Just had a great experience on Amtrak

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by leekohler, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #1
    I have to say, traveling by train is the best thing ever. This was my first time and it was great! It is by no means practical or fast, but it is comfortable, fun and social. WAY better than flying. The dining and lounge cars were great. I ate meals with people I would probably never really talk to and enjoyed the hell out of it. The seats were large and comfortable with legroom you'll never see on a plane.

    Too bad our society has become so fast-paced. This is a great way to travel and if you have the time, I highly recommend it. I'll be doing it again.
     
  2. Salasm macrumors regular

    Salasm

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    Location:
    surrounded by mods
    #2
    With the exception of derailments, I agree.

    Train travel can be especially relaxing if the view is nice and the people, friendly.

    ps. Like they say, if you see the caboose a rockin', don't come a-knockin'.
     
  3. Deepdale macrumors 68000

    Deepdale

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Location:
    New York
    #3
    My two trips on Amtrak took me to Albany and Philadelphia and I was left with a favorable impression, and would do it again should the opportunity present itself.
     
  4. Lau Guest

    #4
    Ooh, travelling by train is great. I'd love to go on an Amtrak <--- sad ambition #238989.
     
  5. leekohler thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #5
    You should some time! Aren't there good trains in the UK/Europe? I always heard there were.
     
  6. fuzzwud macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Location:
    Houston
    #6
    I've only taken the heavy rail out to Westchester County from NYC and also traveling in Europe. I agree, trains are a great way to travel. No TSA lines. And I can actually sleep or work while in the train. I love planes but the droning of the engine is makes it difficult to work and sleep well. I've never taken high speed rail but it might happen in the future.

    See this consortium ... Although it's about Texas, their newsletter report stuff from all over the US (CA, OH, etc) and around the world:

    Click on news: http://www.thsrtc.com/home.asp
     
  7. Lau Guest

    #7
    It's just one of those things you see in films. I want to get a Greyhound bus as well. Catching an Amtrak from Grand Central station would be ideal (assuming they even go from there) for that film moment!

    The trains in the UK are ok. Unfortunately they're now getting more expensive - I'm sorry to say I'm flying up to Edinburgh in a month or so, it's an 8 hour train journey from Bristol, and it was far cheaper to fly. If I lived in London I'd get the train up, as transport to and from London is good. The trains and buses here in the West are pitiful.

    I don't drive (and it wouldn't be worth owning a car even if I could) so I just get trains and buses everywhere. It's worked fine in Edinburgh and London when I've lived cause public transport is good, but it's a struggle here in Bath, because the buses and trains are so utterly appalling.

    I think the trains in the rest of Europe are much better though. I wish they'd sort out the trains here, because if they're up to time and affordable it's a far more pleasant way of travelling than driving or flying.
     
  8. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #8
    I have mixed feelings about Amtrack...

    On one hand, I agree with everything the OP said, and you do get to see some great countryside that you wouldn't otherwise see.

    OTOH, I have taken Amtrack three times, and in all cases we were at least 10 hrs late - one time we were 27 hrs late, and the train began to run out of food and drink, and the passengers began to revolt.

    The reason for this is that Amtrack leases space on the Freight RR lines, since outside of the NE, they don't own any track. Amtrack only gets the right-of-way of a junction if they are on-time. If they fall behind, then they fall way behind.

    It is also kinda disapointing that you are never allowed off the train (at stops). I understand they need to keep on-time, but it does suck being hermetically-sealed in a space for a long time.

    Also, Amtrack is pretty expensive for what it is - many times flying is cheaper and much quicker - I wish they were able to offer a better price-point.
     
  9. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #9
    I think it's fair to say that the rail network is more extensive in the UK/Europe. I couldnt believe how small some of the US stations are in comparison to those in the UK/Europe. Intercity trains leave every 30 minutes/hour from mainline stations more or less through the day/evening.

    In terms of comfort, the Amtrak is well up there though. Many UK trains these days are local services that don't have catering facilities, don't have toilet facilities that anyone sane would want to use (if they're available at all) and are pretty filthy.

