CS to CZ transfer 30 minute window dilemma

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

coalman

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Happy Valley, Oregon
I'm looking to go from PDX to CHI via CS and CZ in roomette end of October. What happens If I miss because of CS being late? What are the chances Amtrak would transfer my CZ reservation to the next day? Would I be subject to the change in price when changes made in the itinerary? I assume it might be a lot more which would be a deal breaker for me. I have a limited trip window so being safe and planning an Emeryville overnight is not a good option. I would appreciate any suggestions for this tight scheduling challenge. Thank you in advance.
 

trimetbusfan

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
184
Location
Portland
I'm looking to go from PDX to CHI via CS and CZ in roomette end of October. What happens If I miss because of CS being late? What are the chances Amtrak would transfer my CZ reservation to the next day? Would I be subject to the change in price when changes made in the itinerary? I assume it might be a lot more which would be a deal breaker for me. I have a limited trip window so being safe and planning an Emeryville overnight is not a good option. I would appreciate any suggestions for this tight scheduling challenge. Thank you in advance.
In order to get the garunteed connection, Amtrak requires you to book the transfer at Sacramento. This gives you a few more (almost 5) hours to do the transfer, and it’s usually not missed even if 11 is a few hrs late.
 

trimetbusfan

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
184
Location
Portland
Thanks very helpful
What is a guaranteed connection? I am not familiar with the amtrak term.
This means that if you miss the connection (regardless of the cause), Amtrak will take care of accommodations related to that such as either

A) putting you on a bus to catch up to the train at a later stop

B) they will pay for a hotel and put you on the next days train. They will also transfer your room accommodation if space is available. If sleepers are sold out on that train, they might have no choice but to downgrade you to Coach on that train (if this happens you will get a refund for difference).
 

coalman

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Happy Valley, Oregon
Well, one good thing if I did miss the guaranteed train and they put me up. I would have the day to visit the California Train Museum which is near Amtrak. Does anyone have comments about the musuem?
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
1,054
Location
QB 101
I did the PDX-SAC-CHI transfer 5 or 6 years ago. Aside from having to getting up early due to the early arrival and only vending machines available for the 5 hour layover, it was OK.

If I was already booked to EMY, I might consider 'risking it'. I considered it when I decided to go for the 'sure thing' and booked to/from SAC. The key is if the CS is running late out of SAC, then 'bail out' at MTZ and catch #6 there, or SAC if your more than an hour behind.
 

coalman

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Happy Valley, Oregon
What is the percentage of making the transition from PDX to Davis at 7:54 and leaving on CZ from Davis departing at 10:36? That 2 1/2 hour difference is one I would take at 70%. The SAC connection misses CS breakfast and you have a 5 hr layover in SAC that doesn't have a lounge.
 

trimetbusfan

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
184
Location
Portland
What is the percentage of making the transition from PDX to Davis at 7:54 and leaving on CZ from Davis departing at 10:36? That 2 1/2 hour difference is one I would take at 70%. The SAC connection misses CS breakfast and you have a 5 hr layover in SAC that doesn't have a lounge.
Last time I passed through SAC, they did actually have a makeshift ‘sleeper lounge’ by the ticket desk. Had nice seats, drinks, and snacks.
 

coalman

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Happy Valley, Oregon
I did the PDX-SAC-CHI transfer 5 or 6 years ago. Aside from having to getting up early due to the early arrival and only vending machines available for the 5 hour layover, it was OK.

If I was already booked to EMY, I might consider 'risking it'. I considered it when I decided to go for the 'sure thing' and booked to/from SAC. The key is if the CS is running late out of SAC, then 'bail out' at MTZ and catch #6 there, or SAC if your more than an hour behind.
That's a good idea I didn't think of. Buy CS PDX to Emeryville and CZ start at Emeryville. If late bail at SAC, DAV, or MTZ (the last if I want breakfast) to catch the CZ. The roomette prices are almost exactly the same going and coming at those three overlapping stations.
 

trimetbusfan

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
184
Location
Portland
That's a good idea I didn't think of. Buy CS PDX to Emeryville and CZ start at Emeryville. If late bail at SAC, DAV, or MTZ (the last if I want breakfast) to catch the CZ. The roomette prices are almost exactly the same going and coming at those three overlapping stations.
As long as they don’t mark you as a ‘no show.’ Then your in some trouble. Then your also giving up the garunteed connection in the unlikely event you miss #6.
 

Widfara

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2022
Messages
35
Location
Cedar Creek, Texas
Well, one good thing if I did miss the guaranteed train and they put me up. I would have the day to visit the California Train Museum which is near Amtrak. Does anyone have comments about the musuem?
The museum is terrific. Worth an overnight there. I'm booked from Seattle to Sacramento on the CS in October, overnight there, at a hotel out one of the light rail lines (Yeah!) and plan to visit the museum again. The last time I was there it poured rain all day, so I didn't see the outside exhibits.
I rarely believe a same day connection is tenable.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,610
Location
Washington State
That's a good idea I didn't think of. Buy CS PDX to Emeryville and CZ start at Emeryville. If late bail at SAC, DAV, or MTZ (the last if I want breakfast) to catch the CZ. The roomette prices are almost exactly the same going and coming at those three overlapping stations.
The ticket cancellation process will automatically cancel your entire reservation 2 hours after your train departs your boarding station if not scanned by the conductor. The fare is forfeited as a "no show". The process is wholly automated.

