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Amtrak Capitol Limited & Southwest Chief
Through Train From Washington,DC to Fullerton,CA
With A Stop & Name Change in Chicago,IL

Steve's Rail Travel on the Amtrak Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief from Washington,DC to Fullerton,CA with a stop and change of the train name in Chicago,IL.

Click here if this is the first time youhave ever read one of my travelogues.

This train is a coast-to-coast through train from Washington,D.C. to Los Angeles, California. Although it will change its name, number and even service crew in Chicago, the cars of this train will be going all the way from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California.

Select one of the following sets of photographs:

Amtrak Capitol Limited

Time Format: Scheduled Time (Actual Time)

SAT 4:05 PM (04:05 PM) ET 10/03/98 Washington, DC

CH 89 161.445 Washington, DC
CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 11.6 Track 1

SAT 04:28 PM (04:28 PM) ET 10/03/98 Rockville, MD

CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 24.3 Track 1

SAT 05:13 PM (05:13 PM) ET 10/03/98 Harpers Ferry, WV

CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 58.5 Track 1

SAT 05:39 PM (05:39 PM) ET 10/03/98 Martinsburg, WV

SAT 05:39 PM (05:57 PM) ET 10/03/98 Martinsburg, WV

The Engineer felt there was something wrong with the brakes so we stopped here for a while so the Conductors could walk the train and check for any durbrie interfering with the air brake system.

Nothing was found wrong with the air brake system, so we are proceeding after having lost about 18 minutes in Martinsburg. However, the brakes still don't seem to be responding correctly according to the engineer.

When the Conductors were inspecting the brakes, I noticed that one of the Conductors was a woman. There are a lot of women Conductors working for Amtrak, but I am only mentioning this because on this particular trip we also have a woman Engineer and the current Dispatcher is a woman. I don't have a problem with this, but what do you think railroad men of 100 or even 50 years ago would say if you asked them if there would ever be women working as Engineers, Conductors and Dispatchers?

What are marker lights? Someone just reported to the Conductor, maybe a Dispatcher, that the marker lights are on in the last two sleeping cars and in the front baggage car. The Conductor said he'd take care of the ones in the rear two sleepers, but both parties agreed that it would not be possible to get to the ones in the front Baggage Car until the train stopped.

CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 117.0 Track 1
CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 117.4 Track 2
CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 140.7 Track 1
CH 08 160.230 CSX Detector: MP 162.4 Track 1

SAT 07:17 PM (07:28 PM) ET 10/03/98 Cumberland, MD

SAT 07:17 PM (07:32 PM) ET 10/03/98 Cumberland, MD

CH 08 CSX Detector: MP 187.0 Track 1

This Superliner I Sleeping Car is another of the refurbished models. They seem to have removed or "covered up" as much of the 1970's earthtone tans, golds, beige and greens as they could. All of the fabric has been replaced with the blue and purple colors which match the color scheme of the Superliner II Sleeping Cars. The walls have been covered with grayish panels.

Various repairs have been made to the interior, some which are quite creative. The left closet door in the Family Bedrooms has often been a problem. The latch has been quite difficult to work. I thought the door was completely broken in this room until I realized what the repair crew had done to it. They replaced the latch with a simple sliding bolt! It looks like the kind of sliding bolt that was very common in the 1950's to lock a room, especially something like a bathroom, from the inside. They mounted the slide so that it slides up into the closet shelf to hold the door in place, then the bolt handle slides into its slot to keep the bolt from falling down and out of the hole. I don't know how well this will stand up in the long run with all the shaking of the train, but it worked very well on our trip! If they replaced the bathroom locks with something similar, I think we would all have more faith in a locked bathroom door on the train. But, on the other hand, that type of lock does not allow for any way that a Car Attendant could enter the room in an emergency.

