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Post 12 Feb 2016, 3:36 pm

Anyone traveled on it lately? I was considering visiting a friend in Seattle, but not flying.
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Post 12 Feb 2016, 4:15 pm

JimHackerMP wrote:Anyone traveled on it lately? I was considering visiting a friend in Seattle, but not flying.

Would Anaheim-LA Union Station and back on the Pacific Surfliner count?
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Post 12 Feb 2016, 4:37 pm

oh yeah! I have heard of that run, before ("pacific surfliner"). I looked up some of the runs on the website, so I was wondering about people's experiences personally.

I think that is precisely the train that goes up the coast from LA to Seattle. (I could be wrong, there's also one called the Coast Starlight or something...)

Where's Anaheim by the way? My CA geography is a little hazy. I know San Fran is actually "Emeryville", I was considering that if I saved up I could go there some time.

How did you travel? coach seats or roomette? The prices for roomettes actually isn't bad.
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Post 12 Feb 2016, 4:42 pm

oh! LOL told you my CA geography is a little hazy. Haha....yeah that's a 37 min trip. But as far as I am concerned it counts. I was interested in a longer haul than that though. I was thinking of the "Coast Starlight" which runs all the way up the coast. It's a bit longer than 37 mins! (early one morning to the next evening....)
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Post 12 Feb 2016, 5:11 pm

JimHackerMP wrote:oh! LOL told you my CA geography is a little hazy. Haha....yeah that's a 37 min trip. But as far as I am concerned it counts. I was interested in a longer haul than that though. I was thinking of the "Coast Starlight" which runs all the way up the coast. It's a bit longer than 37 mins! (early one morning to the next evening....)

Basically we used it as a convenient way to avoid having to drive, rely on taxis or buses, and get in and out of LA in a day.

We spent the time in the food/bar car each way. On the way back on the late night train we were a bit miffed that the bar was not opened for ages. And the Danish couple who we'd met in the Union Station bar were told off for playing music by the stuffy ticket-checker. But it looked ok.

The Pacfic Surfliner only goes between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, but it looked decent enough as a train.

One idea we had for a holiday was to travel from Chicago to Seattle (or the other way) on the Empire Builder. My folks are soon going to do the Canada coast-to-coast rail journey which is supposed to be spectacular.
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Post 13 Feb 2016, 11:51 am

Yeah, I looked at the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle (I mean, I looked up its route, that is). That must be amazing scenery.

How many stops do they typically have on a route? I see "stations served" it looks like it would stop like, all the time, but at the top it says only "chicago, milwaukee, minneapolis/st paul, spokane, then seattle or portland...so I'm not sure of how often it's supposed to stop.

It seems that no matter where you go in the United States, east to west or vice-versa, you have to go to Chicago first. Their train station must be massive, then.

Mostly, I wanted to know how comfortable it is on an overnight. If you upgrade a "roomette" to what Amtrak euphemistically calls a "bedroom"; the price increases quite a bit. But they have their own enclosed toilet and shower. I think the roomette passengers have to share a couple toilets/showers with the sleeping car.
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Post 14 Feb 2016, 6:04 am

Well my limited experience won't be much help there, but on the first part I would suggest you look at timetables which will show all the stops.
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Post 14 Feb 2016, 7:42 am

My experience is limited to the Northeast Regional (DC to Boston) and the Palmetto (DC to Charleston). Yes, the train will stop at all the little stations as well. The small ones are whistle stops only so they don't really slow you down too much.

I've never had anything but a coach seat but coach on a train is ten times better than on an airline. However, I would highly recommend some kind of room for the Chicago to Seattle portion of your trip. The coach seats are big & comfy but they don't recline much. Whether you get a private bathroom is between your personal preferences and your wallet.

It sounds like fun but be prepared for long bouts of boredom. Maybe you'll luck out and find some gamers. Or partiers... that would be fun too.
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Post 14 Feb 2016, 8:21 am

Back in 1989, I took the DC to Seattle train and back. It was coach on the way out there, and it was miserable. My wife and I reported in for the return trip and her grandparents upgraded us to a roomette. It was MUCH nicer. The comfort was tolerable, but the best thing was you had a place to get away from the crowd.

Scenery was beautiful.
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Post 14 Feb 2016, 10:32 am

Long train journeys can be fun. Mumbai to Alapuzha is the most epic I've ever done. 24 hours on an Indian train, complete carnage from beginning to end. I daresay Amtrak will be more civilised, but less fascinating. Could still be a great way to see America though.
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Post 14 Feb 2016, 9:21 pm

So you've been in one of the actual roomettes, then? You said it was "tolerable" comfort? See, because that's probably the best I can afford, really, unless I was splitting the cost with someone, which probably isn't a bad idea. You upgrade to a "bedroom" and it like, doubles the cost, as I mentioned.

Not to stereotype India, but I've now got visions of the movie Gandhi swimming through my head: people hanging off the cars, on top of them, etc, during an incredibly crowded train journey, lol. How was it? What you mean by "carnage"?
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Post 15 Feb 2016, 10:25 am

There are plenty off trains like that, but they tend to be the city commuter trains. I saw a lot of them in Mumbai but never had the balls to actually try to travel in one.

The long distance trains are sleepers. We were in a 2nd class carriage which was a load of open bays with leather benches facing each other that could flip up to become triple deck bunks late at night. There's a whole community of hawkers who pretty much live on the train and walk up and down it all day from from about 6am till midnight selling chai or soft drinks or bits of watermelon for about 2 rupees a pop, and they all have their distinctive cry that you hear echoing down the carriages all day, "chaaaaiiii wallahwallah" etc. Then whenever the train pulls into a station there are dozens more who jump onboard to sell stuff. Those guys only have a few minutes to do any business before they have to jump off again so you get a complete frenzy of shouting and pushy selling. The toilets are just a hole in the floor where you have to squat and crap out onto the track (I decided to wait..). Oh, and they leave all of the external doors open for the whole journey, which is kinda cool. I used to like sitting dangling my feet out of them while I had a crafty cigarette and watched India roll past (technically illegal but it's India so nobody seemed to care, and the fine was only 300 rupees anyway so I'd have gladly paid it). What a lot of the locals do is wait until the train is passing the closest point to where they live and then throw their bags out of the open doors and jump out after them from the moving train. Can you imagine what would happen if you tried that in the healthnsafety conscious west ? You'd probably be arrested.

I must say I really enjoyed it. Being the only white people on the train we got loads of attention from the locals and it all turned out to be a fascinating experience.
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Post 15 Feb 2016, 10:57 am

Pick up a good train book for your trip. I read this one last year:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DMCVXDQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

It's a bit of travelogue combined with some history. The author travelled on about a dozen rail lines of note around the world including Amtrak and Sass's India. A competent writer, the author does a nice job of describing the experience and the people he interacts with.
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Post 15 Feb 2016, 11:08 am

I have to ask WHY take a train across the freaking continent vs flying?
The cost is probably similar but the time spent traveling (both ways) by the time you get there, you have to turn around and head back home!
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Post 15 Feb 2016, 11:23 am

I dunno Tom, it depends on whether you enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Epic journeys can be enormous fun. The aforementioned train journey in India is something that will always remain in the memory for me, as will the epic road trips that I took in Australia (Darwin to Cairns, Melbourne to Perth). You never see a country when all you do is fly over it.

I'm back in India this year as it happens. No trains this time though, instead I'm doing this:

http://www.theadventurists.com/rickshaw-run/

3500 kms across the entire length of India in a glorified lawnmower in the middle of monsoon season ? I must be mad... :grin: