• Post-Amtrak: Your favorite trip and why?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by John_Perkowski
Here's a thread for favorite trips after A-Day. Again, worldwide in nature. The US does NOT have a monopoly on great trips...

Post A-Day, I have several favorite trips. In some cases, it's the scenery, in others, just fond memories :)

1) The TEE Rheingold, racing down the west side of the Rhein River Valley. In the DB fleet, it was the last regularly scheduled run with both a dining car and a lounge car. The ICs of the 80s had either a true diner or a diner-lounge (quik-pick), but not both.

2) 3/4, 1977 as I recall, from LA to Albuquerque to visit my cousins. EB, I had a single bedroom under the dome; WB, I had a compartment.

3) 5/6, 1999: 50th wedding anniversary of my parents, managed to be onboard for the 50th anniversary of the CZ!!!

  by Gilbert B Norman
Somehow, I must give the honor to a Paris/Monparnasse-Rennes TGV L'Atlantique during 1990. As soon as the train cleared the "throat', it was accelerating and upon entering the dedicated HS ROW, it accelerated to MAS (175mph IIRC) and stayed at that speed until leaving the ROW at Le Mans some 120mi beyond.

An exciting ride that I guess is pretty much taken for granted in Western Continental Europe.

But then, I must note Acela's 150mph "Disneyland Ride' on either side of Providence is also exciting; only problem it really does not add to the transportation product and most Acela passengers travel nowhere near it.

Both seemed more exciting that did my 1968 Tokyo-Kyoto Shinkansen ride.

Col. Perkowski's corrollary topic will require greater thought.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by David Benton
hmmmm , certainly gets the memories going .

in no particular order , as they come to mind ,

-the copper canyon train ,Mexico . Awesome views , local character .
-the rail bus from the coast to near Quito , Ecuador . same again , made abit more exciting by sitting on top of the bus .
-the califionia zepyhr , between Salt lake city and Denver
-the rocky mountain crossings ,Canada , both route equally scenic .

i will continue on other contients later .

  by EastCleveland
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited remains my favorite "living" train, partly because of the scenery (ranging from drop-dead-gorgeous river views to ghostly turn-of-the-century factories) and partly because it follows the former New York Central "Water Level Route" of my childhood.

Other than that, in no particular order, my most memorable trips have included:

1) Amtrak's Coast Starlight (Los Angeles to Oakland) because of its magnificently varied scenery, which unfortunately turns increasingly monotonous (unless you've got a pine tree fetish) as the train pushes further north toward Seattle.

2) Egyptian National Railway's Overnight Express (Cairo to Aswan) because it's a time machine with sleeping cars. You settle into your roomette during the 21st century (okay, you're in Cairo, so it's actually more like the 19th Century). When you wake up the next morning and pull up your window shade, you've traveled back to 3000 B.C.

3) Trenitalia Intercity (Milan to Venice) because it has everything. You get classic northern Italian scenery. You get a non-stop parade of con-artist conductors who repeatedly try to shake you down (each claims you owe them a "special surcharge" on your pre-paid ticket). And then there are the beautiful italian women who purr "ciao" to you as they leave the train, even if they didn't glance at you once during the entire trip. Best of all, you arrive in Venice.

4) New York City Subway Q train (Union Square in Manhattan to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn) because it's still a classic big city subway trip, even though the first car's "railfan window" has been eliminated along with its funhouse view of the ride through miles of tunnels. The Q still delivers a spectacular run across the Manhattan Bridge, with the Brooklyn Bridge to your right and Williamsburg Bridge to your left. Most of the trip through Brooklyn is outdoors (past slowly disintegrating stations and backyards hung with interesting laundry). Sparrows and pigeons frequently stroll onto the train, ride a few stops, and exit. And the Q still drops you off only a block away from the boardwalk, the beach, and the Atlantic Ocean.

5) NICTD South Shore Line (Van Buren Street Station in Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana) because it's the last Interurban railroad in America. The down-at-the-heels beauty of the Van Buren Street waiting room makes it one of my favorites in the country. And the train ride itself, despite its modern rolling stock, still has a "Toonerville Trolley" feel, complete with middle-of-nowhere flag stops, street running, and engineers who see nothing wrong with stopping the train for a minute or two to open the cab window, lean out, and shoot the breeze with a passing mailman.