CH 08 CSX Detector: MP 248.2 Track 2
CH 08 CSX Detector: MP 218.5? Track 1
CH 08 CSX Detector: MP 239.8

SAT 09:36 PM (09:47 PM) ET 10/03/98 Connellsville,PA

CH 08 160.230 CP 175 Track 1

SAT 11:31 PM (??:?? PM) ET 10/03/98 Pittsburgh,PA

SAT 11:50 PM (11:50 PM) ET 10/03/98 Pittsburgh,PA

CH 46 160.800 Detector
CH 46 160.800 Detector: Conrail
CH 64 161.070 East of Pittsburgh, PA
CH 46 160.800 Further East of Pittsburgh, PA
CH 64 161.070 Further East of Pittsburgh, PA

Your best bet at this point is to program your scanner to watch both Channel 46 (160.800) and 64 (161.070). I don't know exactly where the transition is between these nor if it goes back and forth a couple of times. I do know for sure that it is Channel 64 (161.070) heading east out of Toledo, Ohio for about 5 minutes and then switches to Channel 46 (160.800). You may here the Engineer and Conductor say "Go to Channel One" as they switch from 161.070 to 160.800.

SUN 01:29 AM (??:?? AM) ET 10/04/98 Alliance,OH

SUN 02:53 AM (??:?? AM) ET 10/04/98 Cleveland,OH

SUN 03:23 AM (??:?? AM) ET 10/04/98 Elyria,OH

SUN 04:54 AM (??:?? AM) ET 10/04/98 Toledo,OH Ch 64 161.070

SUN 05:29 AM (06:10 AM) ET 10/04/98 Toledo,OH Ch 64 161.070

About 5 minutes east of Toledo you may hear the Engineer or Conductor say on the radio: "Go to channel one" as they switch from 161.070 to 160.800 (AAR Channel 46).

CH 46 160.800 Detector: Conrail Holland OH Track 1
CH 46 160.800 Detector: MP 311 Delta OH Track 1
CH 46 160.800 Detector: Lacion OH Track 1 80 MPH
CH 46 160.800 Detector: Bryan OH Track 39 MPH

CH 46 160.800 Detector: Butler

SUN 05:43 AM (06:30 AM) ET 10/04/98 Waterloo,IN

CH 46 160.800 Kendelville IN 78 MPH 09:24 AM ET
CH 46 160.800 Millersburg IN 77 MPH 09:40 AM ET

CH 46 160.800 Elkhart IN 39 MPH 09:54 AM ET

SUN 06:33 AM (07:17 AM) ET 10/04/98 Elkhart,IN

CH 46 160.800 Detector: Conrail, MP 431 Track 1

SUN 07:00 AM (07:38 AM) ET 10/04/98 South Bend,IN

CH 46 160.800 Detector
CH 46 160.800 Detector: Conrail, Rolling Prarie

SUN 08:04 AM (??:?? AM) CT 10/04/98 Hammond-Whiting,IN

CH 46 160.800 Detector: CP 518 Chicago IL
CH 08 160.305 No Detector, just a change in channel.

Right after that detector, they immediately switched over to Channel 8 160.305.

SUN 09:40 AM (09:39 AM) CT 10/04/98 Chicago,IL

We arrived one minute ahead of schedule into Chicago!

Amtrak Southwest Chief

SUN 04:40 PM (04:40 PM) CT 10/04/98 Chicago, IL CH 13 160.305

Good News! Amtrak has a new Route Guide for the Southwest Chief! If you have read my previous travelogues you will remember how I was complaining that the new Route Guides were shorter than the old ones and left out a lot of details. These new Routes Guides are an entire 56 page book! Open one side and you have a 26 page Route Guide of the westbound journey from Los Angeles to Chicago. Turn the book upside down and open the book that way and you have a 26 page Route Guide of the eastbound journey from Chicago to Los Angeles! In the middle of the book is a map of the route.

Actually, these we found these new Route Guides for the Southwest Chief in our Family Bedroom when we boarded the Capitol Limited in Washington, D.C.! We put them in our luggage before we left our room in Chicago and found 2 more in our bedroom when we reboarded the Southwest Chief!

For those of you that are not aware of it, the same equipment is used for both the Capitol Limited and the Southwest Chief. After the Capitol Limited arrives in Chicago in the morning, it just sits in the station all day. They change crews, change the number on the train and change the name of the train from the Capitol Limited to the Southwest Chief. The train then continues on to California under the Southwest Chief name. The exact same procedure is used for the eastbound train, just in reverse.

So, even though the Sunset Limited is advertised as being the only Coast-to-Coast Amtrak route, the equipment of the Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief also goes Coast-to-Coast with a name, number and crew change in Chicago. For the last couple of years until May 17, 1998, you were actually allowed to stay on the train and could ride all the way from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, California without leaving your room or your seat! I did just that on my last trip from Washington, DC to California.