    The intercities are better - the dining car is only 10 tables these days and an additional charge so most people queue at the counter and carry microwaved food back to their seats and the only lounge I've ever seen on a UK train was on the London/Scotland sleeper which had a bar. They are improving though - they've got wifi and powersockets on some trains now so that you can work on them.

    Trains tend to be pretty crowded with less legroom than a plane (all those sets of 4 with a table and not much room) unless you travel first class.
    I got an Amtrak once from St Louis to Chicago which was more like our first class service despite being cheaper than the equivalent London to Edinburgh standard fare here. $120 including lunch and lounge compared to $140 for just a seat.

    The German ICE and trains around Barcelona are lovely though... clean, spacious, air-conditioned... and on time! :eek:

    I love the idea of travelling by train in a leisurely fashion but unless the journey's pleasant (which yours sounds like it was), it just makes me miserable. I'm in London - it takes me about 30 minutes less to get to the station than it does to the airport plus 30 minutes check in- but then the flight time is an hour compared to 4 on the train... And like Lau says, it's cheaper to fly. £70 plays £95 for a more comfortable, quicker experience.
     
  10. leekohler thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #10
    Wow- where in the world were you going that you were that late? I would never recommend it for long trips. And I have to say, they let us out of the train several times. That was one of the things I liked about it. And it was WAY cheaper than flying for me. I paid $130- a plane ticket would have been $250 or more.
     
  11. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #11
    Unfortunately, Amtrak doesn't use Grand Central. They use Penn Station...not nearly as nice.

    My only UK train experience (besides the Heathrow Express) was from Ely to King's Cross...a pleasant ride, but obviously lacking the amenities you'd find on longer-haul routes in the US.
     
  12. Felldownthewell macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #12
    I take amtrak to Seattle every now and then, and its great. Not only is there legroom and a dining car, but there are big windows to look out from, as well as outlets for when you get bored of the view.

    In Europe there are plenty of great trains. I've taken the TGV (French) cross-country, and that was alot of fun. I also took Eurostar from Bruxelles to London, and that was really cool.

    Next summer I plan to spend a good chunk of time travelling Europe by train, and I look forward to it. I'm glad you made the train discovery.
     
  13. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #13
    I was going from Chicago to Austin (~1000 miles). Basically the trip doubled in length. Funnily enough, I did have a great time. The smoking car was the place to hang out, and as we got more and more delayed, the smoking car got more crowded, people brought out all kinds of contraband and the staff left us alone, because we were so numerous and edgy. We had sing-alongs, storytimes, illcit (soft) drug-use, planning sessions on how to deal with Amtrack - and I met some really interesting people - and made out with a girl in the bathroom. I ended up getting a voucher from Amtrack (as they lined everyone up to come into the dining car with greivances [missed connections etc.] ), even though I wasn't on a schedule (I lied). I also had a voucher to begin with, so the trip was free.

    So it was fun for me, because I had nothing better to do, but I am sure some people on that train will never touch Amtrack again - which is a shame, I suppose.

    Amtrack does have a really nice train that goes up the West Coast to Vancouver BC. Really well done and classy, from what I hear - I haven't taken it. So I guess there is hope...
     
  14. leekohler thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #14
    So am I. I can't believe I waited so long. I want to do the Europe thing too someday.
     
  15. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    #15
    My wife wanted to take a train trip to chicago from central pa. We got on 10 pm in Pittsburgh and were supposed to get off about 6 AM Chicago. Bum around the city for the day and then back on the train and back to Pittsburgh 10pm the next day.

    There was a major circuit failure on the way out and there were no trains moving east of the mississippi for 4 hours then more delays. We ended up with 4 hours in Chicago. They ran out of food etc. The staff was great though. If you every want a friendly trip Amtrack is way to go.

    We got to Chicago and were going to help out one of our fellow passengers. She was deaf and had missed her connection and they had also lost her luggage. My wife knows a little ASL so we were helping her just to be nice. While waiting in line at the luggage claim another passenger has a Grand Mal siezure. Then the deaf girl faints.

    A trip I doubt I will ever forget.
     
