Would observation/cafe car be open for overnight trip between Elkhart and Sandusky on Capitol Ltd.?

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Trish

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I have not been much of an Amtrak user, but have been becoming interested in taking just a short "getaway" type of ride. I live in Elkhart, Indiana, and though both the Lakeshore and Capitol lines come through, both are very late at night. At this point, my budget won't bear a big looping trip, but I could do a trip to and from the Sandusky, Ohio station. If I correctly understand what I've read, the Lakeshore doesn't have a cafe car, but the Capitol does. However, for many of the hours I would be on the train, it looks as if the cafe would not be serving food. Can anyone tell me if I would still be able to sit there or in the observation area, rather than just staying in my coach seat? I'm a natural night owl, and I think I would enjoy watching the farmland of Indiana and Ohio roll by all night. But if I'm just paying to go there and back overnight, I'd like to do it from the observation lounge. If I have to sit in coach the whole time, surrounded by sleeping through-passengers, I'm not sure it's worth it.
 

PVD

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The Lake normally has a cafe car on the Boston section which joins the NYP section at Albany... The cafe section is small since it is a split car with oe part serving as BC. I am not sure whether seating is allowed under the present condition. I;'m unsure what is running on the CL at the present.
 

daybeers

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The Capitol Limited unfortunately does not currently have a Sightseer Lounge car, even though it says it does on the website. It's quite disappointing. I will be contacting Amtrak for a partial refund for that ;) So coach is kinda rough since it's nearly all overnight and it often loses time and is very unpredictable around the area you want to travel, so I can't say I necessarily recommend it as a great first time experience. The train will likely be around an hour late but can be 2-3 hours late and in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere on tiny platforms, and that's not a lot of fun. If you can swing it, I would go to Chicago instead and explore for the day.
 
T

Trish

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The Capitol Limited unfortunately does not currently have a Sightseer Lounge car, even though it says it does on the website. It's quite disappointing. I will be contacting Amtrak for a partial refund for that ;) So coach is kinda rough since it's nearly all overnight and it often loses time and is very unpredictable around the area you want to travel, so I can't say I necessarily recommend it as a great first time experience. The train will likely be around an hour late but can be 2-3 hours late and in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere on tiny platforms, and that's not a lot of fun. If you can swing it, I would go to Chicago instead and explore for the day.
Thanks! That the website info is currently inaccurate is important to know. But I'd have sworn I saw what I thought was a cafe car on the Capitol Ltd. on the railfan live feed from Elkhart. (I have been watching the "virtual railfan" channel on YouTube almost every night, and especially watching for the arrival/departure of the nighttime Amtraks, 30 and 48, and on 30, I always see a car that looks like cafe booths, all lit up but with no people in it at the time it comes through Elkhart.)

I have also thought about going Chicago for a day at the museums, but if I do that, I'll probably drive to South Bend and take the South Shore, instead of Amtrak. The views are mostly ugly from Gary on, but as a commuter train, it has more practical travel times than Amtrak does in this area. The idea of a night owl mini-getaway was the closest I could imagine to doing something on Amtrak at this point. I'm on a fixed income, and got sticker shock at the cost of a roomette, but a long trip by coach just does not appeal to me. Really, what I first pictured was being able to do a big loop over a period of a few days, with at least some of that time in a sleeper car. But I couldn't figure out anything under a thousand dollars, when I could maybe squeeze out a couple hundred for a trip, and the schedules looked as if there was no way to avoid having to add a hotel stay somewhere for a long layover.

I guess I like the "idea" of Amtrak better than the practical reality of prices and schedules, at least from my location.
 

PVD

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When they sideline the SSL (obsv/lounge upstairs, cafe downstairs) they usually sub a CCC which is half diner half cafe, whether or not it is open for seating on the cafe side I do not know. Have not ridden the CL recently.
 

daybeers

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I was on the CL the other day, no SSL :) The seating was open some of the time I believe, idk it was awkward but I also didn't go in, was just hearing the announcements. What you saw was the Cross Country Cafe, a space where Amtrak tried to cost-save several years ago and converted some diners into smaller kitchens with more pre-prepared foods with a cafe on the bottom and seating for both dining and cafe customers on top. It works about as well as you'd think. The cafe is usually on the lower level of the Sighseer Lounge.

I totally get it, and I'm sorry the options for your area are not good. I have relatives in Cleveland and the times are just as daunting. I hope Amtrak can hire more staff to maintain and staff more cars so the prices go down because the demand is certainly there.
 
