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Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
262
I'm 63, and a community mental health case manager. I live in a small rural community along the Columbia River in WA state. ...Headed to Chicago next week on the Empire Builder. btw, my profile pic was taken out the back window of the Texas Eagle in southern Arizona.
My father is a retired Seattle Times country circulation district manager. Getting to travel your part of the Northwest and calculating how to get newspapers into remote corners kept him interested over 42 years of service. And... I hope that you've joined All Aboard Washington and their effort to restore Pasco - Yakima - Seattle service. It's likely that it would connect from Train 27 and to Train 28 at Pasco.
 

drdumont

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
192
What do you mean about "incurring the wrath of my employers, who didn't get a rakeoff from rail travel" ?
Short answer - the "corporate Travel Service (!)" refused to book AMTRAK. Period. Said they "didn't know how". Refused to allow me to make a rez and they pick it up. By their lights, I was gonna By God fly on their choice of itinerary. One employee told me they didn't get as big a commission from AMTRAK. Even if the AMTRAK fare was less than air fare, no soap. I know know the CFO got a huge check at the end of the year. We had over 300 employees who flew weekly at least.

Fortunately, old age and treachery always beats out youth and exuberance...

The "global" travel agency agency found the cheapest fare, no matter the airport on either end, time of day, number of hops, seat availability, aircraft type.
I live 4 miles from DFW, my wife could drop me and pick me up. It's almost $100 cab to get to Love Field. And that is Southwest only. No assigned seating. A cattle car.

Cranky old fart that I am, I WON'T sit in a center seat, get up at 0300 on a travel only day so I can sit in a hotel until the next day, take two three hops when a nonstop is available, or drive an hour to an airport when I live <four miles from DFW.
Also won't fly Airbuses, but that's another inflammatory thread. My years long boycott of Eastern and Continental was legendary.
Our union represented guys flew on the most direct flights, as they were paid hourly. Us management salaried types got scrod. They wanted us to leave at 0600, get to the hotel some time in the morning, and sit in the hotel the rest of the day on our own time.
It was routine for them to put us management types on a two or three hop cropduster intinerary leaving at 0600.

My solution? I helped my brother start a legit travel agency. He would take the ticket, cash it in, write me a proper ticket (sometimes on AMTRAK if I could make it work), and I paid the difference. Sometimes I flew on miles. And made up the difference on my expense report. Over the course of a year it would balance out. A number of my co workers used his services as well.
Oddly enough, the Global Travel Experts never seemed to be aware that they were losing their commission when their issued tickets were canceled. I am sure in this day of computerized everything it would be detected.
Some years after leaving that company I met the CFO and told him. He denied he ever got a penny, of course, that it was for The Company's benefit. I do remember he always flew First on United, and had a new luxury car every year. Oh well everyon'e got his game.
 

Daphne312

AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2018
Messages
13
Uh, if I posted a comment when I first joined the forum, forgive me if I repeat myself. I'm pushing 70, a retired teacher. Love to travel by train, but sometimes it's hard to get where I want to go (example, two years ago wanted to take my daughter down the Cali Coast on the Zephyr from Oakland to LA, then Surfliner to Oceanside, and it was running 6 hours late so they put us on the train to Bakersfield!!! then the bus to LA etc.) I am the happy beneficiary of many Amtrak GR miles created by years of purchasing cross-country Amtrak tickets for my then college-attending flying-phobic child. So, more travel in the near future. Not complaining. Currently trying to figure out how to use them to get to Ohio for Christmas.

Aside: The benefits of trains, in general, are well said by a Twitter user who lives in Japan. @wrathofgnon. Wonderful photos and descriptions of why rail is the most ecological of transport methods.

Anyone care to comment on the possibility of more rail (NOT high speed, but local and regional) being installed in California? I'm up for it. The freeways are killer here.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,193
I worked on getting the rural bus service and what became the Chemult stop going while at ODOT in 1971-76.
A tip of the hat to you, sir! The CS almost *always* has passengers boarding and alighting with us at Chemult. Most make use of the Pacific Crest Lines bus to/from Sunriver or Bend, and that bus also provides twice-a-day essential service to Chemult, La Pine, Gilchrist, Sunriver, Bend, and Redmond. Now that Bend has a local transit hub, connections can be made in other directions, including the Grant County People Mover (which serves every small community on US 26 east from Prineville).

