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pianocat

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
410
Not sure anyone remembers me, I’ve been away from the Forum for a few years - as well as Amtrak travel. Retired in 2016 from piano teaching, and all travels since have been via the airlines - mainly due to scheduling with family. So, I haven’t been on Amtrak in nearly 5 years and am more than a little anxious to get back on board a train or 2. I’ll be heading from St. Louis to KC on the Missouri River Runner mid-March, connecting to the SWC where I’ll ride until Riverside, CA where my daughter still lives. My question(s) are mainly about what’s changed in all this time, what might I expect to be different. Specifically, is there still a BC lounge at the STL station , and having only traveled coach on the MRR in the past [not a pleasant experience, the toilets weren’t working!] is BC worth the extra cost? I’ll have a roomette for the SWC portion, has anything changed in regards to service and amenities in past 5 years? I understand the dining cars have seen more and more small touches removed due to costs cuts, but generally, is the dining car experience still a great place to meet interesting people? I’ve missed being on the Forum, and after this trip [unfortunately, only O/W this time as I’ll fly back home] I hope to be a bit more active. In all this time I never lost my love for riding the train, and I guess it sort of gets in your blood and never leaves, thus....MAKING the time for a 40 hour train trip at this point in my life. Thanks for all the help in advance, and it’s good to be back!

Pianocat
 

F900ElCapitan

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
370
Welcome back!!

I’m fairly new to the forum over the last year. I’ve always had a love of train and when I was young my grandmother took me on a trip from Seattle to Chicago to Philadelphia to Kissimmee to go to Disney World. I don’t remember much about that trip but I’ve recently been able to get back on the rails due to a number of circumstances improving. I recently rode the Illinois Zephyr service in BC and really enjoyed it, so if the River Runner is similar then yes, I think you’ll enjoy the upgrade. As to the diner, although some little touches have evidently disappeared from the western LD trains, all in all it should be a similar experience to what you remember. The big changes have happened east of Chicago, and that service has gone down hill very dramatically.
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
169
There is no BC lounge in STL, only a room for sleeping car passengers on the SB Eagle. My family did the SW Chief from STL a couple of years ago, only we paid the extra to take 302 to Chicago and catch the Chief from there. Dinner in the diner on night 1 instead of Amcafe, and no worries about the Chief being late to KC (it was a couple hours late on our trip, so good choice) and waiting in an empty KC station for hours to board at 1 am or later. As a bonus, we got to do the tunnel under the Arch and run up the riverfront to the MacArthur bridge on 302.

We do BC to KCY at least twice a year; worth the extra $20 IMO. Have fun!
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,017
Hey stranger, welcome back!!!

I'll be interesting to see your take on what has changed on the SWC. As you say, it's a handful of the little stuff, but the fundamentals are basically the same.
 

penguinflies

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
108
I enjoy BC and it's more quiet cabin. Worth $20 upcharge. Free tea is nice as well.

In Stl the lounge is called a first class lounge. Guest rewards Select plus and higher member, BC and sleeping class customers are allowed access. Small waters and a clean restroom are the main draws. It is unattended, so you have to go to the counter to get escorted or get the access code.
 

tomfuller

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
828
If you have any desire to purchase silver or turquoise jewelry, there will be at least one vendor on the platform in Albuquerque. It is a refueling and engineer change station so you will have some time to step off onto the platform.
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
169
I enjoy BC and it's more quiet cabin. Worth $20 upcharge. Free tea is nice as well.

In Stl the lounge is called a first class lounge. Guest rewards Select plus and higher member, BC and sleeping class customers are allowed access. Small waters and a clean restroom are the main draws. It is unattended, so you have to go to the counter to get escorted or get the access code.
Famed Amtrak consistency. I've always been told my BC ticket doesn't qualify me for the lounge (room) in STL.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,422
I used the lounge in St Louis on a business class ticket last month. Just go to the agent and get the door code. Beware they don’t tend to announce the departing trains in there not to miss your train. We were the only ones in there.
 

LookingGlassTie

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Messages
513
Welcome (back) Pianocat!

Not sure if you've seen me here before, as I joined in late 2016.

