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March 06, 2008

Amtrak Logic

travel amtrak ohio bridge Looking at the logic of reinstating Amtrak travel through Ohio.

Logic #2 - OK since Amtrak can’t make money anywhere, no one else seems to think it’s profitable either.

 

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3-C Passenger Rail

Posted on March 6, 2008 07:41 PM by amtrak126.
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August 01, 2007

The GrandLuxe Limited

travel amtrak grandluxe limited Amtrak has revamped the American Orient Express to make the GrandLuxe Limited.

Formerly known as the American Orient Express, it’s a premier, separate, seven-car train attached to regularly scheduled Amtrak trains. It comes complete with private dining, lounge and sleeping cars.

 

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Amtrak Adds Luxurious Rail Rides To Its Menu

Posted on August 1, 2007 08:41 PM by amtrak126.
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April 02, 2007

Bachelor Party Recap

travel amtrak bar car Sounds like a little too much fun on Amtrak.

Before I get into the bulk of what happened over the weekend, two quick notes:1) I’ve touched on this before, but it’s worth mentioning again: getting drunk on a train is fucking spectacular, and perhaps my new favorite pastime. In fact, I may not take a proper vacation this year and instead ride Amtrak across America, getting bombed and watching movies on my laptop. On the ride up to Boston on Wednesday night, I had a ton of beers and watched "Tombstone," a movie that simply does not get old.

 

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bachelor party weekend recap

Posted on April 2, 2007 08:42 PM by amtrak126.
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March 28, 2007

Like A High School Reunion

travel amtrak double decker A giddy trip to a reunion in the Amtrak bar car.

I won’t be driving, instead I am planning to take a bus and then a train from the East Lansing Amtrak station with none other than Joy. I’m hoping the train has cocktails so we can arrive in Chicago properly prepared for the festivities.

 

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“It’s like a High School reunion only if everyone you went to High School with actually liked you.”

Posted on March 28, 2007 08:45 PM by amtrak126.
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February 14, 2007

Raising Moses

travel robert moses From a post on Robert Moses, a bit about Amtrak.

Author Tony Hiss believes plaNYC does not think big enough. Hiss proposes integrating parks into urban living that harks back to Frederick Law Olmsted’s community-oriented Central Park, a project developed before Moses’ time. By limiting car traffic and integrating park space with every street, a public park would be at the doorstep of every city inhabitant, not just within a 10-minute walk as plaNYC proposes. Car designers have successfully designed car interiors, while the only recent train improvements are to Amtrak’s problematic Acela trains. By improving rider experience through redesigning subway interiors, people will want to use mass transit and not drive their cars to work.

 

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Posted on February 14, 2007 07:51 PM by amtrak126.
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October 11, 2006

Time Machine: What I was Reading in October, 2002

travel amtrak lake shore An old post and a ride on the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited.

On a recent October night, after the FBI released one of its now customarily nebulous warnings (in this case that Al Quaeda might be targeting American railway systems next), I happened to be asleep on board Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, bound from Albany, NY to Chicago.

 

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Time Machine: What I was Reading in October, 2002

Posted on October 11, 2006 07:37 PM by amtrak126.
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Lake Wanda

travel amtrak st louis Click through for some excellent Amtrak snaps.

Now the first update from the Montana Trip. Here are two pictures from Tuesday’s journey on Amtrak #22, both taken from the window in our roomette. First up is a view of the Mississippi River as we were leaving St. Louis and its familiar arch behind.

 

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Posted on October 11, 2006 07:37 PM by amtrak126.
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September 09, 2006

Guess Where I Am Now?

travel amtrak cascade The Amtrak train up the Pacific coast is spectacular.

The trip from here from San Francisco via train was pretty cool. Amtrak do a pretty nice job of making you comfortable and the journey, scenically, is just beautiful. The green of the forests runs majestically with the blue of the creeks, rivers and lakes, like a natural marble.

 

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Guess Where I am Now? Too Late - Eugene, Oregon

Posted on September 9, 2006 07:39 PM by amtrak126.
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August 30, 2006

Amtrak Online

travel amtrak ticket purchase Using Amtrak's online services here.

So I decided to swing over to Amtrak's Website to see the status of train #516 Amtrak Cascades from Portland to Seattle. I'm specifically curious about the projected arrival time into Tacoma. With that in mind I pulled up the website and input the particular stations and train number, even though it states OR between the choices I figured what the hoo haa it'll be better if I just leave nothing empty. Theoretically it would use whatever provides the faster query speed that way. Within the matter of about a half second the website whipped up the results and told me the arrival time.

 

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Joleen's Amtrak Cascades #516 Portland to Tacoma Schedule Status

Posted on August 30, 2006 07:38 PM by amtrak126.
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July 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Red Line

travel red line los angeles From a fun post on the Red Line in Los Angeles, this bit about taking Amtrak to Florida.

I could even make good use of Metrolink, on the condition that there was a train available for people traveling the wrong way. I could now cross counties with only one transfer. If I were to include Amtrak, I could theoretically go as far as Florida and only have to leave a vehicle once. Of course, the train would take over three days, and I’d have to pencil in being a day and a half late. And the destination is Florida, after all.

 

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Posted on July 13, 2006 07:42 PM by amtrak126.
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June 09, 2006

Going Down To Maryland

travel amtrak maryland view Avoiding boredom on Amtrak.

So this weekend I’m going be driving my brother’s car down to Maryland to help him move into his new apartment. We’re leaving early Saturday morning so we can get there before the 12 noon to pick up his keys and we’ll stay overnight to buy supplies and other apartment related materials. On Sunday night, I’m going to take the Amtrak back to New Jersey, but hopefully I’ll have enough video material left so I won’t get too bored (are a few episodes of Doctor Who, Eureka Seven, and Justice League Unlimited enough?). Anyway, I’m taking my camera with me to take pics, so watch for a new picture album coming soon.

 

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Posted on June 9, 2006 07:40 PM by amtrak126.
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June 01, 2006

The Journey Begins

travel amtrak chicago Amtrak is the first hop on this trip to China.

