MKE-BOS-NYP-MKE Trip Questions

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Kramerica

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 26, 2007
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143
Location
New Berlin, WI
Thanks so much to everyone who answered my pre-booking questions on this thread: Lake Shore Limited questions (Spring - Summer 2022)

Now that the trip is coming up in two weeks, I've got more questions:

- Any chance we'll get the new Venture cars on the Hiawatha either way?
- What is the current consist of the Lake Shore Limited? It has been hard to keep track of the business & cafe changes. Is there a full cafe now for coach passengers?
- Is the cafe the same one that's on the Hiawatha, with a center counter and six or eight booths on each end? We'll be able to hang out here, right?
- My family of 5 (two parents and three teens) is in coach on train 448 on the way to Boston. Where will this be in the consist?
- I've only ridden Superliner coaches and Horizon coaches on the Hiawatha. How much different will the LSL coaches be? I assume there are plentiful luggage racks above our seats? I assume it'll probably be cold on the train?
- Thankfully the Albany warehouse catastrophe seems to be fixed. That in combination with the ongoing trackwork bustitution Monday - Thursday have really had me worried.
- Can we get off the train in Albany? I read there was a good cafe in that station. Do we get off and then not get back on until they're done rearranging the train(s)? I assume they give plenty of notice to get back on the train?
- We're supposed to arrive in Boston at 8:30 PM on a Friday night. We have an AirBNB at the corner of Essex and Tremont. I was planning on just walking down Essex with our luggage in tow. (we'll each have a backpack and one small rolling suitcase) Is that a fine idea or is that nuts?
- We're going to use the Boston T all week. Any tips? Later in our stay we'll be in Brookline for a few nights.
- We're taking a Regional to NYC on a Thursday. What kind of amenities does that train have? I assume we don't need to tip on that train? I assume good luggage space in racks above our heads?
- On the way home we're in car 4911 out of NYP. Three roomettes. Will this be a V1 or V2?
- I know tipping is a complex subject, but it seems $10 per room is about correct?
- What kind of food service should we expect in the sleeper? Are there free beverages all day?
- Do we get to use the diner as a lounge as sleeper passengers?
- Any tips on using the sleeper lounge at NYP? Since we don't leave until after 3 PM, we'll likely get out of our housing that morning and drop off our luggage in the lounge, then go do some sightseeing. Do we need to pay to drop off luggage? Or do we just need to tip when we retrieve?
- We can use the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge when we arrive, correct?
- If the LSL is late getting into Chicago, how do we change which Hiawatha we are booked on? (I booked all legs separately... saved $120 each way doing so)
 

B&Ofan

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2009
Messages
68
Going to Boston you won't be in Albany long enough to de train. They essentially just cut off the New your section and leave. On the way back however there should be time to head into the station. You should be fine walking Tremont street is not far away, however I'm a little confused as Essex st. turns into Boyslton st before getting to Tremont. Also I'm not sure where an AirBnb would be in that area as it is pretty commercial. The sleepers will have juice and coffee available all day. Meals in the Diner are complementary for sleeping passengers only, coach passengers can buy food and drinks in the cafe car., Remember to tip your server. On the sleeper there will be juice and coffee available in your car. I have tipped anywhere from $5 to $20 for my room so I guess $10 is fine.

Last time I used the lounge in NYP I was able to drop off my luggage there free of charge. I believe it still works that way for sleeping passengers. I do not know if you will have a V1 or V2 car..

You can only use the lounge in Chicago if you are booked on a sleeper either arriving or departing. I believe you can also buy a one day pass otherwise.

I also do not know the policy for changing trains in Chicago. I know if you booked it as one ticket, Amtrak you would be put you on a later train if you were delayed. That might be the risk you take to save the money. I would do it myself but I would leave plenty of time in Chicago as well. The Lake shore limited nickname if the Late for sure limited. :)

As for getting around on Boston on the T, while the T has been melting down a bit lately you should be fine. I would avoid rush hour as the trains may be very busy.

If you have the energy, I would go up one block and walk up Beech st. as that goes through the heart of Chinatown. Lots of good restaurants.

Enjoy your trip!
 
