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East / West through train

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jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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For years, I have been intrigued of a coast to coast route starting in Washington and ending in LA. This would be an amazing train, and I believe it could be marketed as one of the worlds great rail journeys. Essentially, the Crescent would continue to run with Viewliners from New York to New Orleans, but Superliners would originate in Washington as this new service. The Crescent's Viewlners could be attached to the rear of this new service. The Superliners would split in Birmingham and create a new route through to Fort Worth. At Fort Worth connections could be made to the Texas Eagle and the through cars from Chicago to LA on the Eagle could get added to this new train. The train would continue to west Texas via Midland and Odessa joining the Sunset Route just east of El Paso. It would then continue on the Sunset Route to LA. This would be a three night, coast to coast run. It would also make the Texas Eagle's through Chicago-LA cars a two night run. Not only would this improve service and open up new markets, it could be marketed as one of the epic train journeys in the world.
That would definitely qualify as an "experiential" train if done properly. My simpler proposal would be to just extend the Sunset Limited to Washington or the Crescent to Los Angeles - either would work. (A Superliner Crescent would terminate in WAS, not NYP of course.) I've always liked the Texas Eagle as a standalone daily train from Chicago to LA.
 

Qapla

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Another option could be to go from DC to Cincinnati following the Cardinal route then from Cincinnati to St Louis on CSX tracks where it could follow River Runner route to Kansas City and follow the SWC route to LA
 

NS VIA Fan

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That would definitely qualify as an "experiential" train if done properly. My simpler proposal would be to just extend the Sunset Limited to Washington or the Crescent to Los Angeles.......

That was essentially the trip I did back in 1975 from Los Angeles to Washington although it was just a thru car. A Transcontinental Sleeper handled on the Sunset...then transferred to the Southern Crescent in New Orleans. You could occupied the car overnight in New Orleans as your 'Hotel' and spend the evening out on the town!

But what a disappointment when I boarded the thru car in LA! If anyone can remember what were referred to as 'Lexan Lovelies'.....the Lexan window of my Roomette was so scratched and faded it was almost opaque! On the Sunset I spent the day riding in an xSanta Fe High-level Coach and then on the Southern Crescent....an xWabash Dome Car. (In the B&W photo below at New Orleans is the Dome on the right and thru Sleeper on the left)

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Palmetto

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I did the LA-NY sleeper as well, but started in San Antonio. The nice part about it was that your sleeper was your hotel while in New Orleans doing the town. Southern Railway still ran the train between New Orleans and D.C. with its own dining car, lounge and sleepers.
 

Cal

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Jan 23, 2021
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I think that rail passenger service has traditionally been able to be all things to all customers in a way that no other mode can. The pre-Amtrak California Zephyr is a prime example of that. Land cruise: Yes. Transportation: Yes. It doesn't need to be an either or. But I am with you; I totally oppose turning the long distance trains into a land cruise like the Canadian. Amtrak is transportation for rural America and it needs to be.
Actually I'm all for making Amtrak (at least for sleepers) more of a land cruise. Maybe not completely, but more of.

But they shouldn't compare a tourist attraction full land cruise to the current only-transportation Amtrak
 

railiner

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During that same era, the "All Amtrak" transcontinental thru sleeper from New York ran daily to Los Angeles via Kansas City. It was a whole day faster, too...

I just took another look at that very early Amtrak timetable. The westbound schedule, with its tight connection between the National Limited, and the then seasonal Chief, allowed an incredible, only two night journey, from coast to coast. The Chief, allowed a one night only journey from Chicago to Los Angeles.:cool:
 

Larry H.

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Dec 22, 2006
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How about considering a thru train that doesn't go the way all the trains do today. Much of the midwest is lacking rail service as it stands now. Why not a train leaving the east in N.Y or Washington though St. Louis and either connecting with the Chief in KC and perhaps on to a connecting point with the California Zephyr.
 

railiner

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How about considering a thru train that doesn't go the way all the trains do today. Much of the midwest is lacking rail service as it stands now. Why not a train leaving the east in N.Y or Washington though St. Louis and either connecting with the Chief in KC and perhaps on to a connecting point with the California Zephyr.
How about extending the Cardinal from Indianapolis thru St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Laramie, Ogden, Boise, and Portland to Seattle?🙂
 

Palmland

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What if I include a restored Pennsylvania Limited, featuring thru service between 30th Street Station and Chicago?😉
I still think Amtrak should consider rerouting the Capitol via Philadelphia. It would add about 1'45" to total time Washington to Chicago over the present route. No additional equipment would be required as it now lays over in DC almost a full day. It would of course have to be single level. It should swap its superliners with the Cardinals single level equipment and, with the additional VII cars, it should be doable. This provides a single seat ride to Chicago 7 days a week for Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philly; and it provides a second daily service Philly to Pittsburgh that the state wants.

