Southwest Chief's On Time Performance

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river

Service Attendant
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Sep 20, 2010
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103
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GRR
We are planning a trip in a bedroom on the Southwest Chief near the end of September from CHI to LAX and back. Wondering what has been the overall on-time performance both ways of late and if there are any known possible impacts on this route that could affect it being on time. I know nothing is certain, but would just like an idea how early/late this train has been of late. Thanks!
 

me_little_me

Engineer
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Are you needing to make a connection? Planning a wedding the day of arrival? Is the arrival time really important?

If not, best to assume some delays and think of it as an opportunity to enjoy some extra time on board. You're scheduled to arrive LAX at 8AM so being late means you have an opportunity for a relaxing breakfast instead of fighting rush hour traffic.

On return, you are scheduled for mid-afternoon so it has to be really late to get an extra meal but the most likely worst thing is arriving at rush hour. In that case, pack your bags at the lounge and celebrate your trip with a last meal in downtown Chicago before heading home.

Have a fun trip. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy the real food that others traveling before August didn't get.
 

river

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Sep 20, 2010
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Thanks for your suggestions! We are hoping to get off in Fullerton actually and head for Disneyland for the day we arrive with relatives. So hope we don't arrive too late!
Coming home our actual destination is Grand Rapids MI so wondering about the layover time (about 3.5 hrs) if we end up choosing to take the Pere Marquette to Chicago both ways.
Currently we are just planning to drive to Chicago from Grand Rapids the morning we board the train and park at a relative's home in the suburbs.
(Don't want to stay overnight in Chicago with a guaranteed connection. Need to get home that evening.)
 

Cal

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Coming home our actual destination is Grand Rapids MI so wondering about the layover time (about 3.5 hrs) if we end up choosing to take the Pere Marquette to Chicago both ways.
The Chief has a fairly good OTP compared to others, they have little to no freight traffic between Trinidad and ABQ and BNSF generally treat's Amtrak well. But sometimes theres no other choice so always be ready for a long delay.
 

river

Service Attendant
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Thanks for the info! I looked at the chart AmtrakBlue provided above and like you said, I saw the OTP for the last month was actually quite good and well under the 3.5 hour layover time we have. Nice to see that!
So, I took advantage of the current 1/2 price sale and booked seats on the Pere Marquette. We'll just chance it that the SWC will be reasonably on time back to CHI. I noticed there is a 7 AM train to Kalamazoo the next morning that we could hopefully take on the small chance we're too late into Chicago on the SWC. It's just an hour south of GRR so someone could pick us up and we'd be home before noon.
Looking forward to our trip! Hope the dining car will be open! Love traveling in a bedroom! Did it once before to CA many years ago. Very nice trip.
 

river

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And now a follow up question. If I called Amtrak and asked if they'd combine our tickets to make GRR-LAX a guaranteed connection would Amtrak be willing to do that? That means they'd provide a free hotel room for the night if we missed our connection.
I got a great 1/2 price deal on the GRR to CHI tickets and wonder how that works. I'm guessing they'd raise our ticket fees to provide a guaranteed connection.
 

Cal

Foamer
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And now a follow up question. If I called Amtrak and asked if they'd combine our tickets to make GRR-LAX a guaranteed connection would Amtrak be willing to do that? That means they'd provide a free hotel room for the night if we missed our connection.
I got a great 1/2 price deal on the GRR to CHI tickets and wonder how that works. I'm guessing they'd raise our ticket fees to provide a guaranteed connection.
Should be no problem to do, and is the worst choice
 

zephyr17

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Be careful. Messing with reservations can cause you to lose your pricing. Be sure that you understand exactly what the agent is going to do before they do it. If they "link" the reservations, my understanding is it is just a note, which should not disturb anything. My understanding of how the guarantee works is they compare the passenger lists, so if the reservation is under the same name, you ought to be okay if there is a problem.
 