During the first year of operation of this through equipment, Amtrak had not programmed their computer to try real hard to keep you in the same room for both the Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief segments of the trip. I made this trip all the way from Coast-to-Coast 3 times. I was able to stay in the same room all the way all three times because: (a) I book so far in advance that almost all rooms on the train are still open, and (b) I use Slotsy Tours & Travel to book my reservations, a travel agency that knows how to use the reservations computer to select any of the rooms on the train remaining available. However, just about everyone else that was ticketed through Chicago had to play musical rooms and be switched from one room to another in Chicago!

During the last 6 months of through-bookings, Amtrak modified the computer program so that it would keep most people in the same room who had booked travel through the Chicago layover. Unfortunately, now that passengers and luggage can no longer remain on the train, this fixed feature of the reservation system isn't much of an advantage. However, as a curious note, this feature of the reservation system to try to keep passengers booked to the same room through Chicago is probably still in place.

Even though we were required to leave the train along with all our luggage during the layover in Chicago, we did have the exact same room for both segments of our trip! I marked the bottom of the tissue box in our Family Room and placed a temporary sticker where it would not be seen by anyone in our room. When we reboarded the train as the Southwest Chief, the markings were still on the bottom of the tissue box and the sticker was still where I put it! In addition to that, a sock that one of my girls had lost in the bedding was found in the room later in the day!

CH 13 160.305
CH 66 161.100

Communication about attaching the express freight cars is done on Channel 13. Once the train is ready to go, they switch to the road channel, Channel 66.

The train left the station right on schedule at 4:40 PM, but remained in the yard until 5:20 PM while the express freight cars were added. I heard something about 9 of them being added. As we pulled out of the yard I did notice that we were being pulled by 2 Genesis locomotives and 2 F40 locomotives.

The Onboard Service Chief came to each room and introduced himself and shook everyone's hands. His name is Rod Moore.

I checked through my past travelogues and found that our Sleeping Car Attendant, Ralf Carrington, is the same attendant that I had on the Southwest Chief back on February 4, 1998. I mentioned this to him as well as telling him the name of the On Board Service Chief. Both that time and this time he said we had one of the best Amtrak Chefs onboard. I didn't get a chance to make note of his name last time, but I got it from him this time. The Chef is Ulysis Harper. He also mentioned that we have a good Cafe Car Attendant, Sam.

CH 85 161.385 - A change is made from Channel 66 to Channel 85 about 5 minutes before reaching Naperville.

SUN 05:45 PM (5:50 PM) CT 10/04/98 Naperville, IL

CH 85 161.385 Naperville, IL
CH 85 161.385 Detector: Sandwich
CH 85 161.385 Detector: Mendota

SUN 06:35 PM (06:40 PM) CT 10/04/98 Mendota, IL

SUN 06:57 PM (07:00 PM) CT 10/04/98 Princeton, IL

Ch 51 160.875 - Switch 5 minutes before arriving into Galesburg.

SUN 07:53 PM (07:55 PM) CT 10/04/98 Galesburg, IL CH 51 160.875

CH 51 160.875 MP 188.3 08:30 PM CT
CH 36 160.650 MP 16?.? 08:50 PM CT
CH 36 160.650 MP 226.9 09:01 PM CT

SUN 08:53 PM (08:53 PM) CT 10/04/98 Fort Madison, IA

CH 30 160.560 - Change to Channel 30 on departure from Fort Madison
CH 30 160.560 MP 226.9 84 axles
CH 30 160.560 MP 241.4 North Track

We were making great time up to this point, even arriving at Fort Madison several minutes early. However, we have now been placed behind a freight train and the crew is a bit concerned about us being able to remain on time.

SUN 09:57 PM (10:07 PM) CT 10/04/98 La Plata, MO

SUN 09:57 PM (03:10 PM) CT 10/04/98 La Plata, MO

There is really a lot of rain, lightning and thunder right now! The crew called ahead to the station to let them know they might want to put on some rain gear because it is coming down so hard. It is raining so hard that they are backing up the train to let off some of the people in the Sleepers closer to the station so they won't get so wet. Someone said that there should not be a problem backing up the train and that they would take responsibility for the reverse movement. They said that there was no need for people to get wet unnecessarily.

