Travel Observations

Comments by RailPAC member Freeman Gosden Jr.
on his recent trip from
Santa Barbara-LA-Chicago-Emeryville- Santa Barbara

I told my friends that La Junta to Hutchinson was roughest experience I have ever had on AMTRAK-Santa Fe UP or SP. I’ve done Chi-LA 35 times. I was partially thrown out of bed. Now, I see AMTRAK is slowing down its trains on that section. Good. As much as I love trains, with barely more than 2 trains a day almost no freight there is no justification for La Junta Raton route, as beautiful as it is.

What do I notice different about today compared to last 50 years? 1) The obesity of passengers 2) The cheerfulness and helpfulness of staff that has to deal with equipment that is past obsolescence. On a recent trip I was between Albuquerque and Gallup wanting to return to my room but the train, a top speed was too difficult as I am partially handicapped. The conductor happened to pass by. I asked him if there was a planned slow down soon so I could return to my room. He asked me when I wanted to go and I replied that now would be fine. He got on the radio, requested engineer slow down to 25 mph. He did and I got to my room. AMTRAK really cares!

One small suggestion. Several times the PA system said the Lounge or parlor car was closing in x minutes. That is not true. The snack bar only was closing, not the rest of the car. Also, some of the coach passengers, wise to train travel, come to the more comfortable lounge car to sleep overnight. I don’t think that is the intent of the lounge car.

My friends ask me if I would take the trip again. I reply with an emphatic, “Yes!” Not only is the view great, but almost every stranger you sit has an interesting story to tell.

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