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Wandering during stops - reasonably!

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Nembird

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I've taken the Southwest Chief a number of times between Chicago and KC, and a few other trips of similar distance. But we are taking the California Zepher the full distance this July. And then some -- part of a Michigan to San Diego trip for our family of three adults.

My question is: I know we can get off the train for the brief stops, touch ground, and at grab fresh air. But at bigger or longer stops like Denver can one dash into Union station and look around and grab a snack or something? Or do we have to stay in or by the train?

I am not a smoker, but I like taking advantage of those breaks to change up the view as much as I can.
 

Rail Freak

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I would not risk it! (with the exception of Grand Junction,if on time)In Denver, maybe poke your head in for a peak (if on time), but wouldn't risk ordering food anywhere.
 
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SarahZ

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KAL
When you get to the longer stops, the crew will let you know how much time you have. If it's under ten minutes, stay by the train.

We were early into Denver, so we had over an hour to wander around. They encouraged us to check out the station. I popped into the bookstore and then looked around for a while.

If you're running late, they'll warn you that you only have X number of minutes instead of the 40 (or whatever) minutes in the timetable.

Also, there is a little store at the Grand Junction stop. The entire crew gets off if there's time. You can pick up some ice cream, souvenirs, etc.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Ask your train attendant or the conductor how much time before the train departs. If the train arrived late, it will leave when the servicing is done, if that time is after the scheduled departure time.

I'm skittish about leaving the train during long stops, but I have run into Wash DC's Union Station and Denver's Union Station during stops after confirming how much time I had.
 

Bob Dylan

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In addition to Denver,you'll be able to take a "fresh air break" @ Glenwood,Springs, visit the Convience Store @ the Grand Junction stop ( AU Member owned), Salt Lake and Omaha's "Platform" @ O- Dark-Thirty, Reno's "Trench" and if on time, a visit to the "Bunker" in Sacramento.

As Sarah and Betty said, check with the Crew before leaving Train side @ all stops!
 
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zepherdude

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I have seen many people left behind. Once in SLC, late night stop, a guy asked me if I wanted to quick hoof it over to Temple Square. I declined and warned him he may not have enough time. He said I wanna see Temple Square! He hoofed it over to the Square. The train horn blew and the hoofer was not back yet. Never to see him again. I hated to say I was right, but I was. Never leave the platform area.
 

Seaboard92

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The Zephyr going west is carded for 41 minutes in Denver. When I was last on the train we arrived forty minutes early. I walked for twenty minutes into the city, twenty minutes back. And still had forty minutes train side.

But for most people I would recommend just stay in the station and train side.

Incidentally I've done the same thing in Indianapolis on 51. It's a fifty minute stop and we arrived 40 minutes early. And that was in the middle of the night.
 

KmH

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Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa.
Glenwood Springs is a smoke/fresh air stop infamous for people wandering into the nearby shops above the station platform and getting left behind when the train departs.

I know some people on the westbound CZ that got left have gotten a taxi to take them to the Grand Junction stop to catch up with the train. I've heard the cost to do that is about $300.
 
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caravanman

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Nottingham, England.
I always try and get a look around the place if I have time at stops. Just ask the crew, sometimes announcements are made also. The train should not depart any stop before it's scheduled time anyway. Beware of clocks/time changing as you cross time zones on the train. Your anticipated 1 hour and 5 minutes time at a stop might be only 5 minutes, because you forgot to change your watch!

Ed.
 
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Lonestar648

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Note the train's departure time because it can not leave early. The train will NOT wait for anyone not on board. In Denver, we had time to walk around the station, buy a couple things, etc. we stayed within ear shot of the PA system that would announce the departure. We got some photos of the station inside and out, still had lots of time so we walked all around close to the station. I don't want to be be too far off, too many stories of people left behind.
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
Sometimes even staying right next to the train may make you late to reboard!

Once at DAL, the TE was running late. I got off, stood right next to the train (still on the platform) talking to 2 AU members. The horn blew, The Conductor said All Aboard, and the doors started closing! I had to go to the very last car where the CA luckily saw me so I could reboard. The TE was moving by the time I was climbing the stairs!