After a week in Okoboji, I will come back to Iowa City next Friday to do laundry and re-pack for Chicago/China, and tie up any loose ends before leaving. Saturday morning I my mother will drive me down to Mount Pleasant, IA so I can board an Amtrak train to Chicago. In Chicago, I will meet up with my buddy Lee, and stay with him only to board a plane early Sunday morning.

 

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The Journey Begins… Now

Posted on June 1, 2006 07:42 PM by amtrak126.
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May 30, 2006

Pinko Trains

travel amtrak station Unhappy Amtrak passenger here.

I spent a little time with my old socialist friend Amtrak this passed week. It was such a wonderful experience I thought I better blog a tribute. So here it is:

 

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Posted on May 30, 2006 07:41 PM by amtrak126.
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May 25, 2006

Amtrak To Rockford

travel amtrak station rockford A drive to get Amtrak service to Rockford, Illinois.

If Amtrak can make stops in Elgin, Schaumburg, Arlington, O’Hare, and any other major suburb on the way (I’m not sure of what train line it would take), then it makes perfect sense. But if that train service is going to be Rockford downtown to Chicago downtown, it’s going to miss many opportunities for those commuting from the west burbs to Rockford.

 

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Posted on May 25, 2006 07:40 PM by amtrak126.
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March 21, 2006

Das Erste Mal

travel philadelphia amtrak station Exploring the first U.S. capitol on this first trip to the U.S.

Inzwischen sind wir jetzt schon drei Tage in „Philly“ und schon auf dem Sprung nach Washington D.C. Ich denke, „Philly“ ist ein recht guter Start, um die USA zu entdecken. Einerseits ist sie so amerikanisch, dass der von Hollywood konditionierte Provinzler im Glücksgefühl der Wiederkennung schwelgen kann. Aufhängepunkt können wahlweise Filme (Rocky) oder einfach die Wokenkratzer sein (z.B. das neue Amtrak Building, das weniger wegen seiner Höhe sondern vor allem auf Grund seiner kristallinen Form ins Auge sticht). Andererseits ist die Stadt auch noch so überschaubar, dass uns der Kulturschock erspart geblieben ist. Doch noch etwas macht Philadelphia in der Retrospektive zum idealen Startpunkt für unsere Reise: Sie war der Geburtsort der Nation.

 

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Posted on March 21, 2006 07:42 PM by amtrak126.
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March 12, 2006

Hello World

travel orlando amtrak station Always good to know how you got where you are.

Charlotte and me are currently sitting in an Orlando hotel lobby, killing time until it is time to call a taxt to take us to the Amtrak station. Since ya'll probably have no idea why we are here, I'll do a little recap:

 

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Posted on March 12, 2006 06:43 PM by amtrak126.
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March 04, 2006

Metra Rail Service Proposal

travel metra rail Milwaukee's Mayor proposal to expand Metra service using Amtrak stations has this taxpayer in arms.

The backers of this are worried that the TPA “could kill the proposed train service by preventing the new Regional Transit Authority from raising money for it.” What this means is that if they are denied the power to raise taxes as much as they want, then they won’t get to play with their trains. I’m sorry. Should I care about their problem? If the trains are a good idea, the TPA allows them to get their money by asking the voters to approve it. Why should I be concerned that they want the unlimited power to tax?

 

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Barrett proposes Metra rail service through valley

Posted on March 4, 2006 06:42 PM by amtrak126.
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February 16, 2006

Budget Carnage

travel amtrak At least Amtrak may have some friends in the budget cut department.

What other things is the Smirkster planning to toss overboard so his oil buddies (who, coincidentally of course, have just reaped record profits) can get tons of refunds, permanently? Let's see: watershed protection and flood prevention funding. Vocational education grants. Dropout prevention programs. Job opportunities for low-income folks. Health programs. Rural fire assistance. Social services block grants. Amtrak. The list goes on. For someone who claimed education was such a priority, about a third of his cuts are in education alone.

 

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Posted on February 16, 2006 06:41 PM by amtrak126.
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January 31, 2006

Web Ad Holds Burns' Feet to the Fire

travel amtrak daffodils Did the Abramoff scandal involve Amtrak votes?

Montanans have demanded Conrad Burns explain his dealings with Jack Abramoff. We’ve pushed our Junior Senator to explain his stance on Social Security privatization and his votes on Amtrak and pesticide testing.

 

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Web Ad Holds Burns’ Feet to the Fire

Posted on January 31, 2006 06:43 PM by amtrak126.
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December 23, 2005

Loving Evernote

travel amtrak laptop user If you travel, you might want to check out Evernote for using the web offline.

I recently loaded up EverNote with tons of content when I took Amtrak to my parent's new home (that didn't have Internet hooked up just yet). EverNote was being used on my laptop the entire train ride and I often perused material late at night. To me, it's now absolutely essential when wanting to read Web content when you don't have access to the Internet or when taking notes. The only problem that I had was that there were times when I was on different PCs when I came across content that I wanted to save in EverNote. I wanted all the content in one database instead of having three different sets of info on three different computers. After trial and error, I discovered that I could just put my EverNote database files on my USB stick and have it with me wherever I go. I just made sure that EverNote mapped to the stick and now I don't have to worry about having different content in several places. There's word that the company will have a "formal" mobile solution sometime next year, so until that happens I'll keep using my USB stick.

 

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Posted on December 23, 2005 06:40 PM by amtrak126.
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November 23, 2005

Amtrak Ticket Prices Up

travel amtrak philadelphia ticket line Is this the impact of the Bush Administration's Amtrak cuts?

I took the train out of Washington today to visit family in New Jersey. Amtrak ran on time, which was a blessing. At times in the past the Northeast Corridor has been rife with delays; in recent years this improved a lot. But the Amtrak management gave its customers a holiday present: price-gouging. A one-way ticket on the route I travel usually costs $76; this morning it cost $101. That's one-way, folks. And that is not the worst of it. An afternoon ticket cost $120.

 

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Posted on November 23, 2005 06:40 PM by amtrak126.
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November 19, 2005

Outlawed Train

travel amtrak locomotive I've found just-released convicts on buses more than trains, but it sure makes the ride uncomfortable.

