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Buffalo To Sandusky, OH On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Fall Amtrak Vacation Trip 2007
Buffalo To Sandusky, OH
On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
September 27th-28th, 2007
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited taking a break at Buffalo-Depew Station
On Labor Day Monday, September 3rd, 2007 shortly after Midnight. (File Photo)
Trip Planning:
   I started the planning phase of this trip several months back, going over various itineraries to determine the trip I wanted to take. My Parents and Sister were going to be in Las Vegas, NV for vacation in early October 2007 and they wanted me to come along. Being that I wanted to still use Amtrak, I explored several itineraries. All itineraries included visiting Cedar Point as I do every year. One possibility was to Use the Southwest Chief from Chicago and ride to Kingman, AZ then catch the bus to Vegas. The other option was to take the California Zephyr to Salt Lake City then a bus to Vegas. Both of these ideas were scrapped as I came to my senses and decided there was no way I was gonna spend any length of time on a bus (outside of using one as a means to get across town or something!)! Amtrak had ended service to Las Vegas in May 1997 when the "Desert Wind" was discontinued due to a massive cut in funding that year. In the end, I decided I would use the following Itinerary: Ride Train #49 - The Lake Shore Limited from Buffalo to Sandusky, OH. Spend the weekend in Sandusky to visit Cedar Point, then ride Train #29 - The Capitol Limited out of Sandusky on Monday morning and head for Chicago. At Chicago, weather permitting, I'd make the walk to Roosevelt Avenue to do some railfanning then catch Train #5 - The California Zephyr and ride it all the way to Emeryville, CA, the end of the line. I’d spend the night in Emeryville at the 4 Points by Sheraton hotel then fly to Las Vegas the following morning on Southwest Airlines. I'd stay in Vegas at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino then fly home 5 days later on AirTran Airways back to Buffalo.
   I booked the tickets on and used my AAA Discount and picked up Buffalo to Sandusky, then Sandusky to Toledo for a total cost of $40.50. I did this because yet again, I had enough Amtrak Guest Rewards points to go the rest of the way for the unbelievably low cost of ZERO!!!! The rest of the trip cost me zilch! My flight on Southwest was approximately $50 and my flight home on AirTran was $69!! After booking online and picking my seats (for the flights on AirTran as Southwest does open seating) ahead of time, the total cost was a little over $100 but I couldn't complain about the prices one bit! So this trip would have me using 3 Amtrak Trains, 3 Hotels, 2 Rental Cars (One in Sandusky and the other in Vegas) and 3 flights. This was gonna be big! I planned to go railfanning in Arizona and maybe California while on this trip as well as experience Vegas with family! So now all I had to do was wait for the fun to begin!

Thursday Night, September 27th, 2007:

   I arrived in Depew (Thanks Mom & Dad for the ride!) at about 11:45pm. As I entered the station, I heard the song "September" from Earth, Wind & Fire which is cool since this trip starts in "September"! The board in the station said Train #49, tonight’s Lake Shore Limited would be arriving at 1:03am. So much for an on-time departure but I wasn't worried. After bringing my baggage inside the station, I had a rather lengthy conversation with a couple from Western New York on their way to Chicago for a reunion. We discussed mostly Amtrak related stuff for about a half hour. Afterwards, I picked up a Diet Pepsi and an Aquafina Water from the vending machine then went outside. I headed out to the platform to get some air and had a decent conversation with another passenger who was a former railroad worker who worked for the Milwaukee Road years ago. We discussed railroading for a bit. The Conductor tonight collected tickets from myself on the platform then the rest of the passengers waiting inside. After that, most of the other passengers started to congregate on the platform in anticipation of the train’s late arrival. At 1:17am, running 1 hour and 22 minutes late, Train #49 arrived with P42DC #148 on the lead. The consist for tonight’s train is as follows:
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Thursday, September 27th, 2007 - 52 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (Converted From Coach)
Viewliner Sleeper
Imperial View
Sleeping Car
Viewliner Sleeper
Lake View
Sleeping Car
Viewliner Sleeper
Southern View
Sleeping Car
Amfleet II "Diner-Lite" Car
Diner-Lite Car Converted From Lounge
Horizon Cafe Car
Cafe Car
Amfleet II Coach
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (My Car)
