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Amtrak Train Travelogue

Subject: {A-A} RS: Amtrak/Ambus Trip
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 21:25:18 -0500
From: Glenn Jones
To: All Aboard , Railspot

My wife and I have just finished a fast trip to the west coast. We departed Dallas on 9/18 on 21 before sunset, and connected with 1 in San Antonio. 1 was a little late but the pad in the schedule at San Antonio helped a lot.

The train was running about an hour and a half late east of El Paso when it was announced that we would stop and wait for 2/22 in order that a memorial service could be held by the crews. It seems a conductor had passed away who had been on the route for some 45 years. I think his name was Walter, not sure. In any event we were more like two hours late by El Paso. Had a chance for the first time go look over the station at El Paso, really nice inside.

Anyway departed El Paso into a moon less night where we started to get fault detector problems. When it really got dark, about two minutes after the Chief of Onboard Services announced we would be able to make up the lost time, we got the big fault problem. It seems the front power had developed an axle problem. We limped into a y some where in the desert where from out of the moon less blackness they conjured up a UP freight power unit of some sort. Fat chance of make up time now.

We arrived at Palm Springs about five hours behind schedule. Oh I forgot we were booked on the Starlight going north. Not a problem however always an adventure, we got on buses and headed north west, somewhat in the general direction of Alaska where we caught up with the Starlight at San Louis Obispo some 309 miles cross country. Funny thing, the Starlight seems to be having about as much luck as the Eagle and the Sunset Limited and was an hour or so late into Oakland.

A few days later we caught the Starlight going south in the general direction of Los Angeles. About two hours behind schedule which compounded to make sure we missed the last train out of LA to San Diego. Yep another bus ride from LA to San Diego. Lots of traffic on I-5 around 2 in the morning.

We left San Diego on time Friday, got into LA in good shape, Ready to depart back to the flat lands of Texas at 9:55pm. Turned out to be more like 11:00. It seems that 1/21 had been so late getting in on Friday they had not had time to turn it.

About this time around 9:30 or so announcements were made that the Sunset Limited would not go beyond Houston and gave passengers their options. The trip to San Antonio was underscored by the passengers who were trying to find a way home. 22 was a little late getting out of San Antonio because it was re configured to handle those passengers who wanted to try their luck via Chicago. There was an unusual sight in Fort Worth when 22 was backing into the station 21 was pulling in from Dallas waiting their turn at the station. While stopped in Fort Worth I did walk back and looked at the express cars, all but the first car had been modified.

We as usual had a good time on this trip. To travel by rail in the west and southwest, one must not be in a big hurry and should pack an extra pair of socks etc. We are planning our next adventure, maybe go east. One thing however we have had three trips on the Starlight this year and I have not yet been able to get a coffee mug for my collection. Oh well.

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