11:10 PM Channel 85 We are still in the La Plata Amtrak Station! There is high water conditions further down this route. First I heard it over the radio and later an announcement was made over the P.A. system that we are going to stay here until it is decided which route we will take to proceed. I don't mind the train taking a different route, especially a route that hasn't seen passenger trains for years! I just hope they don't transfer us to buses. I've had enough of that for one trip.

I have my railroad map of the United States with me. If the high water problem is beyond Bucklin, then we have a couple of different routes that we could take to get around the problem. If the problem is before Bucklin, then the only way we can get around it would be to go backwards almost back to Ft. Madison before continuing east again. I don't know if they would do that. Ft. Madison is 78 miles and over an hour back from here. They certainly could not do that in reverse. They'd have to send some engines down to pull us back that far. Plus, considering that we have enough Amtrak express freight on this train to require 4 locomotives in the front, they'd have to add a good number of locomotives on the back of this train to pull it.

11:58 PM SUN OCT 04 1998 Still at the La Plata Amtrak Station! The washout is west of what sounds like "Eaton". I don't see that on my railroad map. However, they are talking about us continuing on to Bucklin and taking the subdivision from there. I see that on my map. I assume we will switch off and head west at Bucklin to Brookfield and then head southeast though Sumner and then on to Kansas City where we will rejoin our original routing. They said that this is going to take a while.

02:45 AM MON OCT 05 1998 Still at the La Plata Amtrak Station! Actually, we are a few feet east of the station. They had pulled the train back past an intersection earlier so that the crossing would not be blocked while we were waiting to have this problem resolved. The Amtrak crew and Dispatcher are concerned because a replacement crew was suppose to show up at 1:15 AM. They called the Highway Patrol and found that no accidents have been reported in this area. Actually, we had to wait for two crews to show up. First, we had to wait for the "pilot" crew. Since no Amtrak crew has ever worked these tracks which are not used by passenger trains, they had to wait for a crew to show up that has been qualified on these tracks. Normally, an Engineer cannot take a train onto tracks on which he has not been trained and "qualified." Thus, a "pilot" crew qualified on this route has to be in the cab. Then, because we've been in this station for so long, a second problem came up. Our own crew was running out of hours! The Engineer and Conductor can work a maximum of 12 straight hours before they must stop or they violate federal law. Thus, we also had to wait for a relief crew to arrive.

03:10 AM The pilot and relief crew are here and we are finally under way again, about 5 hours late after having arrived into the station on time!

Slight correction. I guess they have the relief crew onboard now, not the pilot crew. However, they have located the pilot crew and they are waiting a bit further down the line for our train, prior to Bucklin where we will branch west for the detour. The current crew will take the train to that location where the pilot crew will join our train. From what I can tell, the relief crew arrived in their own car. They offered the current crew to borrow their car, but the current crew decided to remain onboard and continue in charge of the train for now since their hours are not up yet.

08:36 AM We are still quite a way from Kansas City. Optimistically, we are running at least 8 hours late. I heard they are considering turning the train near Kansas City and making this train into #4. Evidently train #4 is sitting outside Kansas City and can't get into the station because of heavy flooding. They are considering turning that train where it is and making it into train #3. Thus, buses would be used again to swap passengers between the trains.

I think the above is an option they are going to try their best to avoid. Both trains carry a lot of express freight cars and that freight cannot be bused to the other train. The eastbound freight could probably be left in Kansas City, but that would leave the question as to how this freight would ever get east since almost every Southwest Chief carries its maximum capacity of express freight cars. The westbound freight would be even a bigger problem. They wouldn't be able to set out the express cars in the middle of nowhere, so they'd have to take those cars back east again, if not to Chicago, then to some intermediate stop.

Here is the current situation. Our train has been given permission to proceed from mile post 170.2 to 171 at restricted speed. They are having a track inspection crew go immediately to mile post 174. There, they will watch our train slowly go over the track in that area to make sure the train goes through OK. From there, I guess we are clear to proceed to Kansas City. After we get past that point, the track inspection crew is to go immediately to mile post 156. I don't know if that is on the east or west side of Kansas City and if that is where Train #4 is being held.

09:38 AM - Mile Post 258.0 I think we must be past the rough spot. We went back up to speed. The detector gave the call letters of the railroad, but I could not make out what they were. They did not sound like BNSF. I don't see any letters on my railroad map other than BN and ATSF in this area. It is possible that the detector said "Santa Fe."

