General Amtrak Discussion

Transportation topics in KC
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General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:48 am

has anyone ever done the western leg of amtrak's southwest chief? leaves daily from KC and ends two days later at LA's union station.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby kclofter » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:12 pm

My inlaws took it to Lamy (Santa Fe) a couple of years ago.  Nice time, nice scenery.  Tip: they preferred the roomette as the coach seats were not conducive for sleeping for 70 year olds.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby Marreekarr » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:48 pm

I've taken the Southwest both to and from KC.  The scenery around Trinidad, CO was my favorite part.  Very rocky with that 'southwestern' flavor that you would expect on this trip.  American Indians sell jewelry right near the train tracks in Albuquerque and they give you time to get off the train for a few minutes there.  The train broke down near Flagstaff, AZ on one of my trips back from LA.  We had to wait several hours and someone drove to town and bought McDonald's for everyone on board.  It's a nice trip if you don't want to drive that far and you can't get cheap air fare.  And it's always fun to meet new people in the dinning car or the lounge car.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby dangerboy » Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:41 pm

How comfortable is it without the sleeper berth?  I've looked at this train before but been scared off by the insane price for a berth.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby bahua » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:02 pm

I have always taken it east, not west, but the seats are very comfortable, perhaps for one sleep, but one nice thing about it is that you're not really confined to your seat while the train is rolling. You can go to the observation car, get a beer, have a meal, watch a movie, or get a snack, all outside your own seat.

I took an overnight train from Chicago to NY, about ten years ago, and had a ball. Bottom line, if you want to sleep, it'll cost you, but a train isn't really supposed to be a cost-effective way to travel anymore.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby kard » Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:31 pm

I've only taken the SW Chief from KC to Hutchinson, which isn't far.  The seats/cars are like any of the other Amtrak signature routes.

If you're looking for an Awesome Amtrak ride, take the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Portland/Seattle.  It's only one night so it's cheaper and the scenery is simply amazing.  I went from San Fran to Portland this time last year.  My fellow riders said the Los Angles to San Fran section went right along the coast--you couldn't see down to the tracks, just a cliff and then ocean.  Up near the California/Oregon border are some amazing mountains and Crater Lake.  Then you get in to the Willamette valley and go past tulip fields before getting in to Portland.

My trip, with a roomette, cost < $200 (I think) and included breakfast and lunch the next day (the only meals I was on the train for).  There were wine-tastings in lounge car both days.  Downstairs in that car was a movie theater.  Really fun trip.  Some neat conversations with interesting total strangers to be had.  (One note--this is apparently Amtraks most-often late-running train.  When I went to the counter to check in, the agent told me the train out there was the morning's south-bound.  It was 12 hours late.  Plan accordingly!)

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:10 am

http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/stories/2007/02/05/daily11.html

The president's 2008 budget proposal would cut Amtrak's funding from $1.3 billion to $900 million and eliminate the Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited passenger lines.


this story focuses on the impact to new mexico, but the southwest chief is the only long distance route to pass through kansas city. once long distance routes go away, the chance of revival is slim-to-none. if you've even been in union station when the chief arrives (there's a 45-minute layover), it gives people from LA and chicago a chance to see our wonderful station, which gives both the LA and chicago union stations a run for their money. also, if this route is eliminated it means you'll have to go through st. louis to get to chicago (adding considerably length to the trip).

thankfully, all of our missouri representation in congress is pro-amtrak. not at much support on the kansas side, but previous cuts have not directly affected routes that go through kansas (the chief passes through topeka, lawrence, hutchinson, and dodge city).

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby jimb » Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:54 am

We take the Southwest Chief to Chicago at least twice a year to go see shows, museums, etc.  The thing is always full or close to it.  I've been evangelizing this route for a couple of years now to our theatre-going friends, and they have been buying in as well.  The route through STL is not really an option because it costs more and takes more time.  At that rate, you should just as well fly.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCMax » Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:10 am

Get to work Kit Bond.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KC0KEK » Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:18 am

Why not eliminate the Ann Rutledge instead?

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby bahua » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:18 pm

Why not just let American Airlines fail?

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:43 pm

Because they have better lobbyists and bigger campaign contributions?
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KC0KEK » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:56 pm

And because outside of the Northeast Corridor, far more people fly than take Amtrak.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:22 pm

KC0KEK wrote:Why not eliminate the Ann Rutledge instead?


the KC-STL portion of the ann rutledge is subsidized by modot. that's the future of amtrak, i'm afraid... sharing the cost with the states.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby jimb » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:24 pm

Part of the problem out here in the hinterlands is that the trains just don't go enough places to become a viable transportation option in most people's minds.  I love taking AMTRAK to Chicago.  I like not having to get there 2 hours early.  I like not going through a full body cavity search just to board.  I like being able to move around during the trip - maybe eat a sit-down meal.  I like the end of my journey being right downtown.

However, short of Chicago (and to a lesser degree to LA side of the run), there really isn't anyplace to go via train from KC.  STL maybe, but the station situation there has been less than ideal, and the connections stink.  So we're back to the chicken and egg thing - not many riders due to lack of routes, no new routes due to lack of riders.

I have written my reps about the Southwest Chief.  Long-haul passenger rail will never be a significant challenge to air travel, but it is an option worth preserving.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCK » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:33 pm

I don't understand the whole train service thing. It is too slow. I believe a lot more people would take trains if we had a large high speed rail network with ticket costs less than that of air travel. Imagine a train shooting off from KC to Las Vegas at 200 mph. Faster than a car trip, and cheaper than an air ticket, it would be a great compromise.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:46 pm

KC0KEK wrote:And because outside of the Northeast Corridor, far more people fly than take Amtrak.


Perhaps if Amtrak were getting the same collosal welfare checks American Airlines gets, they could build a competitive rail network?

KCK wrote:I don't understand the whole train service thing. It is too slow. I believe a lot more people would take trains if we had a large high speed rail network with ticket costs less than that of air travel. Imagine a train shooting off from KC to Las Vegas at 200 mph. Faster than a car trip, and cheaper than an air ticket, it would be a great compromise.


It's actually kind of fun to take the train. KC->Chicago on SW Chief is generally a bit faster than driving, and if you factor in that when you fly you have to show up early and wait around at the airport, fly for an hour (assuming no delays) then take a ~1 hour train ride into downtown, you're not saving as much time as you might think by flying. Of course you're saving a couple hours, but the train is actually pretty fun; you have plenty of room, you can have a couple beers, watch a movie, have a sit-down meal in the dining car, and people on the train tend to be friendly and willing to chat you up. Not so much on airplanes, in my experience.

It's just a whole different thing to take the train. That said, I wouldn't want to go much further than Chicago at the speeds they travel. If I were going to either coast, I'd have to fly. The train is fun, but I don't think it would be fun for three days!
Last edited by mean on Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KC0KEK » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:52 pm

^^ Probably. But no politician is going to let AA go belly-up because there are too many votes and contribution dollars at stake.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:56 pm

special interests (airlines, auto companies, road builders) have prevented high speed rail from happening in this country. USDOT has designated high speed rail corridors for years, yet nothing has been done at the federal level since there is still an expectation that amtrak must break even or turn a profit.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby Maitre D » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:00 pm

Are we building railroads in Iraq?

If so, we can surely build them here, first.
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