Question about handling of connections by Amtrak

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Bob Dylan

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If 5 is on time and you are connecting to 14 you have a nine hour layover. I ve gone to Emeryville and caught 14 there. Much less wait time.
Amtrak has made Sacramento the only " Guaranteed Connection" Station for a Connection from the Zephyr to the Starlight.

I've gotten off in Davis,Martinez and Emeryville and much prefer Davis ( First Stop West of SAC) as my Layover Stop.
 

Gary Behling

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While the connections are "guaranteed" the way they are protected varies based on how late the incoming train is, how many people are making a given connection, and alternative transport availablity.

Best: train makes it and Amtrak personnel hustle you from one platform to the other.

Better: incoming train is only about 30 minutes or less late, and a lot of people are making the connection. They hold the outbound train for connecting passengers.

Okay: bus bridge to catch up with outbound train. Example, busing Starlight to Sunset connecting passengers from Oxnard to Palm Springs. Note depends on ability to charter a bus at relatively the last minute.

Okay: Alternative Amtrak service. Example, Late SW Chief or Sunset passengers to NorCal and points north missing the Starlight are put on the San Joaquin/Bakersfield Thruway bus connection to their destinations or to catch up with the Starlight at Sacramento, Martinez or Emeryville. Passengers to points further south are put on Surfliners and its bus connections.

Not so great. They put you up in a hotel and modify your reservation to the next day's train. Note if you have sleeper reservations and sleepers are sold out on the next day's train, you will be put in coach and your sleeper accommodation charge refunded. Note this is an special danger for you because if the Washington, DC connection is missed, they will rebook everything, Capitol, Zephyr and Starlight (assuming you built in no layovers). This time of year if you had sleepers, your chance of losing them on at least some if not all segments is quite high.

Worst: they can't accommodate you, refund your fare and you are on your own. This does happen, but not often. It happened to me back in 90s when the Builder missed a three day a week connection to Indianapolis. They gave me money in Chicago and sent me on my way. That is unlikely in your case.

I have been laid over overnight several times.

Finally, note that Amtrak has been having much more difficulty than it used to arranging last minute bus charters, probably due to the "great resignation" and capacity in bus companies having been reduced during COVID. Also, in comparing the north and southbound schedule there appears to be only about 10 minutes of pad between Richmond and Washington.

If I were you, I would be concerned about that DC connection. My own semi-educated guess is if that connection is missed by more than they'll hold the Capitol for, they'll lay you over, they won't bus you. You should probably look up the connection history on ASMAD.

The good news is I wouldn't worry too much about the Chicago and Sacramento connections. The danger point is DC.

I just had to comment on this issue. An Amtrak journey in a bedroom is just way too important to me to even take a chance of any missed connection. I learned the hard way once when I took the Texas Eagle from Tucson to Chicago. Upon arriving at San Antonio, there were 3 buses waiting to take passengers to Dallas where everyone would then have coach seats for the remainder of the trip. Coach seats? I spent three days in a hotel at my expense and had a Deluxe bedroom out with the first train possible. Some people plan their train trips around their vacations--- I plan my vacations around my train trips and because of that, I always have a 1 or 2 day planned layover at every connection. I don't do these trips often and everyone of them is supremely important.
 

Bob Dylan

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Why's that Jim?
Beautiful, Small College town that has a Classic, Full Service old SP Station with a friendly agent.( they'll store your bags for Free while you visit the town)

Close by eating places and Hotels if you want to spend a night and a really good Bakery is across the Street from the Station.

I've never seen more Bicycles than this Station has parked and being loaddd/off loaded by the students that use the Cap Corridor Trains to commute to Sacramento and the Bay Area.
 

jis

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Beautiful, Small College town that has a Classic, Full Service old SP Station with a friendly agent.( they'll store your bags for Free while you visit the town)

Close by eating places and Hotels if you want to spend a night and a really good Bakery is across the Street from the Station.

I've never seen more Bicycles than this Station has parked and being loaddd/off loaded by the students that use the Cap Corridor Trains to commute to Sacramento and the Bay Area.
Does Amtrak actually allow you to book Davis as the connection point in its reservation system or do you have to jump an extra hoop or two?
 