I rode the Amtrak home for Thanksgiving break. There are always just-released convicts on the train, taking it from a prison somewhere in the southern Illinois to Chicago. One of the hispanic guys spent the entire trip practicing his tagging skills on the windows with his finger.

 

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Posted on November 19, 2005 06:40 PM by amtrak126.
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October 21, 2005

Romantic Vacations

travel amtrak train in field From a list of romantic vacation ideas:

There are scenic and romantic train rides all over the world. Some of Amtrak’s more scenic stretches take days and can be a vacation in themselves. Otherwise, you can plan a vacation around one or more “dinner trains” or scenic rides like the one we took from Silverton to Durango Colorado (beautiful mountains).

 

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Posted on October 21, 2005 07:42 PM by amtrak126.
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October 07, 2005

News From The War On Terror

travel amtrak coke bottle Rum and Coke?

New York's busy Penn Station returned to normal on Friday after a rush-hour false alarm caused by a suspicious substance found in a soda bottle near Amtrak's ticket counter, authorities said.

 

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Posted on October 7, 2005 07:40 PM by amtrak126.
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September 30, 2005

Federal Budget Cuts

travel amtrak station Seems like Hurricane Katrina is turning into an excuse to cut all the programs conservatives have been trying to cut for years.

With one destructive hurricane behind us, one on the way, and who knows how many more possible, it may be time to consider some way to pay for all the rebuilding necessary. I understand that the administration does not want to raise taxes and that “Operation Offset” is a way that some in Congress are proposing to try to pay for reconstruction. Some of their ideas are to freeze funding for the Peace Corps, the Global AIDS Initiative, and U.N. peacekeeping operations. They would eliminate the EnergyStar program, grants for state and local energy conservation, federal subsidies for Amtrak, funding for new light-rail programs and the hydrogen fuel initiative. Also eliminated are grants for safe and drug-free schools, and teen contraceptive programs. They’d probably also cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

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A PATRIOT’S TAX

Posted on September 30, 2005 06:41 PM by amtrak126.
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September 20, 2005

The Empire Has No Clothes

travel amtrak car interior Another view on Amtrak funding.

When a free-marketeer presents Amtrak as an example of government waste, I have to wonder what they think of the Interstate Highway System. This is also a government program and the cost has been in the trillions. Toll roads with electronic payment systems may have their place, but where would the United States be if Eisenhower had decided to wait for private enterprise to build the highway system? It is the same place we are headed because of the endless wail for privatizing everything in the past 30 years. Commercial healthcare has not brought us universal coverage. Commercial energy has lowered standards but not price. Commercial transportation needs bailout after bailout. America continues to suffer under this delusion.

 

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Posted on September 20, 2005 07:39 PM by amtrak126.
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September 03, 2005

From The African American Press

travel amtrak dome car Good point of view on Hurricane Katrina, including the underutilization of Amtrak for evacuation of New Orleans.

We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn’t move them, afraid they’d be stolen.

 

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Posted on September 3, 2005 07:38 PM by amtrak126.
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August 11, 2005

Mass Transit

travel mass transit Oil prices hit $67 a barrel this week. Luckily the price for a barrel of beer was unchanged.

Elementary math will tell you that only 20% of the monies in the bill was allocated for other transportation projects - bus, rail (this does not include Amtrak, about which more eventually), light rail, bike and pedestrian ways and trails. Alternative transportation remains a stepchild of the 21st century evidently. This despite the fact that all signs point to the rapidly approaching end of cheap available oil and gas. With gasoline prices around the country, even here in DE where they have remained relatively low in comparison to, say, the West Coast, creeping towards the $3.00 a gallon mark, mass transport looks like a better and better idea for those of us whose wallets are not bottomless.

 

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The Road to Hell is Paved

Posted on August 11, 2005 07:40 PM by amtrak126.
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August 02, 2005

Two Dead In Raleigh Amtrak Train Derailment

travel amtrak derailment raleigh north carolina This unfortunate accident caused more loss of life than the plane crash in Toronto today.

WRAL says two people are confirmed dead after an Amtrak train hit a dump truck in Raleigh, North Carolina:

 

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Posted on August 2, 2005 07:43 PM by amtrak126.
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July 24, 2005

Over The River And Through The Woods ...

travel gold line pasasdena station Maybe the only thing worse than lost baggage is a missed connection.

Today we took the train down to San Diego to visit Grandpa Schwarz. Riding the train is a pleasant way to go there, and it’s an arduous trip by car. The only bad thing(s) that happened were that we missed the first two trains. When we got to the Gold Line station in Pasadena, the train left just as we were coming down the stairs. We had to wait for the next train, and then when we got to Union Station, we looked out the window and saw the Amtrak Surfliner leaving for San Diego. So we had to wait for the next one.

 

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Over the river and through the woods…

Posted on July 24, 2005 07:41 PM by amtrak126.
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July 20, 2005

Train And Bike

travel bike cross country A pedal and train trip across the U.S. ... how great is that?

Gosh, lets see where should we start… Last week while we were visiting Petoski, MI. we met two cyclists from CA. Kirsten and Geoff who were both riding long wheelbase Ryan Recumbents and pulling Burley trailers. They were cycling from west to east after taking an Amtrak Train from California to Montana due to their limited vacation time. They were riding to Mass. to visit Geoff’s mother. It was wonderful to exchange stories with them and to hear what WI, MN and the Dakota’s are like. They were riding 80 miles per day, which seems crazy to us, but again they had vacation time limitations. (We are so lucky)! They invited us to stay with them when we reach Oakland, CA. It will be great to see them in September or October!

 

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Trouble in paradise…The U.P. of Michigan and Wisconsin

Posted on July 20, 2005 07:42 PM by amtrak126.
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July 04, 2005

Musician On The Road

travel amtrak washington I'm not sure whether traveling is harder on musicians or their instruments.