Everything around here is covered with water. Farm fields, roads, and even the telephone poles are sitting in pretty deep water! We just past a sign that said "Liberty Bend" and the Engineer said: "Amtrak 16 West clear Junkyard Out" and then "Amtrak 16 West advance approach East Bolton."

The Pilot Engineer has been instructed to take over eastbound Southwest Chief Train #4 once we reach Kansas City. As long as he has enough hours left in his day, this would make sense as this Pilot Engineer is qualified on the route that we just traveled in eastbound Train #3. I'm crossing my fingers, but so far it looks like we may be continuing on in this train without having to be bused over to the other train.

09:51 AM We have just passed or gone on to Birmingham Main 1. Looks like we just passed a repair crew off the side of the tracks and I was able to take a photograph of them.

09:56 AM Channel 22 We just went buy the strangest place! The place is called: "Subtropolis." There were several big rail entrances that went into the side of a hill. Each entrance had a garage door, but they were all open. Tracks went right inside each one of them. There was a guard booth and a few security vehicles here and there. The place looked like it was designed to withstand a nuclear attack the way it was built right into the hillside. This place was not to far before Kansas City.

10:00 AM Channel 66 (161.100)

MON 12:28 AM (10:40 AM) CT 10/05/98 Kansas City, MO

10:00 AM Channel 66 (161.100) Well, here is the story. They did decide to swap passengers between Southwest Chief westbound train #3 and eastbound train #4. They made an announcement over the P.A. that the eastbound train #3 was stuck 15 miles outside of Kansas City and could not come into the station because of high water. They told us to get ready to go as they would put our suitcases out on the platform to be taken to the other train. The other train was said to be waiting for us at Wideman, 15 miles down the track.

We were out on the platform along with our luggage and all the other passengers and their luggage by 11 AM. Unfortunately, it was a couple of hours before the buses started to come to swap passengers. And, to make matters worse, we were the last sleeping car to be taken onto the buses. We didn't actually get onto a bus until about 1 PM, 2 hours later! Then, our bus got lost on the way to the train! The bus had to turn around and backtrack.

Once we got the point where we were to meet the train, it turned out that it really didn't matter that we were the last to arrive. All the buses, baggage and passengers were waiting by the tracks, but there was no train! The train had left to refuel and wouldn't be back for another half hour. Thus, we just waited on the buses with everyone else. I kept listening to the radio so that I would have some advance notice of the train's arrival.

At about 2:30 PM, I heard conversation relating to the approach of the train and got the kids to get ready to leave the bus. This was good because the kids usually take longer than everyone to get moving. By getting them off the bus first, we had a fighting chance of getting to our Sleeping Car at the same time as everyone else!

The train began to load at 3 PM. They had to load one car at a time starting with the #32 Sleeping Car. They loaded the train at a grade crossing. This was the only area near the train that was not either mud or uneven gravel. This made the loading process go very slow. Each person had to get their own luggage off the buses and carry the luggage across the muddy field to the road. This was a bit hard for us, but we managed. The children can each roll a suitcase, but they have difficulty trying to lift them up and carry them. So, I took two and my oldest daughter took two and the other two kids took the other carry-on bags.

While waiting on the road for our turn to board the third sleeping car, I saw that the Chief of Onboard Services was Bob Stone! He was the Chief of Onboard Services on the trip that I took on the Southwest Chief on March 26, 1998. You can read more about that trip by clicking on the travelogue for that trip. I figured Bob would recognize me, but was still surprised that he greeted me by name!

We finally boarded the train at about 3:30 PM. It would still take about another half hour before they finished boarding all the coach passengers. Over the P.A., Bob apologized for the difficulties that we had been through and welcomed everyone aboard. He announced that this was crew #8 of train #3.

It seems like there was a lot of confusion related to this swap of passengers between the two trains. The onboard crew thought that they were going to be bused with the train #4 passengers to Kansas City and continue on with that train. They had been told that the passengers from our train were going to be bused the rest of the way, or something like that. Thus, not realizing that the train had to be prepared and supplied for a new set of passengers, no supplies were ordered and the rooms were no ready when we boarded!

