First timer, on Empire Builder from Seattle to Fargo, ND

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This will be my first time riding Amtrak, and I'm going on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Fargo, ND. I have searched different things on the internet, but most of what I've found seems to be really outdated. What I'm really trying to figure out, and this question seems to be unanswered, is whether or not there is a good amount of electrical outlets on the coach seats. I know my laptop, cell phone and Zune are not going to last 31 hours without being recharged at some point.

I don't care to know about the other trains or the sleep cars, etc, so please only answer if you have an answer specific to my question. I keep getting the runaround every where else, thanks! :)
 

Bob Dylan

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This will be my first time riding Amtrak, and I'm going on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Fargo, ND. I have searched different things on the internet, but most of what I've found seems to be really outdated. What I'm really trying to figure out, and this question seems to be unanswered, is whether or not there is a good amount of electrical outlets on the coach seats. I know my laptop, cell phone and Zune are not going to last 31 hours without being recharged at some point. I don't care to know about the other trains or the sleep cars, etc, so please only answer if you have an answer specific to my question. I keep getting the runaround every where else, thanks! :)
Well there are lots of posts on this forum about the Empire Builder,generally to answer your question you shouldnt have many problems

charging your phone or any other electrical appliances IF you have a refurbished Superliner with outlets @ every seat!The lounge car can also be used

to charge them but lots of passengers use this and the car is very popular on this run!As AlanB could tell you, there are few places during this

trip that will allow you uninterrupted use of your phone or lap top,lots of times you will have no service, its a long trip in the mountains and

across the praries where basically there are not many people!Hope this helps, Im no on line guru but I do know this route, just rode it 2 weeks ago

and as I said lots of info here!Enjoy the trip, you can do without electric devices for awhile while you take in the beuatiful scenery(IMHO)!
 

zephyr17

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This will be my first time riding Amtrak, and I'm going on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Fargo, ND. I have searched different things on the internet, but most of what I've found seems to be really outdated. What I'm really trying to figure out, and this question seems to be unanswered, is whether or not there is a good amount of electrical outlets on the coach seats. I know my laptop, cell phone and Zune are not going to last 31 hours without being recharged at some point. I don't care to know about the other trains or the sleep cars, etc, so please only answer if you have an answer specific to my question. I keep getting the runaround every where else, thanks! :)
Greetings fellow Zuner!

The answer, unfortunately, is maybe. Even the Empire Builder does not run with an entirely captive equipment pool, so all you know is you will be in a Superliner coach. Upgraded Superliner coaches generally have outlets at ever row. Some don't, and non-upgraded Superliners pretty much don't. There is no real way to tell beforehand if you are going to get one. Although, in theory, with the Empire Builder you should have more of chance that you will have an upgraded coach. The cars that don't have outlets at every row do have a couple of rows with them, but I don't know which rows, although there are other posters here that do.

On other trains a lot of people use the outlets at the upstairs service counter in the Sightseer Lounge, since it not open on those trains. However, on the Empire Builder, it is actually manned (from Whitefish), so I don't know if you can use it. There are a couple of other outlets in the Sightseer, too. You may want to bring a power strip, so if you find an outlet, you can run it to where you are, and maybe share it with your fellow pax, making yourself popular.

Enjoy your trip.
 
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Thanks for the answers.

I can do without my laptop, but that is the only way I have to charge my Zune, and without that, since I'm travelling alone, I will probably die of boredom lol.
 

RTOlson

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I hope you have a great trip. It's good to have personal entertainment for trips (even if it is a Zune :p ).

My coach car had outlets at every seat, but the next one forward didn't. So it's really hit or miss.

While nearly all Sightseer Lounge cars have two publicly available outlets, they aren't in the best locations. One is right along the walkway, so people tend to trip over cords or plugs sticking out. The second one is in the upper-level serving station (which may be occupied). However, the person manning the station is often generous to let people use it after hours.