Unfortunately, as I travel by way of the Amtrak train, I could not haul them back to campus with me. All I have in Bellingham is my guitar and a piano in the lounge downstairs, which is in-tune but so ordinary in sound that I could not pick out its B-flat in a crowd. I put a note in each instrument case saying: Do not sell this instrument under any circumstances. I will be coming back for it in two years. They will make nice additions to my music room when I have a place to call my own.

 

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Home Bitter Home

Posted on July 4, 2005 07:43 PM by amtrak126.
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June 23, 2005

Train Service

travel amtrak diner car Kudos for Amtrak service:

Since then, the service has undergone a revamp at Amtrak. I’ve never encountered friendlier, more attentive, and funny people working in a service industry. And not even just the dining car attendants or the porters. It’s one thing to wait tables at a restaurant on the mainland, but when you have to wait tables and work with people and sleep with people for a period of 3-4 days, as some of the trains are long, then keeping a smile on your face and not wanting to knock a passenger off the caboose has got to be the hardest thing on earth!

 

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oh this train keeps a rollin’

Posted on June 23, 2005 07:43 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak Advantage

travel amtrak locomotive I love airline rides for the same reasons.

I’m leaving the SF area after the Computers and Writing conference, which was surprisingly productive for me (in relation to the conference and my own projects…). The thing about taking the Amtrak after conferences is the cool-down period. I mean, I get 18 hours (on this leg, 12 of which I will be awake) to do nothing but think. No email, no phone, no disruptions, except for when I have to eat meals.

 

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No Mystery Train here

Posted on June 23, 2005 07:43 PM by amtrak126.
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June 15, 2005

Ask the Trees to Say 'Cheese,' Prepare to be Seized

travel amtrak train Documentary film maker Jem Cohen had a small problem when he brought his 16mm camera on board.

In January, Cohen boarded an Amtrak bound from New York to DC. Along the way, he attempted to shoot the passing scenery. (Note to Homeland Security: “Shoot” has multiple meanings.) But when the train stopped in Philly, four armed cops boarded the train and demanded that Cohen turn over his film.

 

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Ask the Trees to Say ‘Cheese,’ Prepare to be Seized

Posted on June 15, 2005 07:21 PM by amtrak126.
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June 13, 2005

Amtrak Food

travel amtrak dining car service Get ready for some price hikes in the dining car:

Riders on Amtrak may think that the $3.25 hot dog and the $1.50 bag of chips in the cafe car are no bargain. Neither does Amtrak. It is spending just over $2 for each dollar of food it sells on its trains, according to auditors.

 

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Posted on June 13, 2005 07:26 PM by amtrak126.
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June 07, 2005

TrainWeb

travel amtrak sunset limited Okay, we'll take a hint from TrainWeb:

For some unknown reason (not that I'm complaining!), the train-enthusiast website TrainWeb -- which has a buried link somewhere to my old cross-country train trip page -- decided to post that link prominently on its "What's New" page over the weekend, under the headline "Revisiting a 2002 trip on the Amtrak Sunset Limited."

 

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Memory <strike>lane</strike> train

Posted on June 7, 2005 07:23 PM by amtrak126.
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June 06, 2005

Los Angeles to Chicago by Train

travel amtrak zephyr I've never tried the Zephyr, but I'd love to:

I have just enjoyed a couple of days in San Francisco, after arriving there on the California Zephyr, Amtrak’s long distance train from Chicago.

 

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Posted on June 6, 2005 07:33 PM by amtrak126.
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June 03, 2005

The Adirondack

travel amtrak adirondack Once you find it, the Adirondack is a beautiful ride.

Amtrack run a service between Montreal and New York. I knew of this, but couldn’t actually locate the service in a casual search because I wasn’t specifically requesting Montreal as a starting point (it’s annoying that information about much of those possibilities offered by North American rail transportation seems to be only available if you know roughly what you will be looking for in advance).

 

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The Adirondack

Posted on June 3, 2005 07:26 PM by amtrak126.
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June 01, 2005

"Relaxing" Train Trips Overrated

travel amtrak chicago Not a good Amtrak experience:

In theory, the train ride from Detroit to Chicago is "relaxing" and "easy". Fans will rant on about Amtrak's many virtues, saying things like, "you can read a book, or take a nap - and there's no traffic!". You get the picture.

In practice, it's a relatively long (7-hour) trip in pseudo-comfortable seating with way too many stops in random-ass cities. As I type this, I'm feeling guilty for sounding like such a transportation snob - and I'm not, really - I've happily slept on trains next to live chickens and pigs (Vietnam) and made it through countless cross-country trips in the wood-paneled family wagon, even without possession of the coveted "way-way-back seat". The problem with the Amtrak version of the Detroit to Chicago trek is that there's just nothing outstanding...

 

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"Relaxing" train trips = overrated (or: STOP THE TAPPING!!)

Posted on June 1, 2005 10:52 PM by amtrak126.
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May 30, 2005

Amtrak From A British Point Of View

travel amtrak california zephyr Click through for the English review of Amtrak train service:

The national rail system in America is called Amtrak, the train pictured here is the "California Zephyr" which runs from Chicago to San Francisco, and it's reckoned to be one of the worlds outstandingly scenic rail journeys. Today is April 29th 2004, and I am planning to take this train myself in less than a week.

 

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Background to my 1st Amtrak trip..

Posted on May 30, 2005 07:28 PM by amtrak126.
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May 25, 2005

Real ID Rebellion

travel national id card I kinda think protesting national ID is a good idea.

Avoid doing business with people who demand government-issued ID — including, where possible, banks (you may want to get an offshore account), federalized mass transit services such as Amtrak and the airlines, etc. Use cash, gold or electronic currencies where you can. Buy a pre-loaded debit card that can be reloaded on the Internet or at local kiosks — and buy it before you’re required to present your new internal passport for the privilege of doing so. If possible, get it with a fake name (if you’re doing that, don’t...

 

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Real ID Rebellion: This might be “chatter”

Posted on May 25, 2005 07:26 PM by amtrak126.
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May 23, 2005

Bus Or Train?

travel amtrak california car A train has a roomier interior than a bus, but it might be easier to get from A to B on a bus.

