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@Amtrak @thegoodhuman If it's too difficult to wash the china on board the train, for goodness sakes just wash it on land at the end of each trip in Chicago or New York or whatever. Storing it until the end of the trip can't be any harder than storing the enormous bags of garbage (which are currently stored until the end of the trip on trains like the Lake Shore Limited).
1 week ago on How Amtrak Commits to Sustainability
It's March. There WAS no "next blog post on sustainability".
Meanwhile, I learn that Amtrak is replacing ceramic dishes on one of the few trains which had them, the Auto Train.. with more throwaway plastic.
In the long run, using real ceramic and glass is not just more environmentally sustainable, it's also cheaper. Not only is there the huge cost of buying new disposable dishes for every passenger for every meal -- an enormous cost -- but there's also the cost of disposing of them. Most communities are now charging by the pound or by the bag for throwing away garbage.
Because the communities who have to pay to operate landfills understand sustainability better than Amtrak's management does. The fee is particularly high in New York City.
Amtrak will be paying those fees... but if Amtrak went back to washable dishes, and managed to actually do paper and bottle recycling on the trains, Amtrak wouldn't be paying those fees.
It appears that Amtrak's commitment to sustainability is skin-deep.
Ah, I've always been going somewhere, never just wandering around.
Syracuse (NY)-Chicago (repeatedly), Syracuse-Minneapolis, Syracuse-Denver (repeatedly), Syracuse-Los Angeles (repeatedly)...
I've got plans for Syracuse-Portland and Syracuse-Seattle as well as more trips to Minneapolis, Denver, and Chicago...
I really wish Amtrak could make the Lake Shore Limited more reliable, for reasons which are probably completely obvious after the list of trips I just listed. Also, the Lake Shore Limited has a tendency to sell out of rooms -- I hope the new single-level sleeper cars arrive ASAP.
I also WANTED to do Syracuse-Grand Rapids MI and Syracuse-Lansing MI. But it's not really a reasonable trip to take, because there are no trains heading east from Michigan at all. This really ought to be fixed. (Changing to a many-hour bus trip in Toledo in the middle of the night is not really an alternative.)
I've also been trying for several years to figure out how to get to Indianapolis for a convention, but the three-times-a-week schedule of the Cardinal and the 5-hours-with-no-food-service Hoosier State make it completely impractical.
2 weeks ago on The Extreme Cross-Country Trip of a Lifetime!
Seriously, no love for the Adirondacks or Vermont? I suppose winter train trips there are so popular Amtrak doesn't feel the need to offer deals. ;-)
2 weeks ago on Four Essential Winter Vacations
Amtrak actually had a spare bilevel sleeper car and a spare bilevel observation car available for this trip?
I wish spare single-level sleepers and observation cars existed for the east-of-Chicago trains, where there are often missing sleepers and missing lounges due to "car shortages"... and there are never any observation cars at all.
2 weeks ago on All Aboard the #AmtrakLIVE Train
For me, seeing Kansas on the Southwest Chief blew me away. It's actually sepia-colored, like in the Wizard of Oz movie.
And of course it wouldn't be right of me not to plug the Lake Shore Limited. Maybe the industrial decay of Gary and the wheat fields of Indiana aren't everyone's cup of tea (though they are mine), but surely the forests of upstate NY and the striking Hudson River valley are.
2 weeks ago on 4 Most Scenic Train Rides
@ebpinnyc makes a good point.
On top of this, there's no food served on the Lake Shore Limited Eastbound #48 from Albany to New York... the diner closes and the cafe closes. Given that the train is scheduled to be moving from Albany to New York during many people's dinnertime (including mine) -- and is often late, meaning that it's moving during *everyone's* dinnertime -- this is an unpleasant surprise and particularly bad for people with hypoglycemia. On a train which advertises "Complete meals", a sudden absence of dinner is rather unexpected.
Amtrak food service should be more consistent than this.
2 weeks ago on How to Cancel a Train Reservation during Severe Weather
Still hoping to see WiFi on the Lake Shore Limited sometime in the next decade. There's enough cell service along the route. Amtrak, when will we get WiFi on the longer-distance Eastern trains?