I think the Cardinal would benefit from the Superliner equipment as it takes the highly scenic route through the New River Gorge and along the Ohio, especially if the schedule could be modified to provide better times at those locations. I just read an article in the NY Times with the headline 'Meet America's Newest National Park' - the New River Gorge.
 

west point

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SOU RR as I understand kept 2 spare sleepers in New Orleans just to substitute for a broken down sleeper off or onto the Sunset ? They would then ferry the sleeper to Atlanta's car shop.
 

bms

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Jan 29, 2018
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Cleveland
I don't see the big advantage of a through train. It's not hard to connect in Chicago from the Capitol, Lake Shore, etc., to the Empire Builder, Zephyr and such. If you're spending three nights on a train, the few hours off the train in Chicago are welcome.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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I don't see the big advantage of a through train. It's not hard to connect in Chicago from the Capitol, Lake Shore, etc., to the Empire Builder, Zephyr and such. If you're spending three nights on a train, the few hours off the train in Chicago are welcome.
Have you ever missed a connection before? And if the train has a wait in Chicago, I'm sure they will let passengers off the train for a little bit like they do now on extended stops. But at least if you're delayed you're not stuck a whole day in Chicago (not saying Chicago is a bad place to get stuck since I love Chicago but...)
 

railiner

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There is a limit on how long they would delay a train, even a "thru" train..l
Say for example, the Southwest Chief and Capitol Limited were made into a thru train. If the Eastbound Chief were seriously delayed, say 12 hours, instead of delaying all those booked on the Capitol originating in Chicago, or transferring to it from other trains, some of whom might have further connections downline; there is a good possibility it would make sense to annul the Chief when it reaches Chicago, and cut in an 'on time' train there, to continue to Washington. In such case, those 'misconnecting' passengers could be re-accommodated upon reaching Chicago. It would depend perhaps, on inconveniencing the fewest number of passengers.
 

Larry H.

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The Cardinal route which I am sure is beautiful, but if your talking a though train for a more timely trip then a less out of the way route would be better to me. And the idea of simply staying with Chicago does nothing to improve the expansion of service a different route would provide. I still think a route that includes St. Louis (which is centrally located), would be the best, then perhaps a set of western cities not now having any but one directional choice would be the best. Feeder lines of 700 miles then could connect a lot of people who now are ignored. I am no expert at routing in the old days, but I think the Frisco may have had a different set of cities going west?
 

Bob Dylan

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The Cardinal route which I am sure is beautiful, but if your talking a though train for a more timely trip then a less out of the way route would be better to me. And the idea of simply staying with Chicago does nothing to improve the expansion of service a different route would provide. I still think a route that includes St. Louis (which is centrally located), would be the best, then perhaps a set of western cities not now having any but one directional choice would be the best. Feeder lines of 700 miles then could connect a lot of people who now are ignored. I am no expert at routing in the old days, but I think the Frisco may have had a different set of cities going west?
Re-Starting the National Ltd. thru St. Louis to Kansas City is a good idea!
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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Also SL East or some train between New Orleans and Florida to give some sort of southern path across the country would definitely be useful. Think about traveling between New Orleans and Florida now or between Texas and Florida or California and Florida. Wouldn't it be more direct and theoretically faster to just go straight across the southern US?
 

jis

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Re-Starting the National Ltd. thru St. Louis to Kansas City is a good idea!
The PIP for Cardinal had a proposal for splitting the Cardinal at Indy sending one section on to St Louis and Kansas City, while the other section continued to Chicago. Other than some issues about finding enough rolling stock to achieve that, the overall assessment was positive.
 
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Willbridge

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The PIP for Cardinal had a proposal for splitting the Cardinal at Indy sending one section on to St Louise and Kansas City, while the other section continued to Chicago. Other than some issues about finding enough rolling stock to achieve that, the overall assessment was positive.
Indianapolis<>St. Louis is a good example of a corridor within a long-distance route making sense. The Cardinal would provide an AM westbound and PM eastbound schedule and a trainset of Midwest corridor equipment could run AM eastbound and PM westbound. Of course, it would work better if the Cardinal stayed close enough to schedule so that a lengthy dwell in Indy would not become necessary. And then there's the matter of arriving in the basement of the Indianapolis station...
 

railiner

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Indianapolis<>St. Louis is a good example of a corridor within a long-distance route making sense. The Cardinal would provide an AM westbound and PM eastbound schedule and a trainset of Midwest corridor equipment could run AM eastbound and PM westbound. Of course, it would work better if the Cardinal stayed close enough to schedule so that a lengthy dwell in Indy would not become necessary. And then there's the matter of arriving in the basement of the Indianapolis station...
The former Amtrak National Limited was a great route that ran from one end of its run to the the other, linking at least 7 potential "corridors" together. Unfortunately, when it ran, the portion from Pittsburg to St. Louis was covered solely by itself...only East of Harrisburg were there more than 2 daily trains.
 

IndyLions

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Of course, it would work better if the Cardinal stayed close enough to schedule so that a lengthy dwell in Indy would not become necessary.
I think the on-time performance of the Cardinal is pretty good. No data to back that up, just hearing the whistle pretty consistently at the same times 6 days a week...
 
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