6) NJ Transit "Dinky" (Princeton Junction, New Jersey to Princeton, New Jersey) partly because it's arguably the shortest train route in America (apart from New York City Subway's Times Square to Grand Central shuttle), and mainly because the Dinky is silly. It's dumpy, usually only two cars in length, and caters almost exclusively to Princeton University professors and their students (the most boring college kids on earth). The engineers and conductors who work the train all sport the same "if I have to make this trip one more time, I'm gonna hang myself" demeanor. And the entire run, start-point to end-point, takes five minutes. Sometimes four and a half.

  by EdM
, which unfortunately turns increasingly monotonous (unless you've got a pine tree fetish)

I just had to mention AMTRK NY to New Orleans, billions and billions of miles of pine trees at (it seems) 20 MPH.... Raises boring to a new level..... But the Amtrk crew was fine of coarse.. The one Amtrk route I would not want to do again, not that route thru those FLAT pine forests. Best route, I agree, Salt Lake to Denver....

  by njtmnrrbuff
The Pacific Surfliner route, especially between San Juan Capistrano and San Diego=great views of the ocean and inlets.

NYC-Albany along the Hudson River.

  by vector_one75
Having spoken about my favorite pre-Amtrak train trip, I guess I'll add my 2 cents' worth on a post-Amtrak version.

This was a trip from Boston to Chicago on the Amtrak's "George Washington", which was an extension in both directions of the original C&O train of the same name on a pre-Amtrak trip I once rode on one of the several "non-Phoebe Snow" sampler to see what another route New York-Chicago. While the original "George Washington" required me to transfer along the NY-Chicago trip, for a short time, Amtrak, having expanded its initial system a bit in the early 1970's, took the "George Washington to its longest through route length iunder the same name of the train it would ever provide by routing it from Boston (via the shore line), New York, Washington DC, Cincinnati (via the "George Washington's" original C&O route), and into Chicago (via the NYC route).

As a matter of interest, at the time Amtrak/Southern concurrently operated a through transcontinental sleeper between Boston and Los Angeles via the Southern Railway's Southern Crescent (which for a time had become a through Boston-Atlanta-New Orleans train operated between Boston and Washington by Amtrak and Washington-Atalanta-New Orleans by Southern Railway), and Amtrak's Sunset Limited New Orleans-Los Angeles with an overnight layover. I wish I had have had the opportunity for that trip as well, being the longest ever through sleeping car service in North America, and covered a route which was both Amtrak AND a privately operated long-haul passenger rail service by Southern Railway as both an interline "train" (Southern Crescent) and as an interline trough car service, which in the process provided a "night out on the town" in New Orleans without the need to check-in/check-out at a hotel for the stopover: you simply slept on in the sleeper at the station when you return out on the town, and if you slept in late, you didn't have to worry, since the car would be coupled on to the Sunset! Had I have had the opportunity during that short period of time to do that trip, my story would have been a different one! This would have been one of the most interesting and unusual through sleeper car services ever!

But, as things were, my Boston through-midwest post-Amtrak trips were to be limited to the "George Washington". However, it was also an interesting tapestry of an extension by Amtrak of an existing pre-Amtrak train. The name of the "George Washington" actually was only applied westbound on this "super-extended" route. On the equivalent eastbound direction of the route, the name applied was the "James Whitcomb Riley" whch was originally a pre-Amtrak NYC train between Cincinnati and Chicago. Thus Amtrak continued to honor the two people (the General and the President, as well as the poet) whose names had originally been given trains on the routes that were then joined up as a single train end-to-end. In pre-Amtrak times, I had also ridden the "Riley" as a connection to travel on the N&W "Pocahontas".

So with a pedigree as it was, I was eager to travel all the way from Boston to Chicago for a work meeting (By the time Amtrak started up, I was an adult and working), even though normally I'd have used the Broadway Limited from New York where I still lived, since as I recall the Lake Shore Limited, the other "third" rail route at that Amtrak time frame, did not have a good schedule for morning arrivals at Chicago business meetings. But I went out from New York on the first train out in the morning to Boston simply just to be able to board the "George Washington" at Boston to make the trip.

