Empire Builder 2022 Outrageous Bedroom Fares

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MilwaukeeRoadLover

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And why is not possible for Amtrak to exhibit a modicum of transparency. If these things challenges are true, then say so and attempt to assure the traveling public and the non-profit organization that represents the most loyal passengers, that fixes are in the works and here's what we can expect. Wait, ok, sorry. I forgot about Amtrak's record of delivering on promises.
I don't think this is much different from the airlines.
 

Sidney

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I consider myself LUCKY. I booked my Empire Builder roomettes from Chicago to Seattle and return from Seattle to Chicago just as Biden's COVID support bill was passed and the long distance trains were scheduled to return to daily trips late May 2021 instead of three times a week and before the public decided it was time to leave home. I made my reservation as the extra four days a week schedules were set up and booked travel on one of the four new days trips for September 2021. The fares on the three days a week trains were already scheduled and tickets being sold were about three times the low bucket price being offered on the new four days. I was able and did ticket a roomette with only one passenger(myself) for $505 each way and I do note that the coach fare portion of my ticket is $232 each way. So I bought my tickets before the demand exploded. The prices are high because the demand is high even 11 months out. Interestingly, I also reserved my September hotel accommodations in February/March and the same hotels on the same dates I reserved have increased their prices almost 50%. The number of people booking travel has caused these increases. Rental car prices are exploding and in some cases cars are not available. I used frequent flyer miles for my air travel so cannot evaluate increases in airline costs. I have abundant miles available since I don't fly more than once or twice a year and my flights to Chicago from Nashville and back will be the first flights I have flown in 17 months.

My travel days may be limited in the future with the current high prices for trains and hotels and the fact that I am turning 80 in October and have been living on fixed income with no increases since I retired in 2004.
I also snagged a $505 1 person roomette from Chi-Sea for next month several months ago. I wanted to do Sea to Lax after a night in Seattle,but low bucket was gone,so I checked the next day and low bucket was still there. I checked the EB for the next day and it was still $505 so I changed dates. This was in March. I used to do circle trips with low buckets for years by planning far in advance. It's getting harder and harder to do. I did grab the CL next June,but the connecting trains that I wanted were already out of low bucket fares. Guess I'll keep watching to see if they come down. If not,I ll fly from BWI to Lax and Sea return on Southwest.
 

20th Century Rider

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What one pays is determined by available buckets... and reaching a good agent to help make the reservation. Of the few times I had to pay a mid or high bucket was on the deprived TE.

Just booked a 4th transcontinental adventure with the help of an excellent agent along with my willingness to be flexible. This is for Mid January... and as with most months, there's a weekend holiday to bring up the fares. There are 4 sleeping nights in each direction... with use of certs to upgrade to business class if available.

EUG - EMY CS - sleeper
EMY - CHI CZ - sleeper
CHI - PHI Cardinal - sleeper
PHI - ALT Pennsylvanian coach [upgrade to bus with cert if avail]
ALT - NYP Pennsylvanian coach [upgrade to bus with cert if avail]
NYP - CHI Cardinal - sleeper
CHI - LAX SWC - sleeper
LAX - EUG CS - sleeper

Sleepers are H rooms due to ‘plumbing’ problems and I carry a letter from the doctor. H rooms are sometimes harder to get since there is only one now on many trains. My total was $2740. In addition... hotels along the way are between $125 and $225 [NYP]. These are for modest but clean hotels. I also try to get additional food from super markets where available... and stick to salads and unprocessed foods as much as possible.
 
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Larry H.

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I am linking here to a schedule from the mid 60s that shows the cost of both coach (41.85) and sleeper (52.68) from Chicago to San Francisco was as I had recalled the added cost of sleepers in the past. It no way equals the inflation everyone keeps saying is the same now. A small upcharge from coach allowed people to use the sleepers who wished a bit of privacy and somewhere to sleep other than a seat. It wasn't as now where only if you really have a great deal of money to spend and it doesn't matter what they cost that the bedroom charge isn't quite high. I didn't check the amtrak fares for the same trip but I am pretty sure the cost of a sleeper compared to coach is many times higher in comparison to what they used to be before amtrak


For some reason the this page I copied isn't showing the fare structure. I will have to look later, a quick look in history didn't bring it up either, I just know it had all the various fares and what I wrote down was correct. How I found it now I am wondering too. I clicked the above link when I was on that page but it doesn't seem to have access the fares somehow!
 
