amtrak trip report


New member
Trip report Amtrak #51, the cardinal, and #5 the Zepher.
We arrived at South Portsmouth's amtrak station in kentucky around 9:30PM, wayyyy to early for our 10:41PM cardinal train to chicago. so we decided to cross the road to the speedway gas station and pick up dinner, which in my case was a hot dog and a cola slushie. The station at south portsmouth is nothing more then a city bus stop that is inclosed with glass. it had one long bench and a trash can inside, outside there was a sign that contained the arrival times for our train and its counterpart #50. The employees remarked that amtrak was never ontime into portsmouth and ran on a "calender shedule" so i called "julie", amtraks automated machine that works pretty well. I found the Cardinal was delayed until 11:46PM on estimate. So we poked around a little and came back. Called again to find the delay was now until 12:04AM. So we hung around the station for awhile. 15 minutes later i called again and found it was now 12:00AM on the nose when the Cardinal was due to arrive. Suddenly the signals beyond the CSX offices lit up and my sister started to get jumpy because she thought it was our train. However I knew the signals where facing the wrong way and on the wrong track to be amtrak. Shure enough 5 minutes later a CSX Junk/rail train flew by on the opposite track. The signals went dead again after the train left. but re-lit to the same configuation about 20 minutes later and a CSX coal drag flew by on the same track. Then I heard the distinct tone of a P42 K5LA and told everyone amtrak was on its way in. About 2 minutes later, P42 #60, 3 amfleet coachs, a Amcafe', and a viewliner rolled into the station. We where assigned seats 22,23, and 24 in the 3rd coach. It was around midnight when we pulled out and dissapeared into the thick fog bank. I tryed going to sleep but had no sucess. so i moved up a row and infront of my mom and sister, I had the whole row to myself. I watched the ohio river and factorys along it fly by for awhile before I fired up my zune to entertain myself.

By now the train was running about an hour and a half late and we arrived in cincinati around 3 in the morning. the approach into cincinatti is somthing neat. You come off the CSX mainline on a flyover and then climb to a height about 3 storys. the tracks weave between buildings and in some cases over them. To my right I saw a arched roof simaler to the orchestra pit near hollywood. which I reconised to be cincinatti union station. we made a curve and headed in that direction.

At Cincinatti almost everyone on the train got up and left. I thought we we're about to have almost the whole car to ourselfs. But then almost three times as many people that got off, got on. The car was now completely full. the train soon pulled out and I fell asleep.

I woke up at 6 and caught our arrival in Indianapolis. There we coupled onto 2 Horizon coaches on track 1 and our train became the combined Cardinal/Hoosier State train. We then went to breakfest in the cafe' car. I had doughnut holes and a bottle of fruit juice.

We left indianapolis about 10 minutes late (there is a major 2 hour time gap between the arrival time to the departure time. Crews use this to catch back up on shedule as if they arn't 2 hours late they will be able to catch back up.) However fright traffic and other problems kept forcing us more and more behind shedule. I fell asleep again and stayed that way until we got in the chicago area. I saw UP 1989 (the DRGW heritage Unit). and about 120 amtrak coaches of all shapes and sizes. Even an amtrak Dash-8 and a handfull of F40PH "Cabbages" (hey it was a first for me!). We arrived at 11:30ish (sheduled at 9:30) after quite a few delays. We walked in and Checked our bags for the next leg of the journey. We met up with my uncle and had lunch together at the metro cafe' off the great hall of union station. then we went to Gate D to board #5, the zepher.

We got on the rear coach in the train. I sat in the last row so i'm as far back as i can be. then i was going to get a picture of 1989 on the way out but we took the opposite leg of the wye. I was enjoying the view until BNSF mantinace held us up at a metra station. we got delayed 50 minutes before pulling out again. We had blocked a crossing so there was a LONG line of cars backed up on either side. an ambulance with lights flashed was escorted around the back by a BNSF mantinance Crew. then a parade of mantinace vehicles passed by before we got under way.
I napped for awhile and listened to my zune before we went and had dinner in the lounge/cafe' car. I had a microwaved Cheese Pizza, some pretzels, and a mountain dew. Then we played uno in the lounge for about an hour. we saw the mississippi river from a swing bridge and watched our arrival into burlington.

Then we returned to our seats and I begain writing everything you are reading now.

I started walking around the train and getting to know my surrondings. The car we where in, had electronic and plumbing issues. as a result, the lights would randomly turn off during station stops, the plugs where in-active, and the bathrooms in the car where shutdown.

I spent about half an hour in the lounge looking at the scenery before it got dark. then mom, sis, and I took seats together in the lounge after nightfall. i charged my laptop, my phone, and my zune. After awhile of talking, mom and sis returned to coach but i headed downstairs to the cafe' area under the lounge car. There i took a table. setup my laptop, and other electronics hooked up to the train power (normally I wouldn't do this without a surge protector as the train power surges from time to time, but oh well). I played the argentina mission of Railroad Tycoon 3 and listened to a playlist for about 2 hours. then i retired back to the coach. I typed up more traveloge, then i fell asleep.

Around midnight we arrived in omaha, nebraska. the last point on the transcontinental railroad i hadn't been to. The jolt of stopping woke me up. I got off, snaped a few pictures, and walked around the station. about 10 minutes later we got back on and left.

I woke up to the farmlands of northern colorado rolling by the window. Mom and rose wanted to know what i wanted for breakfest and i said a bagel or somthing bread related. Then i snoozed for a few minutes before i fully woke up and walked to the lounge car. Amtrak no longer sells bagels so they got me a cinamin roll and a mountain dew (the soda was to wake me up, i origonally ordered a milk). After eating that i went up and ordered my favorite amtrak food. Microwaved pizza. we sat around for awhile before heading back to the coach. I saw a shortline interchange and denver subburbs. then we backed into denver union station. We walked to the depot and waited for our checked baggage. It took about 30 minutes to get our bags.

After that we walked to the RTD light rail station to an E-line trolley. But, our late departure ment that all E-line trains where stopped until 2 in the afternoon. so we got on a C-line trolley to Broadway station and got picked up by jennifer.
What time did you get to Denver? E line runs all day, and at night and in the early morning, it is the only line that runs to Union station. Broadway is a transfer point, you can transfer to all the lines from Broadway, just grab the H line (to Nine Mile) or F Line (to Lincoln)
What time did you get to Denver? E line runs all day, and at night and in the early morning, it is the only line that runs to Union station. Broadway is a transfer point, you can transfer to all the lines from Broadway, just grab the H line (to Nine Mile) or F Line (to Lincoln)
We arrived around 10ish. we bought our tickets but however, the shedule at the station showed that F line trains didn't leave until 2 and that all C line trains until 2:30 terminated at broadway station. we took a C line one car SD100 train to broadway but the shedule all showed Nine mile trains an still no F line trains until after 2. so my mom got kinda mad and just called my older sister to drive to broadway instead to pick us up.

really, ive only seen the southern pacific, but my dad works for UP and says he's been on several of the heritage locos.
Yup, 1989 was on the head end of the zepher a few days ago and its still in chicago.