A Win Is a Win Is a Win!

I’ve just about finished booking my Amtrak travel for April when I will be attending the annual Spring meeting of the Rail Passengers Association in Washington. I can’t explain exactly why, but I had a terrible time with the new “improved” Amtrak web site. Admittedly, there are six segments in all, but it took me forever to get it all done.
My return includes a Boston-to-Chicago segment and this gave me the chance to see if I could perhaps save a little money and avoid some inconvenience, too. For those who don’t know, the westbound Lake Shore Limited starts out with two sections: Train 49 originating in New York City’s Penn Station and Train 449 originating from Boston’s South Station. The two sections meet in Albany, New York and proceed to Chicago as one train from there.

Train 49, the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited, arriving in Albany.

Train 49, the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited, arriving in Albany.

The Boston section consists of one Viewliner sleeping car, several coaches, and a lounge car serving snacks and drinks. Half of this car is configured with Business Class seating. The New York section has five or six coaches and what AmtraK calls a “Combined Diner/Lounge”. The trouble is—and, OK, I’ll admit it’s a minor issue unless you have trouble moving about a moving train—after leaving Albany, passengers in the Boston sleeper have to make their way through six or seven coaches in order to get their dinner in the Diner/Lounge car.
So this time, instead of booking a roomette all the way in the Boston sleeper, I made two separate reservations: the first, a seat in Business Class from Boston to Albany; the second, a roomette in the New York section from Albany to Chicago.
True, in Albany I’ll have to gather up my belongings and relocate to the Viewliner sleeper, but I should have only one car between me and the diner. I saved $7.60 on the combined fares, too. Altogether, a small, but satisfying triumph, as long as I overlook the fact that it probably took me more than an hour on the new Amtrak web site to make it all happen.
That’s OK . . . these days we’ll take every win we can get.


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