Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Ridin’ the Train

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I rode Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” to Chicago three weeks ago from Portland, Oregon and from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Portland, Oregon yesterday.  It went across the top of the nation with a stop in Glacier National Park, past the Continental Divide and through the geographical center of the U.S. Here’s my take on the ride to and fro:

PROS
Legroom
Dining Car
Snack Car
Observation Car
Leisurely
Gorgeous scenery
No taking off your shoes
Coach seats deeply recline for sleep
Wide seats
No baggage fees
Much less hectic/stressful than flying
More bathrooms
Less costly than flying (if you don’t get a sleeper car)
Less fearful than flying (if you have a fear of flying)
Power outlets

CONS
Coach seats reclined not quite enough for my 6-foot frame
Slow
May not serve locations I need
Tiny bathrooms identical to airplane bathrooms (However, there was one large bathroom for the disabled.  It was mostly unoccupied).
No Wifi

It left on time, arrived on time and was only delayed in North Dakota as it shared common rails with freight and oil trains.  The customer service people (Rhonda) were great, the conductors were professional and the ride was smooth.  If I am in no hurry to go where I need to go in the future, I will be taking the train. Except for emergencies, there is no reason for me to not plan ahead for the time it takes the train and choose it over the planes, cars or buses.

P.S.  Can’t make the seats longer, can’t go much faster than 70mph, isn’t going to more places right now but, hey Amtrak, you CAN improve Wifi for other than just along the Eastern corridors.

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Written by Interviewer

September 30, 2016 at 01:24

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