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Author Topic: By Rail from Tampa to Asheville
delvyrails
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An inquiry to National Railway Historical Society headquarters the other day asks how to travel by train from Tampa, FL to Asheville, NC. We volunteers thought of two routes, both starting out of Tampa on the Silver Star.

Option one is off at Columbia in the middle of the night, then bus or buses to Asheville. Option two is to get off at Raleigh, await the southbound Carolinian, ride to the Charlotte terminus, stay overnight, and take a much shorter bus ride to Asheville the next morning.

Before getting bus schedules and details, I wonder whether anyone here has take this or a similar trip and could offer suggestions.

John Pawson

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John Pawson

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chrisg
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A few years ago toride the Piedmont Train I went from Winter Haven to Raliegh laid over an hour and a half a rode the North Carliona State Train "The Piedmont" to Charlotte.

There you could rent a car to get to Asheville.

http://www.trainweb.org/chris

Chris

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Tanner929
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What about going across Flordia from Tampa and comming up north along the Atlantic Coast through Savannah and Charelston up to Selma NC and go across to either Greensboro or High Point and bus up to Winston-Salem and up to Ashville. There is no train service up to Ashville unless you all want to hop a frieght and ride the rails.
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notelvis
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Hi John,

The only bus service to Asheville now is a pair of Greyhounds which run from Charlotte to Knoxville via Spartanburg, SC. A third roundtrip operates on certain days (Sun, Tue, Thu I believe but it keeps changing.) Tanner, even the direct Greyhound east-west across North Carolina from Greensboro to Winston-Salem and Asheville is just a distant memory now.

I would recommend the 'Silver Star' to Cary, NC and then the 'Piedmont' to Charlotte then catching Greyhound to Asheville. IF Amtrak will ticket that connection. Odds are they will not since the 'Silver Star' has an abysmal OT record.

Otherwise, your option is Amtrak to Columbia, SC, a bus to Charlotte changing to the bus to Asheville. Long layovers in the wee hours.

I rue the day Greyhound bought out (ie: forced out of business) Continental Trailways. Up until that time there was a direct Trailways bus from Asheville to Columbia that had only a relatively short 2-3 hour layover to and from the Silver Star.

I'd go to Florida from Western North Carolina more often if it were easier to get the train there.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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notelvis
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Hi John,

Updated information......the Greyhound bus service to Asheville has just been rerouted! These buses now operate Knoxville-Asheville-Winston-Salem rather than to Charlotte.

So....the east-west service has returned using I-40 at the expense of a direct bus to Charlotte.

Coming from Tampa I would now recommend #92 overnight to Raleigh and then #73 (if Amtrak will ticket the connection) to Greensboro.

The Greyhound Station at Greensboro is in the old REA building adjacent to the Amtrak station now. From there you have a Greyhound departing at 11:20am, change in Winston-Salem, and arrive Asheville at 3:00pm.

Returning, you would leave Asheville at 8:45am, change in Winston-Salem, arrive Greensboro at 12:10pm and layover nearly 7 hours waiting for #74 to Raleigh.

Not great....but better.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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delvyrails
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Thanks, notelvis and others.

This exercise shows how difficult it is getting to be traveling on the ground other than by car anywhere except between the biggest cities. Sorely needed is Amtrak-Greyhound coordination, but any conception in Washington of intercity transportation planning other than for air and road-building seems non-existant.

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John Pawson

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Tanner929
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If some urban engineer or perhaps a graduate program study looked at the disconnect between modes of public transportation they would find a big reason why people will just get in the car. Here in New Haven we have a new train platform for the shore line trains comming in from the east coast shoreline. The one bus that "meets" these suburban trains the route goes away from the buisness section and up to the "downscale" area of the city.

We have a regional airport they have been trying to promote. the buses travel there if you request it to (fine) however they looking at the flight schedules and the bus schedules the bus is not timed to get passangers at the airport in time for a 1 hour check in. The buses for pick ups don't actual come into the airport area and they are scheduled to pass by the area 10 minutes after the planes are scheduled to arrive. hope you didn't check any luggage.

The buses at the main Union Station are not synced with train we believe its so the cabs can line up in front of the station.

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train lady
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Del that is,imo, because the administration and president(of any party) travels only by air and on occasion by car. I think they feel that if that is the way they travel that is the way we all travel. I am willing to bet there are very few if any politicians who have been on a train in years. So if it doesn't impact them why worry.
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delvyrails
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train lady: ...on a train other than Acela, perhaps!

