Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Talk about anything and everything!

Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby dileTTante » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:01 pm

For amusement I've taken the liberty of planning ConducTTor's visit to the Vancouver train show in November by way of Amtrak. The route is not direct or convenient, but I look on train travel in N. America as like taking a cruise ship where the main idea is to relax, talk to people and see the sights along the way. Unlike air travel, on the train there are no hidden fees for baggage, etc; no xray machines; the food is good; the seats are comfortable; you can walk around anytime; and the stations are often right downtown in the cities.

The least inefficient route from Atlanta to Vancouver goes like this:
Atlanta to Washington DC, Train 20 The Crescent, daily service, leaves 20:21 arrives 10:10 (overnight ride)
Washington DC to Chicago, Train 29 The Capitol Limited, daily service, leaves 16:05 arrives 08:45 (overnight ride)
Chicago to Seattle, Train 7 The Empire Builder, daily service, leaves 14:05 arrives 10:25 (two nights on the train)
Seattle to Vancouver BC, Train 516 The Cascades, leaves 18:50 arrives ~23:00

Return east is pretty much the reverse, except for the times. The precise times given are an illusion. Departures are usually punctual but it's a big country, so arrivals are less predictable. There are two trains daily between Seattle and Vancouver, however my timetable doesn't show the evening train going further north than Bellingham Washington. Often this year the service has been canceled due to mudslides. As an alternative there are also buses operating in conjunction with Amtrak which depart and arrive at convenient times for the various trains at Seattle. The bus rides involve getting out with all your luggage at the border for customs. For the train the customs people get on and pass through the train while it's stopped at the border, which is convenient. Also the train travels along the coast and the scenery is beautiful, while the bus uses the interstate further inland.

From Atlanta it's possible to get off in Charlottesville, Virginia and take the Cardinal, train 50, to Chicago. There's no real advantage to that, and the Capitol out of Washington passes through the famous Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania, although it might be too dark to see much.

From Atlanta another option is to travel south to New Orleans, but that involves an overnight stay to catch any train out, such as the City of New Orleans, train 58, which is another overnight ride to Chicago. Or from New Orleans there are trains across to California, then up the west coast, but I haven't looked at those schedules.

Travel in November has the advantage of being off season and cheaper than peak season, but the daylight hours are shorter so there is less to see. However, I've made several trips during the winter and they're not boring at all. Once I arrived in Chicago during a blizzard and the yard to the station had gas jets burning all over to keep the turnouts from freezing up. The day was dark and the sight was very eerie. Double-slip switches throughout the station's tracks.

Another option is to do one leg of the trip using VIA across Canada. West to East might be better. Unfortunately the train runs just three times a week, is more expensive, and takes longer. The direct route from Vancouver to Calgary was given over to private enterprise, the expensive Rocky Mountaineer, while VIA has to go north to Edmonton and then east. Getting to Toronto takes four days (three nights), and would definitely require an overnight stay in Toronto before heading south by some route which I haven't researched either.

I don't expect these travel ideas to be taken seriously. The main difficulties are time and expense. The trip would have to be part of the getaway, not a means to it, and the overnight rides usually mean using the sleeper which is not cheap. I've done trips entirely in the coach, lots of people do. The seats are like big recliner chairs and very comfortable, but it's a long haul. The economy bedrooms are tiny and intimate. On the other hand, the train ride is a wonderful experience (usually).
dileTTante
 
Posts: 677
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:37 am

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby ConducTTor » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:24 pm

dileTTante wrote:I don't expect these travel ideas to be taken seriously.


I however do :smile: Time off work shouldn't be a problem - it will be down to cash.

Thanks for the info, it will be closely scrutinized and potentially exploited :thumbup:
What people think: "liberals/conservatives are ruining my country"
What the powerful know: divide and conquer
User avatar
ConducTTor
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8291
Images: 13
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 4:52 pm
Location: Atlanta GA USA

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby Marquette » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:29 am

My only "serious" train trip in North America (not counting the Cascades between Seattle and Vancouver) has been the Crescent from Greenville, SC to New Orleans, and back from New Orleans to Charlotte, NC. It was a great trip (apart from the 3 hour delay just outside of Inman yard in Atlanta due to some idiotic old NS engine breaking down in front of us). One day I hope to take both the Empire Builder and the Acela...
http://espeett.blogspot.com - The SP in 1:120 - my attempt at a blog
#include <std/disclaimer.h>
User avatar
Marquette
 
Posts: 2060
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:16 pm

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby dileTTante » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:57 am

Next train show in Vancouver --
Meet: Friday November 11, 2011 to Monday November 14, 2011.
Public Show Saturday November 12, 2011 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and
Sunday November 13, 2011, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
http://www.bctrains.org/

The return route to Atlanta from Vancouver is the same but the trains are numbered differently for the opposite directions. The Cascades out of Vancouver leaves in the morning. My timetable doesn't show the departure. For a few years there was only one train a day, up from Seattle in the morning and back in the evening. A second train was finally installed in time for the winter olympics but the Canadian government balked at the expense of extra customs personnel for the train after September. They reversed their opposition and the second train continues in service but the timetable I have doesn't show it. It's best to make a reservation for the train unless you definitely prefer the bus schedule. It runs maybe two or three meters from the water's edge along Elliott Bay and the view is great. The fare is the same as the bus and if it doesn't run the buses for Amtrak can be used instead, no problem.

The Empire Builder from Seattle is train 8 leaving 16:40, arriving Chicago 15:55 after two nights. At 18:40 train 30, the Capitol Limited, leaves for Washington arriving there the next day at 13:10. The Cardinal train 50 is an alternative leaving Chicago 17:45, going through Indianapolis and Cincinnati, arriving Charlottesville 14:47 and Washington 17:55, Either way is in time to catch the Crescent train 19 at 18:30 out of Washington which gets to Atlanta 8:13 the next day.