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Beautiful, Small College town that has a Classic, Full Service old SP Station with a friendly agent.( they'll store your bags for Free while you visit the town)

Close by eating places and Hotels if you want to spend a night and a really good Bakery is across the Street from the Station.

I've never seen more Bicycles than this Station has parked and being loaddd/off loaded by the students that use the Cap Corridor Trains to commute to Sacramento and the Bay Area.

With a description like that there'll be an AU stampede over to Davis!

Thanks
 
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Bob Dylan

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Does Amtrak actually allow you to book Davis as the connection point in its reservation system or do you have to jump an extra hoop or two?
Since Amtrak quit allowing Emeryville to be used as a Guaranteed Connection, I booked to Sacramento, then bought a Roundtrip Cap Corridor Coach Ticket to Davis, spent the evening there, then returned to Sacramento on a Late Train to catch the Starlight.( the Agents in Sacramento allowed me to leave my Big Bag there for Free).

Disclaimer: I haven't done this since the COVID Pandemic began in 2020, so perhaps it's not possible now???
 

zephyr17

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Back to the original post. Things are not looking good for the OP, 92 continued to lose time and was 3:29 down at Richmond. Projected to be 2 hours late at WAS. The chances of it actually connecting with 29 are slim to none.

Hope things work out for @danasgoodstuff and they come back and post their experience. I wonder what Amtrak will do since it is not a bookable connection that Amtrak itself booked them on.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I believe I have read where if 30 is running late they've bused pax from Pittsburgh to Richmond to catch 91. Might they have done the opposite and bused 92 pax to Pittsburgh?
 

zephyr17

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I believe I have read where if 30 is running late they've bused pax from Pittsburgh to Richmond to catch 91. Might they have done the opposite and bused 92 pax to Pittsburgh?
Certainly they could and that would be very reasonable option. I am concerned about the "illegal" though Amtrak booked connection, though. Amtrak's right hand often doesn't know what the left hand is doing and I wonder if they are going to protect passengers they themselves booked on that connection like @danasgoodstuff without the pax having to put up a squawk.

Hopefully, @danasgoodstuff is on the phone trying to get it straightened away if they weren't already taken care of at Richmond.

It is always better to be proactive with Amtrak in these situations, having spent some time on the phone with Amtrak through Minnesota and Wisconsin on very late eastbound Builders at various times (after a hearty meal of Dinty Moore over rice).
 

zephyr17

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I just had to comment on this issue. An Amtrak journey in a bedroom is just way too important to me to even take a chance of any missed connection. I learned the hard way once when I took the Texas Eagle from Tucson to Chicago. Upon arriving at San Antonio, there were 3 buses waiting to take passengers to Dallas where everyone would then have coach seats for the remainder of the trip. Coach seats? I spent three days in a hotel at my expense and had a Deluxe bedroom out with the first train possible. Some people plan their train trips around their vacations--- I plan my vacations around my train trips and because of that, I always have a 1 or 2 day planned layover at every connection. I don't do these trips often and everyone of them is supremely important.
Hmm, that one is odd. Can you elaborate on the circumstances? Were you booked on 422 or 2 and 22? My guess is the the Sunset was so late that the stub Eagle was dispatched out of San Antonio without its LA cars. In which case it would have only had its transdorm, since on the through days the only full sleeper is the one it gets off the Sunset. Since you were booked in a bedroom, that makes me think you were booked through on 422, since the LA sleeper would have the only bedrooms.

If you were booked on 422 through cars even I would have assumed I was protected since the car I was riding was supposed to go all the way to Chicago. I would have booked it without a thought of building in a safety layover in San Antonio. That would seem a lot safer than a 1 hour connection between two entirely separate trains in WAS, which I would have been on the phone to Amtrak about as soon as I saw the rebook.
 
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Gary Behling

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Hmm, that one is odd. Can you elaborate on the circumstances? Were you booked on 422 or 2 and 22? My guess is the the Sunset was so late that the stub Eagle was dispatched out of San Antonio without its LA cars. In which case it would have only had its transdorm, since on the through days the only full sleeper is the one it gets off the Sunset. Since you were booked in a bedroom, that makes me think you were booked through on 422, since the LA sleeper would have the only bedrooms.

