Weekend LD Amtrak Trip

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transit54

Conductor
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,390
Hello everyone,

I first want to thank everyone on here for their helpful advice in the past as well as be a source of interesting and informative Amtrak news and commentary. I've posted occasionally on here before but never bothered to register an account till now (for those of you with an excellent memory, I last inquired about whether Amfleet IIs were used on the Maple Leaf, as well as border crossing times).

Anyway, I've just seized an incredible deal on rail fare - I took advantage of one of Amtrak's ~$47 each way deals from New York to Chicago this weekend and am taking the Cardinal on Sunday and returning Monday night (to arrive on Tuesday) on the Lake Shore Limited. Since Monday is a holiday, I was able to fit things in, and I'm a college student, so I only have one class on Tuesday, and getting back late into Burlington, VT won't be a problem, as I can miss a single large lecture without an issue. This will be my first overnight train experience, though I've logged around 3,400 miles on Amtrak in the last year, including on some LD routes like the CZ, so I've got an idea of what to expect, I've just never actually slept overnight on a train.

At the moment, my trip looks like this:

-Fly from BTV to JFK on Saturday night, stay with a friend

-Depart Sunday at 6:45 AM on the Cardinal

-Get in on Monday in Chicago

-Spend the day in Chicago

-Take the LSL on Monday night to arrive in NYC on Tuesday

-Take a jetBlue flight back to BTV

For the price ($98 roundtrip on two LD trains) I couldn't pass it up, and I was looking for something to do for the three day weekend.

My question is, I'm thinking of trying to upgrade onboard to a roomette on the Cardinal, since I'd like to try the sleeper experience but don't want to pay the $355 that roomettes are going for right now. Plus, on a 28 hour trip, included meals would be nice. The bedrooms are all sold out, but there are still roomettes availible. What's the chance they still will be on Sunday, and any idea how much it will cost to upgrade onboard to a roomette? From what I see the Cardinal only runs with a single Viewliner as far as sleeping accomodations go.

Also, what's the deal with eating on the Cardinal? There's clearly meal service, but somewhere Amtrak indicated that "tray service" was offered for first class passengers. Does the Cardinal not have a traditional Amtrak dining car? If not, are the meal options relatively the same as other Amtrak LD trains?

Thanks in advance!
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 13, 2006
Messages
849
To offer a fast reply,

My guess is that you should have a chance to upgrade, being as you're on in New York, so you can get first dibs, but that said, don't expect it to be dirt cheap. I think the cheapest off-peak sleeper bucket on the Cardinal in still in the $200+ range. Sleeping in coach is OK, as you will be on an Amfleet II, but I'll admit the sleeper is much nicer.

Food on the Cardinal will largely be typical Amcafe fare, "nuke and puke" as it were. I believe that once First Class pax have been served, Coach pax may purchase the meal of the day in First Class, which is typically of the casserole nature.

Finally, somewhere around Staunton VA, look out for the EB Cardinal #50. I'll be on it, returning from my own weekend cycle of #29 to #50!
 

RailFanLNK

Conductor
Joined
Mar 24, 2006
Messages
1,928
Some things to do in Chicago. If you like music...The Jazz Record Mart. Has lots of cool stuff on blues and jazz. Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre, Gino's Pizza. If you sleeping on the train, maybe take a Tylenol PM an hour before you want to sleep. Have fun! What hotel are you staying at?
 

Railbender

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
74
Being that it is the President's Day weekend you may be out of luck with the upgrade...then again, maybe not. Good luck! I hope you score all the upgrades you can. Enjoy overnight...

Earplugs...or iPod in case you have a snorer near you. Skip the Tylenol p.m. and have a beer or two or...

If the weather is clear, Sears Tower...right near Chicago Union Station and Giordanos is right up Jackson (?not sure of that) street from the station (great deep dish pizza).

Hopefully this big midwest storm will be over and out and not have any rippling effects on the train/flight schedules...
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
My question is, I'm thinking of trying to upgrade onboard to a roomette on the Cardinal, since I'd like to try the sleeper experience but don't want to pay the $355 that roomettes are going for right now. Plus, on a 28 hour trip, included meals would be nice. The bedrooms are all sold out, but there are still roomettes availible. What's the chance they still will be on Sunday, and any idea how much it will cost to upgrade onboard to a roomette? From what I see the Cardinal only runs with a single Viewliner as far as sleeping accomodations go.
Also, what's the deal with eating on the Cardinal? There's clearly meal service, but somewhere Amtrak indicated that "tray service" was offered for first class passengers. Does the Cardinal not have a traditional Amtrak dining car? If not, are the meal options relatively the same as other Amtrak LD trains?
The odds are pretty good that the LSL will not sell out of roomettes between now and your trip, there are still currently at least 8 rooms available. The Cardinal is harder to predict, since there are only 2 left right now. Assuming that there are still rooms left on either train, you will find an onboard upgrade will cost less than the prices you are currently seeing. I'd guess around $150 to $170 for either train.

