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Old 07-20-2005, 09:37 PM   #181
spima3
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assigned seating

erinch:

You stated Amtrak really does a good job of assigning the seating, ie, families, teens, seniors, etc.

WE have 3 kids, 5 yrs to 10 yrs. Where do you think they would assign us?
I have been concerned about upper and lower levels. Most people seem to think the lower level is better, less swaying, not as busy, etc. I did request it, but am wondering now if the upper level would be better. The bathroom smell would not be good!

Do they assign by levels or cars?
thanks,
lori
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Old 07-21-2005, 08:19 AM   #182
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I have 2 kids 8 and 10 and we have always been assigned family car upper level. I have never requested lower level, so I am not sure how they are assigned. We have always enjoyed the upper level.
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Old 07-21-2005, 08:56 AM   #183
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SPIMA3
I believe that families with children under 16 are all seated in "family" cars. We have never been in the "lower" seating of the cars, but those areas are smaller and enclosed. The seating in the lower portion of the car probably only takes up about 1/2 of the car, and is separated from the restroom/stairway area by a door. It appears that there are maybe 8 or 10 sets of seats.
I have heard pros and cons with regard to the lower levels. It may be a little noisier due to being closer to the tracks, and you have to go up the stairs to the upper level to be able to travel to the lounge or dining car. There does seem to be a little more sway in the upper level. If someone in your party tends to get motion sick, it may be a good idea to use some dramamine or whatever works for you.

Kris

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Old 07-21-2005, 04:44 PM   #184
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With children under teen years, you'll be in a family car (assuming you're talking about coach).

We lasted about 5 minutes on the lower level, I found the motion to me much worse close to the tracks, and I felt really claustrophobic due to the less panoramic view. Both my daughter and I get car sick, but I'm fine on the upper levels of the train, because it's going straight.

I would suggest, if you're not sure, board as soon as they allow boarding, and if it turns out that the ambience is not to your liking, see if you could change. I did not have a problem doing this with roommettes, but I think, unless they're crowded, they'd accommodate a change in coach as well.
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Old 07-25-2005, 12:15 AM   #185
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Thanks

Thanks to all for the info about the train. I have a much clearer picture of what we might be getting into.
I originally requested lower level, I think, but don't see anything about this on the tickets. I think I will call and see if I can request upper level.
The noise and confinement of lower level would bother me more than the upper level sway, I think.
I'll find out soon enough!
Again, thanks.
lori
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Old 08-10-2005, 09:19 AM   #186
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Just returned from a trip on the Auto Train. I had another great experience. I travelled on July 30 and returned on August 6.

I work for Amtrak, so the week leading up to my departure, I was tracking the train to see what the On-Time Performance was. NOT GOOD. So I knew what to expect.

The food was really good this trip both going and coming. I had the seared catfish with a tomatoe sauce that came with rice and carrots. I had the chef's special dessert, which was a white chocolate lace cake. Pretty good. I don't really remember what else was on the menu. Everyone at my table loved their food. Two had the catfish and one had the beef torpedoes.

The movie shown was In Good Company. I didn't watch because I had my dvd player and a array of movies. Life was good.

As you know, we are due into Sanford at 8:30 am but didn't arrive until 10:30 am, not too bad. I had to wait a little over an hour for my car, and was on my to WDW by 11:45am.

On the return trip home, I arrived at the Sanford station at 2:15 pm waited in the long line to check in. I know what your thinking, why didn't I throw my weight around and bypass the lines. Because I am a good person, and besides, I didn't want to start a riot. And, when I travel, I try not to mention that I am an Amtrak employee, because you get bombarded with questions.

Anyway, back to my story......Normally boarding begins at 2:30 pm, well this was not case on August 6. Apparently, the train was really late getting there, so we couldn't board until 4:00 pm. Of course, all of the seats were taken on the inside, so I had to sit outside for an hour and a half. Another instance where I should thrown my weight around, but I didn't. It actually wasn't that bad.

Finally get on the train get situated and we are pulling out at 5:00 pm, not to bad.

Dinner was again excellent. I forgot to mention that I had to get the
9:00 pm dinner seating. Again, not too bad, it's not as crowded. Dinner was really good. They had changed the menu just that quick. I had braised beef rib that was so good and tender that the meat literally fell off the bone. It came with a baked potatoe and mixed vegetables. Go Amtrak! I had the cheesecake with strawberry topping. My table mate had salmon and he said that it was delicious.

We were actually early until we got Quantico where CSX had signal problems and caused us to sit for about 45 minutes. Again, not too bad.

CSX has done quite a bit of track work, which makes for a much smoother ride. On the train coming home, I noticed that some of the sleepers were refurbished. We also had a refurbished viewliner, which was very nice.

Also, there is now a wine tasting service for sleeper car passengers that last about an hour after you board the train. Very nice touch.

I also, travelled solo this trip and felt very comfortable. Had a great trip. I am not just saying this because I am an Amtrak employee. The Auto Train is my favorite long distance train.

Any questions, please ask away.......Thanks for choosing Amtrak!
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:17 AM   #187
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Tammy--
Our family was on the same Aug 6 train out of Sanford! Good ride except for the delays. We got seats inside, but kept giving up some of them to others who needed them more. (Question--why don't they expand the Sanford station?)

We were in a situation where Amtrak had assigned us roommettes on the lower level, even though I had specified when making the reservation in March that I get violently ill on the lower level and had to be upper, and had been assured this would not be a problem.