If you were booked on 422 through cars even I would have assumed I was protected since the car I was riding was supposed to go all the way to Chicago. I would have booked it without a thought of building in a safety layover in San Antonio. That would seem a lot safer than a 1 hour connection between two entirely separate trains in WAS, which I would have been on the phone to Amtrak about as soon as I saw the rebook.

I was on the 422 in a through sleeper to Chicago. What happened was the 21 (Southbound) train hit a car and killed someone near Dallas I think and was many hours late coming to San Antonio. . There would be no train North to Chicago. I didn't ask a lot of questions in San Antonio about the BUS TRIP to Dallas because I had no intention to go. Since I had never been to San Antonio before to visit----I thought a 3 day stay would be fun----which it was. All I can say is that if a person pays $1200 or more for a bedroom on the train--- how can that person ever accept bus seats?
 

zephyr17

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I was on the 422 in a through sleeper to Chicago. What happened was the 21 (Southbound) train hit a car and killed someone near Dallas I think and was many hours late coming to San Antonio. . There would be no train North to Chicago. I didn't ask a lot of questions in San Antonio about the BUS TRIP to Dallas because I had no intention to go. Since I had never been to San Antonio before to visit----I thought a 3 day stay would be fun----which it was. All I can say is that if a person pays $1200 or more for a bedroom on the train--- how can that person ever accept bus seats?
They do refund at the bedroom accommodation charges in such cases, so you don't pay for something to don't receive in terms of accommodations. Although I would not have accepted the bus to Dallas and coach to Chicago either and would try to get reaccommodated on another train on a later day or demanded a full refund and made my own arrangements (likely flown).

I am still a little unclear, 21/22 is the only train between Dallas and Chicago, so did they run the accident 21 back to Dallas to become 22? If it showed up in SAS, there would not have been a train in Dallas to bus you to.
 
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We covered the late train issues pretty well in another thread but based on current events it seems Amtrak is now holding trains at Chicago in order to help passengers not miss connections. I believe this happened a few days ago when the SWC was 4 hours behind schedule and the Capitol Ltd was held. Is this a new Amtrak policy?
 

Stremba

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The amount of delay on the incoming train also likely factors in. It would be pretty stupid of Amtrak to refuse to hold a train for 10-15 minutes if having it leave right on time would cause dozens of connecting passengers to miss their connections. If the incoming train is going to miss the connection by several hours, though, it might be a different story. I have personally been on a couple of Pennsylvanians that left Pittsburgh at 7:45 - 8:00 because the incoming CL was delayed, for example
 

Acela150

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I'll expand on my comment from earlier.

Guaranteed connections are a frequent topic on AU. It's not new and has been in place for years.

I think it could be a good idea to lock this thread to further replies, simply cause I see this getting out of hand really fast. In all honesty I had to refrain from what I really wanted to say.

(EDIT FOR MODERATOR NOTE: The "new" thread has been merged into an existing thread on the topic of connections. We will monitor the thread to make sure it does not get out of hand. As usual, please report any posts that you feel are inappropriate. Thank you for your cooperation.)
 
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Bob Dylan

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Fortunately I have always had really good Customer Service from Amtrak( Customer Service and Customer Relations) when I missed connections, especially in Chicago and California!😊

This has included being given Money for Meals and a Taxi, a Room in a Hotel and rebooking on the next available Train or a Bus,Van or Taxi ride to catch up with my connection.

In one case, the connection from #6 to #21 via the Van to Springfield, was missed in Galesburg due to hitting cattle in Nebraska, and we were carried by to Chicago, put up in the very Nice Hyatt and given $$$ for a Taxi amd Meals ( even though Breakfast was included with the room and we has gotten Amstew for Dinner on #6)

They also rebooked us on the next days #21/#421 in a Roomette since the Bedrooms were Sold Out, and when I called Customer Relations to give Props to the OBS on #6 and Customer Service they sent me a Voucher for $400 ( in those days there was a Transdorm and on #421 days 2 Revenue Sleepers,and the Room Charges were often Low Bucket) for future Travel on Amtrak due to the Long Delay,the Downgrade and Inconvience!😎
 
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