As mentioned other routes are possible. You could take the Cascades all the way to Portland, which is a great city. From Portland a portion of the Empire Builder travels along the Columbia River to Spokane where it joins up with the train from Seattle. The Coast Starlight Between Los Angeles and Seattle has a good reputation. VIA from Vancouver to Toronto is a beautiful experience in old Budd cars. Sleeper fare includes meals and exclusive use of the observation car at the rear, where the trip starts off with champagne, at least it once did. Sleeper fare on Amtrak includes meals, but not alcohol. From Toronto there is Amtrak service to New York City. The ride along the Hudson River is beautiful.

I got my timetable in January from the station in Toledo, Ohio. You might be able to pick one up from the Atlanta station to drool over a route map and study the schedules for all the Amtrak trains. Timetables are also available as PDFs from Amtrak http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/HomePage

The cost -- Round trip between Vancouver and Toledo with sleeping accommodation on the Empire Builder set me back about $1200, and I'm getting senior's discount. I make the journey about once a year so that's one reason I don't own more TT models. The bedroom pretty much doubles the fare. Coach is cheaper, larger bedroom more. If two people travel together they pay basic coach fare each and the single bedroom fare is added to that. Coach can be reserved rather late but bedrooms should be reserved earlier.

It's a complicated and expensive way to get to a train show, so the show should only be an excuse for the train ride.
dileTTante
 
Posts: 677
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:37 am

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby railtwister » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:08 am

dileTTante wrote:N The bedroom pretty much doubles the fare. Coach is cheaper, larger bedroom more. If two people travel together they pay basic coach fare each and the single bedroom fare is added to that. Coach can be reserved rather late but bedrooms should be reserved earlier.

It's a complicated and expensive way to get to a train show, so the show should only be an excuse for the train ride.


When you book a bedroom, do you need to book it for the whole trip, or can you book it for only between the cities on the schedule for the times you may wish to sleep? More complicated, I suppose, but doing it that way on such a long trip might save a few bucks. Besides, sitting a tiny room for the whole ride might get to feel a bit claustrophobic...

Bill
railtwister
 
Posts: 695
Images: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:39 am
Location: Oakland Park (Ft. Lauderdale), FL, USA

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:34 am

Marquette wrote:One day I hope to take both the Empire Builder and the Acela...


Ditto.

The Empire Builder is a must if I make this trip. The whole thing's not gonna be cheap but if I start planning now maybe I can do it.
What people think: "liberals/conservatives are ruining my country"
What the powerful know: divide and conquer
User avatar
ConducTTor
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8291
Images: 13
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 4:52 pm
Location: Atlanta GA USA

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby CSD » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:29 pm

VIA rail stops in Edmonton. Just sayin'.
Mark
//S
User avatar
CSD
 
Posts: 2269
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:31 pm
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby dileTTante » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:05 pm

VIA stops way outside Edmonton. Lots of flat land between the station and the city. I know the ticket agent for VIA in Vancouver. He's from Calgary and has to take the plane to visit home. Anyway, you're coming to Vancouver in November, Mark, are you not? We'll need your modules.

sitting a tiny room for the whole ride might get to feel a bit claustrophobic...
True, but there's a big window with lots to look at outside. Also there's a whole lounge car with snack bar and lots of people and big windows. A few times I did what you had in mind. The Empire Builder makes a long service stop in Minneapolis. Going east I changed to coach in the morning and rode the rest of the day to Chicago. Going west I changed in Minneapolis in the evening from coach to sleeper for Seattle. Saved a few dollars but had to pay extra for meals from the coach.

One year I couldn't get the coach west of Chicago so booked sleeper the whole way of the return trip. The day of travel had a blizzard as mentioned earlier. The train was hours late arriving in Toledo and getting to Chicago. The Empire Builder is the same train as the City of New Orleans which also was hours late arriving. We were hustled from one late train onto the next for Seattle and I had no time to get more cash. I had the bedroom right away instead of waiting until 4 AM when we finally arrived in Minneapolis. That was a very unusual circumstance but I never tried to complicate the trip that way again. If I want to economize I take the coach all the way.

For Alex a possible economy is to take coach on the trains east of Chicago: two nights in a coach seat but with a break between trains in Washington. Another possibility is to drive or take a bus between Atlanta and Memphis and ride the City of New Orleans to Chicago and back. Departure is 22:40 and arrival is 06:27 with an overnight run. It's not quite 400 miles between Atlanta and Memphis, about an eight hour ride. According to Greyhound on line there are six buses each day. A convenient one leaves Atlanta 11:00 arrives Memphis 19:05. One way fare booked in advance is $61, refundable fare is $86.
dileTTante
 
Posts: 677
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:37 am

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:27 pm

I'm thinking about all this and doing a little math. Long story short, a trip with Empire Builder and the cheapest little room for me and the wife would take a huge chunk out of my budget for getting the U Boat manufactured. My preference is to put the money into the loco - MAYBE if I can swing it, I'll take the cheapest possible fares and make it up there by myself.
What people think: "liberals/conservatives are ruining my country"
What the powerful know: divide and conquer
User avatar
ConducTTor
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8291
Images: 13
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 4:52 pm
Location: Atlanta GA USA

Re: Planning ConducTTor's visit to Vancouver

Postby dileTTante » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:32 am

This was just a mental exercise and not intended produce anxieties. If it helped you focus on what you really want, then I'm glad it had a positive effect.
dileTTante
 
Posts: 677
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:37 am

Next

Return to Off Topic

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

cron