Empire Builder discussion

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TimePeace

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And without accommodate all of the passengers or did some of them go on a bus? I appreciate your responses...
 

TimePeace

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I wonder if there's a thread anywhere that describes all the different possible things that can happen when a train is delayed? So much terminology 🥴
 
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I took the westbound EB in late June and 3/4 of the passengers disembarked in Whitefish. The train was 90% full as we left St Paul (where I boarded).

The SSC was pretty full through Glacier but no one told people to make space for others.

I sat in the SSC along the Columbia River the next morning and one family looked camped out there. The dad said he regularly took the train from Spokane to PDX and rarely even used his coach seats. The train was empty enough at that point that it didn't matter.
Our family party of six did pretty much camp out at a table in the observation car, but only used 2-3 seats. We rotated through the day with the rest of our party in our coach seats and we always invited people to fill the other spots.
 

TimePeace

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I wonder how often roomettes turn over on the complete run of the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle and back, any ideas?
 

TimePeace

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Thanks for the reply. I have ridden it full length once each way but several years ago and schedules have changed quite a lot since then. I will be going both ways in March and I am really looking forward to it!
 

Acela150

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I appreciate the confirmation that there is no excuse for closing the diner until at least an hour later than they currently do.

Where did I confirm that there is no excuse? If anything I confirmed the reason why there is a legitimate excuse, and I'll add that I only know what happens upstairs. Not downstairs in the kitchen. I don't know anything about what happens down there.
 

oregon pioneer

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I wonder how often roomettes turn over on the complete run of the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle and back, any ideas?
In winter, there's no turnover at Glacier, but you can add in Williston. Many workers there choose the train in winter because of the probability of bad weather.
 

drfonta

Train Attendant
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Sep 13, 2019
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Anybody here have experience on the Empire Builder out of St. Paul MN westbound in a roomette? It's 11:13 pm scheduled so just curious if they pre set it up with bed ready to go or does the attendant wait until the passenger is boarded and go from there. MSP appears to be a a longer "break" stop from what I see. Also, odd question here but has anyone ever had someone else in your roomette when you boarded and had to deal with that? I know that's a weird thing to ask, but I've always boarded at the first station on all of my trips and always wondered if people tried slipping in to an "empty" roomette hoping nobody notices.

Looking forward to my trip from MSP all the way to SEA.

Thank you!
 

trimetbusfan

Lead Service Attendant
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Portland
Anybody here have experience on the Empire Builder out of St. Paul MN westbound in a roomette? It's 11:13 pm scheduled so just curious if they pre set it up with bed ready to go or does the attendant wait until the passenger is boarded and go from there. MSP appears to be a a longer "break" stop from what I see. Also, odd question here but has anyone ever had someone else in your roomette when you boarded and had to deal with that? I know that's a weird thing to ask, but I've always boarded at the first station on all of my trips and always wondered if people tried slipping in to an "empty" roomette hoping nobody notices.

Looking forward to my trip from MSP all the way to SEA.

Thank you!
Odds are the bed will be made up when you get on.
 

Anderson

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Odds are the bed will be made up when you get on.
I concur with this, though there's a proviso that if the room had a prior occupant getting off at MSP it might still need to be made up. CHI-MSP is a long enough run (especially with the diner constraints) that there will likely be occupants CHI-MSP in a few spaces.
 

drfonta

Train Attendant
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Sep 13, 2019
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I concur with this, though there's a proviso that if the room had a prior occupant getting off at MSP it might still need to be made up. CHI-MSP is a long enough run (especially with the diner constraints) that there will likely be occupants CHI-MSP in a few spaces.
Gotcha. Thanks! By "diner constraints" are you saying that since only sleeping passengers can use the dining car therefore more are likely to book a roomette to enjoy the dining?

First world questions for sure! :):):):)
 

Anderson

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Gotcha. Thanks! By "diner constraints" are you saying that since only sleeping passengers can use the dining car therefore more are likely to book a roomette to enjoy the dining?