It always amazes me, the wonderful people that are in this group! Love to learn more about you all.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
262
A tip of the hat to you, sir! The CS almost *always* has passengers boarding and alighting with us at Chemult. Most make use of the Pacific Crest Lines bus to/from Sunriver or Bend, and that bus also provides twice-a-day essential service to Chemult, La Pine, Gilchrist, Sunriver, Bend, and Redmond. Now that Bend has a local transit hub, connections can be made in other directions, including the Grant County People Mover (which serves every small community on US 26 east from Prineville).

It always amazes me, the wonderful people that are in this group! Love to learn more about you all.
Art Lloyd of Amtrak in SF took up the Crescent Lake project and came up with the Chemult alternative when he found the interest in the bus connection. It's all even more important with the closure of Pacific Trailways and then Greyhound Lines' subsequent abandonment of the Willamette Pass - Klamath route.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
262
Short answer - the "corporate Travel Service (!)" refused to book AMTRAK. Period. Said they "didn't know how". Refused to allow me to make a rez and they pick it up. By their lights, I was gonna By God fly on their choice of itinerary. One employee told me they didn't get as big a commission from AMTRAK. Even if the AMTRAK fare was less than air fare, no soap. I know know the CFO got a huge check at the end of the year. We had over 300 employees who flew weekly at least.

Fortunately, old age and treachery always beats out youth and exuberance...
In 1987 my employer had a similar deal with a travel agency that did not want to do anything except write airline tickets. Our manager didn't mind if we took trains, as long as we used vacation time for any work days lost. Finally on a Denver <> Boston trip the agency demonstrated that air travel was cheaper than rail: they booked me on a 2:30 a.m. United flight to Chicago, then connecting to Boston. The plane had pressurization problems so the babies screamed in pain until we neared Chicago. The captain actually apologized. On the way back, thunderstorms at O'Hare caused chaos. On Friday evening, I was offered standby for Saturday evening. Rather than sleep on the floor at Logan Airport, I talked United into getting me reserved space the next day from BWI to DEN via an Atlanta connection and I took the Night Owl out of South Station. My employer paid for the train fare. (BWI was the closest NEC airport with seats open.)

After a couple of higher-ups experienced similar bargains, the program was dropped.
 

anumberone

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,086
Hi! I'm new here, just registered today in fact, and I'm 51 years old. I represent children in family court and also teach Zumba.

I commute 1-3 days each week on the Empire line to Penn Station and am tired of explaining to my colleagues why I take Amtrak instead of saving a few dollars with the local commuter rail service. Maybe that should be the subject of a new thread, so I won't unpack all of that right now...

I'm a first generation Greek with 5 senior Italian Greyhounds who are spoiled rotten, but only Prada and Versace have had the honor of riding on Amtrak.
I don't know how the senior plays in, but, with 5 Italian Greyhounds I'm sure emotion and energy is something to deal with.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,549
Short answer - the "corporate Travel Service (!)" refused to book AMTRAK. Period. Said they "didn't know how". Refused to allow me to make a rez and they pick it up. By their lights, I was gonna By God fly on their choice of itinerary. One employee told me they didn't get as big a commission from AMTRAK. Even if the AMTRAK fare was less than air fare, no soap. I know know the CFO got a huge check at the end of the year. We had over 300 employees who flew weekly at least.
The few Fortune 500 publicly traded companies that I worked for had a pretty uniform policy for the last 10-15 years or so. Their first choice was on designated airlines booked through their designated travel agent. Initially they allowed Amtrak as an exception as long as it was the cheapest alternative in the reckoning of their designated travel agent. Then they added Amtrak as a "designated airline" specially on the NEC.

But the rules were pretty strict. If you wished to get reimbursed for the travel by the company you traveled by travel booked by designated travel agents on designated airline and stay at properties of designated hotel chain booked through designated travel agent, or get an exception pre-approved before ticketing. If the rules were not followed you were pretty much on your own and were denied reimbursement. In general that was fine by me since the designated airlines and hotel chains were fine and the designated travel agent was competent, and I could travel on Amtrak when it was price competitive.

