Travel on the Amtrak Cascades from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Seattle, Washington, U.S.
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Ray and I had checked our luggage with the VIA Baggage Room. They will hold your bags for you
for $2 per bag. We were going to be taking some photos around the station and then meeting with
people at the Rocky Mountaineer Railroad. Ray and I did not want to be dragging our luggage
all around the building with us.
We picked up our luggage at about 5:20 P.M. and brought it over to the express check-in line
for Business Class passengers. The first person to receive us gave us our seat assignments,
our Customs Declaration forms, and our snack-pack vouchers. The next person we had to pass
through was a security guard who asked to see our driver's licenses and had us sign a register
with our name and address. The third person we had to pass by was U.S. Immigration Services.
He just wanted to see my driver's license also. We would still have to go through U.S. Customs
while onboard the train.
There were already a couple of other people in business class when we got to our seats. I had
forgotten about whether the Talgo had electric outlets, but these new sets definitely have an
outlet at every seat in Business Class!
I'm always impress by the roominess of the Talgo. It is obvious on the tubular Amfleet cars why
they seem so short on space. Whoever thought the interior of trains should have the same look
and feel as airplanes robbed passenger cars of most of the benefits that they have over planes!
The tubular Amfleet construction resulted in limited headroom, limited overhead storage and
inadequate window space. The Horizon Cars are boxy like the Talgo Cars, but they still give the
feeling of being in a vehicle that is tight on space.
In the Talgo Car, you feel like you are in a very comfortable lounge. Each row contains two
seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other side of the aisle. The pairs of seats
have a large armrest between them which opens up into a holder for two cups! Having only 3
seats instead of 4 certainly adds to the feeling of roominess. But there seems to be more
than that. The overhead clearance is much better than on the Amfleet or Horizon Cars, but there
is much more room to store overhead luggage. Even a decent size suitcase should fit comfortably
over your seat in the Talgo. The large windows also add to the openness of the car. In Amfleet
and Horizon cars the door leading from the seats to the vestibule appears to just barely fit
where the seats and overhead luggage racks end. On the Talgo, the door between the seats and
the vestibule is an electronic sliding glass door that occupies only a small amount of the area
of the wall in which it is mounted.
MP PPPPPP CH CC FFFFFFF DP STA MILE YYYYMMDD TTTT (SSSS) - City/Comment
MP 0156.0 CH 66 161.100 DP VAC 0156 19990921 1800 (1140) - Vancouver, BC
While the train is on segmented rail, the Talgo does tend to sway a lot and give a very jittery
ride. Once the train gets onto continuous welded rail, the ride is as smooth as glass!
Different people might have different opinions on this one, but my own personal view is that
passengers should not travel with children in Business Class unless they know that they are very
well behaved during travel. When my two girls were younger, I did travel with them in Custom
Class. But I know that they are very well behaved and very quiet on the train when it is just
our family traveling. However, I won't travel in Business Class if they are bringing friends
along as I know that things can get a bit more noisey.
There was a mother traveling with two small children between one and three years old. These
children would wander up and down the aisle in Business Class and climb up on various seats.
The mother constantly had to retrieve the children and bring them back to their proper seats,
which was accompanied by a lot of protest and screaming. There would also be sporadic outbursts
during the entire trip.
I've raised two children of my own and know how they and the friends they travel with can get.
If I travel in regular Coach Class, I expect to find a lot of children traveling with their
parents and expect the behavior that is bound to accompany children. I think it is great to
bring children on the train. Almost all children are exciting about their first train ride and
find it hard to contain themselves. The memories of train travels taken by people when they
were children often turn them into lifelong train riders. Thus, I certainly want to encourage
parents to travel with their children by train!
When I went out to restaurants with my children, we'd always go to a "family restaurant". We
knew there would be a lot of other families there and we'd be neither surprised nor upset
when the atmosphere turned out to be what it is like anywhere a lot of children can be found.
However, we would not take our children to a fine restaurant frequented almost exclusively
by adults. Those restaurants have a quiet and romantic atmosphere. We felt it would be an
inappropriate place to bring children, even though we could afford to do so. In the same way,
it seems inappropriate to bring children into Business Class, especially ones that are noisey
and who run uncontrollably up and down the aisle climbing on everything.
