Southwest Chief discussion Q4 2023 - 2024

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SWC left CHI 2 hours late yesterday July 7th, according to transit docs. At the moment of this writing, its in Lamar 2 hours 27 late. Is there a way for me to find out why? I have a SWC booked in the future and want to follow the lateness in its schedule, but I need to find out how. That way I won't keep bothering y'all on this forum every time its late.
 
When you look at the map and data on this website: https://asm.transitdocs.com/

... you'll see it's been maintaining two hours late all the way from Chicago. You can look at the AMTRAK web site and on the site map at the bottom of the page there is a link "service alerts and notices" . Usually they don't put anything there that's 'not planned' but you will see when there are construction projects, etc.
The other official way to find out is thru Amtrak twitter alerts.
Someone else might know how to find out why they left Chicago two hours late.
 
SWC left CHI 2 hours late yesterday July 7th, according to transit docs. At the moment of this writing, its in Lamar 2 hours 27 late. Is there a way for me to find out why? I have a SWC booked in the future and want to follow the lateness in its schedule, but I need to find out how. That way I won't keep bothering y'all on this forum every time its late.
Since you already are on transit docs, just take the next step. Click on the train, scroll to the bottom and click on the "View on statusmaps.com" button. That will take you to a display that includes the official Amtrak delay notices. Sometimes they include good information, sometimes they are useless. In the case of 3(7), it falls into the latter category:

_ **** D E L A Y S ****
_
_ 07/07/24 7:12pm EDT
_ Service Update: As of 6:09 pm CT Train 3 has departed Chicago
_ and is currently operating approximately 2 hours late.
 
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SWC left CHI 2 hours late yesterday July 7th, according to transit docs. At the moment of this writing, its in Lamar 2 hours 27 late. Is there a way for me to find out why? I have a SWC booked in the future and want to follow the lateness in its schedule, but I need to find out how. That way I won't keep bothering y'all on this forum every time its late.
One common reason for a late departure from Chicago is “mechanical issues” involving the locomotives. Sometimes a train’s departure is held up to accommodate connecting passengers arriving late on another train.

There is a certain amount of padding built into Amtrak train schedules which allows them to make up lost time, although this doesn’t always happen. As zephyr17 pointed out earlier, those who travel by train shouldn’t count on arriving or departing at the times indicated on the schedules.
 
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La Junta has a late 50s/early 60s era station that is architecturally fully intact that I think is very cool.
The La Junta station, I believe may still have its four bus bays, that dated back to when it also served as the Santa Fe Trailways, (later Continental Trailways) depot. There used to be a railroad and a bus ticket counter…
 
The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
 
The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
The Prime Directive of Amtrak (and VIA) travel:

“Never schedule a connection to another carrier on the same day as arrival of any North American long distance train.”

The train could run on time or close to it for weeks on end and then your train runs into some idiot at a grade crossing, delaying it by hours and blowing your connection.

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Save time, forget this ongoing monitoring and just get the train's statistics right now. Run the history of the SW Chief's actual arrival times at LA on ASMAD https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/home.php. Then reschedule your Amtrak reservation. Modifying the date will be at current bucket, probably a small price to ensure you make your cruise.

Otherwise you might just wind up eating Dinty Moore over rice around Barstow and thinking about your ship that just sailed away.

It has been more than four hours late 29 times since January 1st. That means about 1 in 6 trips. Four hours late is more than enough time to endanger your cruise since you have to get to Long Beach or San Pedro, roughly 25 miles away from Union Station, in LA traffic. Cruise check in cutoffs are absolutely inflexible and are usually at least a couple hours before actual sailing.

The SW Chief has been as much as 15 hours late since the first of the year.
 
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The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
To be sure of catching your cruise ship you most certainly should plan on arriving at least a day early. We were once on a SWC train that ran exactly on schedule up until it arrived in Las Vegas, NM. There, we were delayed because the Sightseer-Lounge car had to be cut out of the consist and left on a siding because a stabilizer bar had broken off. We arrived in LA 7 hours behind schedule the next day.
 
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The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
In 2018, I traveled cross country from Florida to LA for a Panama Canal cruise. I planned my trip to arrive 2 days in advance - just in case. We arrived on time, but I did not spend 4 days worrying about missing my cruise. The 2 nights in a hotel were worth the peace of mind.
 
The La Junta station, I believe may still have its four bus bays, that dated back to when it also served as the Santa Fe Trailways, (later Continental Trailways) depot. There used to be a railroad and a bus ticket counter…
Yes, when we were setting up what became the Raton Thruway connection, we took a look at LAJ and could see that they were set up for what looked like 35 ft buses.
 