There were cases where I had them use Amtrak Coach fare for price determination and then paid to upgrade to Sleeper. Sometimes I was even able to get a Sleeper fare from NYP to SAV for example that was price competitive with airline fares on their designated airline, though that was tricky, because the fare used on designated airlines was not the published fare but a special discounted fare taking into account the volume kickback the the company got at the end of the year. But the travel agent provided that information. Also the air contract allowed the use of the lowest commercially available fare on each itinerary without any inventory restrictions. So we got some phenomenally low fares on some international legs.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
709
I worked for many years for a major Canadian corporation. We flew everywhere as a matter of company policy, which also included specific hotels. We had to fly Air Canada - no exceptions. On a trip to the UK the company paid in excess of $1500 each for our coach tickets. I pointed out to my manager that we could fly on Canadian Airlines (then the major competitor) for less than $800 each, while not mentioning my AA status at the time would have me sitting in the front cabin.;) They would have none of it. Later, as airline security and the ensuing delays started to take their toll, they began to allow VIA Rail for trips of 4-5 hours, which included most corridor runs. It was proved time and again that business class on VIA could be cheaper and faster once getting to and from the respective airports, security delays and the approx. 1-hour flights were added together. Still most preferred to fly - it was seen as more "professional".
 

ms garrison

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 26, 2018
Messages
17
Amtrak trains: Lake Shore Limited,Sunset Limited,Southwest Chief,Empire Builder,California Zephyr,Desert Wind, Texas Eagle,Pioneer,Maple Leaf,Coast Starlight,Cascades,Cardinal,Capitol Limited,Hiawatha,Pere Marquette.
VIA:Toronto-Windsor Corridor, Montreal-Quebec Atlantic Corridor.
International: Britain_Great Northern Thames, Spain-AVE, France-TGV.
 

EMTDON

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
78
Hi all. Been absent 6 years, not by choice, I'm back! Unfortunately I haven't rode an Amtrak since 2011. I work at 7/11 in downtown Pittsburgh and I wait on a couple Amtrak ushers and an engineer couple times a week, great people! I try to keep them happy, might need them one day if I travel.lol

I have been on the capitol limited about 4 times going from Pittsburgh to Chicago and back and Chicago to Bloomington,IL and back a few times.

I'm back and going to try to post on here again!

Have a great day!
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
18,990
Hi all. Been absent 6 years, not by choice, I'm back! Unfortunately I haven't rode an Amtrak since 2011. I work at 7/11 in downtown Pittsburgh and I wait on a couple Amtrak ushers and an engineer couple times a week, great people! I try to keep them happy, might need them one day if I travel.lol

I have been on the capitol limited about 4 times going from Pittsburgh to Chicago and back and Chicago to Bloomington,IL and back a few times.

I'm back and going to try to post on here again!

Have a great day!
Welcome back! Pittsburgh is really a booming, " Hot" City!

Hope the Run through Cars from the Pennsylvanian to the Cap Ltd. actually happen some day!
 

EMTDON

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
78
Maybe one day! They was talking about a Harrisburg/Pittsburgh daily round trip, but that was put on hold
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
2
Hi All! I'm new here at AU, but have been frequenting Amtrak for about 24 of my 54 years. It all began when I was in college, and had three friends in plane crashes within an 18 month span (in addition to several college mates at Miami on the plane that went down in the Everglades). I did not stop flying right at that point, but slowly came to love traveling by Amtrak between Miami (school) and Chicago (home) when it became my preferred method of travel. Two days of quiet bliss, when no one could find me!

Now I'm in Jacksonville, FL (after falling in love with a Gator while in college...yes, a Hurricane and Gator CAN coexist under one roof!) and still travel between Florida and Chicago via Amtrak. My go-to route is Silver Meteor to D.C., then the Capitol Limited...and back. As I have gotten older, roomettes have become my friend. :)

One interesting tidbit...I was on the Capitol Limited returning to Jax via D.C. on 9/11. My husband worked for the DoD in Jax, and it took some time before he could get through to me (back in the days when cell signals still weren't great out in the middle of nowhere). When he finally did, he told me not to go all the way through, so I ended up in Rockville, MD where he eventually picked me up before we drove back home. But that is all another story for another day.

