Amtrak Tries a Cheap Fix for the Empire Builder.
(Heading west, the Empire Builder splits into two trains when it reaches Spokane, with one section continuing on to Seattle, the other swinging southward to Portland. It all works in reverse for the eastbound train.)
There are many factors to consider when creating a train’s schedule, but a major concern is allowing enough time for passengers to make connections to other long-distance trains.
According to the existing schedule, the eastbound Empire Builder is due into Chicago every day at 3:55 p.m. The Capitol Limited departs Chicago at 6:40 p.m., the City of New Orleans at 8:00, and the Lake Shore Limited at 9:30.
In theory, adding three hours on the front end of its schedule will be enough to absorb delays occurring as the Builder crosses North Dakota. If theory becomes fact, even with continuing delays from freight congestion, the Empire Builder should arrive in Chicago in time for passengers to make any of those connections.
There are always some passengers on the westbound Empire Builder who want to connect with the southbound Coast Starlight in Portland. Given the 90-minute-earlier departure from Chicago, that could still work. But passengers coming north on the Coast Starlight will no longer be able to make a same-day connection with the eastbound train there in Portland.
So … with the new schedule changes, would you feel comfortable taking a chance on any of those connections?
That’s what I thought.
Neither would I.
Sorry. Here’s the link:
Check out this link. I think it clarifies the schedule change. You’re very wise to lay over in Chicago. I usually do that by choice because my publisher is there and I have good friends in the suburbs. And who knows? The Red Sox might be in town!
Finally, the summer ferry timetable has been posted. I find that as long as I arrive Seattle by 4pm (ie no more than 5hrs 30 mins late) I can make it to the last San Juan ferry. Hopefully that will be enough leeway.
I did give myself over 24 hours in Chicago in case the Cardinal ran late but did not research enough to discover the San Juan ferries do not leave from Seattle but from Anacortes which is almost 3 hours in the bus north. However I am thankful for your blog which made me aware of the situation.
Ouch! Well, I sure thought it was the other way. But thanks for the heads up. I’ll double-check.
Sorry but you have this wrong. The new schedule has it arriving 3 hours later east bound and 90 minutes later west bound. At the moment this is only until May/June. I am travelling early July and unfortunately am unable to change my overnight bookings on the San Juan Islands and may need to pay extra to stay a night in Seattle to which I am already returning for 3 nights later that week. I love train travel (have planned 5 nights and about 7 days on trains for this trip) but also like walking and sightseeing so will not be happy if I lose half a day on the San Juan islands.