IMHO the better choice for the upgrade would be the LSL, since at least there you get the full dining car. The Cardinal sadly does not run with a dining car. So your included meals would be served in the cafe car, as noted above.
 

transit54

Conductor
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
1,390
The odds are pretty good that the LSL will not sell out of roomettes between now and your trip, there are still currently at least 8 rooms available. The Cardinal is harder to predict, since there are only 2 left right now. Assuming that there are still rooms left on either train, you will find an onboard upgrade will cost less than the prices you are currently seeing. I'd guess around $150 to $170 for either train.
IMHO the better choice for the upgrade would be the LSL, since at least there you get the full dining car. The Cardinal sadly does not run with a dining car. So your included meals would be served in the cafe car, as noted above.
I am also going to try and upgrade on the LSL, thanks for the suggestion.

Quick question, if you don't mind - how did you get the information on the available number of rooms? Is that something that's publically accessible or not? I wouldn't mind keeping tabs on those numbers as I get closer to my departure date.

Also, what exactly is the procedure for an onboard upgrade? I know I can ask the conductor when he comes to collect my ticket, but is there any chance for me to do this before I board, to perhaps ensure that no other passenger gets the same idea and takes the only available room before my ticket is collected? I'm assuming that they can accept credit cards onboard for the upgrade, also. I'd rather not carry a sizable amount of cash if I don't have to. Can I still get AGR points for oboard upgrades?

Thanks!
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Quick question, if you don't mind - how did you get the information on the available number of rooms? Is that something that's publically accessible or not? I wouldn't mind keeping tabs on those numbers as I get closer to my departure date.
I went to the online system and pretended that I was going to book a trip myself. However when I got to the question on how many passengers, I selected 8, the maximum that one can book on line. That way when I get to the next screen where I can choose accomodations, it will show me up to 8 roomettes (one for each person) assuming that 8 are left. If less than 8 are left, then it shows me exactly how many are left. If it's more than 8, then there is no way to really tell how many more than 8 or even if it's exactly 8 left.

Also, what exactly is the procedure for an onboard upgrade? I know I can ask the conductor when he comes to collect my ticket, but is there any chance for me to do this before I board, to perhaps ensure that no other passenger gets the same idea and takes the only available room before my ticket is collected? I'm assuming that they can accept credit cards onboard for the upgrade, also. I'd rather not carry a sizable amount of cash if I don't have to. Can I still get AGR points for oboard upgrades?
You'll need to ask the conductor, AFAIK, that is the only guaranteed way. The conductor can definately take your credit card for the purchase, as well as cash if you want.

And yes, you still should get the points for the upgrade, but it might not happen automatically. There is a chance that the system will miss the upgrade and you'll have to ask for the points.
 

deimos

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
418
To offer a fast reply,
My guess is that you should have a chance to upgrade, being as you're on in New York, so you can get first dibs, but that said, don't expect it to be dirt cheap. I think the cheapest off-peak sleeper bucket on the Cardinal in still in the $200+ range. Sleeping in coach is OK, as you will be on an Amfleet II, but I'll admit the sleeper is much nicer.

Food on the Cardinal will largely be typical Amcafe fare, "nuke and puke" as it were. I believe that once First Class pax have been served, Coach pax may purchase the meal of the day in First Class, which is typically of the casserole nature.

Finally, somewhere around Staunton VA, look out for the EB Cardinal #50. I'll be on it, returning from my own weekend cycle of #29 to #50!
Looks like many of us took advantage of the Hot Deals to Frosty Chicago. I'll be on 29(16) out of Washington.

Norfolk Southern seems to be dealing with the severe weather as best they can, though they declared Force Majeure. Significant delays encountered during the past day or so, as one would expect. Hopefully conditions will improve for all folks As of this entry (about 4:00 on Wednesday), 29(13) has yet to arrive into Chicago.

Wishing you pleasant and safe journeys!

Deimos
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 13, 2006
Messages
849
:(

Looks like many of us took advantage of the Hot Deals to Frosty Chicago. I'll be on 29(16) out of Washington.
Norfolk Southern seems to be dealing with the severe weather as best they can, though they declared Force Majeure. Significant delays encountered during the past day or so, as one would expect. Hopefully conditions will improve for all folks As of this entry (about 4:00 on Wednesday), 29(13) has yet to arrive into Chicago.

Wishing you pleasant and safe journeys!

Deimos
Well, 29 finally arrived at 4:50pm. :(

Since I'm due to catch 29 from WAS tomorrow, I did check the site to see how 30(13) was doing, since it would be my train set returning. Estimated for a 9PM arrival in DC :(

Hopefully the worst is over, as it appears it would be. I like riding the train, but I'm not so sure how giddy I'll be about arriving in Chitown 8 hours late.
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Since I'm due to catch 29 from WAS tomorrow, I did check the site to see how 30(13) was doing, since it would be my train set returning. Estimated for a 9PM arrival in DC :(
Hopefully the worst is over, as it appears it would be. I like riding the train, but I'm not so sure how giddy I'll be about arriving in Chitown 8 hours late.
Well 9PM will still give them enough time to clean and turn the train for tomorrow. At issue is how much snow did fall in that area and the fact that they expect the lake effect snow machine to turn on again tonight and into tomorrow. The question is, where will that lake effect snow land?

