I had not visited the Vancouver Amtrak Station in several years so decided to do a dry run the day before boarding the train. The station is less than 7 miles from my home in Vancouver, Washington. After checking the status of the Amtrak Coast Starlight on the Amtrak Mobile App, I headed for the station. It was fortunate that I did as when my GPS said "You have arrived at your destination" I did not see the station anywhere. There was a BNSF building with many employee cars parked next to it, but I did not see the station. I continued to drive into the parking lot and then noticed the station and platform at the far end of the parking lot.
Above are photos of the Vancouver, Washington, Amtrak Station. A draw bridge over the Columbia River begins right after the southbound train departs from the station. Across from the station platform appears to be a dump or trash processing facility.
Anther reason I did this "dry run" was to figure out where the door would be to our Superliner Sleeping Car. We will be boarding Car #1131 which turned out to be at the very front of the train right behind the two Genesis locomotives.
Above is the number of Amtrak Coach Car #1121 which was oddly positioned between the two Sleeping Cars and the Dining Car. I have not traveled on the Amtrak Coast Starlight since the Pacific Parlour Cars were sold off. Last time I rode the train the configuration would be Locomotives, Baggage Car, Sleeping Cars, Pacific Parlour Car, Dining Car, Sightseer Lounge / Cafe Car, Coach Cars. Thus, this oddly positioned car was in the location where the Pacific Parlour Car used to be. This consist also had no baggage car but instead stored the baggage in the lower level of the last Coach Car.
A number of years ago Amtrak introduced Business Class on the Amtrak Coast Starlight. I suspect this might be the Business Class Car. Others have mentioned that Amtrak just uses a regular Superliner Coach Car for Business Class. When you upgrade to Business Class you are entitled to a full refund up to the time of departure if you cancel your trip, you earn 25% more Amtrak Guest Rewards points on your ticket purchase, you get to use the Metropolitan Lounge before boarding in Los Angeles and Portland and you get a complimentary bottle of water. Another advantage in the early days of Business Class on the Amtrak Coast Starlight is that you would usually get a pair of seats to yourself. But I've heard this is no longer guaranteed as more people have started riding Amtrak again since the end of the lockdowns.
In Business Class you also get to purchase and eat food and drinks in the Dining Car. For a while during Covid, only Sleeping Car passengers were allowed to eat in the dining car and their food was complimentary and non-alcoholic beverages were complimentary. For Sleeping Car passengers, one alcoholic beverage was complimentary with dinner and additioinal alcoholic drinks could be purchased. Being allowed to use the Dining Car was extended to Business Class passengers sometime in 2021, but I think all passengers are now once again able to purchase food and eat in the Dining Car. We sat with someone for lunch who purchased their meal and a glass of wine, but I didn't ask if he was from regular coach class or from business class.
Business Class passengers theoretically get free WiFi, though I have as yet to notice any WiFi on this train at all. Fortunately the HotSpot feature on my T-mobile Samsung Galaxy 22+ Mobile Phone has been working great so far from Vancouver to well south of Salem, Oregon, while on this train.
We arrived just a bit early and waited in the heated station waiting room. Below are photos that I took inside the station.
Just a few minutes before the Amtrak Coast Starlight was scheduled to arrive, the Amtrak Mobile App said it would be about 4 minutes late. But the train pulled into the station at 1:07 PM, right on time anyway.
This train consist was either a bit shorter than the one yesterday, or the engineer or conductor decided not to pull as far down the station platform as the train yesterday. We were standing right where Superliner Sleeping Car 1131 opened its door yesterday, but today we had to walk down the full length of the two locomotives to get to the door of Car 1131.
My wife and I had two good size suitcases and two backpacks. The Car Attendant pointed out the rack where we could store them downstairs. However, we wanted to bring them into the room with us. We knew there would be room for them as we had traveled in a Bedroom (Deluxe Room) in Amtrak Sleeping Cars many times before and knew they would fit in the room. It was a little stuggle bringing them up the stairs, but the two landings on the way up made the task easier. One of the suitcases was about 56 pounds. Usually we'll put down the upper bunk and store our suitcases and backpacks on it getting them out of the way. We just have to watch that we don't bump our heads when standing up from the lower long sofa seat. Forgot to mention, there were two complimentary bottles of water waiting for us in our room along with a menu of the items available for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Above are photos of my wife, Barbara, and I, settled into our Bedroom (Car 1131 Room B) on the train.