Looking forward to being a part of the AU community!
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,010
Hi All! I'm new here at AU, but have been frequenting Amtrak for about 24 of my 54 years. It all began when I was in college, and had three friends in plane crashes within an 18 month span (in addition to several college mates at Miami on the plane that went down in the Everglades). I did not stop flying right at that point, but slowly came to love traveling by Amtrak between Miami (school) and Chicago (home) when it became my preferred method of travel. Two days of quiet bliss, when no one could find me!

Now I'm in Jacksonville, FL (after falling in love with a Gator while in college...yes, a Hurricane and Gator CAN coexist under one roof!) and still travel between Florida and Chicago via Amtrak. My go-to route is Silver Meteor to D.C., then the Capitol Limited...and back. As I have gotten older, roomettes have become my friend. :)

One interesting tidbit...I was on the Capitol Limited returning to Jax via D.C. on 9/11. My husband worked for the DoD in Jax, and it took some time before he could get through to me (back in the days when cell signals still weren't great out in the middle of nowhere). When he finally did, he told me not to go all the way through, so I ended up in Rockville, MD where he eventually picked me up before we drove back home. But that is all another story for another day.

Looking forward to being a part of the AU community!
Welcome to AU, fellow Floridian. I grew up in Miami (and left before you were in college) and spent 8-9 years in Gainesville at the University of Florida, likely leaving before your husband started.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
2
Welcome to AU, fellow Floridian. I grew up in Miami (and left before you were in college) and spent 8-9 years in Gainesville at the University of Florida, likely leaving before your husband started.
Thanks! I was in Miami from '93-'97; my husband graduated from UF in '92. I miss Chicago tremendously, but have grown to love Florida!
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,010
Thanks! I was in Miami from '93-'97; my husband graduated from UF in '92. I miss Chicago tremendously, but have grown to love Florida!
I left Miami in 1970 and left Gainesville in 1979.
 
Joined
May 5, 2010
Messages
1
Greetings...
Long-time Amtrak rider (1985) and first-time AU visitor living in Temple, TX (we have our own Amtrak station). 73 year old retiree (IT specialist) with rail-fan and model railroading interests. One daughter living in suburb of Manchester UK with my only grandchild (grand-daughter) and Welsh husband (Scotch ancestry).
A native Texan I migrated from the Del Rio area to the Portland, OR, area via the Southern Pacific Sunset Limited/Coast Starlight combo at the age of 6 months, beginning my love-affair with trains. I rode this combo several times while growing up spending summers with relatives in TX. In OR I was always near trains, such as the Union Pacific City of Roses and the Willamina & Grand Ronde RR (a small lumber-tree hauling short-line whose 2-8-0 is now engine #29 is now part of the Virginia & Truckee line; at one time I had a picture of me, a two/three year old, in the cab - the engineer was a friend of the family).
My next big train ride occurred when I was in the service, the Great Northern Empire Builder from Portland to New Berlin, WS. Then there was a 17 year gap until my wife, daughter and I took the Amtrak Texas Eagle from Austin, TX to LA and the Coast Starlight from LA to Portland for Christmas vacation in 1985. Since then I have made numerous trips from Austin to Winona, MN; I’ve also done Austin to New Orleans to NYC to Chicago to Austin; Austin to Ft Lauderdale via NO and Jacksonville, FL; Austin to Joliet, IL; Galesburg, IL to LA; Portland to Seattle via the Amtrak Cascades; Seattle to Chicago; Austin to NO; and assorted day-trips out of Austin to Ft Worth and/or Temple and/or Marshall.
Anyway, I’ve had a chance to make several long trips and am planning on a few more in the coming years; hope I didn’t bore y’all too much.

Mike A in Texas
 
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Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
18,990
Welcome,always good to have another Member from Texas!(I live in Austin, love to visit Temple!)
 

ET2020

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
86
60+ soon-to-be-retired, from Baltimore MD.
Maryland Grad, and Balto. Polytechnic Grad.
Seeking details about Auto-Train, as we plan to extend our "Snow-Bird" stays in Orlando, beginning next January.
Always loved trains (movies about trains, model trains, Christmas trains, etc..., and have used rail-service between Balto. & NYC a few times.
Only used Auto-Train once prior, and the sleeping in Coach was not the best.
Considering trying again in a sleeper car, if we plan to stay in Florida for greater than 4 weeks, as that's about the length of stay in which the car Renting becomes cost-prohibitive.
There are also other advantages to packing your own vehicle aboard the auto-train, but I'd like to listen and learn from those of you who have plowed this ground before me.
TIA for your feedback, and please direct me to other threads that are auto-train-specific.
ET:)
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
709
Welcome to you, if it wasn't clear from the other thread.;)

I'm in a very similar situation to you, and we've been working towards this "snowbird" thing a little more each year. My wife retired in time for last winter, so we've been able to increase our stays annually. This year will be 7 weeks. Not sure we'll go much past that, since the post-retirement cashflow is not quite the same.