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Joined
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798
Location
Lubec, ME
If you wanted to shorten your walk in Boston, you could get off 448 at Back Bay and take the Orange Line to Chinatown station which is at Washington and Essex/Boylston one block from your destination.

For the T ideally you would get Charlie Cards which they should have at any of the subway stations as that will save a bit on fares compared to buying tickets for each trip.

Brookline is a nice area, most likely you will be close to the Green Line C branch which runs down Beacon St.

The Regionals are Amfleet coaches and cafe. Some trains may have business class. It's been a while since I have been on a regional so I am not sure about the BC availability. The only tipping you might do on that train is for the cafe if you use it.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
If you wanted to shorten your walk in Boston, you could get off 448 at Back Bay and take the Orange Line to Chinatown station which is at Washington and Essex/Boylston one block from your destination.
Except that the Orangle line may not be running in 2 weeks.
 

rs9

Service Attendant
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Dec 26, 2021
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Chicago
As far as I know, there is currently a full cafe car for coach passengers on the LSL, in place of the previous half cafe/half business car.

The 448 section of the train is at the front. The general layout of the LSL has been Loco 1- Loco 2- Boston sleeper - Cafe car - Boston coaches - NYP coaches - Diner - NYP sleepers - Baggage car.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
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You should be able to get around easily in Boston, barring the meltdown on the MBTA. Brookline is very well served by the Green Line and it's branches (and is really nice to walk around - very pretty area). With the Orange Line likely closed you can go to South Station and take the Red Line.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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You should be able to get around easily in Boston, barring the meltdown on the MBTA. Brookline is very well served by the Green Line and it's branches (and is really nice to walk around - very pretty area). With the Orange Line likely closed you can go to South Station and take the Red Line.
Isn't the Red Line having Major problems also and in need of Maintenance??
 
Joined
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The last printed schedule that I have for the Lake Shore indicates that the stop in Albany for the Boston section eastbound is 34 minutes. That should be ample time to go up into the station and visit the cafe. That time of course may be shortened if your train is late. I would suggest that once you arrive in Albany you check with a trainman and see if you have time to go to the cafe in the station and act accordingly.
 

Kramerica

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 26, 2007
Messages
143
Location
New Berlin, WI
Thank you all for your answers!

- I didn't zoom in far enough on Google Maps. We're technically on Boylston... Looks like Essex changes names.
- I'm not worried about the distance from South Station to our lodging... more so if it is a safe area to walk through. I assume so, but if the LSL is late it may be very late in the evening.
- Good to know about the Orange Line closure. We're mainly planning on using the Green Line and the Red Line, so it shouldn't affect us.
- Where can we get the Charlie Cards? Since we're there six nights and will need 6 days of T use, I was planning on getting a 7 Day Pass for each of us. $112.50 for a week's worth of transportation seems like a good deal. I think our first use of the T will be the first morning at the Boylston Green Line station. I assume there is a self-serve kiosk?
- Great to hear that the LSL has a full cafe now. Is the cafe car the same style on the LSL and Regional as on the Hiawatha? (That's the only single level cafe car I'm familiar with)
- Only juice and coffee in the sleeper? No soda? What kind of juice?
- On the way home we're in car 4911 out of NYP. Three roomettes. Will this be a V1 or V2?
- How many meals do we get on the way home? Just supper and breakfast?
- Any general tips on things to see in Boston? We've got 5 days to burn... On the list so far is the Freedom Trail, Science Museum, Harvard Museums.
- I read that Boston is known for roast beef sandwiches. Any really good places to get that easily accessible on the T?
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Boston has great Seafood !( it's not cheap but Quality stuff).

Lobster is what most visitors go for, but the Clams,Scallops,Oysters and Cod are Excellent.

Google up places and ask locals, most of the Famous Tourist places are Crowded and Over priced, but there's so many you should do OK!

And don't forget Fenway Park, even if you're not a Baseball fan it's worth a visit to see the "Sawks" if they are playing @ home..
 
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As it turns out, this native Milwaukeean, living in Springfield MA for the past 27 years, just returned on 48/448 from Milwaukee a mere 20 days ago.

