Sunset Limited question, westbound from San Antonio

Discussion in 'Amtrak | Guest Rewards' started by storyteller, Feb 15, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Hopefully someone has experience to help me with 2 questions here.. I am travelling San Antonio SAS to Sacramento SAC.

    In SAT, can we board earlier than just before the 0245 departure? I think the train is in the station for quite a few hours before departure. I believe the passengers coming through from Chicago can remain on board, but have not been able to find info on those boarding in SAS.

    Next question, we get into LAX at 0535 & depart 1010. I think it is the same train. Can we remain sleeping, in our sleeper, & have breakfast, then stay on board for departure to SAC?
     
  2. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    I'm not sure on the boarding time in SAS. As far as LAX goes, it is NOT the same train to SAC. You will need to disembark the train and go into the station, although if memory serves passengers on train 1 are permitted to stay in their sleepers until a designated time after arrival, though no breakfast is served. If you are indeed traveling sleeper class (even if not from LAX-SAC) you can go to the Metropolitan Lounge within LAUPT to wait. The Coast Starlight operates a very different equipment makeup from the Sunset Limited so generally westbound train 1 makes eastbound train 2 the same day, and southbound train 11 makes northbound 14 the following day. Every Amtrak train in and out of Los Angeles has onboard crew that are based in LAX so everyone always has to vacate the equipment while it is cleaned and serviced for the next trip.
     
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  3. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Update: From the timetable dated Nov 3, 2013: "Sleeping car passengers arriving at Los Angeles are welcome to occupy
    their accommodations until 6:30 a.m."

    Still not certain on SAS, but if I was to hazard a guess I'd say they would let you board once they were done switching the cars into the train that came down from Chicago. Depending on your sleeping car number, you may have a room in the Chicago-origin sleeper even though you're going SAS-LAX. The LA-based car attendant comes on duty shortly after the train gets in from Chicago. They usually have some cleanup work to do before they can accept new passengers. I'll ask the people that work 2/1 regularly to see what they say.
     
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  4. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Thanks timfrost.
    My itinerary shows "null" for the train name, so hoped it was the same train, called Starlight :)
    Good to know we may be able to snooze a bit longer. Sleep beats food.

    We are in a sleeper, with shared bathroom both sectors SAS LAX & LAX SAC.

    And, from your next post, great to hear that there is even a possibility we may be able to board earlier than 0245 in SAS.

    We will be doing a few other train trips, starting SAC SEA, then EDM BWI. These in sleepers with full bathrooms, except for the sector NYP BWI. Really looking forward to it. :D. And the food if the full kitchens & chefs are on board.. And the scenery..

    Thanks again for your information.
     
  5. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Great info, thanks.

    How can I tell If our car number is the one in the CHI origin sleeper?
     
  6. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    I believe the car line number will show as either 0130 or 2130. 0130 would be the Sunset Limited Sleeper, 2130 would be the Texas Eagle thru car sleeper. If you show/tell me what it says I can tell you for sure; it's been about 3 years since I worked trains 2/1 and the last time I did it I was working as a chef.

    Side note... Train 8/28 the Empire Builder has been running VERY late, though BNSF has pledged to help it do better in the near future. Don't freak out if the train runs significantly delayed. If you're connecting to train 48 at CHI to NYP (The Lake Shore Limited) it has a late night departure from Chicago. If you somehow miss that, your connection is guaranteed and Amtrak will arrange for you to stay in Chicago overnight and book you on either 30 or 48 the following day. I recommend people plan to stay the night in Chicago and build it into their trip as a layover so any connection anxiety is dismissed.

    It helps to bring a small power strip (with at least a short cord) since the Economy rooms only have one plug and most people have more than one electronic device per person these days. The Bedrooms (with enclosed shower) have three plugs but two are next to the sink and that isn't always all that convenient.

    The food tends to be pretty good but varies from train to train and even from day to day since all chefs have their own cooking style, even though the food is supposed to be prepared based on the Amtrak standards book. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else... crew always told me my food tasted better compared to other chefs, and I read the Amtrak cookbook as an example of what not to do.

    When is your trip?
     
