• Notes on my CZ and TE and more Amtrak trip

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Scoring Guy
Notes about my recent Amtrak Trip:
I live in Wisconsin, about 5 minutes from an Amtrak depot on the Empire Builder route, but I drove to Galesburg, IL to avoid the time and expense of overnighting in Chicago (twice), plus Galesburg has free parking.
At Galesburg, I boarded the westbound, “California Zephyr” on November 2nd. I had booked a Roomette, and there were no bedrooms available for an on board upgrade.
I was surprised at how small the consist of this train was: Two Genesis locomotive (oops, I forgot to write down their numbers), plus (Superliner cars) # 34072 Coach (empty, except maybe for baggage), #31011 Coach, #34005 Coach, # 33001 Lounge, #38028 Dining Car, #32085 Sleeper, and my car, # 32049 Sleeper. Notice that there was NO baggage car and NO transition sleeper (dorm) car, and that the lower level of the 32049 car was used as dorm space, and only the 10-booth end of the dining car was used for passenger dining, with only two servers, and two in the kitchen. Although the sleepers were sold out, the coaches had plenty of room left, and finding a seat the lounge car was never a problem.
I don’t know if this had an effect on the “load”, but on this trip, because of work on the Moffat tunnel, the CZ took the UP “Overland” route (via Wyoming), from Denver to Salt Lake City, with no passenger stops along the detour. Many passengers were disappointed, but I was quite happy with the (new route for me) detour, having been on the CZ many times before.
The buzz on the train was the private car at the rear, a fancy heavyweight car carrying Dan Akroyd and friends. The car had a open air platform, making for an almost comical situation at the Denver stop: the train was backed in, so that this private car was closest to the station, but few noticed the celebrity in their mitts, because Akroyd, who was walking around and checking the private car, was still wearing a big set of safety goggles, which were required for eye protection on the platform. Those of us who figured it out, got our photos, and he was very accommodating. Four more private cars, including a Budd full length dome, (said to be a UP company outing) were attached at Sparks, NV.
I detrained at Sacramento, CA, for a three night stay. I had been there before, and I was somewhat disappointed with the California Railroad Museum, which had become so “sanitized” from the way it was 20 years ago. “Old Sacramento” and the Capitol concourse, with its trees from all over the world are great to see as well. I also took the Capital Corridor train (plus bus) round trip to San Francisco – a very nice (bi-level, “surfliner” type) train with 4 coaches and a café lounge car.
Early Monday morning, November 7th, I took the San Jaoquin train (another “Surfliner” type train – 3 coaches and a café lounge) to Bakersfield, and the connecting bus (two of them actually) to LA’s Union Station, where I picked up a rental car. The (nuked) “Omelet” ($8) was delicious.
After several days of driving throughout So. Cal. and Arizona, I boarded the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, at Palm Springs, at 5pm, on November 11th. Taking no chances, I had booked a bedroom for the three night trip back to Illinois.
The consist was: Genesis locomotives, #17 and #8, and Superliner cars, # 39022 Transistion Sleeper, # 38049 Dining Car, # 33011 Lounge Car, # 31002 Coach Baggage, # 34029 Coach, # 34056 Coach, and (my car) # 32078 Sleeper. The coaches were nearly empty when I boarded, but filled up quite well by the time we got to San Antonio (the Sunset service to New Orleans had just resumed). Once again, finding a seat in the (original style) lounge car was never a problem, but it was a long walk to the dining car, which again only served in one end. As per the practice on this route, part of the transition sleeper was passenger sleeper space (as far as I know, roomettes only). What took a lot of passengers by surprise, was the eight hour, overnight, layover at San Antonio, for the Texas Eagle section (the last two cars) – some misplaced anger, in my opinion.
The morning of the San Antonio departure, we were a new train set, Genesis locomotives, #8 and # 98, plus Superliner cars, # 39006 Transition Sleeper, # 38032 Dining Car, # 33038 Lounge, # 31047 Coach Baggage, # 34000 Coach, # 34056 Coach, and (my car) # 32078 Sleeper (the last two cars being the only two from the previous day’s combined train). The lounge car was one of the reconfigured cars, also used on the Empire Builder, with McDonalds’ style tables and bench seats on one end of the upper level.
The promised “cold breakfast” out of San Antonio never materialized, because the previous, northbound, TE had been turned back the day before, somewhere near Austin, because of locomotive problems, (the southbound also did a u-turn after a passenger swap via buses) so that the cold breakfast supply could not be restocked for us – we received credit in the lounge car snack bar instead.
I detrained at Normal, IL, November 14th, and we were only 45 minutes late, which was good for me, allowing me to have lunch on board, before hopping off. After an afternoon layover in Normal, and a stroll around the adjacent ISU campus, I boarded the Amtrak (Trailways) bus for Galesburg, actually arriving at the Galesburg station a half hour early, but the bus departed early anyway. By then it was pouring rain, and I opted for a motel stay there, that evening, rather than chancing the drive home in the rain and dark.
Any comments or questions?