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Author Topic: Riding in Coach Class
Train Granny
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Survey attached to blog post. I'm probably causing more controversy. . . but, I guess that's OK. A little silliness never hurt anyone!

http://www.traingranny.com

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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Gilbert B Norman
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Dr. Hale, I can only presume that you have booked Coach PHL-97(19)-SAV only because you want to chalk up (now there's a phrase to address an educator with) a life experience and be able to say "I tried out overnight Coach".

If not, Roomettes are presently available for that segment and at a rate that I consider "in line".

I think your ATL-19(11)-NOL and LAX-14(14)-EMY segments will give you quite enough exposure to Coach. Even though Daylight trips, I'd be booking Roomettes for those myself.

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notelvis
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Well - riffraff is certainly a subjective term and in the eye of the beholder. What you would find in coach on an Amtrak train and what you would find on a Greyhound Bus would probably have different thresholds I think!

For the record, I am a railfan who sees, to quote a poster I once spotted in Washington Union Station, rail travel as 'Where my love of the great outdoors meets my love of the recliner.'

I travel in coach and or business class when I'm making 'daytrips'. When I was younger I would make overnight trips in coach as well but I really prefer sleeper for those now..... not out of snobbery so much as for comfort. I like having my own bed. I like being able to read or stare out the window uninterrupted..... for me the train ride is the vacation.

Since the advent of the AGR credit card, I have become a 'point chaser' using the card for many things I would be buying anyway - gas, tires, hotel rooms, Christmas presents, etc. I manage two or three overnight trips a year and cannot remember the last time I actually paid cash for a trip with sleeper accomodations.

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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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Train Granny
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Yes, GBN, I just have to try it ... overnight in coach. At least I will be home at the end of that leg of the trip!

David, I rode Greyhound not long ago from Savannah to Atlanta (not my first choice, but I wanted to see my grandson)... and... YES, the threshold is much different!!

I do wish a train went to Atlanta from here!

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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yukon11
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I would be willing to bet, Marty, that most people on the forum would suggest a roomette or bedroom for anything approaching long distance. Sooner or later, you're going to run into some unsavory types which could spoil what otherwise might be an enjoyable trip.

The longest coach trip, for me, in recent years was a trip from Davis, CA to Reno, NV. It was ok except for the fact there were 1-2 people, aboard, with colds. As with airplane travel, not much fresh air on the train and germs can travel fast. My travelling companion came down with whatever they had and she said that she was sick for a week or more.

An exception to the rule, for me, is coach travel on the Amtrak Cascade train. I have never experienced unruly passengers and it is always a fun trip and very scenic. No colds caught, as of yet.

Richard

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Vincent206
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The percentage of Amtrak passengers that qualify as riffraff is very, very small. Most often the troublemakers will be drunk and I think good train crews have developed a sixth sense that identifies potential problem passengers that may need special supervision during the trip. If you are seated next to an obnoxious passenger you can ask the conductor to move to another seat, or just grab your seat check and move to another seat on your own. It would be a good idea to check with the conductor if you are moving to another car, however.

Most passengers on the LD trains are looking for ways to pass the time and casual conversation with fellow travelers is the easiest way to make the miles go by quickly. During the winter months the Empire Builder attracts lots of young snowboarders traveling from Seattle and Portland to Whitefish. The snowboarder usually arrive in groups of 2-4 for the overnight trip, but by the time the train arrives at WFH, all the boarders have gotten to know one another and everybody leaves the train with lots of new friends.

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dilly
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I like traveling by coach, provided I have two seats to myself and the car is quiet. I've occasionally encountered drunks and neer-do-wells. But I've had bigger issues with many ostensibly "normal" coach passengers.

My pet peeves:

-- Passengers who, out of boredom, obsessive-compulsively make one loud phone call after another.

-- Passengers who bring a DVD player or laptop, and watch -- at ear-splitting volume -- every Hollywood action movie ever made.