The Aug 6 train was at capacity, and they didn't have upstairs rooms to switch us to. But the staff worked hard and eventually found us 2 roommettes on the upper level. My hubby and I were in one car, and my 17 yo son was in another car with our 9 yo daughter. I was worried how they would fare that far from us, but they did great, and the staff was accommodating after some initial hesitation about separated family members. The only rough spot we had was the car attendant in the kids car was adamantly not going to let my husband accompany them to their compartment to help my daughter with her "stuff" and to make sure they were safely situated. It looked like we were going to have to take her stuff on with us in our car, then walk it down internally. Due to the crowds, this was getting a little tense. The attendant finally did just let him on, then off again. I was afraid it would be a tense ride, but it was all pleasant after that.

We normally take a 5 pm dinner seating, but took 7, since the train wouldn't be leaving till 5. The wine tasting was more hurried than on the way down, but was still very nice. The train from Sanford to Lorton had one of the "superliner" dome lounge cars.

For dinner, they switched the white dinner wine from a nice dry chablis to something sort of sparkling and sweeter. I didn't like it as well, but they also offer a red wine, and are diligent in circulating through to pour refills.

I'll add that with the Aug 6 train at capacity, and the dining car staff seemed a little stressed. We observed an altercation between some of the servers, who had different opinions on serving protocol.

With the train that full, I was wondering how the folks in coach were doing. At one point the train stopped due to a medical emergency. I'm presuming an amublance met the train and they took someone off, but we couldn't see from our car.
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:36 AM   #188
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tammy
We also had a refurbished viewliner, which was very nice.
This was in revenue service (!), or only (I'm guessing) a deadhead move?

Just curious.
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Old 08-10-2005, 04:13 PM   #189
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Tammy,
I will be traveling on the Auto Train on Saturday September 3 (Labor Day weekend), from Lorton, arriving in Sanford on the 4th. I'm just curious what you think the crowds on the train might be like on that weekend? I was thinking that with the kids back in school and the holiday weekend already underway it wouldn't be that busy. Any thoughts? It will be me, my DH and my DD 18 months, so I'm really hoping for some extra space in coach and hoping it is not filled to capacity. Also, I'm not sure if you would be able to answer this but I'm still toying with the idea of upgrading to a family bedroom. My question is, if I did that, is there anything that they put up on the lower level children's bed to keep the child in the bed (like a bed rail or netting)? DD is used to sleeping in a crib and therefore I wouldn't feel comfortable putting her in the bed by herself since she might fall out. I originally figured if I have to hold onto her anyway we might as well save the extra money and go coach. If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them. Thanks.
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Old 08-10-2005, 09:28 PM   #190
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drive to Lorton

erinch:

What route did you take on your drive to Lorton? We will be driving from PA.

I am getting very confused w/ all the suggestions for avoiding traffic delays!

thanks
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Old 08-10-2005, 09:48 PM   #191
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We decided the beltway couldn't be THAT bad after rush hour and went turnpike to 270 to 495. We were almost 2 hours longer than we expected in beltway tie-ups. BIG mistake....should have followed the advice for the other route. (I'm not recalling what that is, but do a search. If you can't find it, i can search on my name and locate the thread.)

good luck!!
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Old 08-12-2005, 08:06 AM   #192
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Another Traffic Warning

Hi all. I live in the DC area, and on the news channel this morning, they said that the traffic authority fears that there may be back upas as long as 15 MILES this weekend around the Wilson Bridge because of lane closures.

On another note, we took the autotrain on July 29 - we didn't get in to Sanford until about 4:30 pm, and didn't leave with our car until close to 6. We lost an entire day of our too short vacation No phone call to alert us, so we found it out when we checked in at 1:00. They told us we could leave and return no later than 3:30, which we did. Train didn't leave until 8:30 or later, so I was stuck with hundreds of other people in that station with my two young children for 5+ hours.

Hope this helps!

Amy
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Old 08-13-2005, 11:00 PM   #193
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Wow, I realize there can be delays w/ the autotrain, but that is a looong one.
Did they give you any reason why?
I don't have any plans for our first day other than checking in and DTD, but sure
would hate to get there so late in the day; we only have 5 days at Disney as it is.
Hope this was unusual. ??
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Old 08-14-2005, 05:04 PM   #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erinch
We decided the beltway couldn't be THAT bad after rush hour and went turnpike to 270 to 495. We were almost 2 hours longer than we expected in beltway tie-ups. BIG mistake....should have followed the advice for the other route. (I'm not recalling what that is, but do a search. If you can't find it, i can search on my name and locate the thread.)

good luck!!
I gave the other route to someone on this site. Never take I-270. It's always bad, 24/7. The alternate route is Rt 15 south to I-66 towards DC and then over to I-95. There are a couple of choices. Easiest way is to look at a map and make a decision for yourself. Rt 15 intersects I-66 and there's a couple of routes from there to get to Lorton. I live a few miles from Rt 15 in VA and we don't use I-95 or 495 unless it's the only way to get somewhere. There are a few times I'll use them, like Christmas morning or early Sat or Sun mornings, but that's about it. We're taking the auto train on our return trip from WDW in Nov and I think we're going to try to book it going down too, but I wont' be on I-66 or the beltway, we have other alternate back roads we use.
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Old 08-17-2005, 03:19 PM   #195
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Autotrain Delay

The excuse given to us for the delay was that the train had been stuck behind a freight train or trains a day or two earlier, and they still hadn't made up the time that they lost. It was our first time on autotrain, so I couldn't tell you how often it happens.
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