Texas Eagle 21 or 421?

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mitako

Train Attendant
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May 21, 2018
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I have a dumb question: If I'm booking a trip home from Austin to Los Angeles, and do not want to have to move into a different sleeper during the changeover from Texas Eagle to Sunset Limited at San Antonio, do I want to book a roomette on the 21 or the 421?

Heading out, we'll be going from Los Angeles to San Antonio, so I figure it doesn't matter if I'm on the 422 or the 22: I'm getting off in San Antonio either way.

The whole TE/SL thing is a bit confusing to me, and I don't want to end up booking the wrong way.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Austin Texas
You'll want to book #421 from Austin-LAX so you don't have to change cars @ O-Dark-Thirty in San Antonio.

From LAX-SAS, Train #2 is usually cheaper to SAS than #422 which switches the thru Sleeper and Coach to #22 in SAS to head North to Chicago via Austin.
 

ehbowen

Engineer
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The whole TE/SL thing is a bit confusing to me, and I don't want to end up booking the wrong way.

Thanks so much for your help!
A typical Texas Eagle consist leaving Chicago is seven cars (plus baggage, and yes I know it varies...this is just an example): Trans-dorm (crew sleeper with some revenue sleeper rooms), Cross Country Cafe (or Diner), Sightseer Lounge, two coaches, one full Superliner sleeper, and one additional coach.

In this example:

  • The transdorm sleeper, CCC/Diner, Lounge Car, and the first coach are "Train 21." These cars operate the route from Chicago to San Antonio where they lay over, are turned and cleaned overnight, and depart northbound for Chicago the next morning as "Train 22."
  • The second coach and sleeper are "Train 421." They operate from Chicago to San Antonio with the #21 cars, where they are uncoupled and held (with passengers aboard) for the arrival of Train #1, the Sunset Limited. They are added to that train when it arrives and continue west operating combined with it, but still technically as "Train 421." In reverse, a sleeper and coach operating as "Train 422" operate from Los Angeles to San Antonio with the eastbound Sunset Limited, where they are uncoupled (with passengers aboard) and added to the next day's northbound Texas Eagle consist, still operating as "Train 422."
  • On the days that the Sunset Limited does not operate, there are no "#421" or "#422" cars. The cars still run, but officially they are part of #21 and #22 and return with the next day's Texas Eagle train.
  • Finally, the last coach leaving Chicago is "Train 321." It operates only from Chicago to St. Louis to provide additional capacity for local traffic. It is uncoupled in St. Louis, lays over there overnight, and returns to Chicago the next morning as "Train 322."
Clear as mud?
 
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Joined
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Yes... I recall when Amtrak 321 and 322 were assigned to the "Valpo" local...
 

mitako

Train Attendant
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
89
In this example:

Clear as mud?
Yes, that does help! The three-times-per-week schedule of the TE from LAX to San Antonio and vice versa definitely made my scheduling of this trip more difficult. The different train numbers added to the confusion, but I think I have it now. Thanks!
 

cpotisch

Engineer
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Sep 2, 2017
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Location
Brooklyn, NY
The daily San Antonio-Chicago Texas Eagle is train 21/22. Three days a week, one coach and one sleeper are put on the back of the Sunset Limited and continue on to LAX as train 421/422. On the days that 421/422 runs, 21/22 refers to the Trans-Dorm and other coach, which is why roomettes are the only room type available on 21/22 on those days.

A general rule of thumb with Amtrak is that if it doesn't show a connection online (as is the case with 421/422), you won't have to do any transferring or connecting in real life. And if it does show a connection, as is the case if you tried to take 21/22, you will have to transfer. Long story short, take 421.
 

benale

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
356
The Sunset arrives in San Antonio just after Midnight if on time and leaves at 2:45.. i have a sleeper. Can we board when the train arrives?
 

ehbowen

Engineer
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Mar 22, 2011
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Houston, Texas
I'll defer to our San Antonio members for the definitive answer, but my gut feeling is: Maybe not, but it's worth asking. Like many things on Amtrak, how the crew is feeling on a particular night is more important than some policy set down in Philadelphia or Chicago.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Austin Texas
As with most things Amtrak Amtrak, it depends!

