General Amtrak Discussion

Transportation topics in KC
TheBigChuckbowski
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby TheBigChuckbowski » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:45 pm

Flight estimate based on when you get on the plane and when you get off. Look it up on orbitz. Just under 1.5 hours.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:54 pm

I'm pretty sure they inflate those numbers to account for minor delays. There is no way we were on the plane for 1.5 hours.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby Jess » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:36 pm

My hometown is one of the Illinois stops on the Chief before you get to Chicago, so I've been using it to get between KC and the homeland regularly for the past couple of years...when my boyfriend was in KC and we were doing the long distance thing, we used the train to get back and forth for visits, and when I moved here to join him, I started using it to get home for holidays, vacations, and family events.  I've gotten to know the Southwest Chief pretty well in that stretch of time. My observations in those trips:

1. It's FAR more physically comfortable than airlines.  I'm a tall girl, 5'10" with long legs, and even short flights like KC to Midway are uncomfortable.  The coach seats recline comfortably, are clean and plush, and have leg rests that prop upl. At night, they come around with pillows, as well. Amtrak gives you leg room, and you can move about freely. 

2. It's not gonna be about the time, if you are going to Chicago, it's gonna be about the more pleasant, relaxing experience.  For me, it's always been faster to go on the train than to fly, though, because my hometown is 2+ hours outside of Chicago, driving-wise.  So if I fly in, tack on another at least four hours for somebody to come pick me up at the airport and drive me to my destination. Train drops me off practically at my family's doorstep, no drive to Chicago necessary. 

3. The temperature is iffy.  Whether it's winter and the train's not warm enough, or summer and the AC's cranking, I'm usually cold, both in the sightseer lounge and in the regular coach car, so I always bring a small, easily packable fleece throw.

4. If you're a chatty type, go to the sightseer lounge.  I've had some of the best conversations with other travelers.  And don't assume the Amish won't talk to you - I spent probably the most fascinating couple of hours in a long time conversing with a mom and her daughters.

5. I usually bring a small, soft zippered cooler pack for food, and have never had it searched for contraband. Seems like you'd have no problem bringing whatever as long as you aren't rowdy. There are often people boozing it up in the lounge car, I almost always see people with bottled beer.

6. Your cell phone won't work very well if at all for large stretches, most notably between KC and LaPlata. 

7. If you want to get breakfast beforehand, you CAN get it at the Harvey House at Union Station, but it doesn't open early enough to do much more than gulp something down quickly before the train arrives. If the train's running early, it won't work at all, but the train's never running early. 

8. The fact that the train from KC to Chicago is coming from Los Angeles means that that portion of the trip often leads to a train that can be a bit unkempt, people can be smelly, and Amtrak employees can be short-tempered. The train back TO KC from Chicago is much calmer, cleaner, and stank people aren't so much an issue.

9.  If you're a smoker (I'm not), I've been told that the sole stop where passengers are allowed to step off the train for a smoke break (Ft. Madison, Iowa) is barely long enough to suck down half a cig before the train's pulling out again.

10. You'll most likely get sidelined at least once either direction for a freight train that gets the right of way.

Have fun!  I love the train, it's charming, and if you have the time, so much more appealing than air travel, in my opinion. The BF and I are actually taking Amtrak from KC to Buffalo (via Chicago), for Christmas.  It's about 24 hours.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mean » Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:56 am

Interesting take. I do enjoy the train, but I don't think I could ever take it further than Chicago. Time is money, baby!
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby warwickland » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:25 pm

Amtrak in Missouri is a joke...from my experiences. Now, the line to Chicago from KCMO, does the train automatically accelerate 10-20 MPH once in the state of Illinois  :D ? The train from StL to CHI is slowish until north of Springfield, wherein it exceeds the speed of all traffic on the parallel I-55 until Joliet.

The Texas Eagle is a fine train, what with the clean(er) large(r) seats and observation bubble car. Is the Southwest Chief similar (or whatever the line is between KC and CHI)?

I've wanted to take the train to KCMO, then to Chicago...forming the final leg of my Home Triangle of Familar Urbanity.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby Jess » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:30 pm

warwickland wrote:The Texas Eagle is a fine train, what with the clean(er) large(r) seats and observation bubble car. Is the Southwest Chief similar (or whatever the line is between KC and CHI)?


Sounds like it's the same style train.  The Chief has the roomy seats in the coach cars, and the lounge car has the tall windows that curve upward into a skylight and outward-facing seats.  I know the lounge car also used to have a TV/DVD player where they showed movies like longer airline flights do/did (been years since I took a long flight, they probably don't still do that), but they took those out with the advent of portable DVD players/iPods and the like.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby dangerboy » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:32 pm

warwickland wrote:The Texas Eagle is a fine train, what with the clean(er) large(r) seats and observation bubble car. Is the Southwest Chief similar (or whatever the line is between KC and CHI)?