Between Boston and Washington, Amtrak's "George Washington" functioned as a Northeast Corridor train with many unreserved-seat coaches and parlor car with lots of on-off intermediate pasasenger traffic, BUT with a difference: like the Southern Crescent and the Montrealer, the Washington/Riley had real full dining service and a lounge, which "normal" Amtrak NE Corridor trains by then did NOT have, just some had parlor car space but food was only in the form of snack bars. These 3 "full-service" trains were well patronized and appreciated by passengers. On my trip on the "George Washington" dining passengers were constantly waiting on line to get seated, since the car itself was one of those ex C&O observation-diner-lounge-bedroom cars which had everything in it, biut the downside of it all was that it was all in small quantities. In addotion to the unreserved seat coaches, the parlor, and the Observation-Diner-Sleeper-Lounge, there were several reserved seat coaches (also a rarity on corridor trains, and even more so that one could reserve a seat within the NE corridor and not just for the "west-of-Washington" portion of the trip), plus a 10-6 sleeper, in which my roomette was located. My sleeper was directly coupled with the obsrvation lounge, which was a bit of a disappountment since it would have been nice to have the observation lounge at the reat of the train pointed in the correct direction, so what ought to have been a more enhanced corridor train by having a properly located and oriented observation car was less that whai it could have been, since even the observation end was run backwards, let alone coupled to my sleeper. Still, even a 4-6 chair lounge section and a 4-6 trable diner section and the bedrooms at the other end of the car, all provided a full dining kitchen and waiter service at tables, what there was of these multiple facilities within the one car, was still appreciated by the passengers as being a cut above the "normal" corridor trains. At Washington, a dome car was also added once the catenary wires were no longer on the C&O main.

A lot has been debated about dome / catenary safety issues, but the actual presence of the domes under glass, even under restricted height of the overhead wires under the station overpasses did not appar to be a problem, but of course the short stretch of overhead in the Washington terminal for C&O use was under low speed conditions. As I recall the dome car was "full height" Budd-Domes, not the "low-profile" PS domes built for the B&O. On a previous pre-Amtrak trip to sample a "non-Phoebe Snow" trip on the Capitol Limited, coming into Washington about 10 minutes before arrival, the train crews told passengers to go downstairs and not stay in the dome. On this "George Washinton" train, the just-added dome car would not have been yet occupied until well after the catenary no longer was a factor,

My meeting in Chicago was fortuitously scheduled for a Monday morning so I was able to do the Boston-Chicago trip over the weekend, leaving New York early Saturday morning. getting onto the "George Washington at Boston early afternoon, and in the evening most of the cars (unreserved coaches and parlor car) had been dropped, leaving my 10-6 sleeper, the added dome coach, the observation-lounge-diner-bedroom sleeper-crew room car, and a couple of reserved seat coaches, for the rest of the trip to Chicago.

While after the NE corridor portion after Washington the train decidedly took to a more laid-back operation, it was not without its events. In the morning through Indiana, a country road parallelling the tracks was being used as a race track by one car trying to race the train which was at a good clip. I was in the dome car taking in the views of the cornfields after breakfast. Those of us watching the car racing along gradually became aware that this car was trying to "outrun" the train at an upcoming grade crossing: one of the passengers was a "local" who'd be getting off in a few minutes and he was familiar with the road, and he said that the road did a dog-leg grade crossing accross the tracks and from what he figured the guy wanted to race the train accross the crossing. Our eyes were riveted as the drama unfolded, We heard the warning whistle, not yet the "two longs, a short, then a long" that would indicate the level croaasing, but some other signal I was not familiar, possibly an emergency warning hazard signal to alert this guy in his car even before the statutory whistle needed to be sounded, as I'm sure the locomotive engineer was obviously concerned that the car driver was trying to race the train to the crossing, but to no avail. The car kept overtaking the train bit by bit.

I don't know how it all actually occurred, as I never heard the details, but I did sense that the engineer, while not putting on the emergency brakes which it was not guaranteed that the car would not stop, took off the power and coasted to at least lessen the speed in anticipation of a hit, but with the speed of the train and its momentum, the injuries due to "flooring" by passengers not braced and not aware of what would hapen by emergency braking, I'm sure he'd figure better not to. When we hit the car, apparently it was only clipped at its rear fender corner spinning it around on pretty even terrain without major fixed obstacles. Had the enginer not let up on the throttle, the loco would probably have hit the entire car broadside. As it tuirned out, the car driver survived. If hit broadside, he'd have been hamburger meat. After that, the trip was uneventful but filled with conversation among the passengers, though we were late several hours with police getting details etc The train continued without technical problem.