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joelkfla

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I am linking here to a schedule from the mid 60s that shows the cost of both coach (41.85) and sleeper (52.68) from Chicago to San Francisco was as I had recalled the added cost of sleepers in the past. It no way equals the inflation everyone keeps saying is the same now. A small upcharge from coach allowed people to use the sleepers who wished a bit of privacy and somewhere to sleep other than a seat. It wasn't as now where only if you really have a great deal of money to spend and it doesn't matter what they cost that the bedroom charge isn't quite high. I didn't check the amtrak fares for the same trip but I am pretty sure the cost of a sleeper compared to coach is many times higher in comparison to what they used to be before amtrak

Where are you seeing that? I can only see 5 pages viewable, the last one showing fares only from CO Spr,, Denver, Glenwood Spr, Grand Jctn, Pueblo, & SLC.
 

PaTrainFan

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According to the handy Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, in today's dollars, the sleeper fare would be $461 and the coach fare would be $366.

I am linking here to a schedule from the mid 60s that shows the cost of both coach (41.85) and sleeper (52.68) from Chicago to San Francisco was as I had recalled the added cost of sleepers in the past. It no way equals the inflation everyone keeps saying is the same now. A small upcharge from coach allowed people to use the sleepers who wished a bit of privacy and somewhere to sleep other than a seat. It wasn't as now where only if you really have a great deal of money to spend and it doesn't matter what they cost that the bedroom charge isn't quite high. I didn't check the amtrak fares for the same trip but I am pretty sure the cost of a sleeper compared to coach is many times higher in comparison to what they used to be before amtrak

 

Sidney

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A price differential of $95 is much more reasonable than the differential in many of the sleeper vs coach fares we have now
Indeed. For $100 more I would gladly pay for a roomette,even just for eight hours overnight. Sadly,it's more like$300 plus these days and no way I can justify that. Obviously,others will.

Several years ago I got a roomette after boarding the Cardinal in Dyer,In to DC for $95. Traditional dining,too. Sure miss those days when you could buy an empty sleeper from the conductor
 

Larry H.

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Where are you seeing that? I can only see 5 pages viewable, the last one showing fares only from CO Spr,, Denver, Glenwood Spr, Grand Jctn, Pueblo, & SLC.
Your right! That was the page I was viewing when I had the whole system charges between Chicago and San Francisco but I can't seem to access that from those pages now either. I haven't time right now to try and find it, I made a quick view of my viewing history but that didn't bring it up either yet.
 

niemi24s

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It would appear that the D&RGW timetables for its California Zephyr for 1965 contain only 10 pages (or 5 double pages). Neither the one posted above on ebay or the one here... drgw_ptt_1_nov_1965_cover.jpg ...contain single combined fares for CHI to SFO. But both contain fares from those end points to a variety of mid points. When adding those fares the sums for Coach range from $72.94 to $78.07 in the May, 1965 version for an average of $75.51

$75.51 would inflate to $656.51 for Coach between CHI and SFO using the calculator referenced above.

Don't know if any of this has any merit, however. But it is fun to noodle around with numbers on a nice Sunday afternoon.
 

joelkfla

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Your right! That was the page I was viewing when I had the whole system charges between Chicago and San Francisco but I can't seem to access that from those pages now either. I haven't time right now to try and find it, I made a quick view of my viewing history but that didn't bring it up either yet.
OK, it looks like the D&RG timetables don't show fares between Chicago & SF, probably because those segments of the CZ were serviced by Burlington & WP, respectively. But I found a 1965 Burlington timetable here.