Sacramento would be outside the two hour window if ticketed from Emeryville.

Bear this in mind when planning.
 
Last edited:

Ryan

Court Jester
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,942
Location
Off looking for his sense of humor
To do this, you buy three tickets on three separate reservations.

Reservation #1: Your main trip from PDX to CHI with the connection in SAC where you're nice and safe with the connection.
Reservation #2: Your extension on the CS from SAC to Emeryville.
Reservation #3: Your trip back from EMY to SAC. The run is listed at 1h48 minutes, so even if you don't press all the way to EMY and swap at one of the intermediate stations, you're inside of the 2 hour window and won't get auto cancelled.

By being on separate reservations, bailing on doing anything past SAC won't auto-cancel your entire trip.

Also, this is a good reason for not booking round trip reservations - book the outbound and then the return separately, so any issues on your outbound leg won't propagate forward and screw up your trip home.

Sacramento would be outside the two hour window if ticketed from Emeryville.
1663846298111.png
 

Shanson

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2021
Messages
84
Location
Austin TX
Thanks very helpful
What is a guaranteed connection? I am not familiar with the amtrak term.
Both legs of your trip have to be on the same reservation to have the connection guaranteed. If you have them booked separately, call Amtrak and have the reservation combined (with the connection happening in Sacramento).

But the advice above works if you really want to visit Emeryville.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,610
Location
Washington State
To do this, you buy three tickets on three separate reservations.

Reservation #1: Your main trip from PDX to CHI with the connection in SAC where you're nice and safe with the connection.
Reservation #2: Your extension on the CS from SAC to Emeryville.
Reservation #3: Your trip back from EMY to SAC. The run is listed at 1h48 minutes, so even if you don't press all the way to EMY and swap at one of the intermediate stations, you're inside of the 2 hour window and won't get auto cancelled.

By being on separate reservations, bailing on doing anything past SAC won't auto-cancel your entire trip.

Also, this is a good reason for not booking round trip reservations - book the outbound and then the return separately, so any issues on your outbound leg won't propagate forward and screw up your trip home.


View attachment 29714
While technically you are correct about arrival time, departure isn't until 11:09, and the ticket remains to be scanned. Unless the train is precisely on time, and the ticket is among the very first scanned, it will exceed 120 minutes. Have 60 seconds leeway isn't something to rely upon.
 

bonzoesc

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
25
Location
Miami
Well, one good thing if I did miss the guaranteed train and they put me up. I would have the day to visit the California Train Museum which is near Amtrak. Does anyone have comments about the musuem?
I made this connection back in July, from the southbound Coast Starlight to the eastbound California Zephyr. Got off the train at 6:30am, checked everything except my phone, wallet, and the smaller camera I brought at the station, and had a really nice morning. I walked a mile east to Milka Coffee Roasters and had an incredible espresso, latte, and a pastry as soon as the opening barista biked up. Then I walked another couple miles around the capitol building, moseyed to Old Sacramento, and ended up at Steamers for breakfast. Talked to a random local guy for a while, and after that decided to walk a quick loop over the river and back, west over the Tower Bridge (beautiful, good pedestrian infrastructure), north through the River Walk Park, and east over the I Street Bridge (bad pedestrian infrastructure, especially on the east side). All that and I still ended up hanging out at the station for an hour.

(yes I have a draft trip report post and photos I need to finish, why do you ask haha)

I didn't feel that I'd get enough time at the railroad museum to bother with it, since it opened only about an hour before I'd want to be back at the station to catch the train east.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,610
Location
Washington State
I considered Ryans' idea of a separate 'throwaway' coach ticket SAC-MTZ-SAC if the CS was running late as well. The price was low enough that $10-15 or so that if I didn't use it, it wouldn't dent my wallet much.
Only problem in this situation is that part of @coalman's motivation to that is to be able to partake of breakfast service on #11. That'd mean a room or at least business class. That'd be more than $10-15.

I may be jaded about Amtrak. It is my preferred mode, yes, but primarily transportation nevertheless. It is usually fun, but not a special treat (VIA's Canadian is my special treat😉). So all these potential contortions to force a ride between SAC and EMY leave me a bit of a loss. Take the guaranteed connection at SAC or lay over at Emeryville, Martinez, or Davis. Risking missing a connection with separate reservations (and destroying the trip) or buying a separate ticket (and having to move) to go farther down the line just strike me as overkill.

For me, personally, I'd probably layover at Emeryville. Having to get off zero six hundred would deter me.

The new traditional dining breakfast is good, but not that good.

In response to the question about moving the reservation out of EMY to the next day, yes Amtrak will do it without charging a penalty. With two caveats, there would have to be a room available, and you'd pay the difference between what you originally paid and current bucket on the revised travel date.
 
Last edited:

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,951
Location
Denver
What is the percentage of making the transition from PDX to Davis at 7:54 and leaving on CZ from Davis departing at 10:36? That 2 1/2 hour difference is one I would take at 70%. The SAC connection misses CS breakfast and you have a 5 hr layover in SAC that doesn't have a lounge.
I like making the Train 11 to 6 connection in college town Davis, but I'm familiar with the area and I do it on my homebound trip, so if something goes wrong, I could deal with it. I wouldn't recommend a same day connection west of there.
 
Top