Empire Builder Operational Questions

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Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
4
Hello! I travel on EB next week Portland, Or. to Erie, Pa. Very thankful for this forum answering lots of my ?s but I have a few more mostly curious operational questions.
1. Does each train have an ID sub unit number? There must be at least 3 trains at any one time going East to West. They all can't be just 28 and car number. How do I know what my specific train number is? I don't see it on my ticket. I see my car number on the ticker 2830
2. I saw you can check your train's status by entering 28 and stop and date. does it need your particular train's id #.
3. What if there is a prolonged delay? Do all trains on route hold or do behind trains keep going?
4. How long does it take to add the dining car at Spokane to the EB starting at PDX going East?
5. Is there a routine order of types of cars on each train?
6. Do # of cars on each train vary during the year?
Thank you for responses in advance.
 

Tom Booth

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
149
#4 - It takes a little over an hour in Spokane and it's done after midnight so you should be sound asleep. Enjoy. It's a great trip almost right out of PDX traveling along the Columbia River.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,231
1. Each train is identified by the train number, car number, and date. That's what will show on your ticket. If there is more than one train per day past your station, they will have different numbers.
2. If you enter the train number, stop, and date, you will receive results for the one-an-only Empire Builder that is scheduled to pass that station on that date. Should another train be late enough to be on the wrong date (gasp! But it happens on occasion), you will still only receive results for the train that is SCHEDULED on that date.
3. Trains behind will keep trying to keep to their scheduled times.
4. As the Tom Booth said, takes about an hour. I usually sleep right through it. They remove the loco from the front end of the Portland section, back the entire Seattle section into the coupling at the front of the Sightseer Lounge, and then put the Portland loco back on the front (I think both sections come with just one loco, I know the Portland section does). I got to watch the reverse operation in daylight last trip, because we were about 16 hours late.
5. There may at times be one fewer sleeper or coach in winter. My last trip, it was winter and there was only one Seattle coach east bound, so they accommodated a few Seattle coach pax in roomettes (without amenities), then rousted them up at Spokane to move to a PDX coach when the train was assembled. If you are in the Portland section, to get to the diner you will walk through Portland coaches, then the SSL, then the Seattle coaches, and then you will reach the diner between SEA coaches and SEA sleepers at the front. The Portland sleeper is the best, because you have the "railfan window" at the back of the train. But you will have to walk for your dinner.
 

greatwestern

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
54
I can offer some answers (although others will be able to be more complete than me).

1. Train 28 will always be the train originating in Portland with the date of its origination differentiating it from preceding/later date services. If you track train 28, it will show as train 8 once it has joined the Seattle section in Spokane so you are unlikely to ever see more than a single 28 although you will usually see 2 train 8's. Your ticket 2830 relates to train 28 car 30 and the departure date specifies "which" train 28.

2. In effect the departure date of the train is its particular id#.

3. A specific train will only be held if the problem is affecting that train itself - there is a 24 hour gap between Empire Builder trains so the effect of a delay caused to an earlier service will simply result in that 24 hour gap being reduced (or increased if it is the following train that experiences the delay).

4. The combining of the 28 service from Portland with the 8 (and its dining car) from Seattle only takes 15 - 30 minutes (that is the amount of time that power seems to be off). This happens in the early hours, you will not be able to access the dining car until it opens for breakfast (normally 6:30 am).

I defer to others to answer points 5 and 6 (and correct/clarify my above responses).

Edit : Looks like your questions have been answered whilst I was formulating this response.
 
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Samsbigtrip

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
99
1. Does each train have an ID sub unit number? There must be at least 3 trains at any one time going East to West. They all can't be just 28 and car number. How do I know what my specific train number is? I don't see it on my ticket. I see my car number on the ticker 2830
My tickets says, from left to right, Train 8, [date of travel], [from, to, type of accommodation] ¦ Car [no] - Room [no], Departs [time] Arrives [day, date and time]

I am going from Seattle to Chicago.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
25,826
While there may be 2-3 trains with the same number, that is why you may see a number in () - to differentiate each train. 28(15) departed Portland on the 15th, while 28(16) departed Portland on the 16th.

Each train has only 1 car number 2830. Thus, car #2830 room 7 on 28(15) is not the same as car #2830 room 7 on 28(16).
 

