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Chicago, IL To Los Angeles, CA On Amtrak's Southwest Chief
Fall Amtrak Vacation Trip 2008
Chicago, IL To Los Angeles, CA
On Amtrak's Southwest Chief
October 27th-29th, 2008
Amtrak's Southwest Chief Taking A Break At Albuquerque, NM
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008
Monday, October 27th, 2008:
  At the Metropolitan Lounge, we were escorted by a member of the Amtrak crew from the lounge out to Track #16 where the train was parked. I was assigned Superliner Roomette #5 in the “0330” car which is the first Sleeper behind the Dining Car.  After getting my luggage situated, I moved into my room and put away a few things, then went back down to the platform and took down car numbers for this travelogue as we had a few minutes before the train was scheduled to leave.  The consist for today’s train is shown below:
Amtrak's Southwest Chief - Monday, October 27th, 2008 - 48 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
0340 - Crew Sleeper
Superliner II Sleeping Car
0331 - Sleeping Car
Superliner I Sleeping Car
0330 - Sleeping Car (My Sleeper)
Superliner II Dining Car
Dining Car
Superliner II Sightseer Lounge
Cafe/Lounge Car
Superliner II Coach
Superliner I Coach
Superliner I Coach/Baggage
Superliner I Coach
Coach (Deadhead Move)
To see a Roster Photo of each locomotive/passenger car, simply click on the car number,
just be sure to use your browser's BACK button to get back to this page!!!
Special Note: Superliner I Sleeping Cars never had their names applied and Superliner II Sleeping Cars were delivered with names but as they've been shopped, the names have been removed.

   At 3:15pm, we departed on time from Chicago Union Station bound for Los Angeles and hopefully some warmer weather!!! Shortly after departure, the dining car attendant came by the sleeping cars and took down dinner reservations. I opted for the 6:30pm seating. We left Naperville 1 minute early at 3:49pm (all times listed are from my Casio atomic wrist watch that I'm assuming is correct because I can't set it myself!). Things were relatively uneventful and I took most of the time to just relax and I dozed off a few times along the way (I haven’t had much sleep in the past couple days, these vacations are endurance tests more than "R & R"!!!). We left Mendota, IL on time at 4:39pm and 1 minute early out of Princeton, IL at 5:00pm. At Galesburg, our next stop, there was a bad-ordered Superliner I Coach #31038 sitting on a siding at the station. I found out later on that it had been sitting there due to a flat spot on a wheel and thus it was set out from a previous train. We left Galesburg at 5:57pm, 4 minutes late. Just before we left, the HEP went out in the train. This was when the deadhead coach was supposed to have been removed in Galesburg but would now be set to come off the train in Kansas City.
   It was now time for dinner so I headed over to the dining car which has an all new menu. Among the new items is a flat iron steak. The special for the evening was Chicken Enchiladas, they also had a seafood special which was mahi mahi fish and a meatless lasagna on the menu for today. I ordered the steak, medium well, with rice on the side along with a corn medley and a Diet Pepsi. The steak was absolutely delicious!!! The rice and corn weren’t bad either. I was seated with 2 passengers on their way to Kansas City and another on her way to Flagstaff, AZ if my memory serves me correctly. I had some kind of chocolate raspberry cheesecake for dessert, also absolutely delicious! The dining car staff was also decent and did the job well. After dinner, I found out which coach would stop on the short platform in La Plata, MO, the next stop. I would be meeting up with one of the owners of my great web host, Ray Burns of After finding out which coach to wait in, I had a quick chat with the Conductor and the train arrived in La Plata at 8:19pm. I had a nice quick conversation with Ray and we were out of La Plata at 8:21pm, now 15 minutes late. The next stop is Kansas City, MO which is a service stop/crew change point for the train and is given 44 minutes in the schedule which means the possibility of some night photography there!
   Upon arrival in Kansas City, I was abruptly told by a station agent that photography was prohibited on the head end of the train citing some rule I was not familiar with. I then spoke to the Assistant Conductor who boarded the train there, I was then given permission to take a quick photo however I didn’t have the tripod set up (at first didn't think I would need it due to lots of light on the platform and when I realized I could have used it, there wasn't enough time for me to set it up) so the photo was rather dark. I later found out that the denial of one to take a picture there was due to reasons that have nothing to do with railfans, but rather because of security concerns surrounding other issues in that area. After leaving KC, my sleeper attendant set up my bed for sleeping. I then took a shower and proceeded to hang out in the café car for quite some time having conversations with other passengers. I also had some nice conversations with a couple passengers from Newton, KS. The train arrived early into Lawrence, KS, the next stop and departed there on time at 12:32am. Finally at around 2:30am, I called it a day...

