Amtrak trip,,, tips tricks and advice

I'd strongly recommend borrowing or buying a portable scanner to listen to the RR radio. 

That way you'll know all of the reasons for your trips delays!

One of the most enjoyable moments I've ever had on any train was many many moons ago riding in the vestibule on the ride from Albany to NYC. The sunset over the Hudson was spectacular.  

That and chatting with a lady in the bar area that a conductor and was off pending investigation for a rule G violation.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

Our AMTRAK experiences vary all over the page.  Some trips were great; wonderful folks, almost on-time arrivals, good accommodations, etc. Others have been train-from-hell, including getting locked in our compartment for hours unable to summon any help.  Finally disassembled the lock with a nail file.  Rest of the trip was similar.  The train from Chicago to New Orleans was dirty, rude attendants, crappy food with few choices ...

Best train trip EVER was across Canada on the passenger train including sunrise over the Rockies.  Excellent food including fresh regional specials loaded at the station stops.

Sound sleep in the old Pullman sleeper (in tip-top condition).

BEST trip ever ....

Kerrigan posted:

Our AMTRAK experiences vary all over the page.  Some trips were great; wonderful folks, almost on-time arrivals, good accommodations, etc. Others have been train-from-hell,

All my long distance Amtrak trips are documented on my website address below. Last 6500 mile trip was great to a complete failure. Trip West was OK but trip home ended at Cincinnati Ohio where I had to drive myself home in a rental car after they were going to bus us the rest of the way home. 


Read about my Amtrak travel in words and pics

32,000+ miles by Rail!

KERRIGAN you are correct !  if you want an excellent long distance train trip take the VIA Rail Canadian between Vancouver and Toronto. Even if it's late you won't mind because that means you get another excellent meal. Also get a lower birth instead of a room, best sleep in North America. Genuine dome cars and observation car. 

We travel exclusively by train and have logged thousands of miles on Amtrak over the past 15 years going as far as PHL-SEA and back. Only one bad experience so far on the Empire Builder where it got into CHI 12 hours late at 3 AM.  . About 4-5 years ago the Bakken Oil boom in ND really clogged up the tracks. Today I believe that BNSF has doubled capacity across the state.  Delays on LD trains of an hour are occasional but once in a blue moon you  can miss your connection in Chicago going West.  By and large our trips have been comfortable as we always travel in bedroom accommodations. 

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

We've taken the Autotrain to Florida many times over the past 16 years. Since it's only a one night trip, coach has been OK. The food quality has slipped on the last couple of trips and they cut out the free carafe of wine with dinner. Still better than driving the whole way from NY to FL.  The scenery is great for the early part of the southbound trip. The tracks hug the east coast through Virginia and go right past the Marine and FBI training base in Quantico.

Amtrak runs on CSX ROW and with all the CSX bashing going on lately I can say that they can really screw up a railroad operation in a hurry. (RIP HHH).

The staff on the trains have always been friendly. A trip out west is a bucket lister for sure one day.


Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Hey Eddie, did you know about the first High Speed Train in the U.S.?

Florida To Launch USA’s 1st Private High-Speed Train Service

December 13th, 2017 by  

It is hopeful transit news for popular corridors of Florida, where many a highway traveler encounters stifling streams of traffic congestion. The country’s first private high-speed train service is launching this month in Florida. Residents and travelers will enjoy the better option that many of us have been wanting for decades.

NPR (National Public Radio) confirms that the country’s first private high-speed rail service, aiming to take as many as 3 million cars off the road in congested South Florida. In many places such as Florida, rail options rapidly disappeared with the federal highway system expansion, but some are coming back to life.

“The federal highway system expanded … and everyone got off trains and into cars,” John Guitar of All Aboard Florida told Here & Now in 2014. “And we’ve done a full circle now that the traffic and congestion and gas prices are so bad — people are looking for alternatives to get out of their cars and find other ways to get around the state.”

