My Next Amtrak Trip

I’m headed to a meeting of the C++ standards committee in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.  This will be my first train ride since COVID, and I’m looking forward to it.

Date Train From To Accommodation
Nbr. Name When Where When Where
0 Th 2-2 302 Lincoln Service 06:40 St. Louis 12:05 Chicago Biz. Class
7 Empire Builder 15:05 Chicago   Bedroom
1 Fr 2-3 On the Train
2 Sa 2-4   11:29 Seattle
[my feet] [station] [hotel]
 Spend the night at the Embassy Suites
3 Su 2-5  Check out Pike Place Market and the Aquarium
[taxi] Seattle Issaquah
 Begin six nights at the Hilton Garden Inn
4–9 Mo–Sa  WG21 meeting
9 Sa 2-11  Meeting ends around noon…have lunch at the meeting hotel
[taxi] 15:30 Issaquah 16:00 Seattle
8 Empire Builder 16:55 Seattle   Bedroom
10 Su 2-12 On the Train
11 Mo 2-13   16:45 Chicago
 Spend the night at the Holiday Inn
12 Tu 2-14 319 Lincoln Service 09:30 Chicago 14:50 St. Louis Biz. Class

I’m allowing an extra day westbound just in case the Builder gets stuck in a snowdrift…or something.  That also gives me a chance to do some touristy things in Seattle where I haven’t been in ages.  I’ll also spend the last night at a hotel just three blocks south of Chicago’s Union Station because the Builder often runs late, and there’s the danger of missing the connection to the next train home.

Between Chicago and St. Louis, I’ll take a couple of corridor trains.  Prior to COVID, we had four “Lincoln Service” round trips per day, two of which would run through St. Louis, where they would change their names to “Missouri River Runner”, and continue to Kansas City.  COVID was an excuse for Amtrak to cut service; so we now have just three daily Lincoln Service round trips, and only one Missouri River Runner per day.

The Lincoln Service trains typically have four cars, three coaches and a café car with very comfortable 2-1 business-class seating.  I’ll have biz.-class seats between Chicago and St. Louis which will also get me one complimentary non-alcoholic beverage.

St. Louis is also served by an overnight train, the Texas Eagle, that runs daily between Chicago and San Antonio.  Three days per week, one coach and one sleeper from the Eagle get switched in San Antonio to or from another train called the Sunset Limited that runs between New Orleans and Los Angeles.  I might change my mind and get a roomette on the Eagle for the last leg home.  I’ll decide when I get back to Chicago.

Between Chicago and Seattle, I’ll be riding on the Empire Builder.  Trains 7 and 27 run as a single train to Spokane, Washington, where they split in two, train 7 going to Seattle, and train 27 going to Portland, Oregon.  Trains 8 and 28 recombine in Spokane.  Train 7 turns south around Everett, Washington, and then runs down along the ocean, eventually along Puget Sound, and then into a tunnel that leads to Seattle’s King Street Station.  Train 27 heads down to Pasco, Washington, and then along the northern bank of the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington, where it crosses the river and heads back east a bit to Portland Union Station.

The Builder uses Superliners as expected.  The Seattle section usually has a baggage car, a crew sleeper, two revenue sleepers, a diner, and two accessible coaches.  The Portland section is typically just four cars long, a Sightseer Lounge, an accessible coach, a coach-bag, and a sleeper.

More detailed timetables for the trains I’ll be taking can be found here and here.

Beginning shortly will be a series of posts about the trip which might read something like a live blog, but won’t be live.  I plan on a single post per day, probably around bedtime.