Yes, when we were setting up what became the Raton Thruway connection, we took a look at LAJ and could see that they were set up for what looked like 35 ft buses.
Right…originally ACF-Brill IC-41’s, later GM PD-4104’s, eventually replaced by 40 foot Eagle’s.
When I worked for Continental Trailways in the ‘70’s, we had 4 thru trips a day from Wichita or Oklahoma City thru La Junta to Pueblo and up to Denver, or to Grand Junction, operated by the Continental Central Lines division. In addition, we had one holdover Denver to La Junta bus designed to connect with the Super Chief. That was operated by the D-CS-P Motorway division…
 
The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
I got off the SW Chief this morning at 5:40 in Newton, Kansas on my way to OKC. I was on the Lake Shore Limited and received a message about the Texas Eagle being discontinued after St. Louis. I frantically reserved a sleeper on the SW Chief (coach was sold out.). Oddly enough the train being late helped me quite a bit because I was originally scheduled to be let off at 2:16 AM. I had a great trip and slept well.
 
That is pretty wild. I rode the SWC back in March and I was in the front of the second sleeper car on the left side.

You get used to the cadence of the long, long, short, long each individual engineer uses for grade crossings. I'm just staring out the window coming down the back of the Raton Pass and I see we're paralleling some dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and we're gradually gaining on a car that is just hauling butt.

You could kind of see the road converging with the tracks, and then the engineer, obviously aware of the car, blows long, long, short, loooooooooooooooooooooooong holding it for like 15 seconds and we get to the grade crossing (no gates or lights) at the same time this car skids to a halt in a cloud of dust a couple feet from the train.

Later I found the conductor and I said please thank the engineer for preventing that idiot from plowing into us. His eyes got real big and he says, "You saw that? That's as close as it gets. We actually set the brakes."
Okay, but imagine this scene in like an action movie or something? Would make for a cool scene. But I'm glad nothing bad happened.

The SWC departing on time from CHI has me concerned. Today's train still has not left the station and its 5pm EST. I will have to continue to watch and see what gives. I may have to change my train date to arrive in LA because I thought since getting there in the morning, I would have no problem catching my cruise connect in the afternoon. I probably should arrive a day earlier and just get a hotel overnite to play it safe. But I will probably lose the fare rate I waited for on the SWC. I have time, I will wait and watch the times of the train.
Amtrak says it was due to mechanical issues, which I think is perhaps the most embarrassing thing in the world. The fact that CHI is their biggest long-distance hub and the Chief has a 24 hour turnaround time, and yet they still couldn't get it out on time is crazy.
 
The Prime Directive of Amtrak (and VIA) travel:

“Never schedule a connection to another carrier on the same day as arrival of any North American long distance train.”

The train could run on time or close to it for weeks on end and then your train runs into some idiot at a grade crossing, delaying it by hours and blowing your connection.

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Save time, forget this ongoing monitoring and just get the train's statistics right now. Run the history of the SW Chief's actual arrival times at LA on ASMAD https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/home.php. Then reschedule your Amtrak reservation. Modifying the date will be at current bucket, probably a small price to ensure you make your cruise.

Otherwise you might just wind up eating Dinty Moore over rice around Barstow and thinking about your ship that just sailed away.

It has been more than four hours late 29 times since January 1st. That means about 1 in 6 trips. Four hours late is more than enough time to endanger your cruise since you have to get to Long Beach or San Pedro, roughly 25 miles away from Union Station, in LA traffic. Cruise check in cutoffs are absolutely inflexible and are usually at least a couple hours before actual sailing.

The SW Chief has been as much as 15 hours late since the first of the year.
I changed to another cruise, 2 days later than my SWC arrival. That should give us less to worry about. We will just spend 2 days in LA.
 
I’m trying to book my first Amtrak fare and find the Amtrak website confusing. My wife and I are planning to travel on the Southwest Chief in a roomette from Fort Madison Iowa to Albuquerque NM leaving on Tuesday, January 14, 2025. I think Amtrak is telling me that the total fare for this journey is around $700, which includes the “roomette” fee and two “rail fares”. Does this sound correct? If not, what am I missing? Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
I’m trying to book my first Amtrak fare and find the Amtrak website confusing. My wife and I are planning to travel on the Southwest Chief in a roomette from Fort Madison Iowa to Albuquerque NM leaving on Tuesday, January 14, 2025. I think Amtrak is telling me that the total fare for this journey is around $700, which includes the “roomette” fee and two “rail fares”. Does this sound correct? If not, what am I missing? Thanks in advance for any advice.
Sounds right. When booking a sleeping car accommodation, the price is made up of the "rail fares" (the price of moving the two passengers), and then the cost for the actual room and the amenities with it.
 
I’m trying to book my first Amtrak fare and find the Amtrak website confusing. My wife and I are planning to travel on the Southwest Chief in a roomette from Fort Madison Iowa to Albuquerque NM leaving on Tuesday, January 14, 2025. I think Amtrak is telling me that the total fare for this journey is around $700, which includes the “roomette” fee and two “rail fares”. Does this sound correct? If not, what am I missing? Thanks in advance for any advice.
Yes, two rail fares and one accommodation charge is correct for two passengers in a roomette.

Around $700 is pretty good.
 
Your fare is correct, and you did very well with the timing of your booking. Check again a couple months before your departure, and you will be glad you purchased when you did.
 
Thanks. My reason for asking is that the train originates at Los Angeles so that might affect the dining. One time, my wife and i rode a pair of private cars (including a chef and galley) coupled on the EB SWC from L.A.. No dinner was served and the car owner seemed surprised that the passengers hadn't eaten before boarding. By chance, a good buddy and his wife surprised us at Fullerton with a gift basket of snacks for the trip. We shared it with others and it was empty in an hour.
Here's a follow-up to my June 24 inquiry.