Happy rails to you!
 

pianocat

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
410
Thanks for all the good advice! I talked to an Amtrak rep today and booked my trip. I thought it was interesting and speaks to customer service that this gal actually told me it’d be over $500 cheaper to leave one day later...they really don’t have to do that. So, I adjusted my plans by 24 hours no problem. [I’m way out of the bucket searching loop, on my own] Before paying for the ticket she put both days on a courtesy hold - i had no idea they’d do this! This gave me time to check with family about a change in arrival. A very pleasant surprise, there. I asked about the lounge in STL for BC travelers and ticketed sleeper customers. Indeed, it is available to both, all I need do is get a code from the front desk. Just as I did when I took this route in 2015 on Christmas Eve.
The agents were extremely helpful, and answered all my questions, but they did tell me that come March 1 there will be a charge for changing a reservation. Since I’ve made my commitments here in February, even if i decide the day before i am scheduled to leave on the MRR in March, I can MODIFY my trip at no charge because it’s been booked/paid for before March 1. That’s really nice to know!

Also glad I booked the BC for STL to KCY, she said oh it WILL be quieter than coach!

Guess now all i have to do is count the days til I get back in the saddle, so to speak.

I’ve been assigned roomette #11 on car 0331. Any idea what the consist is for the SWC these days? Will i have to walk a mile to get to the dining car, or likely to be close by [would prefer the hike!] ?
I know this is an upstairs roomette...i think I’ve actually had this one before!

Anxious to get this trip going!! And as for ABQ, i always make a point of buying jewelry from the locals, it’s a highlight of this route, great place to get gifts and souvenirs.

Looks like it’s going to happen! Thanks for the input. Let’s hope coronavirus doesn’t become a pandemic too soon - that’s the only thing that concerns me about all this.

Thanks again, all!
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,300
I’ve been assigned roomette #11 on car 0331. Any idea what the consist is for the SWC these days? Will i have to walk a mile to get to the dining car, or likely to be close by [would prefer the hike!] ?
I know this is an upstairs roomette...i think I’ve actually had this one before!

Anxious to get this trip going!! And as for ABQ, i always make a point of buying jewelry from the locals, it’s a highlight of this route, great place to get gifts and souvenirs.

Looks like it’s going to happen! Thanks for the input. Let’s hope coronavirus doesn’t become a pandemic too soon - that’s the only thing that concerns me about all this.

Thanks again, all!
Roomette #11 is a downstairs roomette, but there are advantages to being away from the foot traffic and closer to the restrooms. Not exactly sure about the present SWC consist, but I believe that #0331 is one car away from the dining car.

Have a great trip!
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,206
Glad to hear you got a great Amtrak agent who saved you some $. For your future travels, you can easily find the cheapest travel dates yourself prior to booking a trip by using AmSnag: http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php

In addition, the following thread in another section of this forum contains a chart showing all the possible fares for all the long distance trains: https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/ The fares shown are for the travel over the entire route.

BTW, if you do happen to book a sleeper at an elevated price (just to be sure you do have a reservation) and the price subsequently drops you might be able to call Amtrak and have your ticket modified for the new lower fare. Maybe. I've done it years ago, but don't know if it can still be done (live too far from any Amtrak route to make train travel an easy thing to do).
 
Last edited:

Tom Booth

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
149
Glad to hear you got a great Amtrak agent who saved you some $. For your future travels, you can easily find the cheapest travel dates yourself prior to booking a trip by using AmSnag: http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php

In addition, the following thread in another section of this forum contains a chart showing all the possible fares for all the long distance trains: https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/ The fares shown are for the travel over the entire route.

BTW, if you do happen to book a sleeper at an elevated price and the price subsequently drops you might be able to call Amtrak and have your ticket modified for the new lower fare. Maybe. I've done it years ago, but don't know if it can still be done (live too far from any Amtrak route to make train travel an easy thing to do).
I still do it. After booking our annual CZ 8 months prior to departure I check price daily. For the past 5 years it has dropped considerably and I've had no problem modifying our tickets. Worse case is paying a change fee. Of course, all this might change soon.
 

pianocat

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
410
Glad to hear you got a great Amtrak agent who saved you some $. For your future travels, you can easily find the cheapest travel dates yourself prior to booking a trip by using AmSnag: http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php

In addition, the following thread in another section of this forum contains a chart showing all the possible fares for all the long distance trains: https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/ The fares shown are for the travel over the entire route.

BTW, if you do happen to book a sleeper at an elevated price (just to be sure you do have a reservation) and the price subsequently drops you might be able to call Amtrak and have your ticket modified for the new lower fare. Maybe. I've done it years ago, but don't know if it can still be done (live too far from any Amtrak route to make train travel an easy thing to do).
Thanks for those links. I’d forgotten them in all the time I wasn’t on the forum. Bookmarked now!
 

Railroad Bill

Global Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,503
Welcome back Pianocat. Hope you enjoy your MRR & SWC rides. The advice above (using Amsnag) can save you some money if your schedule is flexible. Remember our AU Gathering will be in San Diego next October. Perhaps you can make it for a reunion of old friends.
 
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