First time traveling on train advice/help

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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
423
I live in ABQ and of course therefore have taken the train from here. Manny, if you live in ABQ, you may know that most of the city buses, the Greyhound station, and the Rail Runner train that goes between Belen and Santa Fe as well as Amtrak go through or are hubbed through/at the Alvarado Transportation Center. It is just south of Central Ave and just east of 1st St. It's not very big, so you don't have to get there way ahead of hand like you might have to in other places. If you are driving in from out of town, be aware that there is no parking lot at Alvarado and the adjacent parking is metered with time limits, so you would have to find somewhere to store your car ahead of hand. When unloading or waiting for passengers to arrive, I have had success in parking south of Alvarado on 1st St, but I wouldn't want to leave my car there for any extensive time as there is some crime in that area.

The last time I was there, they divided folks up into 2 groups: the coach class and the sleeper class and we were instructed to exit the station to the train by 2 different doors. The sleeper people were instructed to go to the waiting room that is just south of the Greyhound counter and the coach people remained in the center part between the Amtrak and Greyhound windows. Both waiting rooms are offset a bit to the east of the Amtrak and Greyhound windows. I don't think you have to go to the Amtrak window unless you're checking your luggage if you already have your room number, but it doesn't hurt to make sure.

I hope you have a great trip!
 

MrNews

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
15
This reminds me of my very first long-distance Amtrak trip 10 years ago, Tampa to New Rochelle (NY), then D.C. to Tampa. I actually drove to Tampa Union Station a week ahead of time, checked the best route & traffic issues, discussed parking with station security, and asked a few questions at the ticket counter. This went a long way toward making my first overnight trip go smoothly. The novelty of the roomette, the dining experience (great, back then), the onboard showers, and the first-class lounges (NYP and WAS) made the whole experience magical.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,173
Alvarado Transportation Center, 320 1st St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Albuquerque? You can't possibly get on the wrong train unless you can't tell a RailRunner commuter train which has red colors and pictures of the RoadRunner and doors that go beep-beep just like the cartoon from a long distance Amtrak train which has Amtrak written on it and has lots of blue as well as the Amtrak logo you see in the station.

And if you can't tell the northbound (eastbound) train towards Chicago from the southbound (westbound) train heading to Los Angeles that are rarely, if ever, in the station at the same time then look away from the station building while on the platform and towards the Sandia Mountains. The Chicago train goes to your left and Los Angeles train to your right.

And enjoy NM. We wish we were back "home" again where we left our hearts!

Have a good trip. Station personnel in Albuquerque don't bite so don't feel bad about asking questions. Same goes for your fellow passengers. NM people are friendly. In fact, based upon recent experiences in NYC, the police there must have been "trained" in NM.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
423
Albuquerque? You can't possibly get on the wrong train unless you can't tell a RailRunner commuter train which has red colors and pictures of the RoadRunner and doors that go beep-beep just like the cartoon from a long distance Amtrak train which has Amtrak written on it and has lots of blue as well as the Amtrak logo you see in the station.
The loading platform for the Rail Runner is a little north from the various places that the Southwest Chief Amtrak train loads. It's got its own little pergola whereas Amtrak has the rest of the sidewalks and its own waiting room that is shared with Greyhound passengers, but not Rail Runner passengers. i think the Rail Runner does also have its own waiting room further north, but I'm not sure. I am sure about the trackside pergola.
 
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
11
Manny, Alvaredo is fairly small and the SWChief, when on time, stops there for about half hour. So you could have plenty of time to board and get settled before departure. If its running late it will board passengers and depart. You can move from car to car after boarding even if train has departed the station. If you need to park and leave a car give yourself some extra time. There are parking lots across the street. I have used the parking garage for longer term and an outdoor lot there for two days. Have fun and enjoy the ride and scenery!
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,912
If you live in ABQ, why not just pop over to the station, ask your questions and get the info you need? You will then know the process well in advance and be more confident in what is going to happen on your day of travel. No anxiety at the last minute and I'm sure your boarding will go smoothl
This reminds me of my very first long-distance Amtrak trip 10 years ago, Tampa to New Rochelle (NY), then D.C. to Tampa. I actually drove to Tampa Union Station a week ahead of time, checked the best route & traffic issues, discussed parking with station security, and asked a few questions at the ticket counter. This went a long way toward making my first overnight trip go smoothly. The novelty of the roomette, the dining experience (great, back then), the onboard showers, and the first-class lounges (NYP and WAS) made the whole experience magical.
OP, I strongly suggest that you do a "scouting" trip to help prepare yourself for your Amtrak journey.

It had been many years since I took a train from Washington Union Station. Before my Silver Meteor trip, I took an afternoon and rode the Metro to the station to do my scouting. I spent a couple of hours watching the check-in process at the ticket counter and where luggage is checked. Watched the boarding process and was able to get the Red Cap's Office phone number so that I could call them on the way to the station to have a Red Cap meet me at the Massachusetts Avenue side of the station to help me with my luggage. Wandering around the station and learning its layout was of great help. (Even got to participate in a "fire drill" when the fire alarm went off and many, many Security and Amtrak Police officers suddenly appeared.)

By doing this, on the day of my departure, my stress was greatly lessened. Once I was in "the care of the Red Cap" upon my arrival at WASH, he got me to check-in and baggage check which was accomplished quickly, got me to Club Acela where I stayed until he picked me up and took me to the train. He even took my carry-on and placed it my Roomette. (He deserved and received a generous tip.)
 

dogbert617

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
836
The train stops at Albuquerque for an extended period so there will be plenty of time to find the correct car and your sleeping car room. The sleeping car attendant for your car will direct you to your room. The sleeping cars are almost always at the front of the train just behind the locomotives. I would suggest that you pack a sleep mask for your trip which I find to be very helpful. Also some people like to use ear plugs. Take along a few snacks.

