due into NOLA 4PM and if you have checked luggage add 15-20 min. I would advise getting off in Lafayette to avoid after school and rush hour traffic to and through BR. Driving that late will probably take 3 hours.
     
  16. Aug 24, 2012 #16

    Bob Dylan

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    Looks like the old "Never" curse struck again! Todays #1 is 2+ Hours late into Pomoma but doubt if Breakfast will be served! :giggle: Bet the Coach pax will be happy about the delay for sure! :lol:
     
  17. Aug 24, 2012 #17

    Devil's Advocate

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    According to what I've been told both coach and sleeper passengers are kicked off the train whenever it arrives regardless of hour or accommodation level. Was I misinformed?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  18. Aug 24, 2012 #18

    Bob Dylan

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    Chris: When we arrived into LAX last Mon 8/13 @ 4:30AM :eek: , we were allowed to stay in our room until 6:30AM, the Coach Pax were hurried off the Train!They even made an Announcement @ 4AM that we would be arriving into LAX and all Coach Pax would have to leave the Train ASAP!! :( The SCA told me that they were the only ones being paid after we hit the stops besides the Engineer and Conductors!
     
  19. Aug 24, 2012 #19

    Devil's Advocate

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    Ah, OK.

    A sleeper passenger had informed me that they were also kicked off upon arriving in LA around 4:40AM or so. Then again maybe that was just because they had Lisa as their SCA. If you don't know about Lisa I'm sure you'll run into her eventually and she's awful hard to forget, at least in my experience.
     
  20. Aug 24, 2012 #20

    Bob Dylan

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    Havent run into her but know her type! Hope your friend reported this Slacker!!! :help:
     
  21. Aug 24, 2012 #21

    Pat Harper

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    I'm not far from Lafayette and I can check on that for you. The last time we took the SL from Lafayette, the transportation center was still under construction. The Lafayette station is unstaffed by Amtrak. It is shared by city bus riders and now Greyhound has moved into the complex. Also, the station is locked when there are no trains or buses. I was there on a Sunday to take pictures and the station door was locked. However, the construction has been completed and the site has been given a name -- Rosa Parks Transportation Center.

    When we were there, before the work was completed, there was a parking lot, but a sign was posted at the entrance that said "Permit Parking Only". More parking space has been created though, so hopefully there is some long-term parking available. I'd like to know that information also.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2012
  22. Aug 24, 2012 #22
    No sunset now arrives at 940 pm

     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  23. Aug 25, 2012 #23

    Swadian Hardcore

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    Then it's probably wiser to get off at Lafayette if parking is not an issue. I don't know if it has to be.
     
  24. Aug 25, 2012 #24

    Pat Harper

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    Only problem with leaving from and returning to Lafayette is that there is no baggage check available. You must carry on all your luggage. Also, in the past tickets were mailed to you because there is no Quik-trak kiosk or ticket agent at the Lafayette station.

    Now that they have e-tickets, that is no longer necessary.
     
  25. Aug 25, 2012 #25

    AKA

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    Why is this allowed to happen ? The timetable states that sleeping car passengers are wecome to occupy thier accommodations untill 6:30 AM. Has anyone complained to Amtrak about this kind of treatment ? I know that the crew has a life and all that. They also have a job. But many first timers will take the timetable at its word. Quite a shock for the uninformed as to how Amtrak crews really work.

    Yes, I have been riding Amtrak for years. I know that every trip is not always the best. I roll with it most times. Amtrak always an adventure. However I think this part of the adventure is a bit much.

    Not looking for a war. Just some discussion on this topic.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2012

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