Texas Eagle Trip Report Northbound boarded Dec 21.

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  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Texas Eagle Trip Report Northbound boarded Dec 21.
Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 23, 2019 12:08 AM

December 21, arrival in Dallas - On Time.

December 22, arrive in Chicago - It was either early or ontime I did not pay close attention was distracted with a cell phone call.

Arrival in St. Louis - 6:30 a.m.    Departure  8:00 a.m.

Also, held at Marshall, TX longer than normal.

So once again, only guessing here...... due to the complete lack of normal freight traffic on the line, the Texas Eagle bested it's normal scheduled run time on the route.    Some observations from the trip.

2 Sleeping cars placed directly behind locomotive with baggage car at end of the train.   One passenger asked me why Amtrak did this and then proceeded to blow the horn all night long.   I told them they had to blow the horn for crossings but I have no idea as to the rest and he should ask the conductor.

Track conditions at some of UP RR switches are getting quite crappy on this route, not sure if it is speed of the passenger train, deferred maintenence or both but the lateral (side to side forces) when going over some of the switches on this route are starting to throw people out of balance and they are falling on the train.    Last year we did not have this issue.    Not sure what causes this as I am not a track engineer but probably needs to be addressed before someone gets hurt.    Overall the rest of the track on the route is in pretty good shape and smooth, just the switches seem to be an issue.

Car attendant was excellent but she was put in charge of two sleeping cars.   Still she covered all those compartments,  kept the toilet spotless, and took care of the malfunctioning toilets as you would expect (see item below).   Definitely earned the $40 I tipped her at the end of the trip. 

Fell asleep early Northbound, for some reason the Hope, AK stop brings out the best in me and when I went to the restroom for #2 I noticed every single toilet on the sleeper had the flashing yellow light on the wall behind it which according to the Amtrak "your a stupid passenger" code posted next to the light, means the toilet was not operational.    A quick check of the status panel in the vestibule showed why.   "Retention tank 100% full" said the digital readout.   Oh-oh here we go again I thought.   Will the entire sleeper smell like an open sewer in the morning?     Nope never happened.    This time they actually found an employee in St. Louis that could fix the problem and the car attendent ensured all the toilets were flushed and cleaned before departing St. Louis.     So this time Amtrak recovered but the interesting question is.......why does this problem keep happening over and over again on this run?    Why do the retention tanks fill up to full before servicing?   Anyways high marks for Amtrak fixing the issue before it became a real issue to most passengers on a fully sold out train.

OK then zoom forward to breakfest in St. Louis in the Diner, couple across from me at the table is laughing and snickering and I asked what was so funny and they told me they were just going over the boarding procedure at Dallas.    They had both went through the major hassle of drivers license renewal in Texas to comply with the real ID requirements this next fall (you can't use your drivers license for ID for commercial flights in the United States unless it is real ID compliant....you can google, thank you TSA for the hassle).     Anyways they stated to me the guy in Dallas that took their bags never asked to see their tickets or their drivers license, he just took the bags and put the Chicago checked ticket on them.    I have to say I was shocked.   He did strike me as kind of a dufus when I checked my bags but this is a fairly major lapse in security if it did happen.   Of course I don't know what these two saw or didn't see.   So who knows.

Zoom forwards to Union Station.   Checking into the Metropolitain lounge the Amtrak employee seemed to be imitating a tree sloth for lack of emotion and enthusiasm when doing their job.    Anyways, I asked her when I board the Hiawatha, do I go directly to the gate with the tracks or do I go to the second lobby for the Hiawatha.    Her instructions were to go right to the gate with the tracks.....at which point I of course get chastised by two other Amtrak employees for trying to cut line (nice).    Tired of fighting the miscommunication by Amtrak employees battle when I travel......I let that one go.    One of the employees was an Amtrak Policeman K-9 handler.   Even though it said on his dogs vest.   DO NOT PET ME.     Not only does he let the other Amtrak employee pet the dog in full view of customers but lets the employee pat him on the nose (which of course is the one area your not supposed let someone get near as a K-9 handler).    Again I have another WTH moment on Amtrak security.   The dog was at the least tired of standing because it kept lying down or trying to lie down every chance it could get.   I wonder what the rotation is as well with K-9's now after seeing this....maybe it is normal behavior but I never saw an MP K-9 do this while on duty or hang it's head low like this dog was doing repeatedly (strange behavior from a black lab which is usually an energetic breed).