On a final footnote, I would have taken the Amtrak train to Washington Dc because I like the roominess on the train and the ability to walk and relax and get a bite on the train. Sine I was on a time crunch and needed to get their ASAP, I had to take Greyhound. As for taking another trip next time, I will take Amtrak more often and I will take Amtrak more than Greyhound.

 

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My Trip with Greyhound Bus lines

Posted on May 23, 2005 07:28 PM by amtrak126.
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May 17, 2005

Ride Amtrak, See Butts

travel amtrak butts The only Amtrak train ride where you can see the moon all day.

Every July 9th, Laguna Niguel locals get together and moon passing Amtrak trains. The Amtrak trains usually fill to capacity on the day of the show.

 

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Ride Amtrak, See Butts

Posted on May 17, 2005 07:30 PM by amtrak126.
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May 14, 2005

Federal ID On The Fast Track

travel passport omar sharif My opinion? We'll have a lot more hassles getting IDs and have a false sense of security because of the hassles.

If the act's mandates take effect in May 2008, as expected, Americans will be required to obtain federally approved ID cards with "machine readable technology" that abides by Department of Homeland Security specifications. Anyone without such an ID card will be effectively prohibited from traveling by air or Amtrak, opening a bank account, or entering federal buildings.

 

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Federal ID on the Fast Track

Posted on May 14, 2005 07:22 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak President Warns Bankruptcy May Happen In Months

travel amtrak train stopped Will legislators close down Amtrak?

At a Senate hearing, David Gunn, Amtrak’s president warned that bankruptcy was possible unless the federal government provides subsidies. Amtrak’s premium Acela service has been derailed for a month because of cracks in brake discs and Amtrack could lose up to $1 million per week without Acela service. Amtrak requested up to $1.8 billion in federal subsidies — but so far a Senate subcommittee has refused to approve any subsidy plan until Amtrak makes changes that would reduce its dependence on federal subsidies in the future....

 

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Amtrak President Warns Bankruptcy May Happen In Months

Posted on May 14, 2005 07:22 PM by amtrak126.
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May 11, 2005

Amtrak Across The Southwest

travel amtrak train in texas Amtrak is a scenic, relaxing way across the southwestern U.S.

Before that time, we will first make a little trip through south west USA. We both leave our “homes” on May 14 to meet up at Dallas/Ft. Worth Aiport, where, hopefully, my aunt will pick us up and take us to her place in Anna, TX. We will stay with my aunt and uncle until May 20. On that say we will take the AmTrak train from Dallas via San Antonio to Tucson, AZ. This trip will take us almost one and a half day, but at least we get to see the country. The day after we arrive in Tucson, we will rent a car and drive to Julie’s host...

 

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And Now, the End Is Near…

Posted on May 11, 2005 07:29 PM by amtrak126.
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Train WiFi

travel baltimore amtrak station 1977 Why not WiFi?

I've been thinking lately of re-locating from the District to Baltimore. Housing is less expensive and the lifestyle and people are more to my taste. The only thing keeping me from a serious look-see is the commute. Now, if Amtrak or the MARC train had wifi, I'd be in business.

Great idea.
 

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Oh, But I Like Baltimore

Posted on May 11, 2005 07:29 PM by amtrak126.
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Death or Lateness?

amtrak death on train Never thought of this as a marketing tactic before. Before jumping to conclusions, though, I believe airlines follow the same procedure in case of an in-flight death.

I ride on Amtrak on the Philadelphia to New York line pretty frequently. On three instances now when the train has been late, I've overheard, while on the train, that it's due to a fatality. (Specifically ON the train, not getting hit by it) The next comment from the train staff is always "I don't know any details."

Amtrak never mentions the fatality thing unless someone directly asks, which is why I feel it may in fact be all about the marketing.

 

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Death or Lateness?

Posted on May 11, 2005 07:29 PM by amtrak126.
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May 03, 2005

Free Market Travel

travel amtrak grand central station Global warming has arrived and you can do something about it. Really! Carpool, take the train, walk. It won't kill you.

If you want change, then do it – don’t wait for the federal government. Stop driving your car, and use TriMet. Walk to the store instead of driving, and buy a cart for your shopping bags. On longer trips, consider Greyhound or Amtrak. If you currently own an SUV, trade it in for a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid.

 

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Posted on May 3, 2005 07:29 PM by amtrak126.
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May 01, 2005

Trains Jumping Tracks

train wreck Tip to Joe Greenlight for a great article about how (among other things) Japanese and Americans view (and cause) train disasters. He takes the long view.

When I board a plane, I am generally confident it will get me there in one piece, but hey, shit happens. And I'll accept that inept, poorly-trained, sleepy or even drunken pilots (or air traffic controllers) are to blame for such misfortunes. But as cut-throat as the airline industry can be, the actual flying of the plane is no place to flex competitive muscle by cranking it up a few m.p.h. (Besides, in the case of Amtrak, lack of competition and being on the government dole doesn't seem to make it a better rail service.)

 

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It's A Matter of Time

Posted on May 1, 2005 07:28 PM by amtrak126.
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April 28, 2005

How Much Faster Are Acela Trains?

amtrak acela metroliner ice This comment on a blog post about the fact that the Acela is not much faster than the Metroliner is a little troubling.

Amtrak, and everyone else in the railroad business, knew that the Acela train would be only marginally faster than Metroliner, because unless and until the track bed is improved, speed is not an option.

 

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Acela Must Mean Slow in PigLatin

Posted on April 28, 2005 07:31 PM by amtrak126.
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April 26, 2005

The Acela Problem

amtrak acela cockpit Good analysis of the Acela problem at Amtrak.

The tale of the Acela is in many ways the story of Amtrak itself, where political pressures, tight budgets, contested regulations and design changes turned a high-speed train into something slower, more expensive and less reliable than what Amtrak had promised.

A reconstruction of Acela’s history involving dozens of interviews and a review of court documents and other records shows that Amtrak was under intense pressure to deliver its new train as quickly as possible. And that rush to do something bigger and more complicated than the railroad had ever done led to a series of missteps that many experts believe contributed to the problems that have plagued the Acela to this day.

