Amtrak trip. U.P. bad, BNSF great.

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ATSFRailfan

Hopeless Santa Fe nut.
Just got back from a trip on Amtrak. We had alot of fun travelling on Amtrak. And for me, an airline captain, it was great to travel in a more relaxed fashion. We boarded the Southwest Chief in Flagstaff, Arizona, and connected to the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles. The Southwest Chief arrived in L.A. ON TIME, after having travelled all the way from Chicago on BNSF trackage. We detrained from the Coast Starlight in Eugene, Oregon 5 1/2 hours late on U.P. trackage. On the trip back, we arrived in L.A. 8 hours late. To the crew's credit, they were great! I have nothing but good things to say about them. However, Amtrak goofed things up on their end of things by not providing the Pacific Parlour Car on either train 14 (northbound) or train 11 (southbound) which also did'nt even have a sightseer lounge! We were really looking forward to those things, especially for the price we paid for first class sleeper accomodations on the Coast Starlight. When I travelled on the Southwest Chief back in 2001, the food was better, and served on china. Now, it is served on plastic and is not quite as good, although still quite tasty.

It is obvious that the U.P. does'nt put much effort into helping Amtrak maintain a schedule. Why could that be? Maybe they hope to help Amtrak lose ridership, in hopes that they will eventually be rid of them altogether. Or, perhaps they might want to start their own passenger service again at some point, but know they have to be the only game in town for it to succeed. Who knows. All I know is, we crept along at a snails pace for extended periods, and were sidetracked for every freight train that happened along. On the BNSF however, we smoked along at high speed. I would say the rails were in better shape on the BNSF as well, because the ride was smoother and much more pleasant than the U.P. portion of the trip.

All in all, I still enjoyed the trip. The worst day on the train is still better than the best day (getting frisked by the TSA, and getting crammed into a tiny seat next to the fat lady from the Jerry Springer show), on an airplane.

The Coast Starlight was once considered one of Amtrak's premier trains. I am told that title now falls to The Empire Builder. I just hope I can get aboard that train someday before it too, becomes a shadow of what it was, or disappears completely.
 

chrismoore93

Central Phoenix Railroad
Hi ATSF Railfan,
Just noticed that you're living in Arizona, were are you located, I am in Phoenix. I remember my first Amtrak trip!
Chris
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Thanks for the trip report. I hate to hear the news of delays on the UP. I agree with you though, ANY train is more fun than the "cattle car" airline scene. I almost can't stand the thought of dealing with TSA when I travel on business. I've always resented being treated like a criminal for the sake of political correctness... OK, I'm off the soapbox.;)
 

ATSFRailfan

Hopeless Santa Fe nut.
Howdy Chris! I'm up in Prescott. The Santa Fe bypassed Prescott with a new survey back in 1966. They pulled up the rails for good in 1989, after a washout made it too expensive to continue to maintain for the limited use it was seeing. Now I have to drive for about 15 minutes to get to the nearest rails. At least they're still pretty close to me if I have to get a rail fix! Flagstaff has alot of action, and I always like to have an excuse to go there!
 




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