river

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Messages
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GRR
Thanks for this info. I am leery of doing anything to mess things up! I wonder if I did it in person at the GRR station ( I think it's staffed) that would work so I could explain and be aware of what the attendant does.
 

me_little_me

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Thanks for this info. I am leery of doing anything to mess things up! I wonder if I did it in person at the GRR station ( I think it's staffed) that would work so I could explain and be aware of what the attendant does.
Good idea. Go at an off-time i.e. when the agent is not busy preparing for a train arrival. This way they won't feel rushed. And be sure to be really nice up front: "I hate to bother you but I wonder if you could ..." or "Looks like you've been busy. Do you have a moment to ....". I find that puts the agent in a good mood to go out of the way to be helpful.

If you do call an agent, call at an off-hour - again to have the time. Make sure you make it clear to the agent that you do NOT want the reservations changed in any way other than linking them to be sure the delay on the first train gets you a guaranteed connection. If they can't do it, tell them never mind, thank them and call back at another time.
 
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Barb Stout

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Back before I understood that I should make multiple segments on one reservation, I was on the LSL that was 5 hours late into Chicago due to a train/pedestrian fatality. This meant we were a few minutes late to catch the SWC, but they held the train presumably because there were a number of people besides my sister and me that were on the late LSL. I don't know how many, but apparently enough to hold the SWC. I didn't know enough to have requested linked reservations either. Whether there would be enough people catching the Pere Marquette from the SWC for them to do a similar thing, I wouldn't know. The next time I traveled by train, I still didn't realize about having multiple segments on one reservation but found out about that from this forum. I also found out about linking reservations. When I called to have Amtrak customer service (or whatever it's called) link them, I didn't have any problems; I just explained the situation, and the agent seemed happy to oblige my request.
 

river

Service Attendant
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Messages
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Thanks for saving me a trip to the GRR Amtrak station! I think I will see what I can do to link my return reservations at a counter when I arrive in Chicago to start our trip. I'll have plenty of time as our layover before boarding the SWC is about 6 hrs. Getting so excited to go!
 
Joined
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Milwaukee
This page on the same site specifically lets you look at the success a connection, in this case from 4 (Southwest Chief) to 370 (Pere Marquette) connecting in CHI.

Looks like 85% successful this year, and if you exclude a couple of rough patches in mid June and mid July it routinely is north of 90% success.

https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/connections.php?a_train_num=4&c_train_num=370&station=chi&date_start=01/01/2021&date_end=12/31/2021&df1=1&df2=1&df3=1&df4=1&df5=1&df6=1&df7=1&buffer_mins=5&sort_dir=DESC&dfon=1

Note that the link loads and refreshes slowly, but patience is rewarded. :)
 

acelafan

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Glad you find the statistics useful. If you search for more than 60-90 days at a time the results do take longer to show up. The script has to figure out all queried arrivals/departures and match them up before comparing. Also ignore times when some trains don't run or have service disruptions.
 
Joined
May 28, 2021
Messages
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Location
Milwaukee
Glad you find the statistics useful. If you search for more than 60-90 days at a time the results do take longer to show up. The script has to figure out all queried arrivals/departures and match them up before comparing. Also ignore times when some trains don't run or have service disruptions.
Credit where credit is due -- I have used your data tools countless times in these early days of this airline guy getting more into passenger rail. Great stuff!
 

moosejunky99

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The first time i rode on the southwest chef back in April of 2019.. This train was early.... into Fullerton... The dispatcher seemed to be on the side of the train. We keep passing freight trains on the way there and back.. I think i was 20-40 mins late coming back because the lights (red and green and yellow lights) went dark and had to wait for them to come back on and high wind warning had the train slam on the brakes once or twice..
 

river

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 20, 2010
Messages
103
Location
GRR
I also had a question about what happens when your purchased bedroom price drops, but I moved my question to another thread--to Roomette Rate Lowered thread.
 
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