Click through for entire story.
 

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ACEL, USAs X2000

Posted on April 26, 2005 09:35 PM by amtrak126.
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Mass Transit Smackdown

amtrak logo The Amtrak subsidy debate continues:

As our buddy bush tries to starve Amtrak to death and it's suffering bad press, it's a particularly relevant time to turn our heads to the classic debate over mass transit taking place over at The Truth About Cars. On the liberal side is one Colin Murchie, Director of Government Affairs of the Solar Energy Industries Association:

My taxes bought the road you’re idling on and the troopers and snow plows and medevac flights that come with it; as sure as they bought the El train blowing past you on the left. More than $40 billion per year in the next highway bill, not including state taxes.

 

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Posted on April 26, 2005 07:27 PM by amtrak126.
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April 23, 2005

Amtrak Online Screw Up

travel amtrak buying a ticket It's so frustrating when travel companies have poor customer service.

The timeout while I'm entering the credit card information at the Amtrak site has to be the most obnoxious thing ever. My card number is right there for anyone to see until I click submit, and THEN it rejects me. Stupid, obnoxious, and if I were getting the ticket for myself I think I'd hitchhike instead.

What I hate are the automatic voice response menus. Ever try using that when you have to reschedule a flight at a noisy airport? The phone system has no idea what you're trying to say.
 

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Amtrak screws up on-line, too

Posted on April 23, 2005 07:28 PM by amtrak126.
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April 21, 2005

Amtrak Acela To Resume When Replacement Brakes In Place

travel amtrak acela in station Looks like Acela service will start soon, but no firm date yet.

Amtrak officials speaking at Union Station said the trains will resume service once replacement brake parts are retrofitted onto the trains.

 

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MTRiP Weblog

Posted on April 21, 2005 07:24 PM by amtrak126.
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April 19, 2005

Amtrak's Acela Hits the Brakes

travel amtrak acela Good pick up on CSM article:

Check this out. It's a fabulous special feature by the Christian Science Monitor called "All Aboard? Amtrak and the Future of Passenger Rail in America.

You'll need a high speed connection. The section called "A Business Wreck" contains a fabulous intreactive map on which you can click on the various Amtrak routes (and also notice how much of hte county isn't served) for comparisons of time and cost among Train, Car, Air and Bus options. You can also see the profitability (or, more accurately, the lack thereof).

Click through for entire story.
 

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Posted on April 19, 2005 07:33 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak Woes

travel grand central station Some good points here on what ails Amtrak. I sometimes wonder if conservative politicians want to get rid of Amtrak because it reminds them of Europe and socialism? Cars and planes seem so quintessentially American.

John Tierney, writing in today’s New York Times, quotes former Amtrak official Joseph Vranich about Amtrak’s recent woes:

Such blunt talk is refreshing to hear, but also distressingly true. One of the reasons I don’t like traveling outside of New York City is the traffic I routinely run into; Amtrak’s great promise was to emulate that one area in which Europe and Japan have routinely bested us: the use of mass transit to ferry people to and fro.

Amtrak, of course, never could achieve its promise, because politicians have turned it into another example of pork barrel politics: Amtrak has been forced to run its trains through sparsely populated states, for which “mass transit” is not only an oxymoron but also irrelevant. On the so-called Northeast corridor, the heavily populated area between Washington, DC and Boston, MA, mass transit makes sense.

 

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Amtrak

Posted on April 19, 2005 07:33 PM by amtrak126.
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No Amtrak Acela Service This Week

amtrak acela on track Amtrak is trying to run alternative trains to pick up the Acela overflow. They ran one Acela train Monday, but decided against any more runs until the brake problem is resolved.

Amtrak officials had initially said Monday that it was going to run one Acela train daily between Washington and New York through Friday, spokeswoman Tracy Connell said. But later in the evening, officials decided against that, she added. No Acela trains will run through Friday, possibly longer.

 

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Posted on April 19, 2005 01:50 PM by amtrak126.
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April 17, 2005

The Real Amtrak Failure

amtrak empty car The problem with the subsidy argument is that every other form of transportation receives some form of subsidy. For instance trucks, which are one of the main alternatives to trains for long distance hauling, benefit from highway funds. So the real question is how much subsidy for each kind of transportation.

The article, titled "Bush Budget Gives No Money to Amtrak for Operations" states the following:

"In a letter to Amtrak employees, Amtrak President David Gunn called the budget request 'irresponsible' and a 'surprising disappointment.' He continued, '[The budget] isn�t accompanied by any kind of plan for how Amtrak could continue operations. In a word, they have no plan for Amtrak other than bankruptcy.'"

Amtrak is a private business and should be operated as one. It's up to you as president of the company to determine how your company "could continue operations."

So who is the "irresponsible" one? This, my friends, is the prime reason why Amtrak fails as a company - not even its president understands business. Either that or he simply refuses to accept responsibility for the company that he is responsible for.

This company has been subsidized for so many years that it has completely neglected to become self-sufficient. I understand that the government's intentions were good in helping to promote Amtrak while it was on the verge of bankruptcy; however the original intent was nothing more than a glorified unemployment check. You're still expected to find a job. If you don't find one before the checks run out, tough luck! Welcome to America, my friend.

Posted by Chris Bianchi in Domestic Issues at 09:28

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Posted on April 17, 2005 07:24 PM by amtrak126.
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Broken Brakes

amtrak acela cockpit The cancelled Acela trains are a real problem for commuters along the Northeast corridor. The cynic might conclude that the timing may have to do with the Bush Administration's attempt to cut Amtrak funding.

» Amtrak has cancelled all its high-speed Acela trains until at least Thursday because, it says, cracks were discovered in some of the trains’ brake discs during routine inspections. I’m not sure what kind of problem this is, but it must be serious. Acela express trains account for 20 percent of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service.

 

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Posted on April 17, 2005 07:24 PM by amtrak126.
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April 15, 2005

Amtrak Reservations

amtrak pacific coast When reservations work, they're great. This traveler doesn't think Amtrak has the kinks worked out yet.

