Train Travel at Thanksgiving

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by FetePerfection, May 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    Just compared Amtrak versus DL from MSP to MDW or ORD over Thanksgiving. I can book a 1 bedroom for 2 people with all meals included for $211.00 roundtrip. DL L fare $584. Even though travel time by train is 8 hours I can avoid:
    • long lines the day before Thanksgiving at MSP
    • TSA - at least NoS and patdowns/gropes
    • weather delays
    • long lines the Sunday after Thanksgiving at MDW or ORD
    • TSA - at least NoS & patdowns/gropes
    • weather delays
    Wow, seems the choice is obvious and I'm quite excited to confirm our trip. Just curious if anyone else is making alternate travel plans this far out?
     
  2. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I'd be careful with thinking you're avoiding delays. I've taken that route from Chicago to Minneapolis twice and both times I was delayed over 10 hours.

    That being said, it's a lovely ride!
     
  3. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    My one and only train trip was to Chicago at Thanksgiving about 3 years ago. The Sunday we were leaving traffic both on the roads and in the air was at a standstill due to a blizzard but our train chugged out of the station and blew by everyone else. When we arrived to our destination the engine looked like the Polar Express - I wish I had taken a picture.
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I looked at taking this a few days after 9-11 and it was standing room only on the trains they would sell tickets on, which involved tight connections at Milwaukee or Madison IIRC. Make sure you have the same train and same car the whole way. Are there additional seat reservation fees? It might have changed, but people used to say that trains in the USA were horrible and late everywhere except the old Metroliner east corridor, Washington-Boston.
     
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  5. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    Yep same train straight through and I did a fake booking with zero extra fees. It almost seems too good to be true but after confirming we will in fact go to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I'll be taking the train.
     
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  6. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Now you're talking my language.

    First off I highly recommend this book. All Aboard.

    Secondly, i'm shocked you actually get a bedroom both directions for that price. But I won't question that. I'm just used to east coast Amtrak pricing lately.

    Next, regarding delays. You are much much more likely to have delays out of MSP than our of CHI. Simply because the train is coming from PDX and SEA after merging in GEG. Its a beautiful ride although I personally think the best of it is west of MSP.

    There is only 1 train per day between MSP and CHI. They're working on more, but that "lovely" governor in Wisconsin set it back decades. So you will get all the way to CHI if they don't make you switch in MKE to another train even though yours will go all the way through.

    If you have any questions regarding Amtrak please feel free. Its a wonderful way to travel, if you're patient.
     
  7. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    That's the typical talking point line. They do often run late, but end points are so padded that going into CHI even if they leave MSP late should be on time. Sadly its still a case similar to airlines. You get good crew and you get garbage crew. Its really luck of the draw. The Empire Builder has gone through a product enhancement that was trying to focus on the little things to make it a more enjoyable experience. Many will tell you this run is the 2nd best in the entire system. The Coast Starlight from LAX-SEA is number 1.

    The biggest two issues to remember are the train is riding on rails not owned or controlled by Amtrak. This means although technically illegal you will wait for a freight train to pass. This is a huge problem on track controlled by Union Pacific. Burlington Northern is much better. They're the biggest two players out west.

    And of course the other being there is only 1 train each way per day. Some routes don't even get that. So some people have middle of the night service and of course such little frequency really doesn't help build ridership.

    That all said the famous "no one rides trains anymore" is just a pure lie by certain parts of the media. Most trains run 90% or more sold out.
     

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