As you can see from the above photo, I'm all set up with my computer with two screens to continue working on this report. Two screens are very helpful as I like to dispay the photos I've just taken on one screen while I write the commentary around the photos on my other screen.
All Sleeping Car Rooms in Amtrak Superliner Cars have at least two 110 volt outlets. I always use a surge protector as I'm not sure how consistent or spike free the electricity is coming from the electric generators located in the train locomotives. I also use a T-tap outlet with two USB ports to charge our mobile phones and other USB devices.
We arrived into the Portland, Oregon, Amtrak Station at 1:32 PM. This Station is only about a 15 minute drive from our home in Vancouver, Washington, so we could have opted to board the train here instead of in Vancouver, Washington. However, we felt it was less hassle to board in Vancouver. There aren't the crowds getting on and off the train in Vancouver as there usually are in Portland. Upon arrival of the train, you are pretty much onboard and into your room in less than 5 minutes in Vancouver. Portland is a much bigger and longer procedure.
When we first boarded the train our Car Attendant gave us a reservation slip for both lunch and dinner. He had us down for 1:30 PM for lunch and for 7:15 PM at Table #18 for dinner. Those times were fine for us. While at lunch we saw the Dining Car Attendant assign another couple our exact same time and table number, so we knew who we'd be sharing a table with at dinner.
Below are the menus for lunch and dinner on this train. These menus can also be found online on the Amtrak.com website.
My wife and I ordered the Sweet Earth Plant Based Awesome Burge with cheese and the Loaded Baked Potato With (Vegan) Chili. We split each and half and shared them. Photos of our meals are shown below. Both were very good and very filling. To drink we each ordered a Diet Coke. The meal was so filling that we skipped dessert, but my wife ordered a cup of coffee to take back to the room. There is also usually coffee and juice available 24/7 in each Sleeping Car.
The below photos were taken during our departure and heading south from the Portland, Oregon, Amtrak Station.
We had brought out own two bottles of wine onboard. You are allowed to consume your own wine in the privacy of your own room in an Amtrak Sleeping Car, but nowhere else onboard the train. You can purchase wine by the glass or the half bottle from Amtrak in the Dining Car or in the Cafe Car. Amtrak also has beer and other alcoholic spirits available for purchase. Any alcohol purchased from Amtrak can be consumed anywhere on the train.
This will probably be my last outside photo for today as it has gotten too dark outside.
Left: Mexican Souffle With Grilled Street Corn -
Savory Mexican-Inspired, Poblano & Ancho Chillis, Black Beans, Street Corn, Roasted Poblano Sauce.
Right: Baked Brie & Rasberry Empanadas -
Light Flaky Crust, Brie Cheese, Raspberry Puree, Cranberries, Toasted Almonds.
Left: Rigatoni Bolognese -
Rigatoni Pasta, Parmesan Cheese, Bolognese Plant Based Meat Sauce.
Right: Atlantic Salmon -
Oven Roasted Salmon, Ancient Grains, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Peas, Lemon Caper White Wine Sauce.
Left: Chocolate Toffee Mousse -
Creamy Chocolate Mousse, Golden Toffee Crunches, Coffee Liquer.
Right: White Chocolate Blueberry Cobbler Cheesecake -
Blueberry Cobbler, Vanilla Bean Chuncks & White Chocolate Cheesecake, Swirled Blueberry Compote.
Everything at dinner was really good! Even the presentation was excellent!
My wife and I had a pleasant night sleep. We didn't wake up until about 9:30 AM while the train was somewhere south of Oakland and north of San Jose. Below is a screenshot showing our location as indicated by the Google Maps App and the first thing we saw out our window.