Boarded the Hiawatha and then noticed the lead car had an off limits to anyone but Amtrak crew poster.    Curious if they do that on the return trip.    I think the Illinois-Wisconsin contract with Amtrak stipulates number of cars in the Hiawatha consist and that they all be operational.    Maybe they did it because it was a Sunday and light traffic they did not want to clean the car?    Who knows, didn't question it but thought it was a little strange for that to happen on a state supported train.     Hiawatha arrived on time into Milwaukee.   Passed three CP Rail freights, one southbound, one a local switcher, the other Northbound entering Muskego yard cutoff (hey at least one railroad is working on a Sunday).

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, December 23, 2019 8:20 AM

Quoting CMStP&P: "December 22, arrive in Chicago - It was either early or ontime I did not pay close attention was distracted with a cell phone call." You arrived 16 minutes early (from Train Status on Amtrak's website).

Johnny

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 23, 2019 8:43 AM

Deggesty

Quoting CMStP&P: "December 22, arrive in Chicago - It was either early or ontime I did not pay close attention was distracted with a cell phone call." You arrived 16 minutes early (from Train Status on AMtrak's website).

All I remember was the clock reading 5 min to 2:00 p.m. in Union Station but I had been off the train for a bit by then.    So do you have that website link you can post?  I have this theory that Amtrak Texas Eagle over this holiday period will be ontime more than the yearly stats indicate (excepting any bad weather of course). 

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, December 23, 2019 9:57 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
Deggesty

Quoting CMStP&P: "December 22, arrive in Chicago - It was either early or ontime I did not pay close attention was distracted with a cell phone call." You arrived 16 minutes early (from Train Status on AMtrak's website).

 

All I remember was the clock reading 5 min to 2:00 p.m. in Union Station but I had been off the train for a bit by then.    So do you have that website link you can post?  I have this theory that Amtrak Texas Eagle over this holiday period will be ontime more than the yearly stats indicate (excepting any bad weather of course). 

 

Just log on to www.Amtrak, and you will see "Train Status." Click on that, and start filling in train number, location, and date.

Johnny

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 23, 2019 9:53 PM

I think your hypothesis was right; less freight during the holiday period, improving the closer to Christmas.  So you were fortunate.  Arrival into Chicago on Dec.  20 was 126 minutes late; Dec.  21 was 42 minutes late; Dec. 22 was 16 mins. early;  Dec.  23 was 21 mins. early. 

Enjoy your visit. 

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Posted by ORNHOO on Monday, December 23, 2019 10:06 PM

All I remember was the clock reading 5 min to 2:00 p.m. in Union Station but I had been off the train for a bit by then.    So do you have that website link you can post?  I have this theory that Amtrak Texas Eagle over this holiday period will be ontime more than the yearly stats indicate (excepting any bad weather of course). 

  Just log on to www.Amtrak, and you will see "Train Status." Click on that, and start filling in train number, location, and date. Add[/quote]

Deggesty
All I remember was the clock reading 5 min to 2:00 p.m. in Union Station but I had been off the train for a bit by then.    So do you have that website link you can post?  I have this theory that Amtrak Texas Eagle over this holiday period will be ontime more than the yearly stats indicate (excepting any bad weather of course).    Just log on to www.Amtrak, and you will see "Train Status." Click on that, and start filling in train number, location, and date. Add

 

Another site which allows you to compare actual arrival times over any chosen time period:

https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/history.php

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 24, 2019 3:29 AM

Thanks for the trip report, and my holiday wish for you and other readers is lots of enjoyable train trips in your future.

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, December 26, 2019 10:27 AM

I saw No. 21 yesterday at Taylor, TX.  It had a transition sleeper, regular sleeper, lounge car, dining car, and two coaches.  It did not have a baggage car.

Apparently one of the crew members did not allow being away from home over Christmas to dampen his/her seasonal spirit.  H/she had strung colored lights around the inside of one of the crew room windows.  Pretty neat!

I have been told by one of the Eagle’s San Antonio based conductors that the sleeper on the Eagle is positioned at the front of the train to facilitate the through car transfer in San Antonio.  But his explanation may be questionable.  I believe the sleepers are at the head end of most of the western trains irrespective of whether there is any enroute car switching.  

The crew that makes the transfer to No. 1 or from No. 2 uses the Eagle’s power to transfer the through sleeper and coach. 

I thought the Eagle or Sunset Limited crews would make the car switch in San Antonio, but I was told that Amtrak has a night crew that just works the transfers.  Seems a bit pricy!

When I was in Alpine in October, I noticed that No. 2 had the transition sleeper and New Orleans sleeper on the front of the train, but the Chicago sleeper was on the back.  Again, I believe this is to facilitate the transfer in San Antonio.   

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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