» One thing I’ve always liked about the Amtrak regional trains is that you can buy an unreserved ticket and use it whenever you wish. Well, it’s time to grow up: The days of unreserved freestylin’ are over!

Beginning April 25, all Amtrak northeast regional trains will require reserve tickets. Having a “reserve” ticket doesn’t mean you have an assigned seat. It just means the ticket is only valid on its assigned train. While this helps the railroad keep track of its customers, it makes rail travel less convenient.

Amtrak’s spin is that the new policy will guarantatee all riders a seat. Color me skeptical. I’ve twice ridden on Amtrak all-reserve trains where passengers had to stand because there were too few seats.

 

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Posted on April 15, 2005 07:27 PM by amtrak126.
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Acela Trains Halted

travel amtrak acela Brake problems have stopped Amtrak Acela trains. This means many customers had to find alternative means of travel. No estimate on service resumption.

Acela Fleet Grounded: And if you're planning any Acela travel up the East Coast, be aware that Amtrak has grounded express train service because of brake problems. Regional and Metroliner service is not affected.

 

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Morning Roundup: Non-Baseball Edition

Posted on April 15, 2005 07:27 PM by amtrak126.
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April 08, 2005

Train Danger in New Jersey

travel new jersey transit train Time to retrain the train engineers: red means stop.

“NJ Transit trains ran through stop signals six times in the past five months, an alarming spate of violations that has prompted the agency to begin retraining all 419 engineers, officials said. Amtrak intervened two weeks ago after a Midtown Direct engineer went through a red light near New York Penn Station, putting his train on the same track as an oncoming train. Officials said the two trains were moving at low speeds and came to a stop without hitting each other.”

The article goes on to say that four of the six signal violations occured entering or leaving Penn Station, which connects to the busy Hudson River tunnels shared by Amtrak and NJT.

 

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Time change in Union Square

Posted on April 8, 2005 07:27 PM by amtrak126.
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April 07, 2005

Better Than Amtrak

white swan I've been getting more and more frustrated with the state of the Amtrak trains. Even the Acela is not being maintained very well. It needn't be so. Check this out.

BTW, the train that we rode in has Amtrak beat hollow. It’s was clean, quiet and comfortable. Plus, we got free bottles of water and candy eggs. More on the water in a later post.

 

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The White Swan

Posted on April 7, 2005 07:17 PM by amtrak126.
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April 06, 2005

Support for Amtrak Service

amtrak train It is amazing to me how hard it is to sell support for Amtrak's service in rural america. I noticed Matt Singer's tip on this effort to build such support in Montana, and yet, even while the congregational delegation is vowing their support, they are unwilling to vote against substantial cuts in Amtrak's operating budget.

Governor Schweitzer and local officials are planning a whistlestop tour to highlight the plight of Amtrak and the effect cutting it will have on Montana. Will Burns show up? He’s talked about his support of Amtrak, but most recently voted against restoring $1.4 billion of its budget.

What's up with that?
 

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Whistlestop Tour: Will Burns Join?

Posted on April 6, 2005 07:32 PM by amtrak126.
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April 05, 2005

From The International Railway Traveler

travel amtrak surfliner Traveling besides Amtrak.

I listened to the two-CD set in my car, while driving to visit a relative. My route paralleled that of Amtrak's Surfliner, where Santa Fe trains used to ply the rails between San Diego and Los Angeles. As the occasional train rumbled by, it was easy to envision much of what Howle relates about the titans of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway: Cyrus K. Holliday, Fred Harvey, Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter and William Haskell Simpson.

 

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From The International Railway Traveler

Posted on April 5, 2005 07:22 PM by amtrak126.
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April 04, 2005

Does Amtrak Deserve Funding?

travel amtrak inside vista view train This blogger questions whether Amtrak funding makes any sense.
You mean the Amtrak that is largely used by wealthy business travelers (with poor people using Greyhound?) The Amtrak that wastes billions of dollars running nearly empty trains to the districts of influential congressmen? The Amtrak that spent untold millions purchasing new high-speed trains, but never got around to upgrading the tracks to accommodate higher speeds? An Amtrak, in short, that redistributes wealth upwards, is run in a corrupt manner, and is grossly mismanaged?
 

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The Volokh Conspiracy - -

Posted on April 4, 2005 11:51 AM by amtrak126.
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April 02, 2005

Travel Journal, Days Seven and Eight: London to New York

amtrak seacoast It's probably worse getting sick on a vacation than dying on a vacation. At least Amtrak got this traveller home alive.

The journey home was the biggest nightmare: rushing to the right Underground station, standing for an hour in a packed car, waiting in line at the Heathrow security checkpoint, and finally being crammed for seven hours into the airplane seat with my head about to burst from the changes in pressure. That night, finally home in New York, my fever spiked up again, and the next morning, I had to consume a boxful of flu medicine to remain upright long enough to catch the Amtrak to Baltimore, but it wasn�t until I started coughing up blood that I thought...

 

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Travel Journal, Days Seven and Eight: London to New York

Posted on April 2, 2005 06:16 PM by amtrak126.
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Dear Amtrak ...

travel amtrak letter Here's an original letter to Amtrak!

Now, of course I don’t expect this marriage of sorts to be built on love---not at first, anyway. So there is the matter of cost. Obviously, I can’t afford you on a regular basis, but I wondered, with your reputation and all, if you wouldn’t want the free advertisement. I’d be-deck myself in Amtrak apparel from head to toe. I’ll blog about your wonders regularly.

 

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Dear Amtrak,

Posted on April 2, 2005 06:16 PM by amtrak126.
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March 30, 2005

Knitting On Track

amtrak passenger car Knitting is in and it's on Amtrak, too.

These days, young women knit during their lunch breaks, on the subway and in cafes. Trendy coffee shops offer knitting classes and sell yarn. Across the country, young women get together to "stitch 'n' bitch," as a best-selling book is aptly titled. Amtrak is offering "Stitch 'n Ride" cars out of Oakland for people who prefer the click of needles to the buzz of cellphones.

