California dreaming

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
3
Hi,

Have managed to book a 15 Day Peak National Railpass with Trailfinders UK. I am interested to know what the routine is for travelling on from San Francisco to Las Vegas. I would like to travel down the California Coast to San Diego and then make my way via Bakersfield or Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas.

With the railpass can I use, at no cost

1. Caltrain out of San Francisco to San Jose?

2. Can I 'hop on hop off' California Rail (Surfliner / Capital Corridor / California Coastal Services and San Joaquins) services where I please using the railpass as a ticket or do I have to book each stage in advance and collect the ticket before travelling?

3. Use the Flagstaff / Williams Grand Canyon Railway - Arizona thruway connection services.

4. Kingman - Las Vegas Motor Coach Connections.

These questions are against the other option of hiring a car and driving which I don't really want to do.

I am travelling with my wife, we are flying in to Minneapolis (28th June) then AMTRAKKING Minneapolis- Chicago (3rd July) and then the Zephyr to San Francisco and flying back to UK from Las Vegas (18th July).

Hope you can advise and I am greatful for any help you can offer.

Thanks

Jim
 

RailFanLNK

Conductor
Joined
Mar 24, 2006
Messages
1,928
Location
Lincoln, Nebraska (LNK)
I would look into taking Southwest Airlines out of Oakland CA to Burbank CA. My girlfriend and I just did the California Zephyr from Lincoln Nebraska to Emeryville. We stayed 3 days in San Francisco. Do the "audio" tour of Alcatraz, Ghiridelli Square was great too for a tourist and so was the wharf. The best thing about Southwest was it costs us $59.00 one way to Burbank. It was less than a one hour flight that will take you all day by bus or train. It then moves you alot closer to San Diego and you still have a gob of time to sightsee. Oakland had a bunch of flights going almost every hour to Burbank. Burbank is alot better to fly into (small airport, you walk out of the rear of the plane on to the tarmac instead of a jet way) then LAX. LAX will have your head spinning. Good luck and have fun!!!!
 

deimos

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
418
Location
Maryland
I would recommend checking with Amtrak about how the pass can be used. I'm inclined to think you will need reservations on trains you plan to take and that the pass may not cover the Grand Canyon Railway Train.

I'm planning to take the GCRR in October. Based upon comments from folks here, I would recommend taking the GCRR even if it is not covered by the Amtrak pass.

Deimos
 

jccollins

Conductor
Joined
Nov 2, 2002
Messages
1,254
Jimbo88hk said:
With the railpass can I use, at no cost1. Caltrain out of San Francisco to San Jose?

2. Can I 'hop on hop off' California Rail (Surfliner /  Capital Corridor / California Coastal Services and San Joaquins) services where I please using the railpass as a ticket or do I have to book each stage in advance and collect the ticket before travelling?

3. Use the Flagstaff / Williams Grand Canyon Railway - Arizona thruway connection services.

4. Kingman - Las Vegas Motor Coach Connections.
1. No, the pass will not cover travel on CalTrain. It is not technically an Amtrak service. It is a commuter railroad that Amtrak operates under contract and doesn't provide any ticketing or information about it. That is handled separately. Your pass will cover travel from San Francisco to Emeryville/Oakland on an Amtrak Thruway motorcoach to connect with an Amtrak train there. The ride on the thruway coach is not that long and you will be guaranteed to make your train connection at one of those stations.

2. You should try to plan your trips on the California services in advance if possible. The pass requires you to have a ticket in addition to the pass (any station or conductor can issue one for you with no advance needed) for each segment of the train you travel on. If you are boarding at a staffed station, you will need to obtain your ticket from an Amtrak sales agent inside the station prior to boarding; if you are boarding at an unstaffed station, the conductor will be able to issue you a ticket when you board the train.

3. Not sure if your ticket will be valid for travel on the Grand Canyon Railway... you'll need to check with Amtrak specifically on that one.

4. Yes, you should be able to use the Kingman to Las Vegas Thruway Motorcoach connection.
 
E

Enigma

Guest
if you are boarding at an unstaffed station, the conductor will be able to issue you a ticket when you board the train
I have used various Amtrak USA Rail Passes over three successive summers(2003,2004,2005). I was always under the impression that conductors would not issue tickets on trains to USA Rail Pass holders.

I am pretty certain that I was told on my third trip by an Amtrak phone operator that the conductor in such a situation would require me to pay cash for my ticket as conductors cannot deal with issuing tickets for USA Rail Passes. Again, it always seemed like a gray area, and I never tested it, but if someone knows, please say.

Amtrak USA Rail Passes are complex and the rules surrounding them are not always clear, even amongst its staff who often know very little on the subject.

3. Use the Flagstaff / Williams Grand Canyon Railway - Arizona thruway connection services
I can tell you that you can use your USA Rail pass for this thuway connection but you have to pay a supplementary fee. It is in the region of $20-$30 I believe. I know this because I asked this exact question last Summer. I opted to take the thruway bus service from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon in the end, as it was completely covered by the Rail Pass.

Feel free to ask any other questions.
 
N

NewAmtrakEmployee

Guest
You DO need a reservation (the sooner the better!) for the San Joaquins, the Coast Starlight, and the Thruway Bus from Kingman or Flagstaff. For the Capitols (unless they've changed recently) and the Surfliner, you only need to have the nearest agent print up a ticket before you board (make sure you're getting on at a staffed station!); the Grand Canyon Railway is a totally private enterprise - there may be a slight discount for Amtrak passholders, but nothing to write home about. It's a kick, since they use old semi-restored cars and a steam locomotive to get from Williams Junction to the south rim of the Canyon, but be aware that if you're trying to catch it, the courtesy van to pick you up at the Williams Junction "station" (a concrete pad in a dirt parking lot) arrives at the same time as the train...right around 0400 hours....
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
3
Thanks all - its really great to have such helpful people out there. No doubt I'll be back!! :D
 
Top