First world questions for sure! :):):):)
Correct. Being able to get a non-microwaved meal on an eight-hour trip is a decent incentive there. Having a bunk if the train runs late doesn't hurt, either.
 

RalphCT

Service Attendant
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Jan 16, 2014
Messages
160
Anybody here have experience on the Empire Builder out of St. Paul MN westbound in a roomette? It's 11:13 pm scheduled so just curious if they pre set it up with bed ready to go or does the attendant wait until the passenger is boarded and go from there. MSP appears to be a a longer "break" stop from what I see. Also, odd question here but has anyone ever had someone else in your roomette when you boarded and had to deal with that? I know that's a weird thing to ask, but I've always boarded at the first station on all of my trips and always wondered if people tried slipping in to an "empty" roomette hoping nobody notices.

Looking forward to my trip from MSP all the way to SEA.

Thank you!
I've boarded there several times to head west. Each time the train was on time and my bed was made up for sleep time.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Austin Texas
Anybody here have experience on the Empire Builder out of St. Paul MN westbound in a roomette? It's 11:13 pm scheduled so just curious if they pre set it up with bed ready to go or does the attendant wait until the passenger is boarded and go from there. MSP appears to be a a longer "break" stop from what I see. Also, odd question here but has anyone ever had someone else in your roomette when you boarded and had to deal with that? I know that's a weird thing to ask, but I've always boarded at the first station on all of my trips and always wondered if people tried slipping in to an "empty" roomette hoping nobody notices.

Looking forward to my trip from MSP all the way to SEA.

Thank you!
Since the Main part of your question has been answered, I'll comment on the " Another person in your Room" question.

I've boarded LD Trains several times through the years, both in Roomettes and Bedrooms, and discovered someone else occupying my assigned Room.

The latest occurrence was a few years ago ( before e-tickets)when I boarded the Texas Eagle #422 in Austin bound for Chicago and had Roomette #5, which was occupied by a Gentleman that the Conductor had Upgraded in Alpine since Amtrak Reservations had screwed up and showed it as available.

The SCA got the Conductor, who was a long time Friend, and I was moved to Bedroom A which was available all the way to Chicago for no additional Fare!
 

drfonta

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
47
Since the Main part of your question has been answered, I'll comment on the " Another person in your Room" question.

I've boarded LD Trains several times through the years, both in Roomettes and Bedrooms, and discovered someone else occupying my assigned Room.

The latest occurrence was a few years ago ( before e-tickets)when I boarded the Texas Eagle #422 in Austin bound for Chicago and had Roomette #5, which was occupied by a Gentleman that the Conductor had Upgraded in Alpine since Amtrak Reservations had screwed up and showed it as available.

The SCA got the Conductor, who was a long time Friend, and I was moved to Bedroom A which was available all the way to Chicago for no additional Fare!
Thank you for that! Glad I asked these questions, though my brother decided he wanted to join me on this trip and get a roomette for himself out of Chicago the next day. So for an additional 1K points I'm going to meet him in CHI and go end to end CHI-SEA. Bucket list item for sure. Price is not bad right now for late May (throughout Memorial Day weekend anyway) roomettes on the Builder. Lower than the Zephyr and Chief right now. I had checked earlier and then a couple of days later they went down from around 1K$ to $651. Some of you experts may know why? I'm in car 731, not sure if that's always part of the consist or not.
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
I'm in car 731, not sure if that's always part of the consist or not.
730/830 is the "base" sleeper car line for the Builder. Right now, it is running with just the 30 car and the transdorm (32 car line on the Builder), as it has been since 2021. The 31 car line is the at risk car line for the Builder.

Apparently the CZ had a second sleeper assigned (32 car line for the CZ) in May that was recently reported to have been pulled in the California Zephyr Discussion thread here. So I would not count on that car being safe because Amtrak is still screwing up there equipment and/or staffing management.

