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Large increase in Empire Builder fares?

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Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Messages
6
Last year, we reserved a roomette on the Empire Builder for this past May, after a cruise, and it was around $750 for two. Well, both were cancelled due to the pandemic. We just signed up for the same cruise next summer and wanted to take the EB back to Chicago from Seattle. Now it is $1,300!! And a bedroom is over $2,000. It’s not the pandemic that are keeping people off of trains, it’s the ridiculous prices. By the way, our cruise is costing us the same price next August as it was in May.
Bill
 

FrensicPic

Conductor
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
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LAX
I've been looking at the EB from Seattle to Minneapolis for next summer ... nearly $2300 for a bedroom!!! More than $1,000 more than a similar ticket this past summer.
 

Larry H.

OBS Chief
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Dec 22, 2006
Messages
960
Yes it seems that Amtrak is determined to do what almost no railroad has done, cover all its expenses though fares. I agree it is a situation that may lead to the end of train travel. The government willingly continues of repair federal highways at enormous cost yet they are basically free to use. So one form of transportation is given all the help it needs to be a easy way to get around, but rail is supposed to cover all its cost with huge prices.
 

Sidney

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Jul 12, 2020
Messages
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I never pay more than low bucket. Never have never will.Can't believe some of the prices Amtrak is charging for sleepers. Then again if people are willing to pay....
 

Palmland

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Carolinas
I don't think we need to panic. If you are flexible on your travel dates there doesn't seem to be much change. Chicago-Seattle on the EB on 9/23 is $595 in a roomette and $895 in a bedroom. Fares are identical for a trip departing on January 21. What is a concern is the January date shows 0% full. A return of ridership is vital. Yes, I know 3 day a week trains make that harder, but considering the massive layoffs that the airlines are doing in October, you can't keep running trains or planes without more passengers. Maybe these layoffs will add more urgency to congress passing some legislation to soften the blow.

However, if the Covid 19 inspired reduced ridership lasts beyond a reduction in the virus threat, we may be seeing some longer lasting fundamental changes in the need for people to travel. I think that will be the case for transit services, not sure about longer trips.
 

Devil's Advocate

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It’s not the pandemic that are keeping people off of trains, it’s the ridiculous prices.
These can both be true. I'm in an higher-risk group so that puts me off. The places I would typically visit are likely to be at least partially closed (or under quarantine). The upcoming schedule is more limited with fewer options. The food looks worse than ever and the prices are the highest I've ever seen. The combination of paying more for worse service at a higher risk with additional delays to visit a place that's mostly closed is a big turn off.
 

20th Century Rider

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I don't think we need to panic. If you are flexible on your travel dates there doesn't seem to be much change. Chicago-Seattle on the EB on 9/23 is $595 in a roomette and $895 in a bedroom. Fares are identical for a trip departing on January 21. What is a concern is the January date shows 0% full. A return of ridership is vital. Yes, I know 3 day a week trains make that harder, but considering the massive layoffs that the airlines are doing in October, you can't keep running trains or planes without more passengers. Maybe these layoffs will add more urgency to congress passing some legislation to soften the blow.

However, if the Covid 19 inspired reduced ridership lasts beyond a reduction in the virus threat, we may be seeing some longer lasting fundamental changes in the need for people to travel. I think that will be the case for transit services, not sure about longer trips.
But as many posts have discussed earlier, cutting back on service levels exponentially drives down demand because the convenience of coming and returning is decreased. Less leads exponentially to less ridership.
 

Shortline

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Mar 13, 2011
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All over the United States
Yeah. Things do seem to be more expensive This year. I had been traveling for business still by rail, I think I’ve had 11 nights on board this year so far. But with the service cuts, no lounge use on eastern trains, and the miserable dinping situation, coupled with the higher fares, I’m flying exclusively now. Posting this from 39,000 feet actually on the way to Denver, having cancelled my train trip. Just not worth it to me right now.
 

anumberone

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Aug 8, 2015
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Los Angeles
I don’t see how a person can enjoy a overnight trip on a train, I can’t even enjoy a walk around the block like I used to. Everyone sidestepping the other person, not much to see or do. Except for scenery.
 

20th Century Rider

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I don’t see how a person can enjoy a overnight trip on a train, I can’t even enjoy a walk around the block like I used to. Everyone sidestepping the other person, not much to see or do. Except for scenery.
I was becoming 'jaded' with the past 'normal' which had been declining over the years. Now, to pay more money, with no morning coffee at the stairwell, and those totally miserable monotonous fat and sodium and chemically induced food product meals... yes, there's the scenery... but a car trip would certainly offer more freedom, flexibility, and at this point... comfort! Awe, c'mon friends, I'm just getting sick of less and less!:mad:
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,291
The only really meaningful way to compare sleeper ticket prices is to know the bucket structures for the two time periods. For two adults in a Roomette on the EB between SEA and CHI the fares were/are (low bucket to high bucket):

• Jan 2019: $632, 748, 867, 1011 and 1143
• Aug 2020: $772, 896, 1012, 1178 and 1319

The vast majority of this 15 to 22% increase (when comparing same buckets) was the switch from low bucket Coach to the next higher bucket as the rail fare portion of any sleeper fare in late 2019. The 73% increase reported by the OP is due mostly to an increase of three bucket levels (underlined, above). FWIW, the increase from low bucket in Jan 2019 to the present high bucket is 109%!
 
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anumberone

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I was becoming 'jaded' with the past 'normal' which had been declining over the years. Now, to pay more money, with no morning coffee at the stairwell, and those totally miserable monotonous fat and sodium and chemically induced food product meals... yes, there's the scenery... but a car trip would certainly offer more freedom, flexibility, and at this point... comfort! Awe, c'mon friends, I'm just getting sick of less and less!:mad:
Im basically bumming about the situation we’re in because of the pandemic. Without the mask I’ll put up with most anything but a scowl.
 

boxcar479

AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Messages
9
I was becoming 'jaded' with the past 'normal' which had been declining over the years. Now, to pay more money, with no morning coffee at the stairwell, and those totally miserable monotonous fat and sodium and chemically induced food product meals... yes, there's the scenery... but a car trip would certainly offer more freedom, flexibility, and at this point... comfort! Awe, c'mon friends, I'm just getting sick of less and less!:mad:
OMG! Say it ain't so. 😱 they don't serve coffee in the sleepers any more?
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,544
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Texas
Your SCA should bring you fresher coffee from the dining car when you request. I've noticed that coffee is a bit more consistent.
Last time I checked the "coffee" in the dining car was Douwe Egberts syrup like you'd find in a retirement home. Very consistent but nothing fresh about it. Has that changed?
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
264
Location
Michigan
Last time I checked the "coffee" in the dining car was Douwe Egberts syrup like you'd find in a retirement home. Very consistent but nothing fresh about it. Has that changed?
Notice I said "fresher" and that was a comparison to what was available in the percolator by the stairwell.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
546
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
Last year, we reserved a roomette on the Empire Builder for this past May, after a cruise, and it was around $750 for two. Well, both were cancelled due to the pandemic. We just signed up for the same cruise next summer and wanted to take the EB back to Chicago from Seattle. Now it is $1,300!! And a bedroom is over $2,000. It’s not the pandemic that are keeping people off of trains, it’s the ridiculous prices. By the way, our cruise is costing us the same price next August as it was in May.
Bill
My experience over the years is prices stay high if you are wanting to book a long ways out. Give it a several months and keep checking.
 
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