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Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

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Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

I'd like to do a car/train combo trip from Memphis TN to New York City in early December. I've never ridden on Amtrak before.

If I got on the train in Memphis, I'd have to transfer twice and spend a long time.

If I get on in Atlanta or Birmingham, I can go straight there, but there is no long-term parking at the stations. I'm also afraid these may not be nice stations.

Chicago has direct but I'm worried about the weather in December. I'd have to drive there.

Another option is to drive all the way to DC and just take the train from DC to NYC.

I don't want to make the drive from DC to NYC because of traffic, and I don't want to park in NYC.

What option sounds most sensible?

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

You don't want to drive to Chicago but you are willing to drive to Washington DC in Dec? December is not a bad month in Chicago. A white Christmas is rare.

Why don't you take the City of New Orleans (#58) from Memphis and transfer to the Lakeshore Limited(#48). You would have a 12 hour layover in Chicago from 10:am to 10: pm to enjoy the city, stretch your legs, have lunch and dinner and, if your visit is around Christmas time, enjoy the holiday decor. Chicago in Dec can be a wonderful experience. Go to the Chicago forum and type "christmas" in the search engine". You'll be surprised how much there is to do and how many tourist are here in December. (The Japanese don't show up until January for some reason.). NYC can be much worse than Chicago in December!

Go to www.amtrak.com and plug MEM to NYP in the ticket-buy schedule.

Do not take the train route through Pittsburgh. I think that you are looking at the Capitol aLimited/Pennsylvanian combo and that is inconvenient at best.

Edited: 01 September 2014, 21:59
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2. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

shallow_shoals - Thanks. What is the long-term parking like in Chicago? By that I mean, is there any fear of them running out of parking? Is the train station pleasant? I've read some horrible things about other train stations. I'll check out the Memphis route you mentioned. And look into Christmas in Chicago. I did visit Chicago once in the fall and loved the food. I still think about it.

Oh, and the weather, I'm not worried about the snow in NYC so much, but I'm more worried about snow keeping me from driving to the train station in Chicago. I know that snow in early December is rare, but not impossible : ) Hotels in NYC often have a 2-week cancellation policy during the peak time in December, so I'd be screwed if weather messed with my plans. I have to say that I like the idea of not having to combine train and car travel. I'd rather do all train or all car.

How would you rate the stress level of taking the Amtrak for such a long distance? I want to take the train because I'm a very anxious flyer. My last flight from NYC was so terrible! I said I'd never do it again if I could avoid it.

Anyone else have any thoughts or ideas? I'm trying to make plans soon so I can book my pet boarding and hotels, etc. I can leave the day after Thanksgiving if necessary. I want to spend at least five nights in NYC before returning to Memphis by Dec. 7 or 8. The earliest I can leave NYC is Dec 5. I have opera tickets for Dec. 4. Yeah, I bought the opera tickets first because I was worried the good seats would be gone!

Are sleeper cars necessary? I'm not sure if I can sleep on the train seats. I've never slept on plane seats. If we add the sleeper cars, the price will be much more expensive than flying.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Parking in Chicago is expensive and, in plain words - a B1 +@h!!! Amtrak Union Station has a parking garage across the street for only $15-$18 per day. BUT, the office workers in the southwest Loop fill it up by 8:am. You're better off taking the overnight City of New Orleans.

Can you sleep in your easy chair? That's about what it is like in Amtrak coach. The seats are the size of business class seats in an airplane but with leg rests. They're cloth, not slippery leather.

I know what you mean about the dehumanizing airplane experience. I detest flying. The train takes time. You already know that it isn't a Sci-fi transporter. It is a unique traveling hotel. You can get up and move around, dine, drink, watch the USA pass by. The trip down the Hudson River Valley from Albany to NYC is lovely. Traveling by train is an experience in itself.

I would take the train the whole way. Do the first night in the Chaircar since there is no dining between Memphis and Chicago, then take a roomette from Chicago to NYC because there is breakfast, lunch included in the roomette charge. Also, there is only the roomette upgrade cost for one or two persons so two of you can travel for the cost of two Chaircar seats and one upgrade. Do the same thing in reverse to get home. Take along your ebook reader, your iPod with earphones, your scrabble game and sit back and enjoy the trip.

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4. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Looks like you replied while I was typing these questions: Are "value" priced tickets recommended? Can you lock your belongings up? Should you worry about theft while you're sleeping?