Amtrak has been reviewing the inventory distribution among the yield management buckets and redistributing some inventory to lower buckets about 4-5 months out from departure on most trains. That price drop fits right in that pattern.
 

drfonta

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
47
730/830 is the "base" sleeper car line for the Builder. Right now, it is running with just the 30 car and the transdorm (32 car line on the Builder), as it has been since 2021. The 31 car line is the at risk car line for the Builder.

Apparently the CZ had a second sleeper assigned (32 car line for the CZ) in May that was recently reported to have been pulled in the California Zephyr Discussion thread here. So I would not count on that car being safe because Amtrak is still screwing up there equipment and/or staffing management.

Amtrak has been reviewing the inventory distribution among the yield management buckets and redistributing some inventory to lower buckets about 4-5 months out from departure on most trains. That price drop fits right in that pattern.
Interesting. Will definitely have an idea of an alternate plan just in case. Guessing they're expecting a bump in ridership for the Holiday weekend? I got room 6 if that means anything. Wonder what the cutoff for rooms booked is for keeping/ditching the 31 car is.
 

zephyr17

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Interesting. Will definitely have an idea of an alternate plan just in case. Guessing they're expecting a bump in ridership for the Holiday weekend? I got room 6 if that means anything. Wonder what the cutoff for rooms booked is for keeping/ditching the 31 car is.
Well, they don't adjust consists just for holidays, they do it on a seasonal basis.

Last year when they pulled cars, it didn't matter how much inventory had been sold in the car removed. They just pulled it. These removals are due to Amtrak equipment and staff shortages, not sales. They just don't have roadworthy cars to support the inventory they already sold. When it started happening last year it was the first time they systematically removed cars they had sold space in. For myself, until they have gone a full year without pulling this crap, I will not book in anything but the "base" sleeper. My clock for that just reset from October 2023 to May 2024.

Some people got re-accommodated in the 30 and 32 cars, most got downgraded to coach, and some got their trip cancelled entirely because coach was sold out. It was entirely involuntarily and, to add to it, they usually did not notify those affected until just two weeks before departure despite the fact that the decision to remove the car had been made weeks or even months before. In the case of the recent CZ removal of the 32 car, they were at least doing the notification much sooner.
 

drfonta

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
47
Well, they don't adjust consists just for holidays, they do it on a seasonal basis.

Last year when they pulled cars, it didn't matter how much inventory had been sold in the car removed. They just pulled it. These removals are due to Amtrak equipment and staff shortages, not sales. They just don't have roadworthy cars to support the inventory they already sold. When it started happening last year it was the first time they systematically removed cars they had sold space in. For myself, until they have gone a full year without pulling this crap, I will not book in anything but the "base" sleeper. My clock for that just reset from October 2023 to May 2024.

Some people got re-accommodated in the 30 and 32 cars, most got downgraded to coach, and some got their trip cancelled entirely because coach was sold out. It was entirely involuntarily and, to add to it, they usually did not notify those affected until just two weeks before departure despite the fact that the decision to remove the car had been made weeks or even months before. In the case of the recent CZ removal of the 32 car, they were at least doing the notification much sooner.
Oh...Wow...Yeah downgrade to coach aint gonna work either way. I would hope at least a full refund of points without penalty would be offered. In my situation, 2 weeks out wouldn't be devastating, but certainly wouldn't be happy about it at all. Thank you for the warning. Do you know if this happens on the Coast Starlight as well?
 
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zephyr17

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Oh...Wow...Yeah downgrade to coach aint gonna work either way. I would hope at least a full refund of points without penalty would be offered. In my situation, 2 weeks out wouldn't be devastating, but certainly wouldn't be happy about it at all. Thank you for the warning.
I think they may be over the late notice, based on the posts on the California Zephyr Discussion thread.

They were giving full refunds to those who got downgraded that asked for them.
 
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