Texas Eagle vs Southwest Chief

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joelkfla

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Which train is better to take from CHI to LAX Texas Eagle or Southwest Chief
  1. SWC is usually cheaper.
  2. For sleeper passengers, SWC has traditional dining and a dining car all the way; TE has inferior Flex meals and no dining car between CHI & SAS.
  3. For coach passengers, SWC has a cafe on the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge; TE has a cafe car which also serves sleeper passenger meals, so cafe hours are limited.
  4. SWC has a Sightseer Lounge available to all passengers.
  5. Currently, sleeper room availability is very limited on the TE.
  6. Most people think SWC passes more interesting scenery.
Note: points 2-5 apply between CHI & SAS. Between SAS & LAX, the TE is combined with the Sunset Ltd., which does have a full diner with traditional dining and a Sightseer Lounge.
 

pennyk

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I prefer the Southwest Chief, personally.

There is a fairly recent thread discussing this here:
 

Sidney

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To a rail buff and someone who wants the best bang for your buck,The Eagle/Sunset takes a day longer and sometimes it is the same price of the Chief $623 low bucket for a roomette.

Maybe the Chief one way and the Eagle/Sunset the other.Both routes have interesting scenery. As mentioned,only downside of the Eagle/Sunset is flex dining and no sightseer car from Chicago to San Antonio with only one sleeper,the 421 and 422 and an overworked attendant serving sleeper passengers their reheated TV dinners and working the Cafe Car.
 
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Did the TE Los Angeles to Chicago in 2015...extra train time! Then, it had a dining car and traditional dining and I enjoyed the trip.
It was part of a trip to Washington DC. via Capitol Limited (also had full service then) The return was on the Chief.
Now, probably not the TE.
 

Gary Behling

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Right now the chief imho because the Texas Eagle has flex dining and no lounge car from Chicago to San Antonio. The chief has full dining car service.
Living in Tucson, the Texas Eagle is a train I have taken to Chicago often. Depending on the time of arrival in San Antonio, I get off the train there and take a taxi to a nice Mexican Restaurant (not fast food) and get a big plate of 4 enchiladas, plus an extra plate of beans and rice and 6 flour tortillas for take out. Then we go get get a six pack of Mexican beer and go back to my bedroom on the train. But the last time I took that train to Chicago, Busses were waiting for all of us in San Antonio going North. What a bummer. I would go Southwest Chief.
 
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Sidney

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One counter argument is that when the next round of cutbacks come, people in DC will point at lower ridership resulting from the mediocre service and try to kill the TE. That happened to the Pioneer. Ride it before it's gone?
A shame four of the nation's largest cities,all in Texas Dallas,Fort Worth,Austin and San Antonio are only served by the once great Texas Eagle.SAS,is also served by the much superior Sunset Limited.
 
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One counter argument is that when the next round of cutbacks come, people in DC will point at lower ridership resulting from the mediocre service and try to kill the TE. That happened to the Pioneer. Ride it before it's gone?

I actually haven’t seen any evidence lately of Amtrak playing that game. Early this past summer their spokesman directly mentioned when asked in articles about the return to daily service they are essentially expecting lower ridership due to having to reduce capacity for staffing and equipment shortages. Stating and acknowledging that to me is a positive - it means they are being up front and you wouldn’t be able to then turn around and argue no one’s riding - time to cut the train. While there certainly are ongoing issues and room for improvement in many areas I really don’t see evidence of the “big conspiracy” at present.
 
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I had a bad experience on the Texas Eagle last October, Chicago to Austin. Terrible food, and our roomette was falling apart - one of the chairs was bent, and every blessed thing rattled like crazy. It's still fun because it's a train, but it was the worst Amtrak I've ever been on. I've never ridden the Chief.
 

trimetbusfan

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If you spend the whole trip in your room and want more time on the train, then the Texas Eagle is a better deal. (Downside being flex dining and no lounge car between SAS-CHI)

If you want better dining service for the whole trip, and a sightseeing car to lounge in, then the SWC.

Even though one is longer, and technically they both cost the same, one will provide you with better food and onboard amenities while the other gives you more time on the train.

(With that being said if your in coach, I’d go SWC no questioned asked).
 

trimetbusfan

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Keep in mind if you take 422 in particular, there’s a decent chance you will have to ride a bus for several hours across Texas from SAS in the event of #2 being late.
 

zephyr17

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I rode the Pioneer several times and it was always a decent ride. The Pioneer was destined to die when they disposed of most ex-Santa Fe Hi Levels during the Mercer Cuts. When they decided to resume daily service, they simply did not have sufficient equipment without the Hi Levels to run the previous network daily.
 

zephyr17

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"IF" and tht is a big if all the out of service cars get back into roadworthy service it may be 2024 before all these reductions get fixed?
That's a big "if". They were running right on the edge with Sightseers prior to COVID anyway. They've possibility lost another two with the Empire Builder and SW Chief derailments.

So I am making no bets on whether or not the Eagle as it was formerly, will ever return.🙁

I am not optimistic.
 
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joelkfla

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That's a big "if". They were running right on the edge with Sightseers prior to COVID anyway. They've possibility lost another two with the Empire Builder and SW Chief derailments.

So I am making no bets on whether or not the Eagle as it was formerly, will ever return.🙁

I am not optimistic.
I suppose the Congressional mandate only applies to frequency of service.
 

Amtrak709

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Just to throw in my opinion, as a railfan and sleeping car passenger I would take the 3 night Texas Eagle just for the overall travel miles and on board time on the train and sleeper car. I think I could forgive the equipment issues, perhaps the mentioned inconsistencies of the OBS, and--even though I would prefer full dining car service--the flex dining CHI-SAS. My one "deal breaker" issue would be the possibility of being disrupted from my sleeper and being bussed anywhere in the event of missed connection to 22 in SAS. I understand from those participants in this forum that that event regularly occurs these days on the east and north bound 422 and not usually of 421 south and west bound. Again, just my opinion.
 

JWM

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Flex-Dining and more kills the T.E. for me. SWC has, as noted, traditional dining and the scenery is better I feel. However, as a72 year old who knew the Super Chief under ATSF, both are miles away from the service offered so long ago.
 
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I think that if you want something decent to eat and if you want to socialize and sightsee in a comfortable lounge car, you take the Southwest Chief.

If you don't care what you eat and if you don't care to socialize or sightsee in a lounge car, you can take the Texas Eagle. If you are looking to finish the last few chapters of your novel with few interruptions or distractions, you probably want to take the Texas Eagle. You may have to eat in your room anyway.

It doesn't have to be that way, but it is.
 

Amtrak709

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Flex-Dining and more kills the T.E. for me. SWC has, as noted, traditional dining and the scenery is better I feel. However, as a72 year old who knew the Super Chief under ATSF, both are miles away from the service offered so long ago.
Flex-Dining and more kills the T.E. for me. SWC has, as noted, traditional dining and the scenery is better I feel. However, as a72 year old who knew the Super Chief under ATSF, both are miles away from the service offered so long ago.
JWM: Amen to that. I am age 75. When I moved from GA to CA in 1970, the very-- I mean the very-- first thing I wanted to do was ride Santa Fe Super Chief
in the sleepers Los Angeles to Chicago--and I DID! Four trips before Amtrak took control in 1971. One of the trips we had a Pullman heritage drawing room. It was one of the best trips in my 300,00 rail miles lifetime.
 
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