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Reading the timetables

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cnpeters

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
28
Location
Akron, Ohio
Hey all -

Quick question - I've seen and read that amongst the litany of stops you make on the Long Distance trains, they break down into three types.
1) Quick on-off stops
2) Longer stops (Smoke Breaks? Do people still use that term? Gosh I'm old. I went into my old high school a few weeks ago and when I walked by the bathroom and didn't smell cigarette smoke it seemed out of place.)
3) Stops where you meet up with or split into separate trains, like in Albany for the Lake Shore train)

Looking at the timetables, #3 is pretty easy to figure out. For the longer stops - are they essentially just the ones with an arrival and departure time, like Toledo and Cleveland on the LSL?

longstop.PNG

-Chris
 
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Lakeshore

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 8, 2010
Messages
163
Location
AKO
Yes, most stops are just for loading/unloading passengers, quick stops. The longer stops usually involve refueling or changing the crew, etc. If the train is running behind, the stopped time can be cut down some if they are able to. Always check with your attendant if you can get off the train and for approximately how long. If the train happens to be early, it will not leave a station before its' printed time.
 

Maglev

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
983
Location
Orcas Island, Washington
This thread gives the stretch / smoke stops. Some of the stops do not show a dwell time in the timetable.

 

Steve4031

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
5,863
Location
Chicago
Sometimes there is padding in the schedule that allows for longer stops if the train is on time or to make up time if it’s late. Look at the length of time trains traveling in opposite directions take to cover the same section of track. The stops before end points are a good place to look for this. Denver and Albuquerque are other examples.
 

mlanoue

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
81
Location
Joliet, Illinois
The "Fresh Air" stops are one of my favorite parts of riding the long distance routes. It's always fun to step off for a minute and get a quick look at a station in a town you probably have never heard of or would think to visit. Most of the time you can't stray very far from the train, but once in a while they let you walk into the station to take a peek and get some pictures.
 

RichardWSnow

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
38
Location
Gilroy, CA
Note that a train may leave before its depart time if it's a "discharge only" stop (no passengers are permitted to board). This is indicated by a "D" in the time and days column of the timetable, e.g. the westbound California Zephyr stops from Sacramento to Emeryville inclusive.
 

hlcteacher

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Messages
82
Location
cleveland
The "Fresh Air" stops are one of my favorite parts of riding the long distance routes. It's always fun to step off for a minute and get a quick look at a station in a town you probably have never heard of or would think to visit. Most of the time you can't stray very far from the train, but once in a while they let you walk into the station to take a peek and get some pictures.
same here, even the late night stops i like to waken for (if sleeping) just to be new air and say i have been there
 

John Santos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
98
The "Fresh Air" stops are one of my favorite parts of riding the long distance routes. It's always fun to step off for a minute and get a quick look at a station in a town you probably have never heard of or would think to visit. Most of the time you can't stray very far from the train, but once in a while they let you walk into the station to take a peek and get some pictures.
The only really long stop I know of (but I haven't been everywhere and I might have missed others because the train was late) is San Antonio on the Texas Eagle when going through to LA. Like Albany on the LSL and Spokane on the EB, it is a join-up/split-apart stop, but is much longer and West bound you have plenty of time to walk down to the River Walk, play tourist, eat dinner, etc. The Alamo is in between the station and the river, but I couldn't really find it, though I think I walked all around it. It was closed, and bushes and tree blocked the view from the sidewalks.

When I got back, the train had split apart but I found my sleeper without any trouble and they let me back on board. IIRC, it was about 11-12 PM and I went to sleep, so I don't know when we actually left. I think about 2AM.

This was west-bound. I don't know the arrival and departure times east-bound, nor if the WB Sunset Limited arrives much later and you wouldn't have this nice (though very hot) chance to walk around.

I've also been through Spokane several times but always slept through it, so I don't know how long you get. The San Antonio River Walk is a huge tourist attraction; I don't think there is anything like that near the Spokane station.

Normal "smoking stops" (yes, they still use that term and there are always a cluster of smokers near the doors) are usually 15-20 minutes, which is plenty of time to walk the length of the train several times, but I would never leave the platform. The SCAs and conductors will usually tell you how long the stop is and warn you when to get back. (If the train is running late, they sometimes don't know, because sometimes it will leave as soon as possible and sometimes they have to wait for another train to clear the line or for some servicing that can't be rushed very much.) So for those stops, stay close to the train and pay attention to the conductors.
 

TheTuck

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
51
I've been fascinated by Amtrak schedules for a long time and have studied them pretty thoroughly. I've learned some interesting things but some things still remain a mystery.

What I have learned is the length of a station stop depends on the recovery (padding) and the dwell time. Every station has dwell; some only a minute or two. If there's no recovery time prior, these stops are the quick ones. Most corridor trains run this way. Some stations are crew change points, which require at least 5-7 minutes dwell. Some stations are servicing and inspection stops, which could require anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes dwell. Lastly some stops have even more time added for switching (ALB, SPK, SAS, WAS). All this makes for a wide array of station stop lengths.
 
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