-- Passengers who refuse to quiet their noisy kids, and won't take an infant having a meltdown into an adjacent empty coach, lounge, or dining car.

Amtrak crew members turn a blind eye 99% of the time. If you ask them to remedy the situation (something you shouldn't have to do), most do so half-heartedly. And the moment they exit from the car? The phone calls and movie explosions resume.

Still, I totally enjoy -- in the aesthetic sense -- riding in a quiet, lightly-populated coach car late at night. Once the lights have been dimmed, the trip takes on a mysterious "Twilight Zone" quality.

If you're unlucky enough (like me) to find it impossible to sleep while sitting up, you get to see things outside the window -- mysterious little towns under a full moon, spooky old factories, eerily deserted rail yards at 4AM -- that you'd miss if you were snoozing in a roomette with the curtains closed.

Unfortunately, I've reached the age where I can no longer weather a night of little or no sleep. It screws me up for a week. Nowadays, my overnight trips are always in a sleeping car.

Still, part of me really misses traveling by overnight coach. Sleeping cars are more restful, but the "experience" isn't the same.

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notelvis
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@ dilly -

Well said. I agree.

--------------------
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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Henry Kisor
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I agree with everyone. Coach is fine for short day trips. Sleepers a must for overnighters.

There is a greater chance of encountering unpleasant passengers in coach, but one does encounter them in sleepers as well, and in the dining car also.

Smokers, drunks and cell phone addicts can be dealt with, but my particular betes noires are come-to-Jesus enthusiasts who refuse to change the subject or allow it to be changed.

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Train Granny
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Dilly, great description of the romantic side of traveling in coach at night. I hope I will experience some of that in my upcoming coach trips. Unless it goes better than I expect, I don't think overnights in coach will become a habit!

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Train Granny

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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palmland
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In my last trip on coach late at night (and it was my last trip), a trip that was to supposed to end around midnight ended some 14 hours later. Sitting in a dark coach filled to capacity with no power was not fun. The delays (on the Silver Star) were due to a severe thunderstorm, a tree on the track, a derailment of the engine on said tree, and faulty signals causing us to zip along at 10mph. Oh how I wished I was in a roomette.
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dilly
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That's why I stressed "lightly populated coach" in my post.

When there are lots of empty seats, nighttime travel can be very serene. When the car is packed, I agree that it can get really unpleasant, especially when your train is running hours late.

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Vincent206
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I don't sleep well on overnight trains or planes, coach or first class, but I love to travel overnight in a roomette and watch the moonlit scenery pass by. By blocking out the ambient light from the hallway, I get a great view of America when I can't sleep. A full moon can light the landscape almost as clearly as daylight. It's beautiful to see the Rocky Mountains at night or pull into some little town in the middle of nowhere at 3 am and wonder "what's going on out there?" The views from the seats in the coach cars or the lounge aren't as vivid because of the ambient light inside the train. One more advantage for sleeper class on overnight trains.
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TwinStarRocket
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I think as we become older we begin to become victims of what a friend called "the curmudgeon factor", especially when traveling. We like our comforts and are less tolerant of people who invade our space.

I must admit I prefer sleeper now for privacy, but I used to prefer coach overnight because it was less claustrophobic and it was more of a group experience. It also had an eery ambiance with light reflections in the windows, so it seemed as if we were alternately traveling in different directions. One fellow passenger remarked he had never known there were so many sleeping positions that were all uncomfortable.

My essentials, developed over time were these:

1. A good thick loose fitting hooded sweatshirt. It helps with the vibration if your head is against the window glass, muffles noise, and helps if the AC is too cold.

2. At least one small extra travel pillow (found in sporting good stores) to pad the hard spots.

3. Soft luggage like back packs to brace yourself in, so you don't keep slipping down hill. The leg rests help but they don't always work right.

Of course this works better if you have 2 seats to yourself, but just build a little nest to your liking and it is possible you might get a good nights sleep. And then think how much comfier this is than if you were a hobo in a boxcar.

