General Amtrak Discussion

Transportation topics in KC
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KC0KEK
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by KC0KEK » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:30 pm

I need to get some work done while I'm taking Amtrak back from Chicago next weekend. I know that the availability of electrical outlets veries widely, with the most on West Coast trains. Any advice for where to find them on Midwestern trains? I'm particularly interested in the Texas Eagle, which I'll be on.

I've also heard that the power is crappy, to the point that a surge protector is recommended for sensitive gear such as laptops. So I'd appreciate any thoughts on that, too.

Thanks.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by kclofter » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:02 pm

Not sure if the Texas Eagle has them, but the MO Mule & Ann Rutledge a few years ago had them along the window strip in "Business Class" (the front portion of the cafe car).

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:17 pm

the texas eagle runs superliner (bi-level) equipment, which is partially refurbished with outlets at every seat (so it's a crap shoot if you get one or not). there is the much-sought-after seat that has the only power outlet on a non-refurbed superliner coach, but i can't remember the seat number (it might be near the stairwell?). definitely bring a surge protector with at least 2 or 3 outlets so in case you do find an outlet you can share it with others (this is also good for you if the outlet has already been claimed). if you upgrade to a sleeper you are guaranteed your own outlet! worst case, head for the lounge car to juice up if your battery runs down at your seat.

i've been on every western train except the zephyr, so feel free to PM me if you have additional questions.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by shinatoo » Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:48 am

Amtrak no longer has the Business Class seats from KC to St. Louis.

The Lounge Car on all three runs I have made to Chicago and back have only had one power outlet each. So good luck.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by kard » Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:51 am

shinatoo wrote:Amtrak no longer has the Business Class seats from KC to St. Louis.

The Lounge Car on all three runs I have made to Chicago and back have only had one power outlet each. So good luck.


This surprised me so I just did a quick check online; looks like even evening eastbound train doesn't have Biz Class but the morning train does.  Weird.
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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by KC0KEK » Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:00 am

DaveKCMO wrote:definitely bring a surge protector with at least 2 or 3 outlets so in case you do find an outlet you can share it with others (this is also good for you if the outlet has already been claimed).


Thanks. Are you recommending a surge protector because it's a way to share power or because the power on the train has spikes and other problems? If it's just for sharing, then I'll bring a cube tap, which is a lot smaller.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by DaveKCMO » Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:59 pm

KC0KEK wrote:Thanks. Are you recommending a surge protector because it's a way to share power or because the power on the train has spikes and other problems? If it's just for sharing, then I'll bring a cube tap, which is a lot smaller.


i used a surge protector with one outlet, like this:

Image

in retrospect, i would have taken one with an extra plug or two (but not a strip).

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by dangerboy » Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:38 pm

From what I can tell, the "Mule" trains don't have business class, but the Ann Rutledge does.

KC0KEK, at least a single-outlet surge protector is a good idea.  A power strip is nice if you get a car with only a few outlets that have to be shared.

One strategy is to show up early so you can be one of the first on board, and then try to sweet talk the train attendant (not the conductor) into letting you have a seat with outlet, if available.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by warwickland » Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:35 pm

the "Lincoln" trains have power outlets, but that would add a few hours to your trip...

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by KC0KEK » Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:18 pm

I lucked out: The Texas Eagle had one outlet per seat, at least in my car.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by DaveKCMO » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:01 am

the house version of this bill passed by a veto-proof margin yesterday (311-104), so now the house and senate versions will be reconciled and sent to whats-his-name to veto. hopefully all of the votes will stick to override that veto. once this passes, you can expect to see big investments in amtrak by every state (80/20 federal match for capital costs). there's even a house provision for real HSR in the northeast.

kansas:

Boyda (D ) Yea
Tiahrt (R) Nay
Moran (R) Yea
Moore (D) Yea

missouri:

Cleaver (D) Yea
Skelton (D) Yea
Graves (R) Yea
Akin (R) Nay
Blunt (R) Nay
Emerson (R) Nay

Clay (R) Yea
Carnahan (D) Yea
Hulshof (R) Not Voting

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by Gretz » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:11 pm

dangerboy wrote:Actually, Missouri could be in a good position to take advantage of new federal funding.  Earlier this year MoDOT did a big study of the UP corridor that identified the worst congestion points and ways to fix them.  They can reduce about 35% of delays for $14 million and 50% of delays for $50 million.  All they are waiting on is the money.

June 2007 Rail Capacity Analysis (PDF)


Aside from increasing side tracking and other measures to decrease delays, does anyone know what is needed to increase scheduled delivery times?  I.E. are faster locomotives required or is it track condition ONLY that is the problem?  I know that the train is limited to 55 MPH on much of the journey; what would it take to make the track able to accomodate full speed travel.  Obviously the bottlenecks and delays should be the priority, I just wonder what it would take to upgrade the system to where it operates at speeds viable to compete with driving, say a five hour or less even total journey.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by IraGlacialis » Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:55 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:the house version of this bill passed by a veto-proof margin yesterday (311-104), so now the house and senate versions will be reconciled and sent to whats-his-name to veto. hopefully all of the votes will stick to override that veto. once this passes, you can expect to see big investments in amtrak by every state (80/20 federal match for capital costs). there's even a house provision for real HSR in the northeast.
Excellent news.
Is it possible that the cost of driving is a factor in it finally passing?