This will help, but there is not enough consideration of ways around endless driving, traffic, and streams of more and more cars (whether electric robotaxis or not).

People are attached to their SUVs. At least I see more hybrid SUVs in Florida, but another SUV is another SUV, and another gas-burning SUV is another gas-burning SUV. Perhaps sitting in lines of traffic will be a bit better without tremendous air pollutants. However, mass transit is the healthier and thus happier option for many of us.

NPR reports: “The ambitious $3 billion Brightline express project will run along the state’s densest population corridor with more than 6 million residents and a regular influx of tourists. The project, funded by All Aboard Florida, represents the first test of the long-awaited U.S. move into high-speed rail, says John Renne, director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University.”

“It’s the first time that it’s happening, being built by a private company,” Renne tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “And that’s a kind of game-changer for this type of model.”

Inclusive and built around ease and interconnectedness, the model bring tried here will develop retail, restaurants, and condominiums around the stations — a format that has worked well in plenty of other places.

“When the service starts this month, Brightline trains will run from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Service will expand into downtown Miami early next year and likely to Orlando in the future. Renne says the trip from West Palm to Miami, which can take up to five hours round trip in a car, will take about 60 minutes each way on the train.”

Brightline trains will run along one of the busiest transportation corridors in South Florida. Trains will operate from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and will expand into Miami early next year.

Miami traffic and the pollution it has you sitting in.

NPR continues: “Beyond slashing travel times, Renne says the construction of private mixed-use real estate developments at each station will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. He explains that potential revenue was lost when the government shifted control of transportation to the public sector in the 1920s.

“‘When that happened, we lost the connection between the development around the stations and the rail service itself, and we started building a lot of parking lots around the stations,’ he says. More people stopped using public transportation because ‘once they’re in their car, they might as well just drive the whole way.'”

Florida, like the US in general, is still not up to speed (let alone green speed) with fast trains compared to trains in other countries. And while India is jumping on solar trains, we’re pumping more and more gas.

“Even though All Aboard Florida refers to Brightline as ‘high-speed rail,’ Renne says the actual speed pales in comparison to trains overseas. He says Brightline trains will max out at about 120 mph and will run even slower – around 80 mph – during the rollout.

“Renne says Brightline trains will have their own dedicated set of tracks, built alongside 19th-century lines that still carry cargo trains. The return to passenger trains will revive a line that stopped running on those old tracks in the 1960s, with the arrival of the federal highway program.”

One area of concern is housing costs. They will go up. The service workers in the area and people needing lower housing costs — as well as transit — may be left out. Transit-oriented development, ironically, often comes at the cost of affordable housing.

As far as the most high-speed hope for travelers —  hyperloop tech — we haven’t heard anything about Elon Musk dipping his toes down here (beyond his SpaceX launches, that is).




We're off this Wednesday on our 4th trip from Newark NJ to Lakeland FL. My wife reserves the handicapped bedroom for us in February. Love the trip EXCEPT for the fact that they removed the dinner from the Silver Star two years ago--some nonsense about offering lower fares and if you wanted to eat you could take the Meteor ( and get into Lakeland via a bus).

While meeting folks in the dinner was often the highlight of the trip its still worth it to us. I'm not about to drive and flying---

Hope you all enjoy the holidays!

Last summer my wife and I took Amtrak from NYC to Niagara Falls, NY. The total trip took about 10 and 1/2 hours and was, for the most part, enjoyable. The trip could have been shorter but it appeared that freight trains had the right-of-way and at one point our passenger train went backwards to a siding to get out of the way.

Our car had wi-fi and though there was no dining car per se you could get food at a reasonable price (hamburgers, sandwiches, coffee, etc.). The train was not completely full and the stop where we got off, Niagara Falls, was not a real station as we had to climb down from the car to the ground and then cross tracks to a parking lot to catch a cab. Allo in all the trip was enjoyable and we would do it again. There were no sleeping cars.

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