If you're riding on #421 ( the through Sleeper and Coach that are switched from #21 upon artival into SAS), you will have to wait until after the switching to board your car on the end of #1.

If you're riding on The #1 portion of the consist,as was said,its up to the SCA ( and technically the Conductor since they scan the tickets @ the "Red Poles" outside the Station )if you are allowed to board upon arrival of #1.( the SCAs often have to make up the rooms upon arrival).

Generally you'll have to wait until general boarding of the Sunset, and keep in mind the small AmShak Station is a less than desirable place to wait for boarding.

Waiting outside on the platform is much better,and in a cafe or on the River walk is even better than that!
 
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TinCan782

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Jan 15, 2012
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LAX
Two round-trips LA to Temple, TX we were on 422/421 - stayed on board the whole time. I did get off the train and wander around the platform after the switching was done, no problem. Same with 422 LA to Chicago three years ago.
 

iplaybass

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Mar 10, 2018
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STL
This explains why roomettes are so much cheaper on days when 421 runs. Have a STL-DAL trip coming up next year. Interested in taking the Eagle at least one way
 

cpotisch

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This explains why roomettes are so much cheaper on days when 421 runs. Have a STL-DAL trip coming up next year. Interested in taking the Eagle at least one way
Sorry, you've found that roomettes are cheaper when 421 is running? I don't see why that would be the case...
 

iplaybass

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Yep. by about 20% around my travel dates. Don't know why, and it is early. But not cheap enough to spend an extra hotel night.
 

cpotisch

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Yep. by about 20% around my travel dates. Don't know why, and it is early. But not cheap enough to spend an extra hotel night.
Is this the case for both 21 and 421, or just one of them?
421 is usually more expensive since #21 uses the Transdorm for Sleeper Pax on #421 days.
Right, but it sounds like iplaybass had the exact opposite experience - things are apparently cheaper on 421 days. I feel like he saw was probably a coincidence, but I'm still curious.
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
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Yep. by about 20% around my travel dates. Don't know why, and it is early. But not cheap enough to spend an extra hotel night.
Is this the case for both 21 and 421, or just one of them?
421 is usually more expensive since #21 uses the Transdorm for Sleeper Pax on #421 days.
Right, but it sounds like iplaybass had the exact opposite experience - things are apparently cheaper on 421 days. I feel like he saw was probably a coincidence, but I'm still curious.
Just re-checked for my travel dates. $231 on 421/$284 on 21 if I leave a day early. $332 on 21 if I leave on my desired date.
 

cpotisch

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Yep. by about 20% around my travel dates. Don't know why, and it is early. But not cheap enough to spend an extra hotel night.
Is this the case for both 21 and 421, or just one of them?
421 is usually more expensive since #21 uses the Transdorm for Sleeper Pax on #421 days.
Right, but it sounds like iplaybass had the exact opposite experience - things are apparently cheaper on 421 days. I feel like he saw was probably a coincidence, but I'm still curious.
Just re-checked for my travel dates. $231 on 421/$284 on 21 if I leave a day early. $332 on 21 if I leave on my desired date.
Over how many days have you checked this?
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
169
Location
STL
Yep. by about 20% around my travel dates. Don't know why, and it is early. But not cheap enough to spend an extra hotel night.
Is this the case for both 21 and 421, or just one of them?
421 is usually more expensive since #21 uses the Transdorm for Sleeper Pax on #421 days.
Right, but it sounds like iplaybass had the exact opposite experience - things are apparently cheaper on 421 days. I feel like he saw was probably a coincidence, but I'm still curious.
Just re-checked for my travel dates. $231 on 421/$284 on 21 if I leave a day early. $332 on 21 if I leave on my desired date.
Over how many days have you checked this?
I only have 2 possible dates. *shrugs* It is what it is. I'll probably fly anyway. In this case, it's cheaper.
 

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