Yes. The Southwest Chief has the double-decker Superliner cars, observation car, and also cars with sleeping rooms.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:21 am

Another question - as you roam around the train, do you carry your carryon luggage with you or what?  I assume you do but wanted to ask.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:58 am

KCPowercat wrote:Another question - as you roam around the train, do you carry your carryon luggage with you or what?  I assume you do but wanted to ask.


no need to carry your stuff while you move around. just don't leave valuables out in plain view and you'll be fine.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby Jess » Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:13 pm

The Chief has a general storage area for large luggage on the bottom tier of each double-decker Superliner coach car...pretty much as soon as you board, you go up stairs to the upper level for your seat (handicapped access seats are the only ones on the lower level).  Usually, right by the stairs, there are several shelves for that kind of stuff to get stowed.  Sometimes it's pretty full, but I've never had a problem of not being able to fit my stuff in. When you exit the train, that's where you exit from, too, so you can go down as your near your stop and get it located. You can then bring "carry-on" sized bags up to the seats with you, and stow them overhead, or at your feet (there's more room down there than you're used to on a plane, and you're not required to have stuff stowed away like on a plane.  At your feet is fine.  If I go moving around to the lounge car, I always take my purse or backpack with me, but that's about it. I've never dragged along a rolling bag as I travel around the train, or anything, and I've not seen anybody else do so. You can actually check baggage and large items on Amtrak, too (from larger stations, anyway - you can in KC, but not at my hometown, which has an unmanned depot), but I never have, so I don't know the procedure for that at all. 

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby KCPowercat » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:09 pm

Took the train to Chicago on Friday...had a great time.  Fun little experience, obviously if you aren't in a hurry....read for awhile in coach, had lunch, spent the rest of the time playing cards and drinking....all while watching some nice fall scenery fly by....definitely do it again.

Flew home....and glad I did, after a trip, I'm ready to get home ASAP.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby mayor_of_waldo » Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:20 pm

I will fly home next time too, I'm always ready to get home after a vacation. I tend to get speeding tickets on the way home from vacation, but not on my way to the destination.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:45 pm

the stimulus at work! rehabbed amtrak equipment is out on the road. for those who haven't seen the inside of the superliners, here's your chance:

bedroom 360

dining car 360

sightseer lounge 360

roomette in night position 360

sleeper upper level 360

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby midtown » Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:01 am

FWIW, I took Amtrak from Seattle to Portland a month ago, and the cars did have some seats that were reversed.  I loved the experience and would definitely do it again... now we just need a direct Amtrak between here and Des Moines so I'm not limited to the hellhole that is Greyhound if I don't want to drive.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby dangerboy » Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:33 am

midtown wrote:FWIW, I took Amtrak from Seattle to Portland a month ago, and the cars did have some seats that were reversed.  I loved the experience and would definitely do it again... now we just need a direct Amtrak between here and Des Moines so I'm not limited to the hellhole that is Greyhound if I don't want to drive.


I think the future plan is KC-Omaha-Minneapolis, not Des Moines :(

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby heatherkay » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:18 am

Really?  From a route standpoint, doesn't it make more sense to run north to Mpls along the I-35 corridor?  Going over to Omaha, then back over to get to Mpls seems like kind of a detour.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby staubio » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:24 am

heatherkay wrote:Really?  From a route standpoint, doesn't it make more sense to run north to Mpls along the I-35 corridor?  Going over to Omaha, then back over to get to Mpls seems like kind of a detour.


I'm guessing this is to make better connections heading west. This would open up the KC>Omaha>Denver trip. Going east, I think that just ends in Chicago anyway, and we already have that direct route.

Just a guess.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:50 am

as far as i know, the KC-omaha-minneapolis route has no formal proposal. it's really only the nebraska rail advocates talking right now (since they can't make omaha-lincoln commuter rail happen) and one missouri state legislator who tried to shoehorn money for an amtrak study recently (he failed). both of those efforts were initially to omaha only, via BNSF's line through st. joseph.

the UP line to minneapolis via des moines is shorter than going through omaha, but des moines itself isn't served today (that will change within the next decade). regardless, it would require the cooperation of at least 3 states (two of which -- iowa and minnesota -- are just now dipping their toes into passenger rail). you'll probably see KC-omaha first, if at all.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby trailerkid » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:06 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:as far as i know, the KC-omaha-minneapolis route has no formal proposal. it's really only the nebraska rail advocates talking right now (since they can't make omaha-lincoln commuter rail happen) and one missouri state legislator who tried to shoehorn money for an amtrak study recently (he failed). both of those efforts were initially to omaha only, via BNSF's line through st. joseph.

the UP line to minneapolis via des moines is shorter than going through omaha, but des moines itself isn't served today (that will change within the next decade). regardless, it would require the cooperation of at least 3 states (two of which -- iowa and minnesota -- are just now dipping their toes into passenger rail). you'll probably see KC-omaha first, if at all.


interesting to hear...

why not just expand missouri river runner to omaha>kc>jeff city>stl?

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Postby DaveKCMO » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:17 pm

trailerkid wrote:why not just expand missouri river runner to omaha>kc>jeff city>stl?


that's entirely possible for such a short run. most of the track is in missouri.


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