Empire Builder discussion

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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
2,299
Location
Denver
7 and 8 are all running now, weather seems acceptable next couple days. I still plan to be on 7 leaving CHI Wed. Can't wait, I haven't been out of the state of Maine in 7 years or more šŸ˜–.
In studying the Sold Out Cascades I noticed an interesting side effect of the Builder cancellations. Space that was sold out on the Cascades opened up and then the next day they were Sold Out again. Further evidence that the demand is greater than the supply.

The space that opened up looked about right for Builder connections at this time of year for Kelso-Longview, Centralia, Olympia-Lacey and Tacoma.
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2010
Messages
5
On the Eastbound EB (departed Seattle 2/12) in coach, and no Cafe/Lounge is a huge bummer. They are providing some snacks from the dining car at least.

I'm on a big USA Pass trip and this is the first real drag in all the LD routes so far.

Edit: Hilarious. Just as I get done complaining they brought Pizza Hut on board for everyone in Coach to have 2 slices on the house. Ok Amtrak. Not bad.

Edit 2: Stew! It happened! Heard about this possibility, but didn't think it would be likely on my journey. Stew for a late dinner for coach.
I was on 28 / 8 eastbound EB from PDX to CHI on Jan 20, three weeks before your trip, Trampy. Same thing happened to us - No sightseeer lounge in the consist, so deprived of the main reason one makes this trip, especially with a daytime transit of Glacier National Park. As we were in a Bedroom, it was fairly easy to see out both sides of the train, but still, not the same without the SSL. Amtrak scrambled to feed the coach passengers with free food at every mealtime. Saw lots of Subway, Pizza Hut and other hot food brought on board throughout the trip. Access to the diner for sleeper passengers was a bit more challenging, but the staff rose to the occasion.
 

Ray Way

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2023
Messages
18
Location
Rio Vista, CA
Sorry to change the subject but I have a question: Next year my wife and I are planning to fly to Kelispell from SFO. Then somehow get to Glacier Lodge (East), stay 3 days and then take the Builder to Seattle. The question is, how do I get to Glacier Lodge from Kelispell? Anyone know? Thanks.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
954
I was on 28 / 8 eastbound EB from PDX to CHI on Jan 20, three weeks before your trip, Trampy. Same thing happened to us - No sightseeer lounge in the consist, so deprived of the main reason one makes this trip, especially with a daytime transit of Glacier National Park. As we were in a Bedroom, it was fairly easy to see out both sides of the train, but still, not the same without the SSL. Amtrak scrambled to feed the coach passengers with free food at every mealtime. Saw lots of Subway, Pizza Hut and other hot food brought on board throughout the trip. Access to the diner for sleeper passengers was a bit more challenging, but the staff rose to the occasion.
I am on 7 heading to Portland. No sightseer car. They substituted another Coach car. Disappointing. Glad I m in a sleeper. Coach passengers are stuck in their seats for the three days and walking through the Coaches I saw many seat checks destined to Sea and Pdx. Why is this happening so often?
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,483
Sorry to change the subject but I have a question: Next year my wife and I are planning to fly to Kelispell from SFO. Then somehow get to Glacier Lodge (East), stay 3 days and then take the Builder to Seattle. The question is, how do I get to Glacier Lodge from Kelispell? Anyone know? Thanks.
Public transportation can be pretty sparse. I suggest that you call Pursuit which runs Glacier Park Lodge and they may have transportation information from Kalispell to East Glacier. Also check with Xanterra which operates most of the lodging inside the Park.

One option of course would be to spend your first night in Whitefish and catch the eastbound Empire Builder to East Glacier the next morning. It is an exceptionally scenic trip and the station at East Glacier (Glacier Park) ir right across from the hotel in easy walking distance.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2009
Messages
497
Location
Rural Pacific Northwet
Sorry to change the subject but I have a question: Next year my wife and I are planning to fly to Kelispell from SFO. Then somehow get to Glacier Lodge (East), stay 3 days and then take the Builder to Seattle. The question is, how do I get to Glacier Lodge from Kelispell? Anyone know? Thanks.
You can rent a car at the Kalispell airport. I believe Enterprise is still there.
 

Siegmund

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
429
Location
northwestern Montana
If you can get to West Glacier there will be shuttles to take you across to East Glacier. But it varies year to year whether there is a bus from Kalispell to West Glacier or not. (The Park Service pays for service inside the park, Flathead county pays - or doesnt - for service west of the park.)

Cab from the airport to Whitefish and then the train from Whitefish to East Glacier may well be the easiest option.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,483
Cab from the airport to Whitefish and then the train from Whitefish to East Glacier may well be the easiest option.
fI agree and that is what I would do. Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish is owned by Pursuit which also owns Glacier Park Lodge so I would stay at Grouse Mountain the first night. They have a shuttle that can pick you up at the airport and then take you to the train station the next morning to take the train to East Glacier.