Additionally, some Sightseers are being upgraded to include more outlets (running along the window sill). Again, this is hit or miss.

-------------------------

I know you were looking for a direct answer to your direct question, but I would like to offer some friendly insight after reading your comment about possibly dying from boredom.

Since this is your first trip on Amtrak, you have a chance to enjoy the opportunities that train travel across the United States has to offer. On the Empire Builder route, there's tons of terrific scenery along the route. This includes running along rivers and traveling alongside mountains.

And while I wouldn't expect you to be a social butterfly, there's plenty of opportunities to get up from your seat and mingle with others. It's fun to get to know other people from all walks of life who are riding the rails. The lounge car often has National Park Service volunteers at points along the route to help provide additional information about the history and sights around you.

If you choose to dine in the dining car, please be aware that they will seat you with others (most likely strangers). Most people view this as a great and novel experience, some people don't care for it. I enjoy chatting with others, but I was put off by a young man who silently listened to his iPod during the entire meal.

When I was on Empire Builder, I was pretty busy all day and didn't need my books or computer until after the sun went down at night. I hope that your journey is filled with a similar number of pleasant pastimes.
 
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Thanks for the tips.

Since I'm a young woman travelling alone, I prefer not to be too social with just anyone. A lot of times I like how wearing a pair of headphones, whether they're on or not, will keep people from trying to talk to me. I am also military, and when people know this, they tend to ask a lot of questions I don't feel like answering, and because lying isn't really my thing, I tend to give in. I prefer to be somewhat anti-social and not offer up too much information about who I am, what I'm doing, and where I'm going. I'm hoping the trip will be a pleasant experience.
 

RTOlson

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I think I can see where you're coming from. Although others might have had other experiences, I don't think people will bother you much if privacy is what you're seeking (especially if you remain in your seat).

I definitely wish you safe travels.
 

jackal

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I'll second the above suggestion to bring a power strip in the event you'll only have the limited plugs in the lounge car to utilize. While you may not be interested in the social inroads it helps to create, people definitely appreciate it, and it should help ensure you'll be able to use it even if it's already occupied.

Safe travels from me, too! :)
 

Bill Haithcoat

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Just relax. You may find the train ride is a pleasure in and of itself. That is where many of us are coming from on this board. The scenery is great and the Empire Builder is one of Amtraks usually better-run trains.

I am of the pre-computer generation so it is hard for me to understand the need for gadgets. I was on a trip recently from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I noticed a nice,well behaved kid near me who was looking at a train video or playing with the video or whatever the heck it is people do....and I thought,....how sad.. he has to be entertained with something ABOUT trains when he is actually ON a real train. Why can't he put that nonsense down and enjoy the real thing??
 
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Just relax. You may find the train ride is a pleasure in and of itself. That is where many of us are coming from on this board. The scenery is great and the Empire Builder is one of Amtraks usually better-run trains.
I am of the pre-computer generation so it is hard for me to understand the need for gadgets. I was on a trip recently from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I noticed a nice,well behaved kid near me who was looking at a train video or playing with the video or whatever the heck it is people do....and I thought,....how sad.. he has to be entertained with something ABOUT trains when he is actually ON a real train. Why can't he put that nonsense down and enjoy the real thing??
I totally understand that. My problem is that I work nights, and try as I might to stay awake during the day when I can see the scenery, months of being on this schedule will win over eventually and I can't be entertained staring at darkness :)

That and since I am travelling alone, I prefer to have my Zune at least, since I don't have someone to talk to the whole time.
 

sunchaser

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Hi SeattleGrace,

I just thought I'd jump in & welcome you to the board & thank you for serving in our military! After reading your questions & responses about need for privacy & staying up late, you may want to consider getting a roomette. While they can be expensive, it would fit your needs of privacy, security, outlet use, & your other concerns. You can also have your meals brought to your room, if you prefer. I know this has nothing to with coach, but it may be the best thing for your desires. I do think whatever you choose, it is unlikely that you will be bored. Enjoy your trip!
 