T

Trish

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I hope so, too, because it would be good to have passenger rail be a viable option in this country. When I first started looking at Amtrak this year, I was astounded at how expensive it is for long distances, if you're not willing to spend days in a coach seat. I think I naively thought (from a customer's perspective) that the mode of transportation that takes several times longer than flying and has a fraction of the flexibility of driving and is based on older technology than either would be the cheapest of the three, certainly not the most expensive. I can understand how, from the provider's perspective, it may be the most expensive to operate, but I'm not sure that's really the potential customer's problem, when there are other options. I think if rail travel were priced right, a lot of flat broke people would choose it because it would be the only way for them to travel, and some who could afford other options might choose it because they want to see the country up close without navigating traffic, but as it is now, I just can't see a way for it to make sense for me, at least not where I'm located.

Thank-you very much for your replies!
 

Bob Dylan

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Correction to the Comments about the Diner on the Cap Ltd.

It is a converted Diner known as a Cross Country Cafe ( CCC) but the Full Kitchen still is downstairs, and the Cafe is operated out of the Small end of the Car, aka The Crew Lounge.

The Cap shares the No Sightseer Lounge stigma with the Texas Eaglet!🤬
 

MARC Rider

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When I rode the Cap last June, there was a CCC, as Bob Dylan says. They had no problem with me sitting there to eat breakfast. I didn't feel any need to ride there, as the train wasn't full, I had a seat to myself, and I was more interested in hanging out at the "railfan window" at the end of the last coach.

20210609_062304.jpg


Here's what it looks like.
 

toddinde

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Thanks! That the website info is currently inaccurate is important to know. But I'd have sworn I saw what I thought was a cafe car on the Capitol Ltd. on the railfan live feed from Elkhart. (I have been watching the "virtual railfan" channel on YouTube almost every night, and especially watching for the arrival/departure of the nighttime Amtraks, 30 and 48, and on 30, I always see a car that looks like cafe booths, all lit up but with no people in it at the time it comes through Elkhart.)

I have also thought about going Chicago for a day at the museums, but if I do that, I'll probably drive to South Bend and take the South Shore, instead of Amtrak. The views are mostly ugly from Gary on, but as a commuter train, it has more practical travel times than Amtrak does in this area. The idea of a night owl mini-getaway was the closest I could imagine to doing something on Amtrak at this point. I'm on a fixed income, and got sticker shock at the cost of a roomette, but a long trip by coach just does not appeal to me. Really, what I first pictured was being able to do a big loop over a period of a few days, with at least some of that time in a sleeper car. But I couldn't figure out anything under a thousand dollars, when I could maybe squeeze out a couple hundred for a trip, and the schedules looked as if there was no way to avoid having to add a hotel stay somewhere for a long layover.

I guess I like the "idea" of Amtrak better than the practical reality of prices and schedules, at least from my location.
I wouldn’t let anything dampen your spirit. Just go and enjoy. Do what you think you would like to do. Those are often the best trips.
 
T

Trish

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I wouldn’t let anything dampen your spirit. Just go and enjoy. Do what you think you would like to do. Those are often the best trips.
We'll see! I've always been a lover of short getaways, and after years of health problems, I am trying to get back to that. Two nights in a hotel, with the day in between to enjoy the pool, just uplifts my soul. I've been thinking lately that Amtrak might make a good getaway, too. There may be a way to make it work.
 

toddinde

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We'll see! I've always been a lover of short getaways, and after years of health problems, I am trying to get back to that. Two nights in a hotel, with the day in between to enjoy the pool, just uplifts my soul. I've been thinking lately that Amtrak might make a good getaway, too. There may be a way to make it work.
I think you'll have fun on your little adventure. Sounds perfect :)
 

anumberone

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I hope so, too, because it would be good to have passenger rail be a viable option in this country. When I first started looking at Amtrak this year, I was astounded at how expensive it is for long distances, if you're not willing to spend days in a coach seat. I think I naively thought (from a customer's perspective) that the mode of transportation that takes several times longer than flying and has a fraction of the flexibility of driving and is based on older technology than either would be the cheapest of the three, certainly not the most expensive. I can understand how, from the provider's perspective, it may be the most expensive to operate, but I'm not sure that's really the potential customer's problem, when there are other options. I think if rail travel were priced right, a lot of flat broke people would choose it because it would be the only way for them to travel, and some who could afford other options might choose it because they want to see the country up close without navigating traffic, but as it is now, I just can't see a way for it to make sense for me, at least not where I'm located.

Thank-you very much for your replies!
Run that why it ought to be cheaper by me one more time.
 
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