Though you are at the mercy of fate in regards to your neighbors, you get a greater feeling of adventure, and your world does not end at a wall 2 feet away.

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Train Granny
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quote:
Originally posted by TwinStarRocket:
your world does not end at a wall 2 feet away.

I think the small enclosure also bothered me somewhat in my recent sleeper car experiences. I found myself wanting to leave the door and the curtain open all the time. My sister had to convince me to close it before going to sleep.

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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RR4me
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I hope I'm still a bit young for curmudgeon status, but in addition to being able to lie flat when trying to sleep, I prefer the ability to leave the "interesting conversations" and go away if they aren't really. I also have never felt claustrophopic in a roomette - I can leave the curtains open, and my world then never seems shrunken. I think we had this converstation not too long ago.
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dilly
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Getting a halfway decent night's sleep on a train is an acquired skill, even when you're traveling in a sleeping car.

It took me a couple of coast-to-coast, multi train trips to reasonably master it. I eventually reached the point where I usually conk out the moment my head hits the roomette pillow, as if I've been drugged.

With that said, I find certain pieces of equipment essential: ear plugs, a sleep mask, and duct tape (to fasten uncooperative curtains and silence random squeaks that manage to seep through the ear plugs). And no Amtrak coffee later than lunchtime -- which is especially difficult since the stuff is "free."

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ColdRain&Snow
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Had to share this one as it was an eye opener. We arrived to KFS this morning on #14 a bit early, so there was plenty of time for a long walk up and down the train. As I got to one of the coaches, I heard a guy say to the TA, "Nice! We're in Klamath Falls OREGON. My warrants in California won't be bothering me now!" Verbatim what the guy said.

I would have to rule riffraff on this one. And knucklehead too. If you have warrants in CA and are thrilled that you've slipped across the state line, why not keep that to yourself? And why tell an attendant who could conceivably tip off the conductor? One of the girls standing near this guy looked horrified when he mentioned the warrants. Great seat partner, eh? Yep, riffraff would be kind in this case.

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Judy McFarland
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I'm definitely a curmudgeon (pushing 70 pretty hard) and I agree that I like my creature comforts. I've lived alone since I was widowed in 1990, and although I like to chat with other travelers during the day, I like my privacy in the evening.

And has anyone else noticed that coach passengers look like the aftermath of a poison gas attack early in the AM? Moving heads and other body parts out the aisle on the way to breakfast is really depressing.

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My new "default" station (EKH) has no baggage service or QuikTrak machine, but the parking is free! And the NY Central RR Museum is just across the tracks (but not open at Amtrak train times. . ..)

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Henry Kisor
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Once when I was riding the Zephyr a convict who had just been sprung from prison was put on the train by a couple of guards. Dressed in a wife-beater T-shirt and heavily illustrated with jailhouse tattoos, he regaled the whole dining car with a loud and running story on the s-word he did to get put into prison and the s-word he did in prison and the s-word people did to him in prison and the s-word he was going to do to people when he got back. He used the s-word at least twice in every sentence, as a noun, adjective, verb, participle, subjunctive and whatnot. Finally a waiter told him she'd sew his mouth up if he didn't clean it up. He obeyed.

I had a cassette recorder with me and captured the whole episode for "Zephyr."

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Gilbert B Norman
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As of a few moments ago, Roomettes are open PHL-97(19)-SAV.

After reading this topic, I think I know what I'd be booking as of now.

I'll think of you, Granny, as I'm dozing off that Saturday at the Westin in Indianapolis - in a Suite no less - after having entertained (wine, Preakness, then Ruth's Chris) some four or five friends from there.

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dilly
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quote:
Originally posted by Judy McFarland:
And has anyone else noticed that coach passengers look like the aftermath of a poison gas attack early in the AM?

That's always a treat. And on some trains, it's not only an AM phenomenon. The coaches come to resemble rolling refugee camps within a few hours after departing from their city of origin.