Bob Dylan

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Just relax. You may find the train ride is a pleasure in and of itself. That is where many of us are coming from on this board. The scenery is great and the Empire Builder is one of Amtraks usually better-run trains.
I am of the pre-computer generation so it is hard for me to understand the need for gadgets. I was on a trip recently from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I noticed a nice,well behaved kid near me who was looking at a train video or playing with the video or whatever the heck it is people do....and I thought,....how sad.. he has to be entertained with something ABOUT trains when he is actually ON a real train. Why can't he put that nonsense down and enjoy the real thing??
I totally understand that. My problem is that I work nights, and try as I might to stay awake during the day when I can see the scenery, months of being on this schedule will win over eventually and I can't be entertained staring at darkness :)

That and since I am travelling alone, I prefer to have my Zune at least, since I don't have someone to talk to the whole time.
Thanks for serving(military brat/old Navy hand),I too am a night owl and based on my world travels I have never failed to run into

fascinating and kind people whereever I went(Even New York! :lol: )!Lots of folks like to read on trains @ night,also theres a million tips

about coach and sleeping on trains on this forum!One of the habits that Americans tend to have is to ask people what they do instead of who they are?

Ive found that keeping discussions on track that dont annoy you involve the scenery/the train/current world happenings that are important

or interesting to both parties etc./you can always smile and say excuse me,Im gonna go take a nap! :) happens all the time on trains!

Nothing wrong with the headphones but if you eat in the diner as someone said please take them off, you might be surprised @ who you meet,

then again you might be shocked/bored/or horrified??????As everyone has said,relax,enjoy the ride,youre in good hands with Amtrak

especially on this train!!!If you have questions or comments about anything re trains or your trip please ask,these are good(mostly :lol: )

folks here and as the Navy commercial says: "its not just a job, its an adventure!(and whats wrong with an i-pod or dvd player,I too am

pre-computer and dont know what a Zune is??? :blink:
 

RTOlson

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^^

Zune is another type of personal media player, like the iPod. However, the Zune is produced by Microsoft.

The fact that it's made by Microsoft and isn't as popular as the iPod leads to some knocking it slightly. Despite my ribbing, I'm sure it's a fully capable device.
 

EB_OBS

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Quite a few superliner coaches are upgraded with electrical outlets at every seat, however there are still many many cars that have not been upgraded. It's really not possible to determine ahead of time whether or not your coach car will be an upgraded one or not. AMTRAK doesn't renumber these upgraded cars so they simply return to service and the pool of cars is managed by CNOC. So it's not possible to pull up a train's consists on ARROW and determine if you'll get outlets or not.

I predict though that you'll have plenty of opportunity to charge your devices when necessary. There are still some outlets in each car and many passengers are able to share them just fine.

Have a nice trip.
 

AlanB

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AMTRAK doesn't renumber these upgraded cars so they simply return to service and the pool of cars is managed by CNOC.
For those who might not know, CNOC stands for Consolidated National Operations Center. They control all Amtrak operations, are charged with knowing where every train is, what equipment is where, and what to do when something goes wrong. It's CNOC that authorizes buses when needed because a train is unable to continue its run for any reason. CNOC also maintains contact with the host RR's and many other things.
 

EB_OBS

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AMTRAK doesn't renumber these upgraded cars so they simply return to service and the pool of cars is managed by CNOC.
For those who might not know, CNOC stands for Consolidated National Operations Center. They control all Amtrak operations, are charged with knowing where every train is, what equipment is where, and what to do when something goes wrong. It's CNOC that authorizes buses when needed because a train is unable to continue its run for any reason. CNOC also maintains contact with the host RR's and many other things.
Thanks Alan. Sometimes when I'm in a rush I forget those little things like lingo when posting here.
 

p&sr

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I am also military, and when people know this, they tend to ask a lot of questions I don't feel like answering, and because lying isn't really my thing, I tend to give in. I prefer to be somewhat anti-social and not offer up too much information about who I am, what I'm doing, and where I'm going.
Maybe (especially if you travel in Uniform) you could just tell them you're on "official business" and you're not allowed to talk about it?
 

jackal

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^^Zune is another type of personal media player, like the iPod. However, the Zune is produced by Microsoft.

