General Amtrak Discussion

Transportation topics in KC
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kard
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby kard » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:47 am

KCPowercat wrote:OK I am an Amtrak virgin taking my first trip to chicago soon. Any tips for riding the rails?  Can drinks be brought on board for example?


yeah, bringing drinks and food is a good idea (just don't eat them in the dining car).  if you can snag a lunch or dinner slot then i'd recommend it--the food is very good in the dining car (the snack bar is much lower-quality).

bring a book / movie / nintendo ds.  wear headphones.  wear deodorant.  other than that, enjoy your trip.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mayor_of_waldo » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:48 am

Yes you can bring drinks and food on the train. I enjoyed the observation car the best, great view, a book and with a little cooler made for a great day. We did eat a meal in the dinning car and the food was better than I was expecting.

Best part of the train unlike the airline, no one is in a hurry.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:49 am

So you can bring a small cooler on board with booze?  Awe-some
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:51 am

the chief's coaches will not have outlets at every seat, so make sure your batteries are charged or you have spares. keep in mind that some people have been on the train for two days by the time you board (they won't be in your coach, however).

if you have a GPS enabled phone, load google maps on it and watch the real-time progress on a map! you'll need something to look at once you leave fort madison because there is nothing to see except repeats of this:

1) corn field
2) farm house
3) silo

also, don't linger in chicago's union station. you'll arrive around 3 and things get very hectic around 4 (at least on the weekdays). arrive early for your return trip to snap pictures.

someone told me once to treat it like a camping trip and you'll have a blast. people who are disappointed in amtrak usually expect airline-style service at your seat and lots of information about the trip's progress or lack thereof (you'll get neither).

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:52 am

KCPowercat wrote:So you can bring a small cooler on board with booze?  Awe-some


don't show off your booze in its original container. use discretion because they can (and will) take it away from you.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby NDTeve » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:55 am

How long a trip is that?
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:01 am

8 hours I believe on the southwest chief
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby NDTeve » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:02 am

Thinking about taking it up there for Christmas...only problem is that its not a whole lot cheaper than flying Southwest. About 65 dollars for 2 people.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:15 am

Yeah cost isn't a reason to do it.

So seats are two across?  Any seats face each other?
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby jimb » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:52 am

Cost alone isn't the best reason.  We travel that way because:

a)  we like the slower pace of it all
b)  by the time you drive to the airport (2 hrs early), park, go through the check-in line, get stripped searched, spend about 2 1/2 minutes actually flying to Chicago, getting off the plane and then getting down to the Loop, the times about net out.

The seats are 2 across.  Never seen any turned around (although I do remember a couple of school trips in the 70s when we did that).  Leg room is excellent.  I'm 6-4 and I can't reach the seat in front of me.

One other thing - you can buy visitor transit passes inside Union Station for 1, 3, 5 days (maybe others).  If you're going to be in the city for your stay, they are a good and convenient deal.  The pass gets you on all CTA buses and trains for the number of days you buy.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby dangerboy » Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:17 pm

KCPowercat wrote:Yeah cost isn't a reason to do it.

So seats are two across?  Any seats face each other?


Seats all face forward like an airplane.  The cafe car will have restaurant-style booths if you want to face each other, play cards, etc. 

I would not bring a cooler if you aren't getting a roomette.  You need to be more discreet, like a flask.

Some cars *may* have outlets at the seats, so ask the conductor if that's important.  However, your origin/destination will determine your seat assignment, so don't be disappointed if they won't let you move.  DO bring a small power strip if you want to use an outlet in the cafe or observation cars.

I did this trip last month and it was on time within 15 minutes. No major delays or track work.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:26 pm

jimb wrote:b)  by the time you drive to the airport (2 hrs early), park, go through the check-in line, get stripped searched, spend about 2 1/2 minutes actually flying to Chicago, getting off the plane and then getting down to the Loop, the times about net out.


This has not been my experience. The train is nice, and I hope to do it again, but the trip was just over 7 hours, from 7am to about 3:20pm. I took a 7am Southwest flight to MDW and was in the loop in time for breakfast. Total trip from my house to the loop was about 2.5 hours.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby trailerkid » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:54 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:don't show off your booze in its original container. use discretion because they can (and will) take it away from you.


I drank bottled beer the entire time to/from Chicago (I know...I'm a winnar!) not knowing at the time it was technically against the rules. Nothing happened even though an employee vaguely said something, but didn't seem to care either way.

Amtrak kicks ass...especially when it's not crowded.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby TheBigChuckbowski » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:45 am

mean wrote:This has not been my experience. The train is nice, and I hope to do it again, but the trip was just over 7 hours, from 7am to about 3:20pm. I took a 7am Southwest flight to MDW and was in the loop in time for breakfast. Total trip from my house to the loop was about 2.5 hours.


I call shenanigans. The flight's 1.5 hours. Even if you showed up to the gate 1 minute before the flight, it's a 20 minute drive plus 5 minute walk at least and if you park in the outer lots, more than that. You're already at 2 hours if you're late and parked in the garage outside the terminal.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby dangerboy » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:56 am

I'll agree flying to Chicago is still faster than the train.  But I prefer the train to driving to Chicago.  It's about an hour faster and much more relaxing.

Unfortunately Amtrak is crowded all the time now. The train to Chicago is often sold out, so you have to book well in advance.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:34 am

TheBigChuckbowski wrote:I call shenanigans. The flight's 1.5 hours. Even if you showed up to the gate 1 minute before the flight, it's a 20 minute drive plus 5 minute walk at least and if you park in the outer lots, more than that. You're already at 2 hours if you're late and parked in the garage outside the terminal.


Well, I happen to have a detailed record because I had been asked by a friend (who was interested in flying to Chicago but was leaning toward driving) what kind of time elapsed between walking out my front door and arriving at the loop:

26 minute drive to airport
32 minutes walking from circle parking, getting through security, and waiting around
~5 minute taxi to the runway (I kind of forgot to pay attention at this point, but it wasn't a long taxi)
50 minute flight (1.5 hours? :lol:)
31 minutes on the orange line

EQUALS
Just under 2.5 hours.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby GRID » Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:51 pm

I fly to Chicago all the time.

I can be from my downtown office to the loop in Chicago in 2 hours, maybe 2 1/2.

Hour and a half flight?  I would ask for a refund.  You are typically in the air for less the 45 minutes on that flight, especailly if the weather is good and you don't have to circle around either airport (land on the KCI east west runway for example).

The chef can easily run 2 hours "late".

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:05 pm

...And back to riding amtrak tips...
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:14 pm

KCPowercat wrote:...And back to riding amtrak tips...


don't take your gun.

other than that, i think everyone has chimed in with what you need to know for a day trip. if you were doing overnight in coach or a sleeper there's a lot more to it.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby shinatoo » Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:36 pm

My cooler of beer got shut down last time I was on the train. Use caution.
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