Long haul train travel times

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Qapla

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To drive from JAX to NYP (the trip in my example) you could rent a car for $465 a week (save the wear and tear on your own car) and gas would cost about $100 each way. You can drive it straight through and spend less than $50 on food or take tow days and spend $100 for a nights stay.

That makes a round trip cost about $765 or $385 each way ... cheaper than the train but much more tiring. However, since it is only overnight, just rest up before you leave, ride coach and don't sleep and you can have a fairly inexpensive trip and still feel relaxed.
 

me_little_me

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I’ve never rented a car at my destinations. I take the train and then use Uber / public transit to get where I’m going.

At some point the cost of travel is the cost of travel.
That works for going to a city. We're going to Colorado and driving 700 miles in a loop to see a stack of National Parks and sites in Colorado and Utah. That doesn't include driving into the sites, getting to hotels or finding places to eat. Public transit? Uber? Not likely.

When we go to places like NYC, Chicago, Philly, Denver or other decent size cities with real transit, we don't rent cars either but that doesn't work with a lot of our trips.

You must miss lots of America or stick to bus tours where you get to look at the Grand Tetons for 15 minutes before moving on. I still remember a 20 minute stop there on a bus tour where we were allotted 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, we realized we were the only ones not back on the bus. Not wanting to be rude, we immediately returned and still got glares from people although we were out of the bus less than the 20 minutes.
 

crescent-zephyr

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That works for going to a city. We're going to Colorado and driving 700 miles in a loop to see a stack of National Parks and sites in Colorado and Utah. That doesn't include driving into the sites, getting to hotels or finding places to eat. Public transit? Uber? Not likely.

When we go to places like NYC, Chicago, Philly, Denver or other decent size cities with real transit, we don't rent cars either but that doesn't work with a lot of our trips.

You must miss lots of America or stick to bus tours where you get to look at the Grand Tetons for 15 minutes before moving on. I still remember a 20 minute stop there on a bus tour where we were allotted 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, we realized we were the only ones not back on the bus. Not wanting to be rude, we immediately returned and still got glares from people although we were out of the bus less than the 20 minutes.
Ya know I stand corrected.. I took the train and met friends in Salt Lake City and they did rent a car that I helped pay for and we visited the Tetons and Yellowstone.

For Colorado I’ve always met up with friends who live out there.

You can take pretty long taxi / car service rides though. Where there is a will there is a way!

Also the Williams connection to Grand Canyon national park and the empire builder connections to Glacier come to mind as does the Alaska Railroads connection to Denali.
 
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jiml

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Boy do I remember, less than fondly, traveling on Government Per Diem to Expensive places like New York, Boston and San Francisco!
Not just government. I recall the first time my employer sent us to England with $50 CAD per diem and the Pound Sterling was $2.45 CAD at the time. You get very creative very quickly.
 

Bob Dylan

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Not just government. I recall the first time my employer sent us to England with $50 CAD per diem and the Pound Sterling was $2.45 CAD at the time. You get very creative very quickly.
For sure you find Hotels with Govt Rates, Free Breakfasts and Mgr's Happy Hours etc.

And if you're able to wrangle "Free Lunches and Snacks" during the day you get to save your $$ for a decent Dinner once in awhile.

The most expensive places in my day were Tokyo and Hong Kong, but thankfully I didnt have to go to those places but once each.
 

neroden

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Has the Englewood flyover had any effect on running times for trains going east out of Chicago?
They've been late over the Chicago-South Bend section less often.

The criminal dispatching delays seem to outweigh everything else when it comes to the LD trains. But when Amtrak gets a good dispatcher, Chicago-South Bend seems to have fewer delays than it did pre-flyover.
 

neroden

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Several years ago Texas Eagle begin running on TRE track rather than on UP between Ft. Worth and Dallas which eliminated 15 minute backup moves at FTW. Schedule was not changed to reflect improvement so Eagle frequently has longer service calls. When first started Amtrak simply ran on tracks as is. Since then then I believe there has been some work to double track more miles along this route.
Actually, I remember that the schedule was changed but only at FTW. So the timing from FTW to Chicago is shorter, but the timing from FTW to, say, Austin is longer to compensate.

That could be tightened up. I assume UP is being uncooperative.
 

saxman

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Getting back on topic to the original question. I can think of two instances where schedules were tightened back up. In the mid-aughts the Sunset Limited was having a horrible time getting across its route in a timely manner. UP's southern transcon was packed with freights and 8-9 hour late SSL's was the norm. So they stretched the timetable which broke the connection with the Coast Starlight in both directions. Going east, the SSL departed LAX at 2:30 PM, had a long sit in SAS and NOL. A 2004 or 05 timetable had it sitting in NOL from 4 PM to 10 PM. Crazy right? But it often needed that padding. Going west, the SSL arrived into LAX at around midday. Also breaking the connection with the Coast Starlight. Obviously, in that period Katrina happened, and the train has been shortened to NOL. But around 2010 or so, the Sunset was put back on its original schedule. (Well sort of. It now arrives LAX at 4:30 AM sometimes?) I suppose the connections are back.

The Heartland Flyer was also tightened up a few years ago. Originally it arrived in OKC around 10 PM or so. BNSF did some extensive work for themselves and the HF benefited from that and now arrives at 9:27 PM.
 
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