Suggestions on how to make a tight connection

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Pal2Pluto

Train Attendant
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Sep 20, 2021
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Hi all..... well, our cross country round trip is coming up this next weekend. (HAR>CHI>DEN - 2 day layover - DEN>SEA - 2 day layover -SEA>CHI>HAR) We are so excited, and I really only have one area of anxiety: we are in a roomette SEA>CHI with only a 2 hour layover before we are due on the next leg in coach >PIT>HAR. I know that's tight, hence the anxiety.

Do you have any suggestions?? I've already checked, and the next available seats are 2 days later and we really don't have that vacation time available to us. Can I "link" (?) the reservations on those two legs to my benefit? Worst case scenario, we will somehow rent a car and drive the 10 hours to HAR.

TIA...
 

zephyr17

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It is an extremely bad idea to have a same day connection on separate reservations, especially one as tight as the Builder-Capitol connection. If they were on the same reservation, you would show on a missed connection list, and Amtrak would protect you with an overnight hotel and tickets on the next day's train.

With separate reservations, you'll just be a no show on the Capitol with no hotel in Chicago no refund.

You can have the reservations "linked" but that is just a manual note in the reservation system. It will likely help you in getting a refund for the Capitol no show, but it is likely something you'll have to deal with after the fact. You very likely won't be automatically reaccommodated like you would be if your travel was on one reservation number because you won't be on the system generated misconnect list. The manual linking note will be good for getting Amtrak to cover some things after the fact, but you likely will be in a lot more work and hassle than being automatically reaccommodated and provided a hotel, directly billed to Amtrak.

According to ASMAD the 8-30 connection has had a 25% miss rate since January 1st and that is with a scheduled arrival on 8 at Chicago that is 50 minutes earlier than the schedule going into effect on July 11th.

Call and have them "linked", better yet, see if they can be combined into a single reservation. However, if they are able to, it would most likely trigger a reprice into current bucket.

I don't understand why you have separate reservations. SEA-HAR is available to be booked entered as a single "segment". You don't even have to use Multi-City.

I hope it works out for you on your upcoming trip, but I strongly caution you not to make another Amtrak booking this way again. Always have same day connections on one reservation number.
 
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WWW

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Call and get Amtrak to RE-DO the reservation as noted - - -

Also I would be extremely careful of booking anything on #8 connecting same day in Chicago.
My rail friends monitor EB #7 and #8 and of recent 4-5-7 hour delays are happening due to weather
freight interference mostly on the BNSF part - CP not so much - but when you are an hour late
there is just so much time that can be made up to return to schedule - - -
Just when you think you are in the clear some idiot foils your plan with a crossing accident - - -
So do you feel LUCKY - the casino Amtrak house odds are against you !
 

caravanman

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Maybe assume that you will miss that last leg in Chicago, and plan now for that? If it connects, all well and good, if not, at least you have a proper plan B in place.
( Better than having that anxiety hanging over the whole trip I think? )
 

Stremba

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It would not be ideal, and I have no idea if it would even be available on your travel date, but the Lake Shore Limited leaves Chicago almost three hours later than the CL. If you miss the CL connection, you might make the LSL.

You would have to take the LSL all the way to NYP then connect to either a Keystone if a Keystone is available at your arrival time at NYP, or possibly a NER to PHL connecting to a Keystone from there to HAR.

It probably would get you home much later (maybe even after midnight), but if that itinerary is available on your date, it would get you there
 

zephyr17

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While a connection from the Lake Shore to Harrisburg on Keystone 657 leaving NYP at 8:30 pm appears feasible and is well over 60 minutes, it isn't guaranteed. I tried an Erie-Harrisburg to eliminate both the Capitol and Empire Service trains as options and it says "service not available. A Cleveland-Harrisburg search only yields the Capitol/Pennsylvanian.

While Amtrak itself might offer such a routing on the Lake Shore and that last Keystone as a reaccommodation for a misconnect, I fear the OP changing their routing themselves would be trading one unguaranteed separate reservation connection with another, this time without an underlying connection that otherwise would have been guaranteed.
 

Stremba

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I see the problem. When I looked at my Chi-Har via LSL I did a dummy booking for an arbitrary future date. I used a date in October and it shows NER 187 arriving in PHL at 10:32 pm. For earlier dates that train seems to be unavailable.

The PHL-HAR connection is too tight though so you can’t get a guaranteed connection (last Keystone departs at 10:59), but if you miss that you are stuck in Philly for one night and are about 90 minutes from HAR instead of stuck in CHI for 2 nights and would then be 17 hours from home, so my suggestion might still be an improvement.

