CS Questions

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rvrtrpn2002

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Hi everyone,

Our group of 4 couples are taking our first LD Amtrak ride ever. We leave Friday. I had a couple of questions I couldn't find answers to in the forum, obviously so much is changing with Covid I thought I would ask here:

1) We are all in Roomettes. Obviously we'd like to sit and play cards somewhere and have an adult beverage (besides the rooms). Is the dining car open for that? I've seen some items stating they are at 50% capacity (tables blocked) and/or must be reserved just for meals? If this is true, is there somewhere else on the train we can sit and play cards/socialize understanding we might need to be split up into 2 tables of 4.

2) The train started at 5% occupancy and when I went on today, amazingly it was up to 80% full. Would most of these customers be on the shorter legs from SEA to say PDX? If the sleepers are at 80% will there even be room in the dining car to sit (if possible)?

Thank you in advance!
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
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Hopefully someone who has been on the Coast Starlight recently can give you some current information.

The dining car is not usually available as a lounge or place to gather outside of meal hours. However I believe the Coast Starlight has a sightseer lounge car and this would be the place to gather, play cards and watch the great scenery on this route.

Hope you have a great trip and please post a report of your trip.
 

Cal

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1) We are all in Roomettes. Obviously we'd like to sit and play cards somewhere and have an adult beverage (besides the rooms). Is the dining car open for that? I've seen some items stating they are at 50% capacity (tables blocked) and/or must be reserved just for meals? If this is true, is there somewhere else on the train we can sit and play cards/socialize understanding we might need to be split up into 2 tables of 4.
The Coast Starlight has a Sightseer Lounge located directly behind the Dining Car with a handful of tables where four people can sit and talk. This car is also the best for viewing the scenery, so I would advise you to hang out there. Sometimes alternate tables are blocked off, sometimes they aren't. It's up to the crew really.

There are also comfortable lounge chairs facing out for viewing where you could chill. Not great for a card game though.

2) The train started at 5% occupancy and when I went on today, amazingly it was up to 80% full. Would most of these customers be on the shorter legs from SEA to say PDX? If the sleepers are at 80% will there even be room in the dining car to sit (if possible)?
I would believe so. Probably legs more like SEA-PDX, SEA-SAC, SAC-LAX, and other big city pairs. Finding room in the Sightseer Lounge might be a little difficult, but usually there is room. Hopefully you will be able to find a table, especially if no tables are blocked off.

I hope you have a good trip. The scenery is great right after Tacoma where you should (might not anymore) run along the Puget Sound. In the evening of the first day while you go through the Cascade Mountains, and the second day past San Luis Obispso where you will be along the coast for many hours, hopefully having a nice sunset along the beach as well.

Heres a picture of the Sightseer lounge, again, it's one car past the dining car.
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zephyr17

Conductor
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The dining car tables outside mealtimes are never available for casual passenger use on any Amtrak train that I have been on, including the Starlight.

The Sightseer lounge has booths available on one end and I have frequently seen card games going on at those. The Sightseer is open, although some booths may be out of use due to social distancing restrictions. You cannot consume your own adult beverages there, though. The only place you can consume your own supply is in your room(s). The cafe downstairs will be happy to sell you drinks, though.
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
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Jan 10, 2018
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The Coast Starlight is still using the beautiful coastal route along the Tacoma waterway--and likely will continue for a few months more at least, if local news reports can be depending on. Note that masks must be worn in the public areas of the train unless you are eating or drinking. You can bring your own preferred adult beverages for consumption in the roomettes, but not in the sightseer lounge or in the dining car. You will get your first alcoholic beverage free; after that, you'll have to pay. Bring snacks! While opinions of the current so-called flex dining vary from adequate to horrible, one thing agreed upon is that the portions are not generous, so if you want to snack while playing cards or between meals generally, you are advised to bring your own favorites.