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John Pawson

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train lady
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John, who was the last president to ride on Acela? I seemed to have missed that.
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Ocala Mike
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Not a president, a "politician." Al Gore made a big thing about riding on Acela between DC and the Meadowlands a week ago as he appeared at both US venues for the "Live Earth" celebration/performances on 7/7/07.

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Ocala Mike

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train lady
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My mistake Mike. What I meant was politicians who have the power to vote changes or support of passenger trains. I don't think I made that clear.
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Ocala Mike
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I am not necessarily a supporter of Al Gore, but he probably has the national ear more than any other public figure right now, elected or otherwise, with regard to "green issues". That being the case, he does have at least as much "power" to effect change as any office-holder.

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Ocala Mike

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train lady
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You are right I hadn't thought of it that way. Since more trains and less cars would help the environment he would be the perfect person to push for more and better passenger trains.
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notelvis
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As a senator from Tennessee waaaayyyy back when, Al Gore opposed the discontinuance of Amtrak service to Nashville, TN (The Floridian) in 1979.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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SilverStar092
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He sure didn't do much to push for Amtrak or passenger rail in general when he was VP and that's when he had the power to do something. I'll leave politics out of this but the bottom line is we need someone to take the lead on pushing for more passenger rail. That somebody has yet to emerge.
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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by SilverStar092:
He sure didn't do much to push for Amtrak or passenger rail in general when he was VP and that's when he had the power to do something. I'll leave politics out of this but the bottom line is we need someone to take the lead on pushing for more passenger rail. That somebody has yet to emerge.

Agree with you here.......and we see how much success Gore had in preserving rail passenger service to Nashville.

If those of us who support modest expansion of the Amtrak network were asked to select five new routes (my definition of modest), I would imagine that most of us would have some sort of direct route from Chicago to Florida in our five.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Tanner929
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Joe Biden rides Amtrak back to Deleware not exactly a LD trip though. Sec of Tresuary Paul O'Neil loved to ride the train up from DC to Wall Street. Kerry road Amtrak during his campaigb, Oh No that's right He Held up Amtrak while his private train passed by. Private Jets Private Trains off to Aspen our man of the people John Kerry.
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-Jamie-
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According to www.bytrain.org, NC (eventually) plans to add another state funded Amtrak train from Salisbury to Asheville. I'm not holding my breath, but I'd love to see this route become a reality.
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notelvis
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Hi Jamie,

The train from Salisbury to Asheville has been discussed at NCDOT since 1994. To date all that has happened is that three or four of the old depots along the route have been restored.

A dedicated Thruway Bus connecting in Greensboro or High Piont was discussed briefly around 2001.

I may lose a bet that I made with a local travel agent 25 years ago about whether or not rail passenger service returns to Asheville during my lifetime!

If it does come to fruition, I want to be a revenue passenger on the first run.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

Posts: 4203 | From: Western North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
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Coordination is within the power of Greyhound and Amtrak, particularly Greyhound. There used to be a fair amount of almost accidental coordination when bus frequency was a lot higher. 25 or so years ago I did train to bus and vice versa at Jackson MS several times to/from Hattiesburg or Mobile. Now the Amtrak TT shows a Thruway bus connection at Jackson. Assuming on time, the wait is just under 3 hours southbound, but 5.5 hours northbound. Went to greyhound.com. The reason for the long time northbound is simple: This is the ONLY bus running this route. While the Amtrak TT shows no intermediate stops, on the Greyhound web it show several. It runs Jackson-Hattiesburg-Gulfport on US 49 and then US 90 Gulfport-Mobile rather than the old direct route Hattiesburg-Mobile on US 98.

If you check the schedule, you will find beautiful non-connects at Meridian to go to Jackson-Vicksburg-Monroe-Shreveport. This sort of stuff does not need government to fix. It is within the power of Amtrak/Greyhound to fix.

George

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delvyrails
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Just received a copy of the Greyhound system timetable, which is available for $11 + $5 s&h (address on the Greyhound website).

It's shocking in the scarcity of bus service in most parts of the country except in (paradoxically) Texas and part of New Mexico. Besides the long, well-known Empire Builder train-only route between Fargo and Spokane, there are easily a dozen segments where Amtrak is the only surface transport passenger operator, such as Meridian-New Orleans.

Astute Greyhound has quickly jumped into the new markets radiating from Baton Rouge; it now appears to be a major regional hub. How long will it take Amtrak?

Posts: 137 | From: Willow Grove, PA | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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