2 weeks ago on Free Amtrak Wi-Fi Added to Midwest Trains
Move the bike lane next to the sidewalk and put the parking between the bike lane and the streetcar. I'm not actually sure there's enough room there to keep the bikes out of the door zone, but if there is, it would work.
Otherwise, you have to get rid of the parking.
3 weeks ago on Streetcar officials respond to video of tight squeeze
@ahblid @RussIsbrandt Last I heard Amtrak also needed to scrounge up more coaches with "long-distance" seating -- and last I heard Amtrak didn't think it would be worthwhile making the connection unless it had a sleeper. Rumor has it that there are enough cafe cars.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
Unfortunately some of the routes I want to take most, don't really exist at the moment. (Ithaca, NY to anywhere... anywhere to Columbus, Ohio... upstate NY to Michigan without taking a long bus ride... and I tried to plan a trip from upstate NY to Indianapolis, but I kept getting snarled by the three-a-week schedule on the Cardinal and the very slow timing on the Hoosier State, and I couldn't make it work.)
So I guess my birthday wish is for this country to fund more passenger train service.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Boston to DC for Spring Break!
@wilton_woods @ahblid The interiors are mostly from a company called "RailPlan" rather than from CAF anyway.
I don't know how much it would cost Amtrak to order some new modules from RailPlan. I suspect that Amtrak is ordering some spare modules in any case, and I believe that part of the retrofit plan for Viewliner Is involves ordering a whole bunch of bathroom modules.
The modules, unfortunately, are probably a lot cheaper than the frames -- I'm guessing most of the cost is in the frames. So the hard part is getting enough money to keep manufacturing frames.For what it's worth, the dining cars are mostly modular too -- RailPlan did the interiors there. They apparently also have slide-in and roll-in units for food and equipment, sort of like airplanes, so that a dining car can be emptied and refilled really quickly between runs.
I realize it's a bit out of the way, but you could always board on any station on the Missouri River Runner route; head west to Kansas City; take the Southwest Chief from Kansas City to Los Angeles; and then take the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Three days and two nights, but it works.
@ahblid @JerichoWhiskey "And I'm only repeating what I've heard, that the LSL will be the first
to see the new sleepers. There may well be other reasons that I'm
unaware of. That same rumor said that the Cardinal will be the second
to see them."
The Viewliner Is have freezing problems with the underfloor equipment in cold weather. I am told that the Viewliner IIs have been redesigned with cowls, insluation, etc. to eliminate this. That's one reason to assign the Viewliner IIs to the northern trains first. I presume that the Viewliner Is will eventually be retrofitted to eliminate the problem, but in the meantime...
4 months, 2 weeks ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
@PaulaMorelliPiersall These cars are for services which go into Penn Station NY (where two-story bilevel cars will not fit).
This includes NY-Chicago services as well as NY-Florida and NY-New Orleans -- which are all part of a cross-country trip, though not part of your specific trip.
@IraWoods Unfortunately they'll mostly still be in production or testing. If you had tickets for January of 2015, you'd perhaps get one of the new sleepers....
@lawlass Elect different state legislators and a different governor.
In 2008, Congress passed a law which says (*approximately*) that all routes less than 750 miles have to be funded by state governments rather than by the federal government. Thanks to the mess at the federal level, Amtrak doesn't have the money to start up new train routes longer than that, and if it did, state government help would still be essential to build stations, arrange contracts with the fright railroads, etc.Your Alabama state government doesn't seem to give a damn about Amtrak service; in order to get service, the first step is for your state government to give a damn.
@LennyMills Yes, these new cars will be on both of the trains (Silver Star and Silver Meteor) from New York to Florida.
@cbclassystuff @annedougherty @JohnPritchard I've heard people with both points of view. I guess Amtrak decided that the people who *didn't* want the toilet in the roomette outnumbered the people who *did* want the toilet in the roomette. I don't really care...
@RAAndre @ahblid @cbclassystuff Unfortunately, they also had to make the aisle wider to accomodate wheelchairs etc. Which is good, but it means the seats aren't wider. There's more shoulder room, though.There's one prototype Viewliner dining car running (#8400) which is why I can say this so definitively.