 

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knitting in the news

Posted on March 30, 2005 10:22 PM by amtrak126.
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March 29, 2005

America's Most Walkable Cities

amtrak locomotive If Amtrak goes out of business, some of these cities will become less walkable (and driveable).

Tops on the list: Arlington, Virginia, where 23% of the city’s workforce uses public transit to get to work (many of them, no doubt, using a transit system paid for by federal tax dollars so they can commute to government jobs. Ironic that the federal government then wants to slash funding for so many other forms of public transportation, like Amtrak). San Francisco, Seattle and Portland (Oregon) round out the cities ranked more walkable than Boston. (Washington, D.C. was 6th; New York ranked 7th).

 

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Posted on March 29, 2005 10:55 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak Train Ride and Federal aid cuts

amtrak in station First time blogger and Amtrak rider decries the Bush Administration attempt to cut Amtrak spending.

This is my first BLOG. It will contain my experience in a corss-country Amtrak ride where I found that Mr. President Bush is planning to cut aid to Amtrak. My experience in Amtrak was great and I wish to express my disaproval of Mr. Bush plans to remove federal aid to Amtrak.

 

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Amtrak Train ride and Federal aid cuts

Posted on March 29, 2005 10:55 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak to Require Reservation on Northeast Trains

travel amtrak train in country on curve We'll be hearing more about this.

Amtrak sometimes oversells its popular regional trains between Boston and New York and New York and Washington, which permits unreserved ticket purchases but can leave passengers without seats.

 

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Amtrak to Require Reservation on Northeast Trains

Posted on March 29, 2005 08:56 PM by amtrak126.
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March 26, 2005

Amtrak Lake Shore Limited Runs Again

travel amtrak train rounds bend in missouri Amtrak's long-time Lake Shore runs again.

The on-again, off-again service to Elkhart of Amtrak's Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited is on again, as of April 25.

 

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Amtrak service to New York will open again Dave Overton Truth Staff Saturday, March 26, 2005

Posted on March 26, 2005 12:47 AM by amtrak126.
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March 24, 2005

Amtrak Train Breaks Down on Way to Boston

Hotel Eveything back on schedule at Amtrak by now.

Amtrak says only one other train was delayed by the incident and trains are back on schedule.

 

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Posted on March 24, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 23, 2005

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Says Northeast Corridor Will be Rebuilt

travel amtrak under bridge The President's Amtrak Reform Bill includes rebuilding the Northeast corridor, a high volume segment in the Amtrak system.

"Amtrak is dying, and if we continue down the current track, there is no hope of recovery," Mineta said. "We have a different vision where the Northeast Corridor becomes a world-class example of modern passenger rail travel."

 

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Posted on March 23, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 20, 2005

Strangling Amtrak Bad Idea

travel amtrak train rounds bend in missouri It will cost less to subsidize Amtrak than to build the roads needed if Amtrak fails.

Almost every year for more than three decades, federal budgets have contained less than Amtrak needed to operate more rationally, but more than the rail monopoly's detractors thought it deserved.

 

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Posted on March 20, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 18, 2005

Baucus, Burns Split on Amtrak Fund Vote

travel amtrak train at station Montana splits its Amtrak vote.

WASHINGTON - Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Wednesday voted in favor of an effort in the Senate to increase federal subsidies for the beleaguered Amtrak system, while Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., voted against it.

 

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Posted on March 18, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 16, 2005

Senate Doesn't OK Amtrak Funding Boost

travel amtrak train in country on curve The little engine that could might be a little smaller: news.yahoo.com:

The amendment, offered by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., would have added $1.04 billion to government financial assistance for the system. It failed on a 52-46 vote.

 

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Posted on March 16, 2005 03:01 PM by amtrak126.
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March 15, 2005

Democrats to Force Vote in Senate on Amtrak

travel amtrak riders Someone in the administration forgot that cars get a lot larger subsidy than trains: news.yahoo.com:

The administration wants to dismantle Amtrak and turn service decisions over to the states, which could contract service to private companies.

 

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Posted on March 15, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 14, 2005

Schumer Pushes For Amtrak

travel amtrak under bridge We saw this interesting item at www.wten.com:

(posted: March 14th, 11:07am)  With federal funding for Amtrak in jeopardy, New York's senior Senator is launching a campaign to save the railway.

 

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Posted on March 14, 2005 03:02 PM by amtrak126.
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March 13, 2005

Travel Guide: 3/13/05

travel amtrak under bridge We saw this interesting item at www.post-gazette.com:

Washington may be caught in a budget battle over the future of Amtrak, and rail service to and from Pittsburgh has been curtailed, but there are bargains to be had on the train.

 

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Posted on March 13, 2005 09:38 PM by amtrak126.
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Amtrak's allure: Passengers sold on ease of rail travel

Hotel We saw this interesting item at www.billingsgazette.com:

Lorine Schlecht hadn't ridden a train in four years, but the North Dakotan quickly regained her train legs during a stroll up and down the aisle of the Amtrak Empire Builder.

 

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Posted on March 13, 2005 06:09 PM by amtrak126.
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March 12, 2005

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Says Missouri Could Boost Inter-City Passenger Rail Under President s Amtrak

travel amtrack rounds curve We saw this interesting item at www.dot.gov:

The federal government would be a �full partner� in plans to boost inter-city passenger rail service in Missouri and across the Midwest under the Bush Administration�s proposal to reform Amtrak, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said during a news conference outside the railroad�s temporary passenger station in St. Louis.

 

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Says Missouri Could Boost Inter-City Passenger Rail Under President s Amtrak

Posted on March 12, 2005 06:08 PM by amtrak126.
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Mineta touts Amtrak changes in St. Louis

travel amtrak under bridge We saw this interesting item at www.showmenews.com:

Mineta spoke during a visit to the Amtrak station in St. Louis, promoting President George W. Bush�s passenger rail plan that calls for a 50-50 federal match for state investments to tracks, stations and trains and allows for the possibility of competition in service.

 

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Posted on March 12, 2005 05:08 PM by amtrak126.
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