Anyway that was my most "interesting" Amtrak trup! Have to finish now!

Vytautas B. Radzivanas
Perth, Western Australia
  by bill haithcoat
So many, but one comes to mind. From LA to NOL on the Sunset Iimited back when superliners were just 2 or 3 months old. Train arrived NOL 40 minutes early.

Trip perfect in all details. I left some toiletry item behind and the attendant supplied me with a spare.

Equipment still had that "new train" smell. Slept like a lark.

I was "frozen in time " hurtling through the swamps nearing NOL with all those bears, puma, rattlesnakes, alligators, "swamp monsters",quicksand, etcetc right outside my window but I was calm, cool and safe lookiing out the rear door of the rear sleeper(no mail car at the end).

  by Love Train
Gilbert B Norman wrote:Somehow, I must give the honor to a Paris/Monparnasse-Rennes TGV L'Atlantique during 1990. As soon as the train cleared the "throat', it was accelerating and upon entering the dedicated HS ROW, it accelerated to MAS (175mph IIRC) and stayed at that speed until leaving the ROW at Le Mans some 120mi beyond.

An exciting ride that I guess is pretty much taken for granted in Western Continental Europe.

But then, I must note Acela's 150mph "Disneyland Ride' on either side of Providence is also exciting; only problem it really does not add to the transportation product and most Acela passengers travel nowhere near it.

Both seemed more exciting that did my 1968 Tokyo-Kyoto Shinkansen ride.

Col. Perkowski's corrollary topic will require greater thought.
The TGV's maximum speed is 175??? I thought it pwn3d everything! But its not that much faster than Acela Xpress.

I guess I still have a lot to learn about trains.

  by John Laubenheimer
The TGV's maximum speed is 175???
All TGVs (as far as I know), as well as the EUROSTAR, operate at 300 kph, or 186 mph. EUROSTAR speeds (for the present) are lower in England; not sure about Belgium.

The original TGV, or TGV-EST as it is sometimes called, was limited to 280 kph, or 168 mph. This was upgraded sometime around 1990, if I recall correctly.

The German ICE trains were limited to 250 kph, or 155 mph, originally. I don't think that this has ever changed.

  by John_Perkowski
Speaking to the DB IC trains, Deutsche Bundesbahn invested heavily in new HS trackage in the 90s. SFAIK, they also kept the existing trackage, thus allowing their freight traffic (NOT insubstantial) to run along with pax.

One of my fonder memories is watching the Rhein, from either bank, on a DB train. Truly amazing is the riverine traffic. Bulk cargoes, liquids (read oil), and even containers (typically 4 on a single level) moving upstream or down.

John Perkowski

  by Gilbert B Norman
Agree Col. Perkowski; on a twilight Frankfurt/Main Koblenz and return ride during 1990, I could almost imagine having a recording of 'Siegfried's Rhine Journey' a playing.

Nevertheless, I too noted the volume of river traffic and from such concluded this is why the European rail system has never amounted to much of a freight carrier and why such is largely available to accomodate passenger trains.

  by CarterB
One of the most pleasurable was taking the SBB EC train from Lindau on Bodensee through Innsbruck, and over Tyrol (Bishofshofen) to Salzburg.
Talk about scenery!!! Many times you were hanging along the side of a mountain 100s of meters up from the valley floor, and with snow covered Alps all the way. Wonderful train, great food.

The train/s thru-out Germany (as noted by others above), Austria, Switzerland and Czech Rep. all have great routes and scenery. While the Rhine is among the most picturesque, so is the route up the Moselle to Trier, and the route from Dresden to Prague, Munich to Innsbruck via Garmish-Part....Munich to Fussen (Neuschwanstein castle) and many others. And don't forget the many "dampflok" routes in narrow guage in Germany.
http://www.geocities.com/lightweight_br ... rmany.html

In USA, post Amtrak, during the 'rainbow days' took the Empire Builder Chi-Sea and managed to get a single room (not roomette) in a dome/lounge/sleeper.........and........had the car entirely to myself the entire trip!!! Loved it!