Let's just hope more people ride the system to justify this action and promote faster and more effcient rail.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by DaveKCMO » Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:23 pm

Gretz wrote:Aside from increasing side tracking and other measures to decrease delays, does anyone know what is needed to increase scheduled delivery times?  I.E. are faster locomotives required or is it track condition ONLY that is the problem?  I know that the train is limited to 55 MPH on much of the journey; what would it take to make the track able to accomodate full speed travel.  Obviously the bottlenecks and delays should be the priority, I just wonder what it would take to upgrade the system to where it operates at speeds viable to compete with driving, say a five hour or less even total journey.


in short, track conditions and capacity.

regardless, 79 mph is the max U.S. speed on shared track that has grade crossings. most locomotives could go 110 if needed, but that would require elimination of grade crossings. faster than 110 and you'd need dedicated passenger track.

that being said, the rail route is longer (283 mi.) than the I-70 route (249 mi.), but it could still be 5 hours or less.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by GRID » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:44 pm

What about the equipment?  Those KC-StL trains look like they have seen better days.

Any new news on the OKC to KC run?

What about pushing the KC-StL line to Lawrence?  Would Kansas go for that?

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by DaveKCMO » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:53 pm

GRID wrote:What about the equipment?  Those KC-StL trains look like they have seen better days.

Any new news on the OKC to KC run?

What about pushing the KC-StL line to Lawrence?  Would Kansas go for that?


the equipment is mechanically fine (although technically past its prime). the reason they look so bad has to do with the material used on the outer shell. advocrat and i heard a presentation about it recently and had they used stainless steel shells (think metra) they would still look brand new. since missouri's routes are amtrak's only black eye in regards to ridership, we do tend to get the crappiest coaches. that being said, the multi-year authorization should help amtrak plan for the future and buy new equipment (which it probably hasn't done since the early 80s, aside from acela).

the OKC to KC run is progressing. KDOT presented a status last week [PDF].

it's entirely possible to extend the late KC departure to lawrence, but unlikely because of the infamous UP delays. there is a UP line through lawrence (north side of the river), but it's as congested with coal as the missouri segment. the OKC-KC train will use BNSF, which the southwest chief uses part of today.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by advocrat » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:10 am

IraGlacialis wrote:Excellent news.
Is it possible that the cost of driving is a factor in it finally passing?

Let's just hope more people ride the system to justify this action and promote faster and more effcient rail.


The cost of energy may have been a big contributor to the 3-1 margin of affirmative votes, bu the senate and house bills have been under development for some years and the predecessor bill known by an acronym PRIRA 50/50 was proposed in 2005 and signed into law in late December. It's $30 million provision was seed money to launch states into action for SB-294/HR6003.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately to some) free market forces affecting the prive of gasoline have provided an incentive and great interest in developing expanded passenger service.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by advocrat » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:18 am

DaveKCMO wrote:in short, track conditions and capacity.

regardless, 79 mph is the max U.S. speed on shared track that has grade crossings. most locomotives could go 110 if needed, but that would require elimination of grade crossings. faster than 110 and you'd need dedicated passenger track.

that being said, the rail route is longer (283 mi.) than the I-70 route (249 mi.), but it could still be 5 hours or less.


The rail route also serves a part of the state and many communities outside of the I-70 easement.

One other interesting factor about freight locomotives is that most are geared to run a maximum of about 69 MPH. If they were recalibrated, they would not be able to pull mile+ long trains, thus requiring shorter trains, more trains, more crews, more benefits and more pensions. 70 mph isn't bad in directional traffic because this will allow an Amtrak train to follow the freight (gve it an hour out of the gate) and then hurry down the tracks and into a siding at a station, pick up passengers, sprint ahead to another station, pick up more, and in this way keep pace with the freight, maybe passing it along the way and hurrying forward towards the next train ahead. This works with directional traffic.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by advocrat » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:22 am

GRID wrote:What about the equipment?  Those KC-StL trains look like they have seen better days.

Any new news on the OKC to KC run?


What about pushing the KC-StL line to Lawrence?  Would Kansas go for that?


Kansas may already be going for that. Have you been following the intercity passenger rail initiative in Kansas?  Go to www.northflyer.org. Between 2 and 3 dozen communities have formed a coalition to redevelop daytime passenger service.

It's all on the action tab on that website.

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Re: General Amtrak Discussion

Post by KCPowercat » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:33 am

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?
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