The fact that it's made by Microsoft and isn't as popular as the iPod leads to some knocking it slightly. Despite my ribbing, I'm sure it's a fully capable device.
Probably fully capable, and even overly capable and thereby overly complicated--in true Microsoft style!! :p
 
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I am also military, and when people know this, they tend to ask a lot of questions I don't feel like answering, and because lying isn't really my thing, I tend to give in. I prefer to be somewhat anti-social and not offer up too much information about who I am, what I'm doing, and where I'm going.
Maybe (especially if you travel in Uniform) you could just tell them you're on "official business" and you're not allowed to talk about it?
The only time we are allowed to travel in uniform is when we are using commercial travel for deployments...I think they'd look at me funny. :p
 
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^^Zune is another type of personal media player, like the iPod. However, the Zune is produced by Microsoft.

The fact that it's made by Microsoft and isn't as popular as the iPod leads to some knocking it slightly. Despite my ribbing, I'm sure it's a fully capable device.
Probably fully capable, and even overly capable and thereby overly complicated--in true Microsoft style!! :p
I hate Apple with a passion...I used to have an I-pod before I bought my Zune and it sucked. I don't know about the newer I-pods but the Zune gets radio, and you can access the Zune Marketplace and download music right from the Zune if there's a wifi connection. Plus, I have an Xbox and I like that I can use the points I buy for both :)
 

jackal

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^^Zune is another type of personal media player, like the iPod. However, the Zune is produced by Microsoft.

The fact that it's made by Microsoft and isn't as popular as the iPod leads to some knocking it slightly. Despite my ribbing, I'm sure it's a fully capable device.
Probably fully capable, and even overly capable and thereby overly complicated--in true Microsoft style!! :p
I hate Apple with a passion...I used to have an I-pod before I bought my Zune and it sucked. I don't know about the newer I-pods but the Zune gets radio, and you can access the Zune Marketplace and download music right from the Zune if there's a wifi connection. Plus, I have an Xbox and I like that I can use the points I buy for both :)
iPod Touch allows buying music anywhere there's wifi, and iPhone allows buying music anywhere you have a cell signal! ;)
 
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Well, I got back Monday morning from my trip, and wow. I'm really not sure what to think.

On the trip to Fargo from Seattle I sat at a window seat, and soon had an older lady sitting next to me. I was kind of bummed about that, since there were empty seats and was hoping she'd be getting off before me, but no such luck. Part of the reason why this trip might have been unpleasant may have been because of how anxious I was just to get home, but it wasn't soon before my back started to hurt and my butt was falling asleep. I kept readjusting the seat, taking Ibuprofren, stretching as much as possible when I got up to use the restroom, but I was pretty much in pain the whole time. I slept maybe 2-3 hours the whole trip. I was lucky enough to have a plug-in at my seat. I did not eat anything, I didn't feel like paying $15-20 for one meal. The car I was in ran out of water before we even hit Spokane - the bathrooms became disgusting, toilets wouldn't flush, etc. They fixed the problem so that the toilets would flush, but there was still no drinking water. The train was pretty much on time, it departed on time but arrived maybe 10 minutes late.