We drive for all the reasons you've mentioned. Even flying, which can easily be done with FF miles, requires renting a car. The length of rental would get shorter every year to stay on budget. We almost considered returning on the Auto Train this year after finding an available bargain day and we have friends near Lorton to visit on the way home. Unfortunately our plans changed slightly and the days either side were a lot more money. The other problem with the AT is the terminal locations. Lorton is at least a 1 1/2 day drive from here through unpredictable weather and at the Florida end we split time between the Panhandle (think closer to Alabama than central FL) and baseball Spring Training in the Tampa/Clearwater area.

I hope you're successful and everything works out. Looking forward to chatting in future.
 

ET2020

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
86
Welcome to you, if it wasn't clear from the other thread.;)

I'm in a very similar situation to you, and we've been working towards this "snowbird" thing a little more each year. My wife retired in time for last winter, so we've been able to increase our stays annually. This year will be 7 weeks. Not sure we'll go much past that, since the post-retirement cashflow is not quite the same.

We drive for all the reasons you've mentioned. Even flying, which can easily be done with FF miles, requires renting a car. The length of rental would get shorter every year to stay on budget. We almost considered returning on the Auto Train this year after finding an available bargain day and we have friends near Lorton to visit on the way home. Unfortunately our plans changed slightly and the days either side were a lot more money. The other problem with the AT is the terminal locations. Lorton is at least a 1 1/2 day drive from here through unpredictable weather and at the Florida end we split time between the Panhandle (think closer to Alabama than central FL) and baseball Spring Training in the Tampa/Clearwater area.

I hope you're successful and everything works out. Looking forward to chatting in future.
Well thanks, jiml, for the "official" welcome :p and for sharing your Snowbird info.
This is my last full year to work. We have been extending our Winter Vacation, incrementally, over the past few years, and we stayed for 3+ weeks last year (Jan 2019).
We did several days in Disney, without a car, but when off-property we rented a vehicle, and the rates are not cheap. The year prior, we drove, and made 2 pit-stops along the way.
The wife does not do well in a confined position for more than 3-4 hours MAX, so we drove it in 3 legs (drive 3 hours/eat lunch - stretch legs/drive 3 more/stay for night).
That added quite a bit $$ for the hotel stays enroute, and meals on-the-road (some were actually edible :D).
So I'm leaning heavily towards trying the Auto Train in a sleeper car next January, as we plan to stay in FL for 5-7 weeks.
We did Auto Train decades ago, with kids, and we all slept in Coach, or that is we fought sleep in coach in the reclined chair, and hearing the cabin doors open & close all night long.
Fortunately, we are just about an hour-75 minutes from Lorton, and we hover mostly around Orlando on the other end (sometimes drive to Melbourne, or the Cape, and sometimes over to Clermont)

FYI - I have made the trip to Toronto many times, since the 1960s!
I have oodles of cousins living in Ontario, eh :)!
My first trip memory is of me laying on my grandmother's lap in the back of dad's Buick, sometime in early '60s.
& we did lots of trips in the 70s, in the very back ("back-back") of a 1969 Pontiac Safari Station Wagon :eek:

ET
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
1
I am 54 from the Hoosier State. That was my first Amtrak experience in 1982 to Chicago. Then the Empire Builder to Milwaukee. Love it and the Fair Trains we have had; both the Monon and the Nickel Plate. Took my first overnight from CHI to EMY on the Zephyr in 1999. Then took the Empire Builder form CHI to Seattle then Coast Starlight to Los Angeles and the Southwest Chief back to CHI in 2003. NOW taking the Texas Eagle from LA to CHI in a week. The only way to travel. Most people don't get it.
...To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive...
 

EMTDON

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
78
I have posted before but I wanted to add something. I just recently got a Twitter account. Anybody want to follow me you can @DonaldJr1977
 
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