How far can I go for $460 ?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
Hi,

I have not used the Amtrak rail pass for many years, but back when it was "unlimited segments" I used them several times.

I was reading about a charity rail tour of India: https://gcirc.wordpress.com/

Just wondering what the maximum mileage one could get from a current Amtrak rail pass, with the 15 days / 8 segments limitation. (It is not permitted to travel over the same portion of track more than 4 times with any rail pass.)

The route has to be achievable, with fair connections as laid down by Amtrak to minimize missed connections.

Any thoughts?

Ed.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

Conductor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
2,005
If you have a Rail Pass, the total cost isn't an issue then, you are limited to the number of days and segments.

If in the summer, fly into Washington. If in the fall after the Lake Shore Limited goes back into Penn Station and you prefer New York you can go back into New York.

Day 1-2: Crescent to New Orleans

Overnight in New Orleans

Day 3-4: City of New Orleans to Chicago

Day 4-5-6: Southwest Chief to Los Angeles

Overnight in Los Angeles (probably don't want to risk the same day connection)

Day 7: Coast Starlight to Bay Area (pick San Jose, Oakland, or Emeryville)

Overnight in San Francisco

Day 8-9-10: California Zephyr to Chicago

Day 10-11: Capitol Limited to Washington if in summer or Lake Shore Limited to New York

Overnight in Washington-New York?

Day 12-13: Silver Meteor to Orlando/Miami?

Overnight in Florida

Day 14-15: Silver Meteor back to Washington/New York
 

Johanna

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
112
Do you want the maximum unique mileage or the maximum total mileage? If you ride a route end to end four times, do those miles count four times or just once?
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,025
Taken to an extreme, you can find two city pairs with a sub-$460 monthly pass and ride as many miles as you can in a month.

That would be a fun exercise to plan, less fun to execute.
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
The rail pass stipulates that you can only ride the same route or part thereof 4 times max. It is to prevent folk using it as a commuter ticket:

Travel is restricted to four one-way trips between two cities, and to all cities in between, over the same route. For example, the following trips would use up the four trips over the Washington, DC to New York route segment:

Trip 1: Washington, DC to New York
Trip 2: New York to Washington, DC
Trip 3: Washington, DC to Philadelphia
Trip 4: Philadelphia to Washington, DC

I think the maximum unique mileage would be the most interesting, but I would allow a little back tracking and repetition to help plans along.

Thanks for the input so far!

Ed.
 

cpotisch

Conductor
Joined
Sep 2, 2017
Messages
7,511
I guess the maximum distance would be to take two Eagle/Sunset round-trips and two CZ round trips, but I could imagine that would be pretty tedious.

Without repeating any segments whatsoever, I guess it would be something like LAX-CHI (SWC), CHI-SEA (EB), SEA-LAX (CS), LAX-CHI (TE/SL), CHI-NOL (CONO), NOL-WAS (Crescent), WAS-CHI (Cardinal), CHI-EMY (CZ). That would be about 318 hours or 13 nights.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
I guess the maximum distance would be to take two Eagle/Sunset round-trips and two CZ round trips, but I could imagine that would be pretty tedious.

Without repeating any segments whatsoever, I guess it would be something like LAX-CHI (SWC), CHI-SEA (EB), SEA-LAX (CS), LAX-CHI (TE/SL), CHI-NOL (CONO), NOL-WAS (Crescent), WAS-CHI (Cardinal), CHI-EMY (CZ). That would be about 318 hours or 13 nights.
Sadly the above won't work out, as it does not take into account the need to connect from one train to the next, so the pass would run out of days before the trip could be finished.

Interesting idea for a 30 day pass though!

Ed.
 

cpotisch

Conductor
Joined
Sep 2, 2017
Messages
7,511
I guess the maximum distance would be to take two Eagle/Sunset round-trips and two CZ round trips, but I could imagine that would be pretty tedious.

Without repeating any segments whatsoever, I guess it would be something like LAX-CHI (SWC), CHI-SEA (EB), SEA-LAX (CS), LAX-CHI (TE/SL), CHI-NOL (CONO), NOL-WAS (Crescent), WAS-CHI (Cardinal), CHI-EMY (CZ). That would be about 318 hours or 13 nights.
Sadly the above won't work out, as it does not take into account the need to connect from one train to the next, so the pass would run out of days before the trip could be finished.