For my travel in late June, 4 departed nearly on time from L.A. soon after 5:55 p.m. The car attendent, conductor and dining car manager came by and were pleasant and helpful. Diner seatings were for 7 p.m. (filled), 7:45 p.m. (mine) and 8:15 p.m. Apparently the staff don't get things started until boarding at the platform (I was hoping that they were getting the diner going while it was still in the coach yard). My wife and I could have eaten at 6 p.m. so it's good that we brought snacks along. Amtrak itself was fine for the trip and breakfast going to ABQ but the track was so rough that night (between Barstow and Gallup) that we didn't get much sleep. The trackwork was smooth as glass for the fifty or so miles approaching the cut-off to ABQ before Belen.

3 returning home was 2.5 hours late arriving at ABQ. Upon boarding, our car attendent gave us our diner res he had snagged earlier -- nice! Some dinner and breakfast items were not available because they were the final two meals on the run and had run out. The staff has to estimate food usage ahead of time and sometimes they come up short. Armed with the knowledge of rough track ahead during sleeping hours, I took a Tylenol PM upon retiring and slept reasonably well. Since the train never made up the 2.5 hours it was nice to approach Barstow in early light and see the Cajon Pass during breakfast. Also because of the train lateness, we detrained at San Bernardino and took the Metrolink commuter line to get home at about the same time as we would have if the SWC was on schedule.
 
We’ve been following SWC trains Nos. 3 and 4 to see if the new arrival and departure times (which went into effect on Monday July 8th) were having any effect on their on-time performance. On 7/10, No. 3 (the first one to depart CHI under the new time) arrived at LAX over 6 hours late. No. 4 (the first one to depart LAX under the new time) arrived at CHI almost 6 hours late. Today, No. 3 arrived at LAX almost 6 hours late, but it looks like No. 4 will arrive at CHI about 54 minutes late (which is both reasonable and acceptable.)

Although we’re not aware of the specific cause(s) for these delays, the excessive heat we’ve been experiencing usually results in restricted speeds and equipment failures for both Amtrak LD trains and freight trains.

We were under the impression that the new departure times were intended to improve the on-time performance of Nos. 3 and 4. We plan to follow their future arrivals to see if these initial late arrivals were just a coincidence or a harbinger of things to come.
 
We’ve been following SWC trains Nos. 3 and 4 to see if the new arrival and departure times (which went into effect on Monday July 8th) were having any effect on their on-time performance. On 7/10, No. 3 (the first one to depart CHI under the new time) arrived at LAX over 6 hours late. No. 4 (the first one to depart LAX under the new time) arrived at CHI almost 6 hours late. Today, No. 3 arrived at LAX almost 6 hours late, but it looks like No. 4 will arrive at CHI about 54 minutes late (which is both reasonable and acceptable.)

Although we’re not aware of the specific cause(s) for these delays, the excessive heat we’ve been experiencing usually results in restricted speeds and equipment failures for both Amtrak LD trains and freight trains.

We were under the impression that the new departure times were intended to improve the on-time performance of Nos. 3 and 4. We plan to follow their future arrivals to see if these initial late arrivals were just a coincidence or a harbinger of things to come.
These lengthy delays are not due to the schedule change at all. I believe there has been mechanical issues and a freight derailment this week that have delayed the Chief's massively.

Edit for added info:

Train 3 (7/8) departed late due to mechanical issues, but did add on another three hours throughout it's trip
Train 3 (7/9) had to stop due to a disabled freight train, and afterwards stayed about the same amount of late.
Train 3 (7/10) lost 6 hours due to a derailed freight, then lost more due to speed restrictions and traffic.

Train 4 (7/8) lost time due to speed restrictions and traffic, and lost more due to the aforementioned derailed freight train.
Train 4 (7/9) lost time due to emergency service activity near the tracks, and afterwards didn't really lose any more.
Train 5 (7/10) is currently 90 minutes late with no explanation.
 
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These lengthy delays are not due to the schedule change at all. I believe there has been mechanical issues and a freight derailment this week that have delayed the Chief's massively.

Edit for added info:

Train 3 (7/8) departed late due to mechanical issues, but did add on another three hours throughout it's trip
Train 3 (7/9) had to stop due to a disabled freight train, and afterwards stayed about the same amount of late.
Train 3 (7/10) lost 6 hours due to a derailed freight, then lost more due to speed restrictions and traffic.

Train 4 (7/8) lost time due to speed restrictions and traffic, and lost more due to the aforementioned derailed freight train.
Train 4 (7/9) lost time due to emergency service activity near the tracks, and afterwards didn't really lose any more.
Train 5 (7/10) is currently 90 minutes late with no explanation.
Cal. All this info is very interesting. Please, can you tell me where, and how you found all this? I want to understand why the SWC has some late trains. I have a trip coming up on it and would like to monitor it's schedules. Even though I've been told that it could be on time for weeks straight and then one day very late, I still want to follow it.
 
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