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The Ghost of Branding Past

Photo under the cut...Collapse )

Times change, and with it corporate branding. But sometimes an echo of the past remains, even on bare stainless steel. Here, lettering had protected the metal underneath from wear and abrasion, and the difference in surface finish remains even though the paint has been gone for nearly ten years. These ghosts of names or logos past can last for decades more; I recall seeing the faint outline of "NEW YORK CENTRAL" on a dining car in Amtrak service in 2004, at least 30 years (probably more) after that lettering had been removed.

Seen in the consist of the Southwest Chief on March 18, 2012
As a graduation (grad school) present to myself, I'm planning on going to Glacier National Park (WGL) from BOS. The twist is that I also want to go to New Orleans, so I'm planning on taking NERegional to Crescent to City of New Orleans to Empire Builder. Of course, I'd stop in NOL for a couple days, enjoy the city, eat beignets, etc, so it's really more like "NERegional/Crescent" and "City of New Orleans/Empire Builder". I've read some of the amazingly informative posts on here and still have a couple questions:

1) Am I insane? To tell the truth, I have a kind of a hankering to go down from Seattle (finishing the Empire Builder line) to SAC and head back to Chicago on the Zephyr and return to Boston on the LSL. To make 4 connections- is that pushing my luck way too far, even if they're all a few (sometimes many) hours apart? I'm primarily concerned with SAC and CHI here, as while they're fine cities, they're only transfer points on this trip.

2) Has anyone recently used a USA Rail Pass on similar trips (long, multi-connection)? Do you know if it will cover late trains and missed connections, especially since it requires you to have made reservations for each leg beforehand? Since I'd like to visit these other cities and these other lines, I think the Rail Pass is the most effective use of my money instead of paying a total of 500+ without it.

Thank you so much in advance!

1971 -2011

Well, today is Amtrak's 40th anniversary, believe it or not. You might think that I'm the type of person to spend a day like today someplace where I'd be likely to find an Amtrak train to take pictures of. And you'd be right...Collapse )

A couple photos- Zephyrs in the afternoon

Passing through western Illinois, I did a bit of checking, and it seemed I'd only have to delay my trip for about 20 minutes or so to have a look at a familiar sight in a new location. So I decided to do that very thing, in the hope I might get a well-timed view of a Zephyr in the fading afternoon sunlight...Collapse )

Empire Builder

Next summer (late May, early June), my lady and I will be hopping a train from New Orleans to Seattle for our anniversary cruise. I'm familiar with routes east of the Mississippi, but I know next to nothing about the western routes.

We'll be taking the City of New Orleans overnight to Chicago, then transferring to the Empire Builder to Seattle. Since one of my major pet peeves is people who book their trains to scoot in minutes before their flight for Europe/Africa/the North Pole is supposed to leave then spend the entire trip complaining (loudly) and hyperventilating that they won't make it, I would like to avoid that issue. I'm trying to pad our schedule a little bit to allow for delays. We would much rather spend three extra nights in Seattle than miss our cruise. (Plus, hostels are cheap and fun.)

We need to be in Seattle by 11:59p on Saturday, June 4, 2011. That is the very latest I'm comfortable arriving to make it onto our cruise. Knowing I'd rather have overlap, how many extra days should I build in? How late does the Empire Builder typically run? I've heard varying horror stories about the western trains...anything from 12 hours to 5 days. (Most of these horror stories come from Chicago Union Station; every time I travel through there, another one of the westbound trains has a HUGE delay and everyone is being re-routed.)

Lost Item Hopefulness

Back from a fun trip to Chi-LAX on the Chief, and got back to Chicago on Thursday. Almost perfect on my part save leaving a binder of discs in the roomette when it slipped between seat and outside wall. I've been talking with the Chicago Lost and Found guy who's been great, but the binder hasn't turned up or been turned in. By now, however, there's a chance that it had turned up and gotten to LAX's lost and found. Is it likely that Chicago let LAX know to look for it too, or should I call them myself to ask? Anyone have the right number to call there, or should I gamble on the 800 number? (I've had great experience dealing with reservations and policy, not so lucky with the odd requests bests handled by local people...)

