Sunset Limited - New Orleans to El Paso 6/3-6/4

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NativeSon5859

OBS Chief
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Aug 5, 2003
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I’m currently on the SL headed to ELP. Pretty much on time so far just out of Beaumont. I have Roomette #13. 4 of the rooms are occupied by the crew, no transition sleeper on this train right now just one regular sleeper. Coaches are pretty light but people have been boarding at all stops at least. SA told me things were picking up a bit before the protests in L.A bit have went down since. Crew is fantastic on this train, thanking me for my business. Lunch was decent. Had the shrimp/andouille rice dish. They offered me an extra salad and rolls but I was full. Right now just hanging out in the lounge. Nice relaxing ride, just what I needed. Will post an update later tonight or tomorrow. Otherwise here are some pics. Btw... there are a ton of locomotives in NOL... around 20 at least. Never seen so many. They are also putting in concrete ties on the station tracks.
 

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Rasputin

OBS Chief
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Jan 17, 2019
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Glad to hear that you are having a nice trip in these interesting times and look forward to the rest of your report.

From your list, it appears that you have been on the Sunset before so you may not need any tips. But in case you do, I would suggest getting up early tomorrow and be in the lounge car when the train crosses the High Bridge over the Pecos River (near Langtry of Judge Roy Bean fame) which is maybe about 30 miles or so west of Del Rio.

There is also an interesting monument at Haymond, west of Sanderson as I recall which honors train crew members killed in a collision at that spot maybe 30 years ago. It is on the north side of the track.

Someone may have better mileage information about these locations.

A link with more information about the monument at Haymond:
 
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NativeSon5859

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Aug 5, 2003
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Second day on the SL and we are on time approaching Alpine. The a/c in my car basically went out yesterday afternoon though thankfully they fixed it in San Antonio. Dinner was good (had the pasta with meatballs). Slept fairly well once the a/c started working! Woke up around 545 and took a shower, breakfast around 7. Now just relaxing in my room. Will step off in alpine to inhale some non train air.
 

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Bob Dylan

Conductor
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Enjoying sharing your journey on my first LD Train (I was born in Alpine where my Grandfather was a 40 year hand on the SP out in West Texas).

When you get to El Paso look for the Burrito Lady by the Station door.( if shes still allowed to sell during the Pandemic?)

Looking forward to the rest of your journey, glad you have a good crew, this train used to be noted for that and its poor time keeping!
 

NativeSon5859

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Aug 5, 2003
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Almost exactly on time into ELP. Big crowd waiting to get burritos from Juanita. They are worth the wait! Overall a really nice ride. Long trip planned in about two weeks... NOL-WAS-CHI-EMY-SJC-PDX-CHI-NOL.
 

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NativeSon5859

OBS Chief
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Aug 5, 2003
Messages
936
Enjoying sharing your journey on my first LD Train (I was born in Alpine where my Grandfather was a 40 year hand on the SP out in West Texas).

When you get to El Paso look for the Burrito Lady by the Station door.( if shes still allowed to sell during the Pandemic?)

Looking forward to the rest of your journey, glad you have a good crew, this train used to be noted for that and its poor time keeping!
My first trip ever on the train (2003?) we were like 10 hours late coming back from SAT and they decided just to bus the passengers from New Orleans to Orlando. Apparently it was a not uncommon occurrence since the train was almost always hours late into NOL from the west.

I miss the Orlando segment badly but I don’t miss the massive UP related delays.
 

Rasputin

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Jan 17, 2019
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Some people say that the Sunset and Texas Eagle do not have good scenery but I don't find that to be true. Your photos make me want to ride those trains again. I am glad that your trip went well.

A few questions if you have time:

1. Were there many passengers boarding or detraining at stations west of San Antonio? Did any more sleeper passengers board?

2. Was the lounge car crowded at any time and were there any efforts at social distancing there?

3. Were many passengers and crew members wearing masks?

4. And the question I always ask, did you notice if anyone boarded or detrained at Sanderson and did you even stop there? (Sanderson, as I understand it is the least used station in the Amtrak system).
 

NativeSon5859

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
936
Some people say that the Sunset and Texas Eagle do not have good scenery but I don't find that to be true. Your photos make me want to ride those trains again. I am glad that your trip went well.

A few questions if you have time:

1. Were there many passengers boarding or detraining at stations west of San Antonio? Did any more sleeper passengers board?

2. Was the lounge car crowded at any time and were there any efforts at social distancing there?

3. Were many passengers and crew members wearing masks?

4. And the question I always ask, did you notice if anyone boarded or detrained at Sanderson and did you even stop there? (Sanderson, as I understand it is the least used station in the Amtrak system).
1. Was sleeping in Del Rio. A couple got on in Alpine, and I noticed a line of about 10 waiting to board in El Paso.

2. Lounge Car was not crowded. Everyone has to wear masks if not in their room or at their seats. So sitting in the lounge you had your mask on but it was pretty empty.

3. All crew were, and from what I observed,all passengers wore them, too. They made multiple P.A announcements about it and there are posted signs.

4. Ive been curious about Sanderson as well. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the train to notice, but the stop was very short, maybe 30 seconds? So probably not, or at most one.
 

Rasputin

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Jan 17, 2019
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Thanks for posting that information. I think I have been through Sanderson about four times on the Sunset/Texas Eagle in the past 8 years or so. Two times we stopped and two times we did not. That was when Sanderson appeared in the timetables as a flag stop. Now, in the more recent timetables it appears as a full stop apparently even when no one is getting on or off.
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
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Some people say that the Sunset and Texas Eagle do not have good scenery but I don't find that to be true. Your photos make me want to ride those trains again. I am glad that your trip went well.

I did the Austin/LA trip in November last. Good scenery- hope these prompt more good memories!
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Rasputin

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Thanks for posting those. I don't recognize the bridge in the first photo. It may be just west of Del Rio along the lake whose name I have forgotten.

I am glad to see the photo of the Pecos River taken from the High Bridge near Langtry, Texas. (The Southwest Chief also crosses the Pecos River in New Mexico).
 
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Well spotted! The first is a dawn view when crossing over Walk Lake/Amistad Reservoir west of Del Rio, the second, as you say is from the High Bridge. Would have posted the locations originally but tapped send too early.
 

Rasputin

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According to the June 2, 1946 Southern Pacific, San Antonio Division, Employee Timetable, Del Rio was at Milepost 378.6, High Bridge was at milepost 427.6, Langtry was milepost 443.3 and Sanderson was milepost 511.9.

So High Bridge was not as close to Langtry or Del Rio as I had thought.

At that time there was double track at High Bridge from milepost 427.14 to 428.16.

The westbound Sunset Limited departed Del Rio at 4:30 a.m. and reached High Bridge at 5:36 a.m.
 

dogbert617

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Aug 19, 2016
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Good to see your report about riding the Sunset, recently. And ditto with all the pics, which I enjoyed looking at! Am I right in thinking that Lafayette, LA, and Beaumont, TX are brief smoke/stretch stops for this train? I think I read they are, but correct me if I'm wrong.

I do hope whenever I ride the Sunset someday west of San Antonio, that I wake up in time to see Lake Amistad, and also the Pecos River high bridge. Also is the report right that when you ride through Marfa, TX, that you see some artwork not far away from the tracks as you pass through that town?

I really enjoyed seeing these 2 pics, thanks for sharing them. I take it your Sunset Ltd. #1 westbound train hit Lake Amistad, just as sunrise was starting to occur?
 
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I‘m curious to know from you and others who have ridden long-distance recently: To what capacity do the coach cars seem to be filled?

As I mentioned on another thread, I am considering taking the CZ this July or August to visit family. I have some slight COVID concerns, especially given the fact that I’d be staying with my parents after the trip. Coach is capped at 50 percent, correct? In reality, is it reasonable to expect that with everything going on that actual loads would be far less than that?
 

dogbert617

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Aug 19, 2016
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I‘m curious to know from you and others who have ridden long-distance recently: To what capacity do the coach cars seem to be filled?

As I mentioned on another thread, I am considering taking the CZ this July or August to visit family. I have some slight COVID concerns, especially given the fact that I’d be staying with my parents after the trip. Coach is capped at 50 percent, correct? In reality, is it reasonable to expect that with everything going on that actual loads would be far less than that?
I didn't find anything specifically saying coach ticketing is capped at 50%, but I did find this passage on Amtrak's COVID new procedures for their scheduled trains page:

Limiting bookings: We are limiting bookings on most trains to allow for more physical distancing in seating areas. Individuals traveling alone may use the seat next to them for personal belongings, while friends and family members will easily find seats together.

Also from other articles I'm reading, plus recent trip reports on both here and also the Amtrak subreddit on Reddit, all seem to indicate that ridership is still down vs. the levels it was at through March of this year. I have no doubt that actual passenger loads aren't as high for now, and that you'd probably be okay. And of course know if you do a sleeper(only exception for now is the Auto Train), that you'll have to deal with flex/contemporary dining for your dining car meals. :(

Not going to deny, that I have debated doing some sort of short Amtrak trip myself as of late. Maybe to La Crosse, WI on Empire Builder, but hadn't decided to where yet.
 

Rasputin

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It seems to me that I saw the fifty percent coach travel figure in an Amtrak advisory a month or so ago.
 

desertflyer

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Jul 29, 2013
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On a recent RPA Webinar, someone on RPA staff mentioned that long distance coaches are currently capped at 50% capacity in the booking engine.

Thanks for posting the trip report. It helps me personally know what the experience is like on Amtrak at the moment. I'll be needing to take the Sunset Limited once the situation in AZ and TX begins improving.
 

Ferroequinologist

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
52
Second day on the SL and we are on time approaching Alpine. The a/c in my car basically went out yesterday afternoon though thankfully they fixed it in San Antonio. Dinner was good (had the pasta with meatballs). Slept fairly well once the a/c started working! Woke up around 545 and took a shower, breakfast around 7. Now just relaxing in my room. Will step off in alpine to inhale some non train air.
how long was the AC out?
 

Woodcut60

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 13, 2015
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My first trip ever on the train (2003?) we were like 10 hours late coming back from SAT and they decided just to bus the passengers from New Orleans to Orlando. Apparently it was a not uncommon occurrence since the train was almost always hours late into NOL from the west.
I was on the Sunset Limited (from Los Angeles) in May 2012 and it was only 55 minutes late into New Orleans. Not bad.

I loved your trip report and the photos. Brings back some nice memories.
 
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