Be sure to have a sweater or jacket handy; I find the trains are often too chilly for my taste. Have some easy-slip-on shoes for travels in the train outside your room--bare feet, flipflops, and slippers aren't allowed for safety reasons. And when in a roomette, I sleep in knit pants and a T shirt so that if I need a late night bathroom run, I'm already 'dressed' enough for that.

Enjoy the trip--the Coast Starlight is one of our very favorite trains! And take plenty of pictures, of the scenery, of the train, and of each other. You'll have a one-of-a-kind memento of the experience!
 

Cal

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The Coast Starlight is still using the beautiful coastal route along the Tacoma waterway--and likely will continue for a few months more at least, if local news reports can be depending on.
Good. I'm taking it in August hoping to get one last ride along the Tacoma Waterway. I hope it still uses that route
 

zephyr17

Conductor
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Good. I'm taking it in August hoping to get one last ride along the Tacoma Waterway. I hope it still uses that route
August they'll likely still be on the Pt. Defiance line. They ran some test trains on the Pt. Defiance Cutoff a few weeks ago, but I don't think they've started crew qualification runs yet.

They'll probably shift to the Cutoff by the end of this year, though.
 

Rasputin

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In addition to the Cascades and the coastal running, the Cuesta Grade between San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles is very scenic and I always try to get a good seat in the lounge car to enjoy that section.
 

zephyr17

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In addition to the Cascades and the coastal running, the Cuesta Grade between San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles is very scenic and I always try to get a good seat in the lounge car to enjoy that section.
Including the renowned Goldtree Horseshoe. Get a seat on the right side northbound, left southbound, and see both ends of the train at once.
 

zephyr17

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The Coast Starlight is still using the beautiful coastal route along the Tacoma waterway--and likely will continue for a few months more at least, if local news reports can be depending on.
Just got an email from Washington DOT, Amtrak will be conducting crew qualification runs on the Pt. Defiance Bypass from June 1st through July 25th. After that, Sound Transit (track owner) and Amtrak will determine the start date for service to begin.

My guess is sometime in September.
 

daybeers

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Isn’t there more ocean running on the Starlight? I know the Surfliner has a bunch. I won’t be able to get out to the west coast before the bypass is put in place, will I miss out on a ton if I do the whole Cascades/Starlight/Surfliner route eventually compared to the route now?
 

Cal

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Isn’t there more ocean running on the Starlight? I know the Surfliner has a bunch. I won’t be able to get out to the west coast before the bypass is put in place, will I miss out on a ton if I do the whole Cascades/Starlight/Surfliner route eventually compared to the route now?
You won't be going along the Puget Sound just south of Tacoma. It's not a ton, but it is the current scenic highlight of the northern (as in northern Oregon and Washington) part of the route. When the bypass is put into place you will be looking at a freeway.

In California south of San Luis Obispo, there is hours of ocean running that is beautiful.
 

PME

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May 27, 2021
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On the CS as we speak - next station is San Luis Obispo. I am traveling the length - SEA to LA.

I am booked in a Roomette - I have not found the dining car to be a challenge at all and understand that all sleepers are booked for at least a portion of the journey. The dining attendant surveys sleeper occupants for lunch and dinner reservation times to manage capacity and you have a choice of dining in the dining car or having the meal delivered to your room. Social distancing seems to be relaxing although mask rules outside of your private sleeper are strictly enforced. And a previous poster was correct stating that the dining car is off-limits for seating outside of service hours.

Lounge car is open to the entire train, no social distancing just masks except when actively eating. Have not had any issue getting a spot to sit; it may be trickier to get a table depending on how many folks are using them for zoom calls (which seems a bit popular today). We’ll see how much more crowded it gets as we get to the coastline.

Yes, the route does spend a lot of time initially along Puget Sound then up into the mountains. We descend from the mountains overnight, and once we get into California and past the Bay Area spend most of the day in the Central Valley. Pretty mountains and lots of agricultural activity then hillier and now climbing before we head to the coast.

very nice ride so far!
 
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