I looked at the routes you suggested from Memphis. Is the return date you enter the date you want to leave NYC or the date you want to be back in Memphis? I think it's somewhere in-between from what I can tell!

Thanks again for your suggestions. I agree that taking the train the whole way makes more sense.

Edited: 01 September 2014, 23:44
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5. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Oops. Forgot to ask this:

Does the Chicago station have lockers for keeping luggage during layovers? Otherwise, I can't really roam the Chicago streets all day. : )

I'm sorry if this info is available elsewhere, but I can't find it on the amtrak website.

Thanks for the help.

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6. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Oops again! Just found this on the Chicago Union Station website, so posting for FYI for others:

Storage Locker Information

Smarte Locke® LockerSmarte Locke® electronic storage lockers are available for passenger use in the baggage claim area and the south boarding lounge. Lockers accept major credit cards or bills, and provide easy step-by-step rental instructions on a touchscreen display.

Large:

22.25" high x 12.5" wide x 32.28" deep

$3.00 per hour, $9.00 daily maximum

Jumbo:

35.25" high x 18" wide x 32.28" deep

$6.00 per hour, $12.00 daily maximum

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

I've been averaging 20k miles per year the past decade and been traveling the train since college... I've never had anything stolen. I wish I could say as much for the AA Admiral's Lounge. The rooms lock from the inside only. You will want to check your large bags through from Memphis and take a small overnight/medication case on the train with you. That way you won't have to deal with luggage storage during your layover and your luggage will not be in public areas. If you take a sleeper on the Lakeshore Ltd, you can leave your carry-on in the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago (beside the manned desk) or with a Redcap. If you choose to do Chaircar the whole way there are lockers for ticketed passengers in the main Amtrak lower level waiting room.

Ah, I see that you've already found that info.

Edited: 02 September 2014, 01:32
United States
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8. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Since you've been riding so often, do you mind if I ask you how often you've experienced delays? I'm concerned about the whole sharing the tracks with freight trains thing.

I guess I probably shouldn't have read the complaints on the consumer affairs website. Now I'm worried about trains running out of water, having backed up toilets, losing luggage and making you miss connections because of delays. I'm sure all these things can be said about planes too.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

Yes, bad times are not long forgotten. We've been through earthquakes, tornadoes, behind freights that can't make it over the grade, snow storms and floods. Those trains were late due to the proverbial "act of god". The freight train dilemma has been handled on a majority of Amtrak routes by rerouting freight to a different trackage. When freights share trackage with Amtrak they too are scheduled. Freight train problems still exist but not on the Lake Shore Ltd,, Coast Starlight, 1/2 of the Calif Zephyr trackage, and most of the Southwest Chief. As to the toilet problems, those were taken care of three years ago.. The stupid engineers who designed the new trains had probably never ridden on a train in their life so they put in amenities popular on pressurized airplanes: like the toilets. These toilets would not flush above 5000' elevations. So on the Southwest Chief you had no toilets from the high Raton Pass until the Coachella Valley!!! The car attendant had to spend the whole day force flushing the entire system. It wasn't funny. Well, actually, in hindsight, it was.

Stuff occurs. I've never been on a train that ran out of water. The lightweight passenger equipment uses water for ballast. Two tanks per car over the trucks. Perhaps the dining car ran low on water but not the passenger cars. The dining car has also run out of steaks, broasted chicken... and deserts but only because the sleeping car passenger's meals are included in their fare and they gorge themselves. No one ever compliments the food cars on managing a traveling restaurant 1000s of miles and serving 3 a day to a couple hundred passengers.

One other thing about on-time performance... There was a time that the Coast Starlight ( Amtrak's best train) was habitually 15 hours late into,Seattle or LA. That was a war between Santa Fe and Burlington centered in Chemault OR.

Noo The hosbRRs have seen the light and laid new, longer sidings or laid two tacks (ie. through the Rockies) This dilemma led to new contract between Amtrak and the host RRs that give the RR a bonus for on-time performance and hefty fine for late performance in 15 minute intervals. A train is noted as "late" if it arrives 15 minutes after it posted arrival time. That timing skews on-time performance data but the host RRs try harder to treat passenger trains better.

Edited: 02 September 2014, 15:29
10. Re: Best Amtrak Route Memphis to NYC

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