It is unfortunate that there was a misunderstanding somewhere. I don't know if Kansas City stocks linens and towels, but with the 6 hours that the two Southwest Chief trains were stuck near Kansas City, there would have been plenty of time to send a truck down to the trains with lots of supplies for the Cafe and Dining Cars. We've been told that the Cafe Car has very few supplies remaining and that the Dining Car does not have enough supplies for all the meals between here and Albuquerque.

I had thought that these trains were restocked with food supplies in Kansas City and Albuquerque, but I seem to be getting indications that these trains are only stocked at their starting points of Los Angeles and Chicago and do not get new supplies enroute. Thus, this train only had enough supplies for breakfast and lunch since it was expected into Chicago this afternoon! I guess the people that transferred to our train are much better off since they will only be traveling for a few hours and will have enough food to have taken them all the way to Los Angeles!

They are not going to be serving lunch today. Unfortunately, two of the children did not get up for breakfast and they closed the Cafe car around 10 AM when they started to plan this swap of passengers. Thus, they haven't had anything to eat today except for one candy bar each that we had taken along for the trip. When they started serving dinner, they started with 20 passengers in our Sleeping Car. One of the children was so hungry that she went to eat with 3 strangers rather than waiting another 30 minutes for a table that could accommodate all 4 of us!

MON 01:03 AM (04:49 PM) CT 10/05/98 Kansas City, MO

We started to roll out of where we boarded the buses 15 miles south of Kansas City at about 4:00 PM. However, we were delayed by some freight traffic for another 49 minutes and thus I'm considering our departure time from Kansas City to be 4:49 PM, 15 hours and 6 minutes late!

I just found out why one of the girls went to eat without the rest of us. She misunderstood and thought that the 20 people they were letting go from our car to the diner were going to be the last people they would be able to feed with the remaining supplies!

Actually, she made the right decision to go to eat when given the early opportunity. By the time we got to the dining car, there was nothing left that we liked. She got to eat a steak. They were out of steaks by the time we were called. My children each ordered the hamburger patty which is served without a bun or salad. It does come with mashed potatoes and a few vegetables, but no salad. Thus, after no breakfast and no lunch, my kids were still pretty hungry after that meager meal! But that wasn't the worst of it: They were also all out of deserts!

Overall, dinner service was kind of strange. The person to wait on us seemed upset. We arrived into the diner at 6:15 PM and were given a roll. At 6:30 PM we were given menus. At 6:40 PM we were given salads and our order was taken. Finally at 6:50, our food arrived! By the time that we got to the end of our meal, the Dining Car Attendant seemed in a better mood.

Usually I can find a couple of things on the menu that I like, but I had a problem this time. Without the steak option, I could either go for the pork ribs or the two vegetarian burritos. The Coast Starlight does a great job with the vegetarian burritos, but they did a pretty poor job on this train. I should have gone with the pork ribs as the vegetable burritos were pretty bad. I only had a couple of bites and left the rest. After dinner, we all got more food from the Snack area in the Sightseer Lounge Car. Two of us ordered a pizza and the others bought candy. There wasn't much of a selection.

CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 18.5

The Sleeping Car that we are now in is a true Superliner II Sleeping Car. The bottom of the beds are covered with blue carpet material as well as having the standard Superliner II decor throughout the train. One thing I meant to mention about the refurbished Superliner I Cars was that they replaced some, but not all, the orange curtains in the Deluxe Bedroom with green curtains like they have in the Superliner II Deluxe Bedrooms. It looked a bit odd to still have orange curtains in some of the rooms, but not in other rooms.

CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 41.3

MP 44 - An announcement was just made that we are taking a route that the Southwest Chief only takes when there are problems. I'm having difficulty once again finding this alternate route on our map, unless a river suddenly shows up on the south side of the train. The only alternate route that I can find which also leads to our next stop, Lawrence, is the one on the north side of the river.

05:30 PM to 06:02 PM We've been sitting again waiting for freight traffic to pass. Once a train loses the slot that has been allocated for it, trying to get the train through in a timely manner gets even more difficult.

MON 07:17 PM (07:17 PM) CT 10/05/98 Emporia, KS

MON 02:04 AM (00:00 PM) CT 10/05/98 Lawrence, KS

MON 02:38 AM (00:00 PM) CT 10/05/98 Topeka, KS

Emporia was a special stop for the Southwest Chief. It does not normally stop here. Evidently, the train took a short cut from Kansas City to Emporia, bypassing Lawrence and Topeka!