F900ElCapitan

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
370
5 & 6) Yes the consists vary throughout the year. Here’s what’s been running lately.

2 to 3 engines, one to PDX and the other(s) to SEA
Baggage car SEA
Transition Sleeper SEA
Sleeper SEA 731/831
Sleeper (seasonal) SEA 730/830
Diner SEA
Coach SEA 711/811
Coach (seasonal) SEA 712/812
Sightseer Lounge PDX
Coach/Baggage PDX 2714/2814
Coach PDX 2715/2815
Sleeper PDX 2730/2830
Sleeper (seasonal) PDX 2731/2831

The seasonal cars are added during busy periods, usually summer and holidays. The extra sleeper on the PDX section was new last summer, I don’t believe it ran during the this past holiday season but it does appear to be in the inventory for the upcoming summer. The extra sleeper for Seattle is usually added sooner and stays later than the extra coach for that section. The PDX section always has two coaches, one to handle checked baggage and the other for the lower level seating to satisfy ADA requirements.
 
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tomfuller

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
828
Good answers above! I have taken this very trip a couple of times. On your trip from Chicago to Erie, you will be on either train 48 or 448 both designated as the Lake Shore Limited. 48 is the one that goes into New York Penn and 448 splits off at Albany and goes to Boston South station.
Since it is an overnight trip out of Chicago (starting at 9PM CT) you might wish for a Business Class seat on 448 unless you have a sleeper. The seating in the Business Class is 2 on one side and single seat on the other. Business Class is in the forward section of the Cafe car. The Cafe will open about 6AM ET about an hour before you arrive in Erie. 48 and 448 are single level cars. Call for a taxi as you arrive in Erie unless you have someone picking you up.
 

tomfuller

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
828
#4 - It takes a little over an hour in Spokane and it's done after midnight so you should be sound asleep. Enjoy. It's a great trip almost right out of PDX traveling along the Columbia River.
If you are awake in Spokane, there will be a period of time (5-10 minutes) that the train will be "unplugged" and the heating/AC and lights will be out while the engines are shuffling. Don't worry the power will be on before the combined train starts moving east. You should step off the train at Whitefish in the morning and take a very quick peek into the station (don't get left behind). Whitefish MT is a smoke break and refueling stop.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
345
There must be some specific ids for the various cars within Amtrak for maintenance and repair purposes. Serial numbers maybe? But travelers wouldn't need to know that.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
651
There must be some specific ids for the various cars within Amtrak for maintenance and repair purposes. Serial numbers maybe? But travelers wouldn't need to know that.
As far as I know all Amtrak cars have numbers which can be seen on the side of the car and at each end on or above the doors. The car numbers will denote the type of car, for instance:

39000s are superliner transition sleepers
34000s are superliner coaches
33000s are sightseer lounge cars
38000s are superliner dining cars
etc.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,422
I don’t know BNSF’s ID system well enough to comment on what the ID is for them.

But an example using a CSX ID for Amtrak’s Silver Star is like this.

P091-18 is P for passenger. 091 is the train number. And -18 is the date it originated in the system. So in this case yesterday 2/18/2020.

Today’s train would be P091-19.

So at any time there are two P091s in the CSX system at one time. So the date on the end distinguishes the train for the computer system.
 

Palmetto

Conductor
Joined
May 12, 2014
Messages
1,931
I've seen two BNSF train symbols for Amtrak 7 & 8

1- A 1007 / 1008

2- A 7 / A 8

"A" is the employees' timetable designation for Amtrak trains.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
25,826
As far as I know all Amtrak cars have numbers which can be seen on the side of the car and at each end on or above the doors. The car numbers will denote the type of car, for instance:

39000s are superliner transition sleepers
34000s are superliner coaches
33000s are sightseer lounge cars
38000s are superliner dining cars
etc.
I’m just saying numbers at random, but today’s 2830 may be car #39182, while tomorrow’s 2830 may be car #39263.

How often do you tell someone that, “I’m coming to come in tomorrow on plane N38694! Meet me at the airport!” I bet you would tell that same person instead “I’m arriving on Delta flight #173!” Most people know and care that they’re in the “30 car” or in the “21 car”, not that they’re in car #39490! In fact, when you sign your check in the dining car, you put down as your car number 2830.
 
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