Leaving Milwaukee, as well as the trip to Milwaukee, the train was all Horizon coaches. As it turned out, arriving in Chicago that morning on a late Cardinal, I missed my originally booked connecting train to Milwaukee. The good news is that without changing my CHI->MKE ticket (cell phone drop out in Indiana and long line at CHI ticket window) I simply boarded the next MKE train and the conductor took about 30 seconds after scanning my ticket to 'move' me to that train in the computer.

As stated above, the Boston section of the train is up front with the sleeper adjacent to the engines, then full cafe, and 2 coaches. You'll be walking much of the length of the train to board at Chicago. Your return from New York will have the sleepers at the rear of the train, followed by the baggage car. As I ride the New York section sleepers Chicago to/from Albany and coach to/from Springfield, the 12 car I was in was a VII. I'm reasonably sure the 11 car is also, but I didn't check on this trip. The good news is that the 11 car is directly adjacent to the diner. Whether they let you in or not, even from the sleeper, depends on the crew. My sleeping car attendant told me that he would get the meals as only crew is permitted in the diner. blah blah blah. So I gave him a $10 instead of a $5 when deboarding in Albany.

As for free time in Albany while they separate/join the train, ==all bets are off== at this point! As of this week, the Boston section of the train has been bused for 6-7 weeks, 5 days/week (Sun-Thur) due to CSX trackwork. It was scheduled to end 2 weeks ago, but kept on going. As of last Thursday, there was nothing about the extension on Amtrak.com. As of a few minutes ago, now it's there, expected to end this Friday. I'll believe that when I see it.

Now throw in the 'unsafe warehouse' alonside the track about a mile west of the Albany/Renssalaer station. For several days, 48/448/49/449 was simply terminated west of there or didn't run at all the first day or so. Last I read, Amtrak has an on board pilot verifying that the wall of the building hasn't crumbled onto the tracks. However, as of Monday, westbound, it looks like 49 (sans 449 cars (or are they going to/from New York?) loses more than an hour between ALB and SDY. I'm guessing they cover the entire route at 10 MPH or slower.

As for the 'great' cafe in the station...not in my opinion. I think it's Au Bon or something comparable...prepackaged sandwiches, etc, with a couple of tables. Whoopeee....

Forgot to mention...my main purpose of going to Milwaukee and back the same day was a trip to Sollys' restuarant just off I-43 at the Hampton exit. The exit was closed 3 weeks ago, so I got off at Capitol and drove up Port Washington Rd. They are the absolute best hamburgers anywhere! Simply go to Youtube and search for Sollys. There's several videos including this one, showing closeup how they make their famous butter burgers. I've been going there since before high school 60 years ago, and even watched them building I-43 (then 141) from the red brick building across the street that was where I went to 8th grade as my parents moved to Glendale. Now it's an office building. It looks like they're adding a lane to it or totally reworking the exit ramp which is 50 yards north of Sollys.

I also made a pig of myself and ate my high-school standard order...4 with a slice of onion!
 
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joelkfla

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12 miles from Walt Disney World
- Where can we get the Charlie Cards? Since we're there six nights and will need 6 days of T use, I was planning on getting a 7 Day Pass for each of us. $112.50 for a week's worth of transportation seems like a good deal. I think our first use of the T will be the first morning at the Boylston Green Line station. I assume there is a self-serve kiosk?
Looks like you don't need to get CharlieCards if you're buying weekly passes. The website says you can buy weekly passes on CharlieTickets for the same price at any subway station.

But if you really want the plastic cards, there's a list of subway stations where you can get them for free during limited hours here:
 
Joined
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As for the 'great' cafe in the station...not in my opinion. I think it's Au Bon or something comparable...prepackaged sandwiches, etc, with a couple of tables. Whoopeee....
Compared to Amtrak dining on the trains through Albany (and the fact that many trains serving Albany offer no dining or cafe service), in my opinion, the cafe at the Albany station does achieve greatness. An oasis in a food desert.
 

B&Ofan

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2009
Messages
68
On the other side of the parking lot is a bar that makes pretty good burgers. I like stopping in there on a layover. As for things to do in Boston, I would suggest the Duck Boats. Also check out what the Somerville theater is offering (Davis Sq. on the Red line) Besides movies they have a good selection of live shows.
 
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