Taking Amtrak Kansas City to Chicago

Old Sep 14th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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Taking Amtrak Kansas City to Chicago

Has anyone taken this non-stop train, which is supposed to take just 7 1/2 hours? Did you experience delays and what did you think of the experience? It appears we could travel in October for $100 rt. How was the food in the dining car? Air fare is running about $150 rt on Southwest, but the train sounds intriguing. Thank you.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Personal experience, no. However, I've heard many stories of frustration about this train ride. There are two different trains, and the one running FROM Chicago has been said to be the nicer one. The one from KC is more spartan.

Lots of delays.

I think for the price difference, it's going to be your choice of poison; neither option is going to be a relaxing travel day.

In today's paper there is a story about the Megabus that runs from KC to Chicago. It's really cheap!
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 07:26 AM
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Be careful with Megabus. When it's running on time it's great. I've used it about 12 times. A few weeks ago, it was 1 1/2 hours late- Milwaukee to Chicago. When I called, the dispatcher contacted the driver and told me he'd be there within " a couple of hours." I then took the Amtrak. Much more expensive and had to wait another hour. My daughter also got stranded in Chicago waiting for a no show bus. Another daughter waited 1 1/2 hours for the bus to Minneapolis. No bad weather in any of these instances. My advice- if you plan Megabus, have a back up plan.
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 09:14 AM
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I have not taken this particualr train. However the equipment should be Superliners, the double deck cars, both from KC and from Chicago.

This train is the Southwest Chief which runs daily between LA and Chicago. So picking up the train in KC you'll be towards the end of the run with the possibility for running late. The train originates in Chicago on the reurn to an ontime departure is more likely.

The food in the dining cars has improved greatly over the last few years. I would not call it fine dining but it is not bad either.

If you are planning on staying in the downtown area, Union Station is a fairly short cab ride to most destinations. Public transport on the El is also close by but not in the station.

Southwest will fly into Midway.
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Old Sep 16th, 2008, 06:24 AM
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A few years ago we took Amtrak from KC to Chicago as a family vacation. It was a fun experience for our teens as they had never been on a train before. The train was about 40 minutes late coming into KC as Amtrak yields to other rail traffic. The ride was great with nice big seats. The teens watched a movie on the upper level. We brought our own lunch, Subway bought in the station, but bought snacks and drinks on the train. Must warn you the bathroom was not the cleanest. It was so pretty riding through the corn fields of Iowa and crossing the Mississippi was a highlight. The train made various stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. As we got closer to Chicago more and more business types came aboard. It was interesting to ease-drop on conversations. One man, a cattle trader, spoke on his cell phone about his business. He was obviously quite wealthy and I learned a lot just listening. As we pulled into the station there was a delay of maybe 20 minutes while the mail car was detached. Union Station is very impressive with it's architecture. At the station we grabbed a taxi to our hotel spending about $15 for the four of us and luggage. While in town we used the free trolleys and an occasional taxi. One good part was that on arrival my Husband was relaxed and ready to tour, not having to drive there. No worries about where to park our car.

All in all, it was a very good adventure. Yes, it took about 7 hours both ways. Some delays waiting for another train to pass, but it interesting to learn about train travel. The station is right in town so time is saved there. I'd do it again anytime.
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 05:14 AM
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This would be the Texas Eagle (22 & 21). Train travel is just right for some people and not at all right for others.
If you are in a hurry and need to be on time - for work or making connections, don't take the train.

If it's a vacation sort of trip with no time stress involved, you will probably enjoy it.

When we train travel, we have no expectations about our arrival time (!) and try to forget about our watches. We bring books, crosswords, iPods, and a relaxed attitude. Also (in a sleeping room) we bring wine & snacks.

We're leaving in a week for CHI on the Tex Eagle and it's running an average of 2 hours late. The reason is that the Freight Trains have priority, so Amtrak will pull over to let them by - or let them depart a station first.

The food is fine (not great) - but I personally just think it's fun to eat in the dining car.

Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 05:42 AM
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Anymore, I have no expectations about my arrival time when I fly.

Keith
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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Very helpful answers and stories. My husband and I have no time constraints and we don't need a car in Chicago. I think we will try the Southwest Chief. I can see why the departure from KC might be delayed more likely than from Chicago. Thanks for explanation. We won't be upset if we are prepared. It should be a good deal more relaxing than flying.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Just for clarification - the choices from KC to Chicago are the Southwest Chief and the Ann Rutledge. The Texas Eagle does NOT run through KC; it goes through St Louis. Of the 2 from KC the Southwest Chief has the nicer equipment, including full dining car.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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oops, my bad.
Sorry about the wrong info thinking you were on the TE.

But have a great trip and write a trip report when you get back!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2008, 12:35 PM
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Thank you for clarification. A dining car will be nice.
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