Why do you ride the train?

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Postby gprimr1 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:27 pm

I second all of Jersey Mike's reasons except for the beer (which I dont like) and now I"m going to start looking over my sholder since people are bringing weapons onboard. :)


I also like Amtrak's Multi-city pricing. I can leave Baltimore, have a stopover for a few hours at Phili or NYC or New Heaven, then hop on the Vermonter for the rest of the trip.
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Postby ryanov » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:29 am

Having just gotten more than my fair share of Amtrak travel (went through my bags and found just under 10 stubs -- not sure of the actual count at this point) over the last fortnight, and having flown during the same period of time (one way), I can tell you that there are a NUMBER of reasons that were not immediately apparent to me. For those unaware, the trip on 49(20) was actually my first truly LD Amtrak trip in adulthood. Prior, I have taken the auto train (as a kid, when none of these things were of my concern) and 43/44 to/from Pittsburgh, as well as numerous NEC trips that hardly qualify as LD.

Taking the train was relaxing, everyone was pleasant, I got to see beautiful landscapes, and I felt like I was treated as a human being every step of the way (and actually, as a rather important human being :)), and I met some great people -- crew and passengers alike. My sleeping car attendant more than earned the gratuity I gave her, and I was relaxed and on-time more often than not. I don't know how many of you are aware what a nightmare air travel involving the northeast has been over this same last period of time. I arrived rested and on-time in St. Louis, whereas my collegues who chose air were dleayed, in some cases overnight, and rather stressed/frazzled.

Lastly, since I got to know so many people on the trip I took, I can say an informal poll tells me that the main reason for taking Amtrak is fear of/dislike for flying. I met at least 5 people who never fly, including one who recently finished up serving in Iraq and had "had enough," and one who was afraid of heights. Main reason for not taking Amtrak? Time. I think you'd see significantly more people on train if it were quicker. Everyone I talked to expressed a desire to take it more often, but were occasionally unable due to time constraints (like me, on my way back). Not a one complained about the price, and I met mostly sleeper passengers. On the 321(21), the same military gentleman said he was travelling in coach this time, not to save money, but to see what that experience was like.

As for time, air vs. train? It might seem that the difference is huge. However, for my 3.5 hours of flight, I expended roughly 12 hours door to door. I understand that this is atypical, as I had a connection and was not flying into my home airport, but the reason I did this was cost. The Amtrak fare for this trip, had I had time, would have been roughly the same and would have been simple, door to door. Time made it not an option, but if I'd known that the difference was 12 hours, not the 20 I'd thought, I might have reconsidered.

Incidentally, Mr. Norman, what is the protocol for trip reports and the like? What sort of format do you prefer/under what sort of header?
|=| R. Novosielski |=|
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It Ain't For The Babes!

Postby hhswami » Fri Jun 30, 2006 6:25 am

I believe Mr. Norman has set the sights a little higher for trip reports with his most recent trip report, entitled "First Trip - Mr. Laney's Amtrak". It is more than adequate, just like his train ride! :-D

I used to book Amtrak for the hell of it. When they had smoking on the train, you could find out more about a city before you got there by sitting in that God-awful pit of enclosed smoking area on the Superliners. Same goes for the single level areas. A type-b scocialologists dream!

Some of the stories about why I like the train can only be told to you from a barstool away, and you're a very good friend of mine.

Now I'm booking for not-so-convenient reasons. I don't mind flying, but I am uncomfortable with the airport experience. Even though I have to pad my travel schedule, I will usually book Amtrak over an overpriced flight, but will jump on the chance to save lots of dollars by flying...much harder to find these days, but those trips are out there.

In June I rode the Capitol Limited, Pennsylvanian, Carolinian, and NEC regionals, and now I know much more about Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore than before.

If I have to give up the extra day allowed in my schedule in order to ride Amtrak, it becomes an issue, especially for the long haul. If the time and the cost are close to the same between air and rail, I'm on the train!

In July I'm starting back on the Cardinal to SAV, and in August taking Silver Service RT Savannah/Tampa, costing just about as much as the Southwest promo OW fares to/from the Bay to Ohio. I'm taking my golf clubs, just in case.

Nothing like saving bucks and having fun, too!
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Postby Jersey_Mike » Sun Jul 02, 2006 11:54 pm

Officially, "private' alcoholic beverages may only be consumed by passengers holding Sleeping Car accomodations. Private food and non-alcoholic beverages are OK in Coach.


On a plane its a federal offence to BYOB so as I said, its much easiER on Amtrak :-)

Secondly passengers are strictly forbidden to open any exterior door or window except in an emergency. Honestly, I am at loss to know why anyone would want to.


Awsome photo angles....

http://acm.jhu.edu/~sthurmovik/Railpics/Misc/csx-324-coal1.jpg
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Postby Big Block » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:14 am

I needed to go to Milwaukee but fly into Chicago ( more frequent service into Chicago, much lower rental car rates in Milwaukee ) and so it was demonstrably more sensible...and much more pleasant than driving from Ohare to the Milwaukee area during rush hour. Was a darned nice experience at that.
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Postby ljeppson » Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:36 pm

I take the train for fun. I have had many memorable experiences on Amtrak, particularly in the lounge and dining cars. But also since 9/11 I have developed a real aversion to the whole airport experience, particularly big airports like O'Hare and Harstfield. Flying is just no fun any more. The planes are dirty and there's no food. At least when they fed you it made the flight seem shorter.
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William P. Haithcoat; 1944-2017

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:27 pm

bill haithcoat wrote:Well, first I was hooked on the train at age three with an overnight ride, round trip. Loved them every since.

I enjoy the privacy,if desired, the sounds and noises of the rails and the general operation, the food(usually), the dining car companionship(usually), the ambiance, the ability to kick your shoes off and look out at hte scenery with a beverage in your hand in your p.j.s if you wish.

Once I settle into my priavte room I feel as much at home as in my own home. Usually ride sleeper but coach is great for short trips.

I love everything about it, though I am disgusted with the horrendous delays one often encounters on trains like the Sunset Limited.

I love being in my warm room while the train is stopped at a crossing and the drivers are lined up mad at us, and in the pouring rain.

I love looking out the sleeping car room at night at desolate pastures or plains with an occasional light here or there......wonder who those people are and why are they up....


Enjoy the lounge car and especially the sightseer lounge(or the Pacific Parflor car). Can sit there watching the scenery until the next meal call.....


Likely as good a place as any, to report that I have learned former member Bill Haithcoat passed away during this late October. He was seventy three.

It is an honor to share here at the Forum that I knew Bill "face to face".

Until his health no longer permitted, I always met with Bill for Breakfast on my annual journeys to Atlanta (air or auto; a CHI-30-WAS-19-ATL and vv "just too much" - even though we know Bill would have done the latter). Bill "detested" driving (can't blame him, for Atlanta is home of "world's worst drivers"), and preferred for his family visits in Chattanooga to ride Greyhound. He had shared that "until the end as in A-Day", the train was simply how his family, not necessarily railfans, got about.

He was one of the most patient fellows I've known. For our Breakfast meet ups, he always wanted to use MARTA, and I was happy to retrieve him. But one time, I "took wrong turns" to get from a Courtyard in Roswell where I was staying to the North Springs station (end of the Red Line). When I got there (no "where are you" phone calls) about 20 min late, there he was in the Kiss and Ride pickup area, and amid my apologies, he was just "I knew you'd get here".

Here is the obit posted at Legacy:

http://legacy.com/obituaries/atlanta/ob ... =187123245

The railfan community has lost a grand member; may he rest in peace.
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