OP, if you do miss the connection at CHI maybe you could explain your situation and see if they could put you on the LSL to NYP. Worst case is that you would be stuck overnight at NYP and be 3 hours from home and able to get a train the next morning
 

Amtrak25

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You can also do an overnight in Milwaukee, with cheaper hotels than Chicago, and take a Hiawatha out in the morning. If the train is 6 hours late, you would also appreciate being on your way to a hotel 90 minutes sooner. CP dispatchers are also heartless in further delaying Empire Builders if a southbound Metra is present near Rondout.
 
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Imho the best thing to do is to schedule a night in Chicago or Milwaukee. Whichever has the more agreeable hotel rates. This ensures you have control over what happens to you.

If you leave it up to Amtrak they may just have you spend the night in the metropolitan lounge. This was the practice in past years with late empire builder arrivals.
 

Sidney

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Unless one of the Western trains are really late,the LSL will work. As said,if you are going to Philly,Baltimore or DC it would be several hours later than taking the CL or the Cardinal. I am dong the EB to Chicago on points and the LSL to New York with cash. I have a feeling Amtrak can't link it. Being I did low bucket on the EB and Coach on the LSL,I would not pay the current price if linked,considering the EB is probably a lot more now.
 

WWW

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Advantage Milwaukee with the Amtrak stop at the Milwaukee Airport -
Wished the Empire Builder would stop there albeit for just a minute -
The planned 2nd train from MSP to Chicago is in the mix for this -
Hotels at airport locations are generally less expensive -
Need a designated limited stop El train from airport both O'Hare and
Midway to downtown hotels and Union Station -
The existing El way freight making every siding stop makes getting
downtown an all day event -

In any event plan your coordinated travel connections with care -
Allow for a gate/track change -
If you are timing to arrive as the door closes - you deserve what
may happen as a result - luck or dumb luck
 

Pal2Pluto

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I've been watching this week in particular, and it seems it has been about 1 1/2 hr late each day. That would technically still be in time for our next leg of the trip...... so if that's the case, who do we tell on our train, or do we call someone to tell them we are literally running to catch the next leg?
 

Amtrak25

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#8 can depart Milwaukee with sufficient time, then lose a half hour behind a Metra local from Fox Lake south of Rondout. Even if not there, there are other Metra trains that relay at Lake Forest to get in the way. It is all very dicey. At which point do they make the hold/go decision with connecting trains I don't know. Conductor is often pleading with the CP dispatcher to not delay them, and they do not waste any time in Milwaukee. When #8 is ready to depart, they'll be an assertive-sounding engineer's horn blast they are about to move. He knows Metra's schedules.

Who do you tell ? IDK. Start with the conductor.

To get to Harrisburg, you could book same day 48 safely to Rochester or Syracuse, then take Greyhound to Harrisburg. But 48 won't make it.

So it is best just to schedule an overnight stay in Milwaukee, Glenview (2 motels along Waukegan Road in Morton Grove), or Chicago. But to expect to make 8==>30, you'll be a nervous wreck all the way. It's not worth the stress.
 
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joelkfla

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#8 can depart Milwaukee with sufficient time, then lose a half hour behind a Metra local from Fox lake south of Rondout. Even if not there, there are other Metra trains that relay at Lake Forest to get in the way. It is all very dicey. At which point do they make the hold/go decision, I don't know. Conductor is often pleading with the CP dispatcher to not delay them, and they do not waste any time in Milwaukee. When #8 is ready to depart, they'll be an assertive-sounding engineer's horn blast they are about to move. He knows Metra's schedules.

Who do you tell ? IDK. Start with the conductor.

To get to Harrisburg, you could book same day 48 safely to Rochester or Syracuse, then take Greyhound to Harrisburg. But 48 won't make it.

So it is best just to schedule an overnight stay in Milwaukee, Glenview (2 motels along Waukegan Road in Morton Grove), or Chicago. But to expect to make 8==>30, you'll be a nervous wreck all the way. It's not worth the stress.
Does the conductor deal with the dispatcher? I'd always assumed it was the engineer.
 
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The conductor communicates most with the dispatcher. Then communicates with the engineer. The conductor has the authority over when the train moves and stops as long as there are no stop signals. I assume the engineer communicates with the dispatcher too based on the situation.
 

Eric in East County

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It is an extremely bad idea to have a same day connection on separate reservations, especially one as tight as the Builder-Capitol connection. If they were on the same reservation, you would show on a missed connection list, and Amtrak would protect you with an overnight hotel and tickets on the next day's train.

With separate reservations, you'll just be a no show on the Capitol with no hotel in Chicago no refund.

You can have the reservations "linked" but that is just a manual note in the reservation system. It will likely help you in getting a refund for the Capitol no show, but it is likely something you'll have to deal with after the fact. You very likely won't be automatically reaccommodated like you would be if your travel was on one reservation number because you won't be on the system generated misconnect list. The manual linking note will be good for getting Amtrak to cover some things after the fact, but you likely will be in a lot more work and hassle than being automatically reaccommodated and provided a hotel, directly billed to Amtrak.