Cause that could cause still more problems.
 

deimos

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
418
:(
Looks like many of us took advantage of the Hot Deals to Frosty Chicago. I'll be on 29(16) out of Washington.
Norfolk Southern seems to be dealing with the severe weather as best they can, though they declared Force Majeure. Significant delays encountered during the past day or so, as one would expect. Hopefully conditions will improve for all folks As of this entry (about 4:00 on Wednesday), 29(13) has yet to arrive into Chicago.

Wishing you pleasant and safe journeys!

Deimos
Well, 29 finally arrived at 4:50pm. :(

Since I'm due to catch 29 from WAS tomorrow, I did check the site to see how 30(13) was doing, since it would be my train set returning. Estimated for a 9PM arrival in DC :(

Hopefully the worst is over, as it appears it would be. I like riding the train, but I'm not so sure how giddy I'll be about arriving in Chitown 8 hours late.
I have the same concerns - I like to sit back and enjoy the train ride, but I also want to enjoy Chicago. Unfortunately, I have a limited schedule and will be making a relative quick turn around.

I hope 29(15) runs smoothly and as close to schedule as possible for you!

Well 9PM will still give them enough time to clean and turn the train for tomorrow. At issue is how much snow did fall in that area and the fact that they expect the lake effect snow machine to turn on again tonight and into tomorrow. The question is, where will that lake effect snow land?
Cause that could cause still more problems.
I was watching the Weather Channel - and it appears the lake effect will be directed at Indiana, which will likely impact travel between Toledo and South Bend :(

I wonder if the trains will be more crowded due to folks seeking alternate travel means in response to all of the canceled flights.

Deimos
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 13, 2006
Messages
849
Thanks, Deimos. Hopefully, we'll shore up the line for your train to follow in 24 hours! :)

Actually, I won't mind being TOO late since it's gonna be cold up there, and I probably can't check into the Hotel til 3pm. I guess truth be told, I don't mind the lateness so much as I mind the fellow pax and staff beginning to get itchy and b***hy as the delays mount.

FWIW, it does look like the trains will be hauling well in the coming days. LSL 49 and Pennsylvanian 43 are sold out of coach tomorrow, while the Cardinal 50 and LSL 48 look to be fully sold out.
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
FWIW, it does look like the trains will be hauling well in the coming days. LSL 49 and Pennsylvanian 43 are sold out of coach tomorrow, while the Cardinal 50 and LSL 48 look to be fully sold out.
While the snow may have something to do with the increased ridership, I'm sure that part of the equation is the fact that we're coming into a holiday weekend with President's Day next Monday.
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 13, 2006
Messages
849
FWIW, it does look like the trains will be hauling well in the coming days. LSL 49 and Pennsylvanian 43 are sold out of coach tomorrow, while the Cardinal 50 and LSL 48 look to be fully sold out.
While the snow may have something to do with the increased ridership, I'm sure that part of the equation is the fact that we're coming into a holiday weekend with President's Day next Monday.
C'mon Alan, Didn't you listen to Norman's immortal words?!? Nobody rides those trains.

Guess that's why my "El Captiol" 29(15) is now sold out of coach when I peek online.

Just a couple hours ago, seats were available.

Using the trick, I see only 3 roomettes and 4 Bedrooms.

This is going to be an interesting trip.

EDIT*

For anyone interested, I'm going to try to do what I tried to do on my last CHI trip, and post up to date travel photos of my journey, service permitting. You'll find my album at:

http://s92.photobucket.com/albums/l4/mtabusrunner/

All added photos will merely be in the main section.

Also, just did a head count at it looks like FIVE of us travelling among 3 services this weekend.

Myself: 29(15) WAS>CHI, retn 50(17) CHI>BAL

rnizlek: 51(18) NYP>CHI, retn 48(19) CHI>NYP

Deimos: 29(16) WAS>CHI, unk. retn.

EB Fan: 51(14) CIN>CHI to ?

Racer1735: 51(16) IND>CHI, retn 50(17) CHI>IND

May everyone have a safe and pleasant journey!
 
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AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Here's the latest from NS guys, and it's not pretty.

Norfolk Southern Service Alert
Update: Winter Storm in Midwest - Force Majeure in Effect

February 14, 2007

Norfolk Southern is continuing to deal with the affects of the severe winter storm that passed through the Midwest region of the Norfolk Southern network Tuesday, Feb. 13, with heavy snow, high winds and extremely cold temperatures. Traffic moving to and from the areas between Kansas City, Decatur, Ill., and Bellevue, Ohio, and between Chicago, Ill., Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa., may incur significant delays.

Note to customers with committed service agreements: Norfolk Southern has invoked Force Majeure effective 12:01 A.M. February 13, 2007, on traffic moving through this area.

------------------

Norfolk Southern Corporation

www.nscorp.com
 
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