The Dining Car Steward was already making last call for Sleeping Car Passengers who did not come to breakfast to come and get their lunch and dinner reservations. I wasn't even dressed yet so I quickly got dressed and went down to the Dining Car to get ours. As you can see below, we made our reservations for 1 PM for lunch and 5:45 PM for dinner.
Below are some photos that I took out our window as we were approaching San Jose, California.
Our train arrived early into San Jose, California, about 10 AM rather than 10:14 AM. We left right on schedule at 10:26 AM.
Below are photos taken after departing south out of San Jose.
Free self-serve hot coffee is usually available around the clock, or at least all day, in the upstairs center of each Superliner Sleeping Car. You will find cups, lids, cup heat protectors, milk, sugar, sweetner, and coffee stirrers. Juice and bottled water also used to be located here but I didn't see any this time.
Some wind power generators spotted along the route.
Below photos were taken inside the combo toilet / shower in an Amtrak Sleeping Car Bedroom (Deluxe Room). As you can see, Amtrak likes to put their logo in some odd places. This logo is sometimes called the "three sheets to the wind" logo. I like the original old Amtrak logo better that featured arrows. Though some people liked to call it the "pointless arrow" since it was missing a point.
Amtrak has improved their shower and sink greatly since I first started riding Amtrak in 1995. They eliminated the shower curtain and made the shower instructions more clear. They also replaced the sink with one much deeper so that the water no longer splashes back on you when you run the faucets. The biggest improvement is the faucet handles that automatically dispense the water for a short period. The old faucets had to remain pressed in order to dispense any water. Thus you'd press with one hand to dispense hot water to wash the other hand, and then use the other hand to press the faucet to dispense cold water to wash the first hand. Not a very logical arrangement. Now you can press both faucet buttons and both will dispense water for a short while so that you can wash both hands at the same time with a mix of hot and cold water.
Rounding the horseshoe curve while descending the hills into San Luis Obispo, California. This is one of the few places you can see the rest of the front and back of the train while rounding the curves.
This is generally where a northbound and the southbound Amtrak Coast Starlight will often be in the station at the same time if they are both running on schedule.
We arrived about 9 PM into Los Angeles Union Station, about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Amtrak usually builds padding into the schedule to make up for some of any unexpected delays along the route. Since we had been arriving into almost every station a little early, I suspected we might arrive into the final stop in Los Angeles early also.
Our connecting Amtrak Pacific Surfliner was not scheduled to depart until 10:45 PM, which would have been an hour and 45 minute layover. My wife and I decided to take an Uber to our house in Anaheim instead of waiting for the train. Even if we had taken the train, we still would have had to take an Uber from Fullerton to our Anaheim house. We would only have been saving about half the cost of the Uber by taking it from Fullerton instead of from Los Angeles. The Uber came in less than 5 minutes and picked us up at the front of Los Angeles Union Station at the Alameda Street entrance. We arrived at our Anaheim house about 9:45 PM, an hour before our connecting Amtrak Pacific Surfliner was even scheduled to depart from Los Angeles Union Station! If we had taken our connecting train and then an Uber from there, we would not have arrived at our Anaheim house until around midnight if not later.
This was my first real Amtrak rail travel report since probably 2010. I did post just a slideshow of photos of my travel in the Patrick Henry private railcar in 2018 (Click here to veiw that report), but I have not been on the Amtrak Coast Starlight in more than a decade. I used to post dozens of rail trip reports and photos every year from 1995 thorugh 2010, but have been away from rail travel for a while.
The last time that I traveled on the Amtrak Coast Starlight and posted a rail travel report was on July 11 & 12, 2008 when Amtrak had just relaunched the Coast Starlight with the upgraded Pacific Parlour Car. If you'd like to see that travel report, click here. Unfortunately, Amtrak sold off all 5 Pacific Parlour Cars a few years ago and all the ammenities offered on that special lounge car for Sleeping Car passengers are now gone.
If you'd like to see some of my older rail travel reports, click this link: www.TrainWeb.com/travelogues/stevegrande. Rather than train travel, I have been doing a lot of cruising lately and have been posting full reports with photos from those. If you'd like to see some of those, visit CruiseRookies.com.