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Empire Service V.S. Lake Shore Limited from NY to ROC?

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Samuil Doser

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Hi everyone. This November I was hoping to take the train from Manhattan to Rochester for Thanksgiving. Like the title says, I can either take the Empire Service or the Lake Shore Limited. I've been researching for a couple hours and I still can't make a decision.

Is the extra room and dining car on Lake Shore worth it in exchange for an additional hour of travel time? I really need a more experienced perspective to help me out here. Thank you!
 

pennyk

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Generally, the dining car is only available for sleeper passengers. If traveling on the Lake Shore Limited, will you be in a sleeper car? If not, I would take an Empire Service train in Business Class (which I have done in the past).
 

PVD

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Empire Service B/C in my opinion. You don't get use of the Diner unless you are in a sleeper. On the Lake, there is no cafe until Albany, it comes from Boston. Use the Empire BC, either bring aboard something to eat (Lots of choices in NYP) or use the cafe half of the car you would be in with BC. Coffee and soft drinks used to be comp, double check...
 

jiml

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Given the time of year, if you want to see the great Hudson scenery from the train I'd definitely do an earlier Empire Service train. By Thanksgiving the LSL will traverse much of the best part at dusk.
 

PVD

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The BC sections are small, and if they are still doing reduced loading, they will sell out very early (as will the rest of the train) around the holiday, move quickly. The refreshed AM-1 coaches aren't bad if you can't get BC.
 

Manny T

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The LSL hangs out in the station at Albany for about an hour to deal with the Boston segment. Why would anyone want that delay in a station when the Regional will just go straight through with a brief stop in Albany? And if there's a problem with the Boston segment all bets are off.
 

vinceg723

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The LSL hangs out in the station at Albany for about an hour to deal with the Boston segment. Why would anyone want that delay in a station when the Regional will just go straight through with a brief stop in Albany? And if there's a problem with the Boston segment all bets are off.
I have enjoyed that delay on summer Lake Shore Limited trips, as there's a small dive-y bar across from the station, and layover in the station is just enough for a beer and a snack from the grill. In the winter, though, I would agree that the earlier, quicker Empire Service is better.
 

fdaley

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The Empire Service trains are faster, more reliable, have cafe service throughout the trip, and cover more of the route in daylight. Plus they run every day. The Lake Shore now runs only three days a week. For a premium fare, one can get a private room on the Lake Shore, which might be desirable because of the pandemic, but if you're not buying a room, there's no reason to take the LSL.

The dining car used to be the reason to choose the Lake Shore over the corridor trains for coach travel, as you could have a full sit-down dinner on the way west. But for the past two years the "meals" have been downgraded to TV dinner quality and presentation, and they're no longer available at all to coach passengers. The food quality now is actually better in the corridor cafe car.
 

neroden

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Hi everyone. This November I was hoping to take the train from Manhattan to Rochester for Thanksgiving. Like the title says, I can either take the Empire Service or the Lake Shore Limited. I've been researching for a couple hours and I still can't make a decision.

Is the extra room and dining car on Lake Shore worth it in exchange for an additional hour of travel time? I really need a more experienced perspective to help me out here. Thank you!
In practice the travel time is not an issue. The Empire Service frequently arrives an hour late; the Lake Shore Limited sometimes arrives early, westbound.

The dining car is worthless junk right now.

The schedule is the issue. They depart at different times of day. Sometimes the Lake Shore Limited meets my scheduling needs while the other two Empire Service trains don't. (The LSL basically is an Empire Service train which goes a bit further.)

Also, it can be nice to have a private room in these days of Covid. So that's valuable.

So that's it. Pick the train which has the departure time which works for you. Unless you want a private room, which are currently only available on the LSL. (Personally I think they should have them on all trains, at this point.)
 
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