Make sure you check with your CA/SCA how much time the stop will be.
 

cpotisch

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I am always incredibly hesitant to walk more than 20 feet from the train. I always verify with my car attendant or the Conductor how long we'll be stopped, but even if they say I have more than an hour, I never leave the station. It's always possible that I misunderstood the person, or I somehow get locked out of the station, etc. It's not likely, but I don't want to have the slightest chance getting stranded in a place I don't know, without my bags or my clothes. There are exceptions like the 4+ hour SAS stopover on the Sunset/Eagle, with which I wouldn't be too concerned about getting left behind. But otherwise, I HIGHLY recommend you STAY ON THE PLATFORM!
 

bratkinson

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In over 40 years of regular riding, I've learned 'the hard way' exactly twice about wandering more than 100 feet or so from the train at stops. Being perhaps 100 yards or more away to take a photo of the train, hearing the two toots got me sprinting and a kindly attendant kept a door open for me to board while the train was already rolling.

These days, at longer stops, I'll advise my sleeper attendant that if he didn't see me board in plenty of time, I will have boarded at a different car. So, I won't go more than 100 feet or so beyond the lead locomotive or last car to ensure my getting on board. Of course, if there's blue flags still up while they service the train, I know I'm fairly safe. But when they come down, I start moving quickly to reboard.

As mentioned above by multiple respondents, IF THE TRAIN IS BEHIND SCHEDULE, THEY MOST LIKELY WILL NOT STAY IN THE STATION THE TIMETABLE-SPECIFIED NUMBER OF MINUTES! Yes, I am YELLING that!
 

Lonestar648

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When the train is late at a service stop I walk the length of the train so I am always close to a door if I start seeing everyone reboarding. At other stops if the train is late I rarely get off because they will leave as soon as possible.
 

bratkinson

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When the train is late at a service stop I walk the length of the train so I am always close to a door if I start seeing everyone reboarding. At other stops if the train is late I rarely get off because they will leave as soon as possible.
I know there have been times when I COULD have safely walked the entire train on the side away from the platform and the open doors. It doesn't take long to realize that you'll not 'see' anyone boarding and the only 'notice' would be two toots. In other words, you just missed your train!
 

Dan O

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I ask the attendant when the train will be leaving if it is late. I would usually stay by the train if late unless it's a long stop. I may wander a bit then but not more than the station and for less than half the time the train may be expected to be there. If we were early into a long stop, I'd wander quite a bit then but be back 20 minutes or so before departure. I like to leave room in case someone sprains an ankle or something unusual happens that would delay return to the train--in other words not cut it super close. If you use common sense and pay attention to what has been said and the time, you don't need to worry about being left behind.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I always get coffee (west bound) or ice cream (east bound) at the Pig Train Coffee shop inside Denver's Union Station. If you have a particularly grumpy sleeping car attendant on the Zephyr... some macaroons from said Pig Train can help ease things up a bit (I may or may not know from experience)


Once when the Zephyr was quite early into Denver, I walked 3 or 4 blocks to a Starbucks (that was before I had discovered Pig Train in the station).

The train can't leave early, so if I plan to be back at the train (not at the station but physically train side) 10 minutes prior to departure, I feel quite safe I will not be left.
 

zephyr17

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I almost always get off and walk around, but almost always stay train side. I may walk into the station.

The only station where I've wandered off is Albuquerque. It is a long stop and there is a generous pad both directions. I have been on trains with as long as 90 minutes in Albuquerque, so I've gone off and walked around on occasion, including going to an ATM.
 

Seaboard92

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If I'm going to get a locomotive photo generally I will go to the furthest open vestibule and tell whichever crew member there what I'm doing. As generally I'm fairly fast and can have a photo and be back in under two minutes. Giving me plenty of standing time on the platform.
 

chakk

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Glenwood Springs is a smoke/fresh air stop infamous for people wandering into the nearby shops above the station platform and getting left behind when the train departs.

I know some people on the westbound CZ that got left have gotten a taxi to take them to the Grand Junction stop to catch up with the train. I've heard the cost to do that is about $300.
And I witnessed a person left behind on the eastbound CZ at Glenwood Springs when they went into the station to admire the museum. Fortunately, this person was able to book a ticket via phone on an eastbound Greyhound departing about an hour later, which easily beat the train to Denver — a little bit poorer but hopefully wiser.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I often disembark and walk around during station stops. Sometimes no further than the platform but other times multiple blocks away from the station far beyond sight of the train. If we're early or on time I don't bother asking the crew anything and just make sure I'm back on the platform 5 minutes before departure (according to my phone). If the train is running late I discuss timing with the staff and generally stay on or near the platform unless it's a refueling stop.
 

bmjhagen9426

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The northbound Coast Starlight (14) is usually early into Klamath Falls. Once, when it arrived 20 minutes early, I had enough time to wander off a bit as it stopped for three times longer than its usual 10 minute stop. Since I had to grab something from my apartment (2 miles away), I hailed a cab to get there, run, grab, return, and reboard. I got back on board with the needed item with about 3 minutes to spare.
 
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