According to ASMAD the 8-30 connection has had a 25% miss rate since January 1st and that is with a scheduled arrival on 8 at Chicago that is 50 minutes earlier than the schedule going into effect on July 11th.

Call and have them "linked", better yet, see if they can be combined into a single reservation. However, if they are able to, it would most likely trigger a reprice into current bucket.

I don't understand why you have separate reservations. SEA-HAR is available to be booked entered as a single "segment". You don't even have to use Multi-City.

I hope it works out for you on your upcoming trip, but I strongly caution you not to make another Amtrak booking this way again. Always have same day connections on one reservation number.
Early next October, we have same day connections in Chicago between the Capitol Limited No. 29 and the Southwest Chief No. 3. Although both reservations were paid for using cash, due to circumstances beyond our control they are not under the same reservation number. Under normal conditions, this would not be a tight connection since there is about six hours between trains. Even so, to be on the safe side, this morning we called Amtrak and, after being connected to an agent, asked that our CL and SWC reservations be linked together. She didn’t know what that was or apparently how to do it. According to her, the only way our CL and SWC reservations could be combined was to first cancel them and then remake them. We thanked her but said that we’d rather keep things as they were. Would we have been better served to have spoken to someone in Customer Relations?
 

WWW

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Early next October, we have same day connections in Chicago between the Capitol Limited No. 29 and the Southwest Chief No. 3. Although both reservations were paid for using cash, due to circumstances beyond our control they are not under the same reservation number. Under normal conditions, this would not be a tight connection since there is about six hours between trains. Even so, to be on the safe side, this morning we called Amtrak and, after being connected to an agent, asked that our CL and SWC reservations be linked together. She didn’t know what that was or apparently how to do it. According to her, the only way our CL and SWC reservations could be combined was to first cancel them and then remake them. We thanked her but said that we’d rather keep things as they were. Would we have been better served to have spoken to someone in Customer Relations?
Consider asking for the agents Supervisor or Lead agent to do the change.

Had a recent issue with booking two roomettes - the computer online booked
these randomly enough that we were 4 rows out of sync.
Desired straight across the aisle for convenience - - -
Had to call Amtrak and get a fix - however the agent could not do it or did
not know how to do the change - had to call in her Supervisor.
Was advised if wanting specific roomette or bedroom locations to call and
complete the booking over the phone.

The Amtrak booking program needs to have an airline selection menu
where you can select your seating roomette bedroom from a graphic menu !
 

Sidney

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Messages
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Many times I have same day connections on 29 and 49 to connect with 3 5 or 7 and never had a problem. It's the reverse that can be iffy. Usually I'll book the Lake Shore being it is the last train of the day. I usually start and end in Harrisburg,so I ll spend a night in Utica or Schenectady and take an Empire and Keystone. Always enjoy the NYC layover with a Moynihan Lounge stop.

I usually do points and cash on cross country trips and I would imagine they couldn't be linked. Another variable is the outrageous sleeper cost on the 48 28 and 48 so I usually go Coach. The next day I'm exhausted and in no shape to drive the almost two hour drive from Harrisburg home. Even getting a motel and an additional train is less expensive than a roomette.
 

zephyr17

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Which is why I never have and never will book sleeping cars online, since I am picky about roomette location, at least in Superliners. I use the site for determining price and decision points only, when I decide to pull the trigger, I call.

I am not holding my breathe for Amtrak's crack IT department to provide a choice online.
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
Many times I have same day connections on 29 and 49 to connect with 3 5 or 7 and never had a problem. It's the reverse that can be iffy. Usually I'll book the Lake Shore being it is the last train of the day. I usually start and end in Harrisburg,so I ll spend a night in Utica or Schenectady and take an Empire and Keystone. Always enjoy the NYC layover with a Moynihan Lounge stop.

I usually do points and cash on cross country trips and I would imagine they couldn't be linked.
As of now you can't mix cash and points on a single reservation. You can on separate reservations, but I only do that at overnight break points.
 

Eric in East County

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Our Capitol Limited No. 29 tickets were originally purchased last December using travel points. Unfortunately, we were among those who had their round trip Southwest Chief bedroom reservations shot out from under them when the second sleeper was removed from the consist for the summer. When we went to remake our reservations for later in the year, we ended up having to pay cash for the Capitol Limited 29 tickets since, due to fare increases, our travel points did go as far as they did in December. Since we’d paid cash, and had we been thinking more clearly, we should have asked the agent to include it on our multi-city Southwest Chief No. 4-Capitol Limited No. 30-Southwest Chief No. 3 reservation.

In our 10 previous trips, we’ve never had any problems with our CL No. 29-SWC No. 3 connection, and we don’t anticipate that we will this year either. Even so, with Amtrak, it is always best to be as fully covered as possible.
 
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