Once you board the train I suggest that you spend much of your time in the sightseer lounge cars which will provide you with good views on both sides of the train. The trip west from Albuquerque in the late afternoon and evening is remarkably beautiful and I always look forward to it.

Sorry about my suspicions and I hope you have a wonderful trip.
If you're riding the SW Chief to LA, that's one of the best middle of the route stations(along with also Kansas City on a side note) to board at. Since that station is an extended stop for this train, and I have no doubt Amtrak staff will tell you when sleeper passengers and also coach passengers, can start boarding the train. They will announce this, over the PA system.

(moderators: can you delete this message, and just leave up my longer post below? didn't intend to accidentally post this twice, sorry)
 
Last edited:

dogbert617

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
836
The train stops at Albuquerque for an extended period so there will be plenty of time to find the correct car and your sleeping car room. The sleeping car attendant for your car will direct you to your room. The sleeping cars are almost always at the front of the train just behind the locomotives. I would suggest that you pack a sleep mask for your trip which I find to be very helpful. Also some people like to use ear plugs. Take along a few snacks.

Once you board the train I suggest that you spend much of your time in the sightseer lounge cars which will provide you with good views on both sides of the train. The trip west from Albuquerque in the late afternoon and evening is remarkably beautiful and I always look forward to it.

Sorry about my suspicions and I hope you have a wonderful trip.
If you're riding the SW Chief to LA, that's one of the best middle of the route stations(along with also Kansas City on a side note) to board at. Since that station is an extended stop for this train, and I have no doubt Amtrak staff will tell you when sleeper passengers and also coach passengers, can start boarding the train. They will announce this, over the PA system.

And of course, Rasputin's post has TONS of great tips to remember while you ride this train. I'd also bring an inflatable pillow for an Amtrak trip, as well. Be aware too that as of now(through end of August 2020 last I heard, not sure if this will be extended further but hopefully not), that they are doing dining car meals unfortunately off of the shortened flex dining menu. Which I worry from online reports I've heard, may not be as good as the traditional dining car menu. Hopefully it's gotten better, over time.

Also if any of the sleeping car rooms on the opposite side of your roomette(assuming you got that, and not one of the bigger rooms) are empty, I sometimes will go into that empty sleeper roomette room to see what the views are like from the opposite side of the train, and even occasionally take pics. And of course even if you're in sleeper, you also could take in the views from the observation car, which is a few cars away from sleeper.

I'd also DEFINITELY buy some non-perishable snacks to take on your train trip before you board the train, such as granola bars and other items. Maybe even a few drinks, as well? Since honestly you never know which food items have run out in the cafe car or dining car(if you're riding in sleeper, never mind through August only flex menu items will be served), if you're boarding in the middle of the route up through the end part of your train trip.
 

joelkfla

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
125
Also if any of the sleeping car rooms on the opposite side of your roomette(assuming you got that, and not one of the bigger rooms) are empty, I sometimes will go into that empty sleeper roomette room to see what the views are like from the opposite side of the train, and even occasionally take pics.
I would think that bad form during the current situation. I would not be happy to learn that a stranger had been sitting in my room an hour before I boarded, with no intervening cleaning.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,985
It’s not just being out of something only in the middle of the trip.

I once took the EB from CHI and I had the FIRST sitting on the FIRST day. I ordered the chicken.

”I’m sorry, were out of chicken!”:oops:
They used to do this often out of Chicago on the Texas Eagle with the Steaks and the Cheese Cake and blame it on the Commisary.

Later on you'd see Crew Members eating them.😉
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,912
It’s not just being out of something only in the middle of the trip.

I once took the EB from CHI and I had the FIRST sitting on the FIRST day. I ordered the chicken.

”I’m sorry, were out of chicken!”:oops:
SWC, before dinner was over out of Los Angeles, the dining car had run out of the little bottles of Chardonnay.
 

dogbert617

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
836
I would think that bad form during the current situation. I would not be happy to learn that a stranger had been sitting in my room an hour before I boarded, with no intervening cleaning.
I do totally see your point, about the present with COVID around. I just wish the virus would go away, since I miss how things used to be more carefree, and where we weren't so worried about the virus. DON'T get me wrong I do take the worries about that seriously and wear a mask, and follow the other CDC recommendations that have been previously stated (social distancing, use hand sanitizer, etc).

I think it's only natural, that someone may be curious about views of scenery on both sides of the train.
 

Manny

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
Messages
17
A wild guess is that is your reservation #, you should have received a pdf which you can open showing your e-ticket which will have a QR code that can be scanned by the conductor. It is always good to print it out and keep a copy in your pocket in case of a phone issue. Assuming no checked luggage you will have no problem....If I recall, ABQ is staffed, if anything is unclear, ask the station agent....
Haha yeah! I actually was using the app to buy my ticket and the app didn't display all the information that the pdf did!
 

Manny

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
Messages
17
If you live in ABQ, why not just pop over to the station, ask your questions and get the info you need? You will then know the process well in advance and be more confident in what is going to happen on your day of travel. No anxiety at the last minute and I'm sure your boarding will go smoothly. There are many opinions here and trying to sort through them and come up with a plan might be difficult.
Because I don't live in abq I live a few towns over Xd
 
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