On the return trip from Fargo to Seattle, the train was late by over an hour. I was very pleased that mostly everyone on board (who were all already sleeping) had both seats to themselves, and found two seats near the back of the car. It was already almost 5am when I boarded, but I tried getting some sleep anyways. It was so much nicer to able to stretch out over both seats. Unfortunately, the lounge car was behind me and I was soon woken up by the doors constantly opening and shutting. It also seemed that the car I was in was incredibly wobbley, although I did notice even on the previous trip that the tracks in North Dakota and part of Montana seemed to be pretty rough compared to the rest, but maybe this was because we seemed to be going faster on this part of trip. Whatever the reason, I was still able to sleep for most of trip and had both seats to myself the whole time. This made a huge difference on my back pain. I was also a little more prepared...brought more food and had IcyHot instead of just Iburprofren. Sad part was I didn't have a plug-in at my seat, so I had to keep my BlackBerry turned off except to send an occasional status text and check the time. I didn't even bother with my laptop, but my Zune managed to survive all but one hour of the 32 hour trip. My only REAL complaint about the return trip was that the car attendant was pretty much non-existant. I managed to get a pillow more than 24 hours into the trip, and when I asked her for one, the response was "Well it's going to be awhile," and she walked away.

Whether or not I'll take Amtrak again is uncertain. The price was nice, but so far I'm 50/50 on good and bad.
 

sunchaser

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Well, I got back Monday morning from my trip, and wow. I'm really not sure what to think.
On the trip to Fargo from Seattle I sat at a window seat, and soon had an older lady sitting next to me. I was kind of bummed about that, since there were empty seats and was hoping she'd be getting off before me, but no such luck. Part of the reason why this trip might have been unpleasant may have been because of how anxious I was just to get home, but it wasn't soon before my back started to hurt and my butt was falling asleep. I kept readjusting the seat, taking Ibuprofren, stretching as much as possible when I got up to use the restroom, but I was pretty much in pain the whole time. I slept maybe 2-3 hours the whole trip. I was lucky enough to have a plug-in at my seat. I did not eat anything, I didn't feel like paying $15-20 for one meal. The car I was in ran out of water before we even hit Spokane - the bathrooms became disgusting, toilets wouldn't flush, etc. They fixed the problem so that the toilets would flush, but there was still no drinking water. The train was pretty much on time, it departed on time but arrived maybe 10 minutes late.

On the return trip from Fargo to Seattle, the train was late by over an hour. I was very pleased that mostly everyone on board (who were all already sleeping) had both seats to themselves, and found two seats near the back of the car. It was already almost 5am when I boarded, but I tried getting some sleep anyways. It was so much nicer to able to stretch out over both seats. Unfortunately, the lounge car was behind me and I was soon woken up by the doors constantly opening and shutting. It also seemed that the car I was in was incredibly wobbley, although I did notice even on the previous trip that the tracks in North Dakota and part of Montana seemed to be pretty rough compared to the rest, but maybe this was because we seemed to be going faster on this part of trip. Whatever the reason, I was still able to sleep for most of trip and had both seats to myself the whole time. This made a huge difference on my back pain. I was also a little more prepared...brought more food and had IcyHot instead of just Iburprofren. Sad part was I didn't have a plug-in at my seat, so I had to keep my BlackBerry turned off except to send an occasional status text and check the time. I didn't even bother with my laptop, but my Zune managed to survive all but one hour of the 32 hour trip. My only REAL complaint about the return trip was that the car attendant was pretty much non-existant. I managed to get a pillow more than 24 hours into the trip, and when I asked her for one, the response was "Well it's going to be awhile," and she walked away.

Whether or not I'll take Amtrak again is uncertain. The price was nice, but so far I'm 50/50 on good and bad.
I'm sorry that it wasn't as good as it could have been for you. Make sure you fill out a survey online at amtraksurvey.com within 3 days of your trip. Also, you can call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) and ask for an agent, then Customer Relations. Explain the bad conditions in coach to them. They cannot improve things if they are not aware of the situation.

I encourage you to give it some time & try again. Many people pack a travel pillow & blanket along, with earplugs, too. Maybe a shorter trip, or see if you can get a roomette next time. You should be much more comfortable in a roomette.
 
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