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  7. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Ok, it looks like we have the Sunset Limited 0130. All I am hoping for is boarding a few hours earlier, like before midnight. It looks like the Texas thru sleeper folk may get to stay on board all afternoon / evening.

    Power board packed :D

    Trip is mid March, & hopefully BNSF can run a bit more to time, as we have to get to our destination on time to catch onward plans & flights the following morning.

    Ok, sounds like if we are significantly delayed, we can count on a night in Chicago & then maybe will have to fly out. Maybe get a refund for unused 2 days 1 night train booking. I know you can't tell me what the policy etc is, & not expecting you to :)

    Just knowing it's a possibility / tending probability lets me make my contingency plans.

    If you think of anything else, please let me know. And thanks again.
     
  8. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Looking at the Status of 8 & 48 over the past 5 days,it looks like Amtrak may hold 48 departure time for late arriving 8. Or maybe it was just late & a lot of wishful thinking on my part ...
     
  9. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Your sleeping car should be right next to the dining car. Easy access, but it means you definitely can't board before train 1 gets in from NOL and HOS.

    What I can tell you is that Amtrak is much better about making refunds to trips canceled due to delays and other issues than Airlines are. If this does happen, contact them as early on in the trip as possible. Amtrak requires FAR less justification from agents for refunds or no-fee changes than the airlines do, within reason.

    Chicago Maintenance has had major problems delivering trains on time to the station for their departures. Just two days again train 3 left almost 6 hours late because they had no functional locomotives available. They will hold 48 for a certain length of time for 8, but if the train is running 12 hours late you're out of luck.

    I sincerely hope you have a good trip. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. I've worked for Amtrak for coming up on 10 years here as a dining car steward, and before that in the transportation department. I know a lot about a lot of things regarding the train. :)
     
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  10. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    I love reading this board. It's helping to get me pumped for my trip DEN/PDX.
     
  11. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Boo hoo. Plans are changing. We shifted Empire builder 1 day earlier to allow for running late, but yesterday I see they are 36 hours late! Yikes! Not sure if we can allow that much extra time. Hopefully just that day. The shift to a day early allows for the lateness recently ( hours late over the past week or so being 15, 8, 15, 7, 7, 9, & 5), but not 36!

    And our trip on Sunset limited / Starlight may become unstuck too. There has been a change with Amtrak & going to be running 1 car short, so when I look at changing our dates there is no sleeping accommodation left of any sort.
     
  12. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    There was an avalanche near Essex which really screwed things up, hence the 36 hour delay
    You said mid march... I am actually working the Westbound sunset from SAS on March 9th, any chance you'll be on it?
     
  13. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Thanks for the avalanche info. So should hopefully bad back to "just " the 5-15 hour delays by the time we travel in a couple of weeks :)

    If we manage to shift our Sunset dates will likely be 24,25 or 26. Depends on sleepers on both Sunset & Starlight.

    Thank you for all your information. :)
     
  14. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Trips are finished :), & it was all very good.

    Empire Builder - spectacular scenery through Montana & Nth Dakota. Also down the Hudson which was still frozen. Only ran a little late, & made connection to Lake Shore Limited easily.

    Sunset Limited - again, spectacular scenery, with the sunset being beautiful over the desert.

    We were able to board as soon as we arrived at SAS, around 1am. I think next time I would plan to arrive soon after the train gets in from New Orleans. And would try to get the phone number for local SAS office to check about even earlier in case I am in the CHI train. Was on hold on the main Amtrak number for over an hour, so local # would be the way to go. And as TimFrost said, I was able to stay on board in LAX until 6:30. Very good, considering we arrived around 4:30am!

    It was wonderful to spend 5 nights on trains. The food was fine. A couple of options better than fine. The half chicken was amazingly juicy tender & tasty. Enjoyed the steak, however the mushroom sauce was never available. The desserts were delicious.

    The Staff varied in their efficiency & enthusiasm. Empire builder Room Attendant was great, dining car staff were not. Lakeshore Limited room attendant was missing most of the time & not particularly helpful. Dining car staff were quite enthusiastic, with only one gruff / disinterested. Sunset Limited room attendant was good too, & dining staff were as well.

    Looking forward to my next train trip. Thanks for all the assistance & advice.
     
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