  16. maestro55 macrumors 68030

    maestro55

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Location:
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    #16
    I am never ridden by train (or even plane at that.. we always drive everywhere) but I want to take the Amtrak atleast once (if not more than that) in my lifetime. As the OP pointed out, the social experience, and the fact that one can sit and work or sit and see the great views. It would just be really awesome.
     
  17. kiwi-in-uk macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #17
    Well there you go ... I was in Ely two weeks ago (I took the train from Leeds).

    For the most part I find train travel in UK quite comfortable and convenient, apart from the Transpennine Express (which can be overcrowded to the point of being dangerous; viz: after 30 hours travel to Manchester I had to stand - elbow room only, people and luggage in the lavatories - another 90 minutes to Leeds).

    Like the proverbial "little girl" - when it is good it is very very good, but when it is bad it is horrid.
     
  18. Steve1496 macrumors 6502a

    Steve1496

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    #18


    Great to hear since so many of my family have worked at Amtrak. My grandfather had retired from Amtrak a few years back, after 55 years of service as an Engineer on Cape Cod. Currently, my uncle works as an Engineer on the Accela from Boston to New York.

    I'd rather travel by train if I have the time too. Its much more relaxing.

    Steve
     
  19. dubbz macrumors 68020

    dubbz

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    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    Alta, Norway
    #19
    Agreed. Traveling by train is my favorite way of transportation. I haven't been very far south in Europe, so I haven't had the chance to travel on any of the high speed trains (which I'd love to do some day)... but the express train who take you from the central station in Oslo to Gardemoen, the airport, seems to be fairly quick, yet it's also comfortable and pretty silent.

    Unfortunately, I live too far north, so there's no tracks or trains here (except for some transportation trains to goes to Russia), but I always make sure to use the train when visiting family back south.
     
  20. latergator116 macrumors 68000

    latergator116

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    Sep 30, 2003
    Location:
    Providence, RI
    #20
    I have ridden th train to New York and Deleware and I have to say, I enojyed it very much. This summer I am planning to take a long distance trip (Boston to Seattle :D ), which I can't wait for. The trip is about $375 for coach (no bedroom) round trip, which seems very reasonable. Even if the train is a little more expensive, it is definfately a more fun way to travel. Besides, its not like im in a hurry to get anywhere.
     
  21. leekohler thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #21
    That IS pretty good. Just remember, you WILL be delayed at some point. Don't expect to be on time. Relax and enjoy. :)
     
  22. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #22
    I've gone from NYC to Chicago and then Chicago to San Francisco.

    If we hadn't arrived 8 hours late into SF it would have been one of the best experiences of my life.
     
  23. danny_w macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #23
    My wife and I plan on taking the Amtrak from LA to Klamath Falls, OR in early May. I have never been on a passenger train before; they all stopped running when I was a kid in the 60's, and I have always wanted to try one. we will be flying to LA to catch the train to Oregon, stay for about a week and fly back. The total trip is just too long on the train (I live in Texas).
     
  24. fuzzwud macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Location:
    Houston
    #24
    From what I heard about Amtrak, I'm not sure I want to take a train in the US. Europe's tend to be much better, but taking a train in Eastern Europe or Russia would be worse (being on time) than the US I believe.
     
  25. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #25
    I've ridden Amtrak quite a few times, mostly on the Empire Builder. It has to cross some very windy, wet, snowy and mountainous areas. The views are very striking but it has never been on time. Plan on at least an hour delay in arrival if not more. The tracks through MT and ND are single with sidings so there is no possibility of two way traffic. It's also the sole means of mass transport for many towns along the way and unfortunately the service will probably be cut if GW Bush gets his way.

    Last year about this time I went from Sacramento CA to LA and then on to Albuquerque. Drove to Minnesota and took Amtrak back to Sacramento. Lots of great people on the train and the dinner service out of LA was really great. The LA station is really beautiful and amazingly busy. I had no idea that there were so many commuter trains that ran out of there.

    The trip back took 52 hours total and was only two hours late. The only redeeming aspect of the length of the trip was that I had a 6 hour layover in Portland. Spent a couple of hours browsing (getting lost!) in Powell's Books and then toured the Chinese Garden. Both are well worth a visit.

    I love train travel and have been on quite a few in Europe, I just wish the US had something comparable.
     

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