Interesting idea for a 30 day pass though!

Ed.
How would that take more than 30 days?
EDIT: Sorry, just saw that we’re talking about a 15 day pass.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Lonestar648

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
May 17, 2015
Messages
2,687
You could do chi/lax then lax/sea then sea/chi then chi/EMY so you could see the four western routes, each with its own beauty.
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,025
A monthly between WAS and BAL is $444. The two cities are 40 miles apart. Assuming you do 5 round trips a day, after 30 days you've knocked down 12,000 miles. You end up traveling 27 miles for every dollar spent.

Lots of miles. Really boring.
 

districtRich

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2015
Messages
113
A monthly between WAS and BAL is $444. The two cities are 40 miles apart. Assuming you do 5 round trips a day, after 30 days you've knocked down 12,000 miles. You end up traveling 27 miles for every dollar spent.

Lots of miles. Really boring.
I'd be so full of Amtrak microwaved hot dogs!
 

jebr

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
3,914
A monthly between WAS and BAL is $444. The two cities are 40 miles apart. Assuming you do 5 round trips a day, after 30 days you've knocked down 12,000 miles. You end up traveling 27 miles for every dollar spent.

Lots of miles. Really boring.
I'll one up you. CHI - MKE. 84 miles each way, and the schedule allows for 3 roundtrips per day from Milwaukee (from Chicago it looks like that's only possible M-F.) That'd net you 15,480 miles on a $416 monthly ticket.

Maybe by the end of the 30 days you'd have finally seen the lake!
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
Maybe the title of my item caused some confusion.

The 15 day rail pass costs $459, so it was meant to be a comparison between the mileage I achieved with the old style pass, and what might be possible with the current 8 segment / 15 day pass.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, I will have to sit down with the routes and see which are the longest realistic options.

Ed.
 

KmH

Conductor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
2,055
Unless I goofed up, looks like this would work for a 15 day 8-segment rail pass.

Looks like 11,578 miles - 7 trains (segments) 15 days.

Day 1 thru 3 Southwest Chief

GBB to LAX - Night in LA

Day 4 & 5 Coast Starlight

LAX to PDX - Night in PDX

Day 6 thru 8 Empire Builder

PDX to CHI

Day 8 thru 10 Capitol Limited & Crescent

CHI to WAS to NOL Night in NOL

Day 11 thru 15 Sunset Limited & Southwest Chief

NOL to LAX to GBB
 
Last edited by a moderator:

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
That looks an interesting route, KmH, I guess one could extend the Coast Starlight to Seattle, and maybe start and finish in Chicago for a little extra mileage?

Is the day 8 Empire Builder to Capitol connection "guaranteed"?

It is not clear (at least to me) how the pass validity is ordained? For example, if I board the last long distance train on day 14, and arrive at the final destination on day 16, am I still within the scope of the pass?

Lots of food for thought!

Ed.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

Conductor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
2,005
That looks an interesting route, KmH, I guess one could extend the Coast Starlight to Seattle, and maybe start and finish in Chicago for a little extra mileage?

Is the day 8 Empire Builder to Capitol connection "guaranteed"?

It is not clear (at least to me) how the pass validity is ordained? For example, if I board the last long distance train on day 14, and arrive at the final destination on day 16, am I still within the scope of the pass?

Lots of food for thought!

Ed.
In general, east-west connections in Chicago are guaranteed. Normally regulars like to plan days leeway for missed connections though.

You would have to talk with Amtrak but I believe you cannot arrive at your final destination on day 16. Now if you miss a connection because of Amtrak's fault and it forces you into day 16 they shouldn't penalize you for it.

That being said, you have to be careful about the Sunset Limited as part of your trip because you'd have to figure out a specific day for that leg since it doesn't run daily. You don't want to have to wait in New Orleans for 1-2 days for the next SL and have that eat up your pass days.

Would you want to fly into Chicago or wouldn't flying into an Atlantic city be cheaper and closer to England? Also consider which cities in the US you really want to visit and which routes you want to see, give us some feedback.
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,670
That looks an interesting route, KmH, I guess one could extend the Coast Starlight to Seattle, and maybe start and finish in Chicago for a little extra mileage?