CH ?? ???.??? MP 134.0

MON 04:56 AM (08:14 PM) CT 10/05/98 Newton, KS

MON 04:56 AM (09:09 PM) CT 10/05/98 Newton, KS

CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 192.1

MON 05:33 AM (09:46 PM) CT 10/05/98 Hutchinson, KS

CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 247.9
CH 30 160.560 Detector
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 341.0

MON 07:13 AM (??:?? PM) CT 10/05/98 Dodge City, KS

MON 07:56 AM (TUE ??:?? AM) CT 10/06/98 Garden City, KS

CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 418.1
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 439.2
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 466.1

CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 499.0

MON 08:11 AM (TUE ??:?? AM) MT 10/06/98 Lamar, CO

CH 36 160.650
CH 32 160.590 La Junta, CO

MON 09:29 AM (TUE ??:?? AM) MT 10/06/98 La Junta, CO

CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 618.5

MON 10:45 AM (TUE ??:?? AM) MT 10/06/98 Trinidad, CO

CH 32 160.579 Detector: MP 649.8
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 657.0

MON 11:52 AM (TUE ??:?? PM) MT 10/06/98 Raton, NM

CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 675.8
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 702.1
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 728.0
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 753.6

MON 01:37 PM (TUE 06:07 AM) MT 10/06/98 Las Vegas, NM

An ambulance had to take one of the coach passengers from the train in Las Vegas, New Mexico. That delayed us another 40 minutes. We are now running 17 hours and 10 minutes behind schedule.

MON 01:37 PM (TUE 06:47 AM) MT 10/06/98 Las Vegas, NM

CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 774.9

CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 809.2 03:03 PM MT

MON 03:22 PM (TUE 08:27 AM) MT 10/05/98 Lamy, NM

CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 843.4
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 874.5

They still had some supplies for breakfast, but not enough to issue menus. We had our choice of either eggs, pancakes or cold cereal. Two of us had scrambled eggs, one had pancakes, and one had frosted flakes. Everyone got the only side available, bacon. A few home fry potatoes were served on each plate. It looked like less than they usually serve and I'm guessing that is because they are trying to stretch the number of potatoes that are remaining. There wasn't any toast available. They still had orange juice, apple juice, milk and coffee available. They also gave everyone a biscuit. From still being a bit hungry from yesterday and for fear that much might not be available for lunch and dinner, we all pretty much cleared our plates!

MON 04:52 PM (TUE 09:30 AM) MT 10/06/98 Albuquerque, NM

The engineer stopped the train way up at the very end of the platform as there was a sign there that said "Stop Locomotive Here." That would have been a good place to stop if this train had the usual number of express freight cars. But, since there are no express freight cars at the head of this train, the passenger cars ended up very far away from the station. Passengers had to walk all the way to the very end of the train to get to the phones, station, and tables where you can purchase Native American jewelry. Since the coach cars were down the end of the train, I guess they didn't have too far to walk. The children each purchased one piece of jewelry at $10 each. I had plenty of time to get the numbers of all the cars and take a few photographs.

I hope they managed to stock up on more food for the Dining and Cafe Cars. As of this morning, they said that they had not yet had a chance to restock.

Although we left the Albuquerque station at about 10 AM, we had to sit in the freight yard for quite a while waiting for freight traffic to clear. We didn't start to roll out of the freight yard until 10:15 AM.

MON 05:17 PM (TUE 10:00 AM) MT 10/06/98 Albuquerque, NM

CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 65.8
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 065.8
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 090.5
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 111.1
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 131.3
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 153.9
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 165.8

Bob Stone, the Chief of Onboard Services, came to each room to help people arrange connections. When he got to our room, we had a chance to sit and talk about web related issues that had transpired since the last time that we talked. Bob told me that he's been working with Vince McGraw, the webmaster of Amtrak Intercity (, to provide information and web pages related to the Southwest Chief. We talked about some other ideas that Bob had for web pages related to the Southwest Chief that I think you can look forward to being implemented in the future.

Relating to the train, Bob mentioned that they did manage to restock the train in both Newton and Albuquerque. So, hopefully we are going to have a greater selection of entrees today for lunch and dinner.