Amfleet II Coach
Amfleet II Coach
Viewliner Sleeper
Village View
Sleeping Car (Deadhead Move)
   We departed Buffalo at 1:30am now a full 1 hour and 31 minutes late. The next smoking break was scheduled for Cleveland, OH. They assigned seats this year as I was given Seat #10. After sitting around for a bit, I headed for the Cafe Car to set up my computer and start writing this travelogue. I'd have a new gadget this year in the form of a Palm Handheld PDA to take my travelogue notes as opposed to using a paper notepad, let’s be environmentally conscious and save a tree!!! My coach was a refurbished Amfleet II #25100. The car was clean and appeared to be in good shape. One thing I have sadly witnessed this year is the fact that there’s no dining car on this train, rather a "Diner-Lite" refurbished car which had upgraded cooking equipment and a steam table. The car was a former Amfleet II Smoker Lounge car. The area on the end of the car where the smoking lounge was has been gutted and reconfigured with regular tables on both sides making the car’s setup have tables on both ends. The tables have table cloths on them and the "plasticware" cups and plates are used to serve the food. I took several pictures of the car. As a train traveler, I miss the Heritage Diners but I’m sadly afraid that their careers may be coming to an end considering that many of them are now pushing 60 years old! Things were rather uneventful as we rode through Dunkirk. I sat for a bit in the lounge car and and continued writing this travelogue. We arrived in Erie, PA our next stop at 3:02am and departed at 3:04am 1 hour and 28 minutes late. Shortly after departing Erie, the coach attendant came by and gave me 2 seats to myself after several passengers had gotten off the train in Erie, I was now able to relax a bit more as I'd prefer the window seat (I had an aisle seat initially). By now I turned on my scanner and listened as we flew by the Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio countryside. As we came closer to Cleveland, due to our lateness, we would end up arriving in Cleveland just after Train #29 - The Capitol Limited had departed.
   Somewhere West of Eastlake, we switched to AAR Channel 11 until we arrived in Cleveland, this must be something new because last year, the Channel used in that area was 59. Just before arriving in Cleveland (you could see Cleveland Browns Stadium from where the train stopped) we sat for a good 10 minutes as the Capitol Limited was in fact in the station in Cleveland. At 4:56pm, we arrived in Cleveland and were granted another smoking break on the platform. A disabled passenger had to be helped off the train with her wheelchair so we stayed in Cleveland until our departure at 5:07am. Things slowed down a bit as we were now on approach signals after leaving Cleveland. The Capitol had to have been in front of us the whole way. Our next stop in Elyria, OH was short, having arrived at 5:36 and leaving at 5:37am. By now, I had pulled out my iPod and listened to the soft rock sounds of Restless Heart, Luther Vandross and Anita Baker, ah, how relaxing on the train to hear some good old soft rock! One thing I noticed as we had been on Norfolk Southern track since leaving Cleveland was that it was smoother than CSX track though CSX has done a ton of trackwork and their track is better this year than last year in terms of smoothness. As I watched out the window of my coach, I could see when we passed under the U.S. 6 Overpass in Huron, OH which means we were only a few miles from Sandusky. I started to get my things together and prepare to get off the train. The train arrived in Sandusky at 6:10am, running about 1 hour and 40 minutes late. I got off with 3 other passengers (not bad considering this is my 10th year using Amtrak to get to Cedar Point and at least 3 or 4 times, I was the only passenger who got off the train in Sandusky!)
   There were phone numbers of local taxi companies posted in a window at the station so I called up Crusin' City Taxi and they arrived literally within minutes to pick me up!  I'd be staying this year at the Comfort Suites in Sandusky.  This was my first visit to this hotel.  The hotel allowed me to get an early check-in at around 6:45am.  The room had a king-sized bed and was very clean and neat.  There is wired high-speed internet in the room and everything looked great in the room!  Shortly after 7am, I "called it a night" and went to bed having been awake about 23 straight hours, nothing new here, as most of these trips end up that way at the start!  And so ends the first day…
A Couple Interior Photos Of A "Diner-Lite" Amfleet II Cafe Car
The converted former "smoking lounge" (left photo) and the new steam tables
(right photo) that are part of the "Diner-Lite" converted Amfleet II Lounge Car.