I think one of the reasons people pay extra to ride Business Class is to get away from
the noise and traffic that can often by found in regular coach. There are fewer people in
Business Class than regular Coach which is why there is so much less traffic up and down the
aisles. Since the full upgrade price has to be paid for children just like for adults, few
parents purchase the Business Class upgrade when traveling with their children. That does
lead me to wonder why those few families that do upgrade to Business Class actually do so. It
can't be to get away from the noise and disruptions of the regular coach section since they
are one of the major contributors to those factors! Children usually don't like much of the
food in the snack-pack as it is mostly non-sweet crackers, cheese, fruit and bread. As healthy
and popular with adults as these types of snack are now, it is not something I would have looked
forward to as a snack when I was a kid! I don't think it is the express check in as I think
Amtrak usually offers pre-boarding for families traveling with children in major terminals
like Seattle and Vancouver.
So, I'm not sure exactly what advantage a family gets by traveling Business Class. I know it
gives the Business Class travelers a bit of the regular coach experience that they paid
extra to avoid.
MP 0134.8 CH 66 161.100 DP --- 0135 19990921 0000 (----) - Detector
-- ------ -- -- ------- -- --- ---- 19990921 1903 (----) - White Rock, BC
At Blaine, the train stops and picks up agents from U.S.Customs. They collect the Customs
Declaration Forms, ask a few questions, and might search your luggage. The Customs Agents
travel with the train so as not to delay the train.
The U.S. Customs Agents were very friendly, they asked about what we had to declare, which
was less than $200 between the two of us. They asked if we had a good time in Canada. Since
we were the last people on the train for them to get to, they spent a little extra time with
us. We talked about our web site a little, but since neither agent gets on the internet much,
we talked more about the trip we just completed on the Rocky Mountaineer.
I'm watching the overhead monitor. It is continuously updated with our current location,
expected arrival time, current time, current temperature, and next stop. There is also a map
of our route shown with the distance we have traveled highlighted along with a flashing
indicator for our currently location. My guess is that this current information is coming from
the GPS on the train.
MP 0119.6 CH 76 161.250 AR --- 0120 19990921 1105 (----) - US Canada Border
MP 0110.5 CH 76 161.250 DP --- 0111 19990921 1055 (----) - Detector
MP 0097.0 CH 76 161.250 DP BEL 0098 19990921 1030 (0952) - Bellingham, WA
MP 0091.6 CH 76 161.250 -- --- 0092 19990921 0000 (----) - Tunnel No. 21 - 0715 ft
MP 0088.8 CH 76 161.250 -- --- 0089 19990921 0000 (----) - Tunnel No. 20 - 0328 ft
MP 0088.6 CH 76 161.250 -- --- 0089 19990921 0000 (----) - Tunnel No. 19 - 0141 ft
MP 0083.6 CH 76 161.250 -- --- 0084 19990921 0000 (----) - Tunnel No. 18 - 1113 ft
MP 0081.9 CH 76 161.250 DP --- 0082 19990921 0000 (----) - Detector
MP 0066.8 CH 76 161.250 DP MVW 0072 19990921 0958 (0922) - Mt. Vernon, WA
MP 0058.9 CH 76 161.250 DP --- 0064 19990921 0000 (----) - Detector
MP 1783.3 CH 66 161.100 -- --- 0032 19990921 0000 (----) - Everett Tunnel 16 - 0.4 mi.
MP 1783.9 CH 66 161.100 DP EVR 0033 19990921 0907 (0834) - Everett, WA
MP 0029.8 CH 66 161.100 -- --- 0030 19990921 0000 (0858) - Addl Track: Boeing Plant
MP 0027.2 CH 66 161.100 -- --- 0027 19990921 0847 (0855) - Detector
MP 0017.6 CH 66 161.100 DP EDM 0018 19990921 0841 (0812) - Edmonds, WA
MP 0004.6 CH 66 161.100 -- --- 0005 19990921 0000 (----) - Detector
MP 0001.1 CH 70 161.160 -- --- 0001 19990921 0000 (----) - Seattle Tunnel 17 - 5141 ft
MP 0000.0 CH 70 161.160 DP SEA 0000 19990921 0810 (0745) - Seattle, WA
- MP = Mile Post
- PPPPPP = Mile Post mileage
- CH CC = Radio Channel
- FFFFFFF = Radio Frequency
- AR = Arrival
- DP = Departure
- -- = Train skips station without stopping
- STA = 3 letter code of station
- cal = Caltrain
- met = Metrolink
- MILE = Miles from starting point
- YYYYMMDD = Year, Month and Day of Travel
- TTTT = Actual Time
- SSSS = Scheduled Time
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