Sorry, no Chief userpic....

Amtrak Cross Country

So, I'm heading from New York to Tucson, AZ, on Saturday, via the Crescent and the Sunset Limited. I splurged and upgraded to a stateroom so I am really looking forward to the trip. However, I've never done this before. Anything I should know about or be prepared for?

In particular, how is the food on board these trains? Should I plan to bring any of my own, or will what's available be decent? Can you get snacks at any hour?

Also, will they check my bags, or do I have them with me the whole time? I assume the stateroom is secure enough to leave things in if I go to the lounge or the dining car?

Anyway I'm looking forward to a few days of reading and writing and watching the country go by, but I'd love to hear from people who've done this before.
I will need to travel from San Francisco to Boston in October and thinking to take an Amtrak train. I want to take California Zephyr to Chicago, travel to Chicago by California Zephyr. Then from Chicago to Boston on whatever train goes this way.
My longest trip on train was only 15 hours and I never traveled by Amtrak before, so I have a lot of questions and will appreciate any answer.

1) What could you do on the train except looking for scenery? I am afraid it could be really boring.
2) Which part of the route has the nice scenery (so I’ll not miss it)? Are there better routes for scenery that California Zephyr? I thought to go thru Portland, OR and Glacier Park but it seems to be much longer route.
3) How hard it will be to travel 55 hours in coach? How comfortable it is compare to Greyhound bus? Coach ticket costs $145, upgrade to sleeper room cost additional $650, does it worth it?
4) How busy is California Zephyr train in October? From previous posts I understood that it is possible to upgrade to sleeper on the train, for less price than on Amtrak site. Is it true for California Zephyr? Is it usually possible to buy coach ticket for the next day, or you really need to buy them in advance?
5) I am thinking about taking a 15-day pass and get out at main cities like Denver, Salt Lake City, to have a rest, sleep in hostel and get on the train next day. Does it make sense? How does this pass work? Can I just jump on any train or I still have to call Amtrak/reserve place somehow?
6) Do they have quiet coach cars on California Zephyr?
7) Are a lot of people with babies/kids traveling in this train by coach? Can you change coach to another or sit is assigned and can not be changed?
8) How to buy Amtrak tickets cheaper  Are there any discounts, promotions? I am not a student and not an AAA member. Are the price fixed on their site?
9) Is there electricity in coaches so I can charge my laptop couple times a day? I found on Amtrak site that electric outlets are available in all upgraded rooms, but didn’t found anything about coaches.

Any other tips will be helpful!

Acela w/ Guest Rewards v. Megabus

Hello Fellow Amtrakers! I hope you're all enjoying your summer and getting a few trips on the rails in. I could use some opinions on Acela and Guest Rewards....

So as you guys who use Acela and have Guest Rewards know riders get a 500 point bonus for riding Acela for a long enough distance (like New York to Boston) and I've had Guest Rewards for about five years now and am finally getting close to the magic number needed to get one free one way ticket in zone 1.

I'm about 500 points away and would certainly love to have the ticket but I'm still not sure if its worth it. I could really use your opinion in my decision making process. I'll brake down my options with a make-shift chart below:

NYC-BOS options:

Acela                                                         Northeast Regional                        Megabus

3 1/2  Hour Trip                                       4 Hour Trip                                       4 Hour Trip
Very Comfortable                                    Pretty Comfortable                         Not So Comfortable
$90-120                                                    $60                                                    $10
500 Guest Rewards Points                  120 Guest Rewards Points          0 Guest Rewards Poi ts

Is it worth it to ride Acela? I love the thought of riding High Speed Rail in the United States and it would be great to have the free ticket but is it worth the monies?  What do you think?
but a few friends and i are going to be taking an amtrak train in a few months and one of my friends would like to bring a few alcoholic beverages with her.. i have heard it is allowed, but the problem is, shes underage, hence why this is an immature question. i dont want her to get caught but shes stubborn. she never listens to me anyway. sooo, i was wondering, if any of you guys have traveled on an amtrak train recently, how do they screen baggage? do they even look? or is there an xray thing? is she better off checking her bags than carrying them on? any help would be appreciated! thank you!!