Be aware that Glacier Park Lodge is not within Glacier Park and if you want to visit the Park you will need to reserve a red bus tour offered by Xanterra or rent a car at East Glacier. (But if you rent a car at East Glacier or anyplace else, you have to have a vehicle reservation to enter the Park and that is another story as the Park website will indicate.)
 

Northwestern

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Messages
271
Location
Santa Rosa
Sorry to change the subject but I have a question: Next year my wife and I are planning to fly to Kelispell from SFO. Then somehow get to Glacier Lodge (East), stay 3 days and then take the Builder to Seattle. The question is, how do I get to Glacier Lodge from Kelispell? Anyone know? Thanks.

************************************************************
Keep in mind that the westbound Builder now arrives at East Glacier at around 7:50 PM. I would like to see a much earlier arrival for the EB.


Here is info on the shuttle service within Glacier Park. On the east side, it doesn't start at East Glacier but at St Marys visitor center (east side) and Apgar (west side) which is an Amtrak stop. You would need a taxi at each end for Glacier Park Lodge or Whitefish. The shuttle bus goes along the "Going to the Sun" road so it wouldn't be a quick trip but very scenic. I would think there must be a bus service between East Glacier and Whitefish along highway 2, just below the park. There is a taxi service between Whitefish and Kalispell (about a 30 min ride).

I am planning an Empire Builder trip from Portland to Whitefish, this summer. I will be staying at the Grouse Mountain Lodge, in Whitefish, and they offer a shuttle between their lodge, the Amtrak station, and Kalispell.
 
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
1,351
Location
Central Florida
Sorry to change the subject but I have a question: Next year my wife and I are planning to fly to Kelispell from SFO. Then somehow get to Glacier Lodge (East), stay 3 days and then take the Builder to Seattle. The question is, how do I get to Glacier Lodge from Kelispell? Anyone know? Thanks.
There is way to avoid the logistics of airport to Whitefish to east Glacier although it would add a day to your trip and additional expense. Fly to Minneapolis/St Paul instead of Kalispell and take the EB to East Glacier! Gives you more train time and a chance to see the Great Plains.

A quick check of air fares in June showed it was actually around $100 cheaper to MSP (Sun Country Airlines). But then a room on Amtrak isnā€™t cheap.
 

Ray Way

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2023
Messages
18
Location
Rio Vista, CA
Thanks for information on Kalispell. One final question: This might seem like a dumb question for someone like myself who has experience with Amtrak trains being late. What is the likelihood of a delay on the Builder going from Seattle to East Glacier and the reverse trip?
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,272
Location
Washington State
Thanks for information on Kalispell. One final question: This might seem like a dumb question for someone like myself who has experience with Amtrak trains being late. What is the likelihood of a delay on the Builder going from Seattle to East Glacier and the reverse trip?
For 8, it really mostly depends on the incoming consist of 7. If 7 gets in by around noon so they have time to turn the consist by scheduled departure, chances are it will be on time or pretty close to it. It isn't really that far and BNSF usually handles it pretty well.

The return on 7 is more problematic, since it will have had 1500 miles or so to stack up delays in. An hour or two late at Whitefish can be pretty routine. Note that there is pad at Spokane and Seattle, so even if the train is an hour or so late at Whitefish, it can still be on time or close to it at Seattle
 

Ray Way

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2023
Messages
18
Location
Rio Vista, CA
There is way to avoid the logistics of airport to Whitefish to east Glacier although it would add a day to your trip and additional expense. Fly to Minneapolis/St Paul instead of Kalispell and take the EB to East Glacier! Gives you more train time and a chance to see the Great Plains.

A quick check of air fares in June showed it was actually around $100 cheaper to MSP (Sun Country Airlines). But then a room on Amtrak isnā€™t cheap.
Thanks for St Paul/Minneapolis tip! I think that will work for me.
 

TimePeace

Disillusioned.
Joined
Sep 4, 2008
Messages
1,142
Does anyone know
why Empire Builder number 8 has not departed Seattle yet, listed as four and a half hours late tonight (friday 3/10)?
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,272
Location
Washington State
Does anyone know how reliable the builder is for same day connections in CHI? Iā€™m think specifically about 8-30/48
According to ASMAD, 8 missed connection with 48 13 out of 72 times, or 18% in the last 3 months.

8 missed the connection with 30 29 out of 68 times, or 43%.

The connection with 48 is reasonably reliable, making it about 4 out of 5 times in the recent past. 30 is a crapshoot, missing nearly half the time. If you were to book a same day connection, do it to 48.

I have made the 8 to 48 connection and I had plenty of time to walk down Adams to the Berghoff for dinner.
 

TimePeace

Disillusioned.
Joined
Sep 4, 2008
Messages
1,142
Well I can't seem seem to make any sense of what is going on with #8 now... from Amtrak Status Maps site . I would appreciate updates from anyone who does understand it, I've got to get on it Wed. Thanks very much!
D.
 
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