I have an old b&w snapshot somewhere, which a relative of mine took aboard a New York Central coach at some point during the late 1950s/early '60s.

It was obviously snapped in the morning. The passengers are either asleep or look fairly groggy.

What's notable is that all of the adults are slumbering in a very composed, civilized fashion. Eyes closed, each sits almost rigid in their seat (most of the men have ties and the women are wearing dresses). There's no half-sprawling into the aisle. No slovenly demeanor. No one looks as if they've just been released from jail.

Even the kids (who look like rag dolls) snooze in a neatly-pressed way that shows they'd been taught a few manners. Plus there's a striking absence of passenger "junk" strewn around. Suitcases are neatly arrayed along the overhead racks, but that's all.

Obviously, coach passengers traveled lighter back then. And despite the discomforts of traveling overnight, they still had enough class to make the best of it.

Someday soon, when I have my own planet. . . .

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Henry Kisor
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Dilly, are you sure that snapshot's not a still from "The Twilight Zone"?

Here's how they do it in India.

And here's where we'd all rather be.

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dilly
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
Dilly, are you sure that snapshot's not a still from "The Twilight Zone"?

It's either that or The Outer Limits. My grandma (who was a dead ringer for the grandmother on The Waltons) is in the picture.

As I recall, she'd put on her "I think it's still 1935" Sunday hat, so they must have been nearing their destination.

As for the India photo. . .

Kinda looks like the last time I traveled by coach on the Lake Shore Limited.

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Train Granny
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OK, fellow railfans,
You are not going to make me change my mind! I have never ridden overnight in coach, and I have to try it . . . even if just once! Besides, If I absolutely fall in love with overnight coach travel, I'll save a lot of money in the future!!
No, I'm not expecting that to happen! [Smile] It will make a great blog post if nothing else!

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Train Granny

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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Gilbert B Norman
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Grsnny, please don't believe this tripe:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Union_Pacific_Railroad_coach_car_seating.JPG

Please think twice.

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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by ColdRain&Snow:
Had to share this one as it was an eye opener. We arrived to KFS this morning on #14 a bit early, so there was plenty of time for a long walk up and down the train. As I got to one of the coaches, I heard a guy say to the TA, "Nice! We're in Klamath Falls OREGON. My warrants in California won't be bothering me now!" Verbatim what the guy said.

Totally unrelated but one of the many forms to be completed when a new student enrolls at the high school where I work requires a parent to sign granting permission for their child's image to appear in the local media. Most parents have no issue with this and sign without question.

Not signing the form presents no problem nor does it single the student out for inferior treatment..... we also do not require a reason for not signing the form.

Once, however, I had a mother read the form, ask me a question about it, and then LOUDLY proclaim "I can't sign this, we're in a Federal witness relocation program...." I politely said "That's fine" and quickly moved on to the next form.

Sooooooo - that was a signal to be on the lookout for issues and other strangeness down the road........ but if this family were really in some sort of witness protection program, their cover was blown on day 1!

--------------------
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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smitty195
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quote:
Originally posted by ColdRain&Snow:
Had to share this one as it was an eye opener. We arrived to KFS this morning on #14 a bit early, so there was plenty of time for a long walk up and down the train. As I got to one of the coaches, I heard a guy say to the TA, "Nice! We're in Klamath Falls OREGON. My warrants in California won't be bothering me now!" Verbatim what the guy said.

Shoot, I wish I was there for that one. I would have said, "You've never heard of extradition, have you?". [Smile]
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Gilbert B Norman
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Related topic "from the crypt":

http://www.railforum.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/11/3709.html#000000

More discussion of same point elsewhere:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=23587

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dilly
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Related topic "from the crypt":

Interesting. It seems that I contributed my two cents to that long ago thread -- and have absolutely no recollection of ever doing so.

I guess that explains why, during my trip to the supermarket yesterday, I made it all the way to the checkout before realizing I'd left the house without wearing any pants!

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