Is the day 8 Empire Builder to Capitol connection "guaranteed"?

It is not clear (at least to me) how the pass validity is ordained? For example, if I board the last long distance train on day 14, and arrive at the final destination on day 16, am I still within the scope of the pass?

Lots of food for thought!

Ed.
In general, east-west connections in Chicago are guaranteed. Normally regulars like to plan days leeway for missed connections though.

You would have to talk with Amtrak but I believe you cannot arrive at your final destination on day 16. Now if you miss a connection because of Amtrak's fault and it forces you into day 16 they shouldn't penalize you for it.

That being said, you have to be careful about the Sunset Limited as part of your trip because you'd have to figure out a specific day for that leg since it doesn't run daily. You don't want to have to wait in New Orleans for 1-2 days for the next SL and have that eat up your pass days.

Would you want to fly into Chicago or wouldn't flying into an Atlantic city be cheaper and closer to England? Also consider which cities in the US you really want to visit and which routes you want to see, give us some feedback.
Surprisingly, Chicago would be a good starting point just now, there are some very attractive deals on Norwegian direct from London. I also like the HI hostel in Chicago as a budget place to stay between trains. The Washington hostel is nice too, but I do love Chicago!

I have been many times to America, taken many trains, and this rail pass idea would be just part of a longer visit, so I would see it as having a couple of weeks of intensive train riding fun, then maybe a couple of weeks of more gentle tourist activities, maybe with car hire and a road trip. So the purpose of the pass is to ride the trains, not so much to visit the wider attractions.

As I get older, I am torn between the genuine need to economise, get the biggest bang for my dwindling bucks, as you guys say, and at the same time a wish for more comfort and convenience in travel as a retired person. On a good day, I imagine I can handle sleeping in coach for days on end, on a bad day I wonder why I would even consider it.


(Maybe I need a crowd funding effort to get me into sleepers and proper hotels, rather than hostels!)


Thanks to all for the suggestions so far.

Ed.
 

cpotisch

Conductor
Joined
Sep 2, 2017
Messages
7,511
Surprisingly, Chicago would be a good starting point just now, there are some very attractive deals on Norwegian direct from London.
Careful with Norwegian. They charge for dinner, checked bags, choosing your seat, and more. They have very good fares, but just know what you’re paying for.
 

KmH

Conductor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
2,055
T

Is the day 8 Empire Builder to Capitol connection "guaranteed"?

It is not clear (at least to me) how the pass validity is ordained? For example, if I board the last long distance train on day 14, and arrive at the final destination on day 16, am I still within the scope of the pass?

Lots of food for thought!

Ed.
Good question regards EB to CL

Scheduled EB arrival is 3:55 pm. Scheduled CL departure is 2 hours and 45 minutes later at 6:40 pm.

That's well within guaranteed connection policy but the connection would have to be on the same reservation.

Are rail pass segments booked as individual reservations, or does he rail pass serve as a single reservation?

My understanding of the rail pass days limit is that, no, you can't board day 14 and reach destination on day 16 if you have a 15 day rail pass.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

Conductor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
2,005
T

Is the day 8 Empire Builder to Capitol connection "guaranteed"?

It is not clear (at least to me) how the pass validity is ordained? For example, if I board the last long distance train on day 14, and arrive at the final destination on day 16, am I still within the scope of the pass?

Lots of food for thought!

Ed.
Good question regards EB to CL

Scheduled EB arrival is 3:55 pm. Scheduled CL departure is 2 hours and 45 minutes later at 6:40 pm.

That's well within guaranteed connection policy but the connection would have to be on the same reservation.

Are rail pass segments booked as individual reservations, or does he rail pass serve as a single reservation?

My understanding of the rail pass days limit is that, no, you can't board day 14 and reach destination on day 16 if you have a 15 day rail pass.
When I did a 30 day rail pass you couldn't book it online, you had to do it over the phone. I'm sure the representatives will talk you through it and they will let you know what you can and can't do.
 

KmH

Conductor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
2,055
Reading Amtrak's online info about rail passes it sounds to me that each segment is a separate ticket, and a separate reservation.

In that case connections between segments would NOT be guaranteed even if the time between connections is within guaranteed connections policy.
 
Top