First time traveling on train advice/help

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Manny

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
Messages
17
So in 2 ½ weeks I leave for LA and this is my first time taking it by train, I booked a sleeper room but have no idea how to tell what train is mine and how to find my room. Anyone can share some if their train riding wisdom with me? I'll appreciate it.
 

Eric S

Conductor
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,512
What's your departure station? That will help us give you suggestions for finding your train and room.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
26,008
Next to the door of each car is a changeable sign with 4 digits. This is the car number. (Note this is totally different than the 5 digit car number painted on the car, which does not change.)

Thus if you have car 5000 or car 0530, you enter that car. There will also be employees at the door to assist you.
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,601
If you let us know where you are leaving from, we can give you a heads up...
 

Nick Farr

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
80
Check the PDF ticket you should have been emailed. There will be a car number and a room number there.

You can also go early and check into the Metropolitan Lounge. They should be able to tell you what the procedure there is. At least two hours prior to departure is good.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,724
Next to the door of each car is a changeable sign with 4 digits. This is the car number. (Note this is totally different than the 5 digit car number painted on the car, which does not change.)

Thus if you have car 5000 or car 0530, you enter that car. There will also be employees at the door to assist you.
Assuming the number has been changed to the current train/car #. I have seen cars with the wrong #’s, so I would not count on this.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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May 6, 2011
Messages
11,724
You can also go early and check into the Metropolitan Lounge. They should be able to tell you what the procedure there is. At least two hours prior to departure is good.
You’re assuming he’s leaving from Chicago. ;)
 

pennyk

Conductor
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Administator
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Have a print out of your e-ticket in your hand, and when you see a crew member standing in front of a door of the train, show that ticket to the crew member, who will direct you to the correct car (or ask a crew member). Your car number and room number will be on the e-ticket.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,911
Amtrak Car Diagrams @ CraigMashburn.com shows the floor plan of Amtrak's cars and may be helpful to you to study before you board the train. Knowing in advance as to how the car is laid out may help to orient you when you board.

The accommodation numbers and letters are easily visible as you walk down the corridor.
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
978
Some generic suggestions (since I don't know what station you are leaving from)

  • Arrive early - give yourself plenty of time to find your train and enjoy the sights of the station (2 hours or more is not unreasonable)
  • Ask for help - Amtrak employees and regular train riders can be very helpful
  • Stay aware of who and what is around you ... stay safe!
  • Keep yourself "sociality distanced" from others
  • Remember, Amtrak wants you to wear a mask to board the train
  • Don't be afraid to ask multiple Amtrak personnel for direction if you forget what was said or get "turned around"
  • Remember to say "Thank You" - it goes a long way
  • Keep your e-ticket on you phone where you can readily access it
  • Have a printed copy of your ticket in you pocket just in case (I always print a couple copies in case my phone decides not to cooperate)
With a little more information on where you are leaving from - help specific to your departure station will be available on this forum
 

John Santos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
75
Be sure you know your train number. If you are leaving from a major station, there will be a first class lounge and/or waiting area for sleeper passengers. The lounge attendant will call your train when it is ready to board, and lead the sleeper passengers to the train. There are signs, similar to the departure signs at airports, which will list your train and what track it will be leaving on, and when it is ready to board. (The signs work for everyone, coach as well as sleeper passengers.) There will generally be PA announcements as well.

Along side the train, there will be a conductor or attendant who will check your ticket (either a paper ticket or an e-ticket on your phone, tablet, etc.) They will tell you if you are at the right or wrong train, and which car to board. Be sure to get to the platform with enough time to go back and find the right train if you are at the wrong one!

One advantage of trains over airplanes is you don't have to be at the station 2 or 3 hours early. Twenty minutes is plenty, but only if you are familiar with the station layout and there is no danger of getting stuck in a traffic jam on your way to the station. For a first-timer, I would allow at least an hour.

The sleeper lounge (Metropolitan Lounge in many cities, Acela Lounge on the NEC) will usually have coffee, tea, cold drinks and snacks available, with comfy chairs, WiFi, etc. so a good place to wait if you are too early. (The lounge in Chicago even has showers, though they may be closed due to Covid-19.)

The first time I took a long distance train (LSL BOS->CHI in a roomette), I didn't know about the lounge and had to hustle all my luggage through South Station among all the commuters and NEC passengers, and find the right platform (which was well-marked) but once I reached the train, they took really good care of me. The lounge attendant would have guided me to the right track and arranged a Red Cap to bring me and my luggage to the train if I had needed that service. The Sleeping Car Attendant (SCA) always asks if you are a first-time sleeping car passenger and gives a very thorough introduction to the room, car and services if you are. They are always happy to answer any questions, even for experienced passengers.
 

PVD

Conductor
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Jul 8, 2015
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4,601
The exception to the "you don't have to be there too early" advice is if you are checking a bag. Many sleeper passengers don't bother on the trains to LA, the cars have ample baggage racks on the lower level. Word from some recent travelers has mentioned certain things not out to eat or drink in the lounges during the current situation. Again, if we knew where you were departing, someone will give you the up to date scoop.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,168
If you are going from a station that has redcap service (e.g. Chicago), take advantage of it. For a tip of a few dollars, they will take you right to your car and hand you over to the SCA. Well worth the money.
 

Chey

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 27, 2014
Messages
475
Has *nothing* to do with their base pay; I have relatives who make half that, serving people who rarely tip for a service, not guaranteed to them, to do what that they cannot do themselves.

But that does not diminish what the RedCaps do.

Their tip is for the wonderful service the RedCaps provide - which is a GREAT service for those of us who have problems getting our stuff to the train. We rely on them completely.

The last time I was in San Jose I tried to tip the RedCap and he refused it. It wasn't an insignificant tip, someone here tried to tell me why he refused it, something having to do with California Corridor stuff I didn't understand. He totally deserved it.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
717
Maybe I am overly suspicious but I find it rather strange that the original poster has never responded to numerous questions asking for more details about his or her trip.
 

Manny

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
Messages
17
Many assume this is an "official" Amtrak forum - when they see it is not, they never return.
Lmao i know its not official i just could use some people's tips and wisdom who actually been on a train😂
 
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