Here are the fares listed between Chicago & SF eff. 4/25/65:
Rail Fares2021 Value
Coach$ 67.39$585.91
1st Class$ 85.56$743.89
Sleeper SupplementTotal
Lower Berth$ 24.20$ 91.59$ 796.31
Dupl. Roomette$ 26.60$ 93.99$ 817.18
Roomette$ 33.80$ 101.19$ 879.78

Having never traveled as an adult pre-Amtrak, I'm assuming a sleeper required regular Coach fare, not 1st Class.

So in this case, a full-size roomette was 150% of the coach fare.

BTW, that site also has some really cool CZ brochures & booklets.

Edit: @Willbridge replied that 1st Class rail fare was usually required, so add
$157.98 to the 2021 value of each sleeper class. That would make the full roomette fare $1,037.76!
 
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niemi24s

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And rounding that figure in the lower right to the nearest dollar, here's how that 2021 value fits in with the current Roomette fare buckets on the CZ: $563, 688, 804, 880, 928 and 1052 That's about 5% above middle bucket. Nice fit, eh?

But were meals included in those Burlington fares?
 

PaTrainFan

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Probably not. Including meals in first class rail fares did not become a thing until well into the Amtrak years.

And rounding that figure in the lower right to the nearest dollar, here's how that 2021 value fits in with the current Roomette fare buckets on the CZ: $563, 688, 804, 880, 928 and 1052 That's about 5% above middle bucket. Nice fit, eh?

But were meals included in those Burlington fares?
 
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Qapla

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I would be more than happy having a fare structure for roomettes that is much more affordable if the meals were optional

For those that want the full dining experience, have the higher fare (what it is now) and lower the fare for those of us who are willing to bring/get our own food.
 

Tlcooper93

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I would be more than happy having a fare structure for roomettes that is much more affordable if the meals were optional

For those that want the full dining experience, have the higher fare (what it is now) and lower the fare for those of us who are willing to bring/get our own food.
I’ve always wondered why this isn’t an option already...

especially for eastern LD one night trains, where the trip is less experiential than western trains.
 

Larry H.

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Where are you seeing that? I can only see 5 pages viewable, the last one showing fares only from CO Spr,, Denver, Glenwood Spr, Grand Jctn, Pueblo, & SLC.
Now that I had time to check that link out again, I found that it is the right link. You have to click on the pamplet to keep moving to the right arrows that show up on the edge of the pages usually. The last page is two pages of the fares. Somehow I missed that too when I made a hasty check of it from your comment.
 

Willbridge

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Having never traveled as an adult pre-Amtrak, I'm assuming a sleeper required regular Coach fare, not 1st Class.

So in this case, a full-size roomette was 150% of the coach fare.
......
Normally sleeper travel required First Class fares. That also blocked access to various coach ticket discount sales. Exceptions included Slumbercoaches and some seasonal promotions. For example, the Western Star in winter carried a 16 duplex roomette / 4 double bedroom car and rooms could be purchased on top of coach fares, possibly to compete with the Slumbercoach on the Mainstreeter.

There were some really arcane fares, too. My favorite is that in 1968 for single occupancy of a drawing room the GN required 1¼ first class fares but scheduled no sleepers with drawing rooms. Information such as this overloaded travel agents and GN agents at low-volume locations.
 

joelkfla

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Normally sleeper travel required First Class fares. That also blocked access to various coach ticket discount sales. Exceptions included Slumbercoaches and some seasonal promotions. For example, the Western Star in winter carried a 16 duplex roomette / 4 double bedroom car and rooms could be purchased on top of coach fares, possibly to compete with the Slumbercoach on the Mainstreeter.

There were some really arcane fares, too. My favorite is that in 1968 for single occupancy of a drawing room the GN required 1¼ first class fares but scheduled no sleepers with drawing rooms. Information such as this overloaded travel agents and GN agents at low-volume locations.
Thanks. In that case, add $157.98 to the 2021 Value of each of the sleeper classes in my post. That would make the full roomette fare $1,037.76, just $15 shy of Amtrak high bucket.

