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Date: 05/22/20 16:21
Thinking of a trip
Author: Careyhc

Thinking of a circle trip Cardinal to Chicago, Empire Builder to Portland, Coast Starlight to Sacramento then California Zephyr to Chicago then end on Cardinal again. Have points for much of the journey and have time off. Other than box meals what could I expect? Are lounge cars accessible with distancing? Can I get a cocktail in evening? Eat in my room? Can make entire trip without even a hotel stay. Thoughts?  Thanks for the responses. Also how can I review schedules seems like Amtrak.com does not allow it any longer, just sends me back to service interruptions due to Covid



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/20 16:36 by Careyhc.



Date: 05/22/20 17:09
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: DevalDragon

Careyhc Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thinking of a circle trip Cardinal to Chicago,
> Empire Builder to Portland, Coast Starlight to
> Sacramento then California Zephyr to Chicago then
> end on Cardinal again. Have points for much of the
> journey and have time off. Other than box meals
> what could I expect? Are lounge cars accessible
> with distancing? Can I get a cocktail in evening?
> Eat in my room? Can make entire trip without even
> a hotel stay. Thoughts?  Thanks for the
> responses. Also how can I review schedules seems
> like Amtrak.com does not allow it any longer, just
> sends me back to service interruptions due to
> Covid

The answer to your questions are yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Maybe after May 31 the diners will start serving regular Amtrak food that is not contemporary.

Agree on the schedules. Not letting us see them is most unhelpful. The blanket service interruption page isn't helpful or relevant to the long distance trains.



Date: 05/22/20 17:15
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: BigSkyBlue

Info put out by Amtrak now indicates that boxed food will continue to be provided to sleeper passengers until at least June 30.   BSB



Date: 05/22/20 17:28
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: tmiele

Seems like everything is a mess at Amtrak. I just made a reservation for the Empire Builder from Wisconsin to East Glacier for September travel. I wanted to see what time the train gets to East Glacier, but as you said, there are no timetables online right now. I called by phone to get the schedule and tried to get the trip ticketed, but the phone price was $1000 more than the online price, so check prices both ways.

I did the loop trip twice many years ago  and I personally like going west on the Zephyr - you can't beat a 60 mile trip up the front range out of Denver, taking a wonderful 5 or 6 hours of your time. It's much better going up instead of down the hill. Back then, the food and sleeper service was pretty good. I don't know what to expect on my trip in September. I took the Builder from Columbus, WI to Chicago a few yeas ago and the coach seats were pretty worn out. It's sad that the Superliners are now older than the original hand-me-downs that Amtrak got from the railroads back went they took over. I'm paying for a bedroom, so I hope everything will be in working order.



Date: 05/22/20 18:39
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: BRAtkinson

I had to cancel an 8600 mile loop trip for April because of Covid-19.  I won't book it again until the western dining cars get back to 'full service' and 'full menu' again.  The steaks are one of a number of highlights of the trip.

Ideally, I'd spend a night in Portland to both guarantee the connection to #14 (I think 27 to 11 almost always makes the connection) and provide some time to sightsee in Portland via MAX and the street car lines.  I've passed a number of 'I should try that place for good food' places.  I did manage to go back and get one of them the next day before leaving on #14.  I would definitely plan on a night in Chicago on the return trip.  I've missed the Cardinal once (got bussed from Galesburg to Indianapolis) and the Capitol Ltd once due to a quite late #8 from Seattle.  It's not worth the risk, in my opinion.

I'm also concerned about getting food at WAS going and at CHI coming back on the Cardinal.  I, for one, absolutely will not eat the boxed garbage (note: on #27 going into Portland, ask to look at the 'free' breakfast in the lounge car the 2nd morning (the diner goes to SEA).  A year ago, the 'breakfast sandwich' was 4" high bun with 2 very thin slices of ham and some cheese, I think.  Go for the 'regular' lounge car fare.  The 'Tavern Ham & Cheese' sandwich has worked well for me on eastern boxed food trains.  In the past, I've bought both dinner and breakfast at the station (various grinder places) for travels on the Lakeshore Ltd and the Capitol Ltd since they went to boxed meals.  I would want to ensure the food court at WAS as well as CHI (at Oglivie Center aka former C&NW station) were open.  Otherwise, 'living on' nothing but boxed meals for 7-9 days is definitely NOT my cup of tea.



Date: 05/22/20 18:42
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: robj

if you do train status for East Glacier or anwhere for todays train it will show expected time and scheduled at least for today, what it will be in Septemeber??? but schedules are always subject to chang.e

Bo



Date: 05/22/20 19:00
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: jp1822

I've typially done a loop tour that goes west from Chicago to Sacramento/Bay Area, then north to Portland, then east through Glaier and back to Chicago. I always preferred the scenery better that way........

Save youself some stress and overnight in Portland. Should have no issue making the #5 to #14 connection, but you never know there either!



Date: 05/22/20 19:53
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: railstiesballast

Boxed meals are survivable, no lounge car drinks can be overcome by packing mini-bottles, but without hot coffee the world stops.
Are sleepers still getting coffee pots?  Can coach riders get a hot beverage?



Date: 05/22/20 20:00
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: RuleG

For the Empire Builder, you will see more of the Glacier National Park area going eastbound.  You should break up the trip by staying over at least one night in two or more of the cities where you are transferring trains.



Date: 05/23/20 02:37
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: andersonb109

All they would need to so is post the schedules with the caveat "subject to change." As for the diners, my car attendant on the Crescent was a transferred chef. He said he doubts the "normal" meals on the western trains will come back anytime soon.....if every. Difficult to plan a trip in advance if you don't know what the service will be at any given time. Many feel Amtrak is using the virus as an excuse to reduce amenities. 



Date: 05/23/20 06:08
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: 41bridge

Below is a schedule archive with all the most recent Amtrak issued schedules for all trains. Should be accurate for all lines except where frequencies have been reduced. Kudos to the keeper of the site.

https://juckins.net/amtrak_timetables/archive/home.php


 



Date: 05/23/20 09:35
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: wa4umr

I've made that basic trip a couple of times.  The last time I was with a friend that had relatives in Seattle, Portland, and Oakland so we spent a night at each of those locations.  Instead of SAC, I've gone to EMY and spent a day/night there.  There are two hotels within walking distance of the EMY station.  The only bad thing about the trip is the Cardinal.  It's 3 day a week running can sometimes be awkward in scheduling.  I missed my connection from the Empire Builder to the Cardinal once and got bustituted to Cincinnati.  That's a terrible way to end a trip.  Cincinnati Union Terminal and the Greyhound station are not co-located.  If you park at CUT and end up at the Greyhound station, you got to go a few miles to get back to your car.  Fortunately for me, my daughter lives in the area and drops me off and picks me up when I use CUT for my Amtrak port.  I've recommended that loop, either direction several times to my friends.  The Empire Builder, the Coast Starlight, and the Zephyr offer some of the nicest scenery on Amtrak.

John



























 



Date: 05/23/20 16:26
Re: Thinking of a trip
Author: RRBaron

I have been on all current Amtrak routes and many that no longer run. You have an interesting itinerary only I would do it in reverse for the best viewing: CHI-DEN-SAC (extra day to visit the Cal. State RR. Museum a short walk for the depot.?)-SAC-PDX-SPK-CHI.   



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