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008:
   I woke up around 8:00am Mountain Time and headed to the dining car for breakfast. I would have the Railroad French Toast with sausage patties and a Diet Pepsi. The french toast was actually very good and not overcooked! After breakfast, we arrived in La Junta, CO, the next stop at 8:33am. This is a service stop/crew change point for the train and thus a smoking break was permitted. I took the time to go take a walk along the train and get some roster photos of it. It was sunny but extremely cold this morning in La Junta and thus my wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts outside was probably not the best idea!!! I noticed that the last coach on the train that was supposed to be cut off the train in Kansas City was still on the train and would now run all the way to Los Angeles, EMPTY, using up fuel and generating no revenue for Amtrak. I need to address this issue at this time. This is a 4th coach that could have easily been placed into service and thus tickets sold for it which would bring in more revenue for Amtrak and help defray the added cost of diesel fuel required to drag this car all the way to Los Angeles. The onboard crew has no control over these things so my suggestion is simply put: if there is gonna be an extra car on the train, it should be opened up and space sold, simple as that, it's more revenue for Amtrak and helps justify the added fuel usage, OK, enough of my rant, back to the travelogue…
   At 8:47am,we left La Junta running only 17 minutes late. I changed into some slightly warmer clothes and set up shop in the Sightseer Lounge as the scenery was gonna get a lot more "hilly" as we enter into the Rocky Mountains. Our next stop in Trinidad, CO was short and we left there at 10:06am, about 16 minutes late. We ascended up Raton Pass going really slow, I took several pictures of the mountains and beautiful scenery along the way. At Raton, NM, our next stop, a smoking break was permitted. I stepped off the train for a few minutes, took a few pictures and got some air before reboarding. We left there at 11:09am, now only 13 minutes late. I had lunch at 12:45pm, and decided to have the special sandwich which consisted of chicken and Swiss cheese on some garlic butter toasted bread. It came with a small salad and I had a Diet Pepsi to drink with the same chocolate raspberry cheesecake I had last night, for dessert. All the food was very good. Our next stop was in Las Vegas, NM (It's Vegas, only quieter!), and we lost a bit more time having left at 12:53pm. Shortly after leaving Las Vegas, we had to pull onto the Canyoncito siding to let our Eastbound counterpart, Train #4 – The Southwest Chief, pass us. This mainline is not a primary line any longer (due to virtually no freight business left on it) and BNSF has subsequently left semaphore signals on this line instead of replacing them with signal lights. Amazing, an active mainline with working semaphores in 2008!!! We left our next stop in Lamy, NM at 2:43pm now 19 minutes late. I spent some more time in the cafe car taking more pictures of the passing scenery including lots of poplar trees at their peak for fall color! There was a small group of passengers, one with a guitar, who were leading a sing-along in the lounge car, it was decent entertainment and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun! We arrived a few minutes late into Albuquerque which was a service stop and crew change point for the train.
   At Albuquerque, there was time to get off the train to smoke or take a walk, or visit the vendors who had merchandise set up on the platform for sale. There was everything from blankets to jewelry to Sudoku puzzles available! One thing that wasn't there was the vendor who sold burritos out the back of his pickup truck, something I remember very well from my last trip through here in 2002!!! I was able to go photograph the train while parked at the station and get some air before reboarding and leaving Albuquerque on time at 4:45pm. The rest of the day, we would be on time or very close to it at subsequent stops. I headed back to the Sightseer Lounge to photograph the red rocks that we go past on the way to the next stop in Gallup, NM.
   At 6:30pm, I had my dinner reservation. Tonight, I would be seated with a couple from Michigan on their way to Flagstaff along with another passenger heading there as well. I had the Flat-iron steak again tonight along with Mashed Potatoes. It came with a vegetable medley but I'm not into beans and carrots. I also ordered the Buffalo Wings as an appetizer and had a Diet Pepsi to drink. The wings were hot, in terms of their temperature, but they were only "mild" to me in terms of level of "heat" and they were quite small in size but still not bad by Amtrak standards! The wings are one thing on the menu that even if you have sleeping accommodations, you still have to pay for them. No big deal, they cost $7.50. After dinner, I went back to my sleeper and continued writing this travelogue for a bit.
   We had stopped in Winslow, AZ by now and had to set our watches back 1 hour as Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time. At Flagstaff, our next stop, a smoking break was granted. I had hoped to see another member of there but he wasn't there so we reboarded and were out of Flagstaff close to on time. I then had a conversation with another passenger in the lounge while we made our stop in Williams Junction, AZ which is the connecting stop with the Grand Canyon Railway! I then grabbed the computer and went to the lounge car to continue writing the travelogue as my sleeper attendant had just set up my bed for sleeping. My plan is to take a shower and call it a day as I have a 5:00am wake-up call in the morning for breakfast, this should be interesting!!!! After taking a shower, I ended up going into the lounge car to write some more of this travelogue and chat with another passenger there. I eventually walked into the Dining Car and had a rather lengthy conversation with the Conductor and Assistant Conductor. After showing them my web site, the AC pointed out that he was in one of my photos from the California Zephyr last year! It turns out, he was AC on that train between Winnemucca and Reno, NV!!! So without even realizing it, I rode with this AC twice! After chatting until probably close to midnight, I called it a day.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2008:
   At 5:00am (8:00am on my brain clock!), I was given my wake-up call from the sleeping car attendant. I immediately headed to the Dining Car for breakfast. They had a very limited breakfast period with a limited menu as they had to shut the car down at 6:00am. We were running virtually on time most of the night so the crew had to have the car already closed up before arriving in LAX. I had the Railroad French Toast and Sausage patties again this morning with Orange Juice to drink. After finishing breakfast, I switched out of my "jammies" and started packing up my stuff. We made our station stop in Fullerton and were told that Los Angeles was 35 minutes away. I tried to put the bed back into the day riding position but couldn't figure out how to store the bed mattress so I said the heck with it! We arrived into Los Angeles Union Station at 7:26am, running an amazing 49 minutes EARLY!!! I dragged my luggage off the platform and headed inside. I needed to find out if what I heard at breakfast this morning about the possibility of a "bustitution" from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo was gonna happen but would find out from a ticket agent in LAX that this wasn't the case and that the train would be running it's normal route! And now, the pix you've been waiting for! Here's a ton of photos taken on the Southwest Chief, just click the link below!!!