But Amtrak coach fare on 9/14/21 is $142, less than 1/4 the inflation-adjusted $586 value of 1965 Coach fare. Which explains why the disparity between Coach and Sleeper seems so much more than in pre-Amtrak days.
 
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I clicked the above link when I was on that page but it doesn't seem to have access the fares somehow!
I could not find the San Francisco to Chicago fares, but did get comparable Coach and Pullman fares for Colorado Springs to San Francisco to be $41.88 and $52.68. However I am confused by the "FARES FOR OTHER STANDARD PULLMAN ACCOMODATIONS" but know someone can explain this.
1629711029002.png

1629711659565.png
 

Larry H.

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I could not find the San Francisco to Chicago fares, but did get comparable Coach and Pullman fares for Colorado Springs to San Francisco to be $41.88 and $52.68. However I am confused by the "FARES FOR OTHER STANDARD PULLMAN ACCOMODATIONS" but know someone can explain this.
View attachment 24128

View attachment 24129
If you took this off m y original link there are two pages at the last right hand page, that is where the Francisco are. Those Other Fares might represent more than one person in a bedroom or roomette?
 
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If you took this off m y original link there are two pages at the last right hand page, that is where the Francisco are. Those Other Fares might represent more than one person in a bedroom or roomette?
Thanks. I was especially confused by the top/bottom bed distinction.
 

niemi24s

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As previously stated...
It would appear that the D&RGW timetables for its California Zephyr for 1965 contain only 10 pages (or 5 double pages). Neither the one posted above on ebay or the one here... drgw_ptt_1_nov_1965_cover.jpg ...contain single combined fares for CHI to SFO. But both contain fares from those end points to a variety of mid points. When adding those fares the sums for Coach range from $72.94 to $78.07 in the May, 1965 version for an average of $75.51
Once again, NO SINGLE FARE BATEWEEN CHI AND SFO CAN BE FOUND IN THIS D&RGW TIMETABLE! But from the partial route fares given in the D&RGW timetable, fares can pieced together by adding the fares from CHI to (either Colorado Springs, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction or Pueblo) to the fares from (either of those same 5 places) to SFO.

But the single Burlington fare between CHI and SFO of $67.39 reported by joelkfla is about $8 or 11% less than what can be gleaned from the pairs of D&RGW fares - and that makes good sense.

So while the D&RGW timetables do indeed give SFO fares, these D&RGW timetables do NOT give a single one-shot fare between SFO and CHI. Total fares must be pieced together from five different pairs of partial routes found on Page 9 of the D&RGW timetable.

But sometimes I don't find things so well. I can't find a SFO/CHI fare anywhere in the D&RGW timetable. If there is one, kindly tell me exactly where to look.
 

Ryan

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No, you're correct @niemi24s. There isn't a single fare to be found in there.

Top/Bottom bed distinction refer to sectionals, where you don't have a private room - they're not equivalent to a roomette where you have a private space.

We seem to have demonstrated what my memory recalls from every other time we've played this game. Sleepers aren't significantly more expensive once you factor in for inflation, yes the gap is smaller but that's because coach today (adjusted for inflation) is significantly cheaper. I'm pretty sure that those longing to go back to the old days don't actually want to keep the "ZOMGSUPARHIGH SLEEPER FARES" and significantly increase the cost of a coach ticket.
 
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Exvalley

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Sleepers aren't significantly more expensive once you factor in for inflation
This is especially true when you consider that sleeper fares generally did not include meals.

On the other hand... sleeper fares back then were much more competitive in comparison to airline fares. The drastic change since then is that airline fares (adjusted for inflation) have come WAY down. This is probably why Amtrak coach fares are much lower when you adjust for inflation. There is more of a direct competition with airlines in regard to coach class.

It is also why Amtrak sleeper fares "feel" much higher - even if they aren't when you adjust for inflation. Because compared to the alternatives, sleeper fares really are MUCH higher now.
 
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