12:09 PM - 12:16 PM We went into emergency stop in Grants, New Mexico. The crew thinks an air line might have broken and are walking the train. Now a couple of the Conductors are going to stand outside to check for flat spots as the train rolls by. What are flat spots? Is that where the round part of the wheel may have become more flat because of the friction between a wheel that has stopped rolling and the track as the train continues to slide down the track?

MON 07:39 PM (TUE 01:10 PM) MT 10/05/98 Gallup, NM CH 72 161.190

CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 176.5
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 202.4
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 225.2
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 247.4
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 270.4

Over the radio they called to have six 3 pound boxes of mashed potatoes supplied to the train in Flagstaff, Arizona. Guess we'll be having mashed potatoes for dinner!

An announcement was made that those people going to Las Vegas, Nevada, will be able to get off the train in Kingman, Arizona and that Greyhound will honor their tickets from Kingman to Las Vegas. Amtrak should make some type of permanent arrangement like this. Normally, these people would have to go all the way to Los Angeles by train and then come all the way back to Las Vegas by bus! It is much shorter to go direct from Kingman, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. A lot of people just get off in Kingman and rent a car to drive themselves to Las Vegas.

We have a big tour group on board from Explorer Tours of Great Britain. They were suppose to spend two days at the Grand Canyon. Now they are shuffling everything around with the hope that they will be able to spend at least one day at the Grand Canyon. They will all be getting off at Flagstaff, Arizona. They were suppose to bus over to the Grand Canyon Railroad Train and take that, but they won't be able to get to that train until tomorrow. However, there is then the question as to whether there will be space for them on tomorrow's train.

MON 08:14 PM (TUE 02:20 PM) MT 10/05/98 Winslow, AZ

CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 294.2
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 315.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 336.8

MON 09:13 PM (TUE 03:22 PM) MT 10/05/98 Flagstaff, AZ

MON 09:19 PM (TUE 03:28 PM) MT 10/05/98 Flagstaff, AZ

CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 358.3
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 377.?
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 377.?
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 426.9
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 452.1
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 473.9
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 493.3
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 512.5

TUE 11:59 AM (TUE 06:30 PM) MT 10/06/98 Kingman, AZ

CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 536.0
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 561.5
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 571.2

TUE 01:00 AM (TUE 07:24 PM) PT 10/06/98 Needles, CA

CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 607.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 612.4
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 628.1
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 644.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 665.0
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 690.3
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 711.1
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 733.3

Here is the plan for handling connecting passengers: Those going south of Fullerton on the San Diegans will board a bus which will stop at all stations along the San Diegan line south of Los Angeles. Those going north of Los Angeles on the San Diegan line will mostly be handled by van. People going to Glendale will be taken by van. I think there is just one person going to Van Nuys and they are to see Station Services when they get to Los Angeles for information on how they will be taken to their station. One person is going to Pasadena. They would normally get off in San Bernardino for the connecting bus, but instead are to continue on to Los Angeles where a van will take them to Pasadena. Those going north on the Amtrak San Joaquin train are to continue to Los Angeles. The bus that normally leaves at 1:40 AM from Los Angeles to go to Bakersfield will be held until these passengers arrive. They will have plenty of time to still get the bus to Bakersfield before the San Joaquin train departs at 5 AM. Those going onto the Coast Starlight to cities between San Jose and Sacramento have a choice. Amtrak will put them up in a hotel in Los Angeles so that they can catch the Coast Starlight at 9:30 AM, or they can catch the 1:40 AM bus to connect to the San Joaquins. From there, they can get to any of the stations between San Jose and Sacramento. For those going on to cities south of San Jose or north of Sacramento on the Coast Starlight, Amtrak will put them up in a hotel in Los Angeles for this evening and they will then go onto the 9:30 AM Coast Starlight.

TUE 04:15 AM (TUE 10:01 PM) PT 10/06/98 Barstow, CA CH 27 160.515

CH 32 160.590
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 08.5
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 28.5

TUE 04:51 AM (TUE 10:38 PM) PT 10/06/98 Victorville, CA

CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 48.5
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 57.3
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 64.1

TUE 06:03 AM (TUE ??:?? PM) PT 10/06/98 San Bernardino, CA

CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 32.0

TUE 07:16 AM (TUE ??:?? PM) PT 10/06/98 Fullerton, CA

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