My initial plan for this trip was to explore the United States for a month, being reliant on Amtrak to transport me around. I intended on going to around eight cities and would spend a couple of days in each of them. That partly happened, although there were some problems with closed routes.
So, I settled on going from Los Angeles to Tucson, from Tucson to El Paso, from El Paso to San Antonio and then flying from San Antonio to New Orleans. I then had another series of cities after that to visit, but I used plane and bus to get to them. This masterful plan was dented when Amtrak mailed me two weeks before my trip to tell me the train from El Paso to San Antonio was cancelled and they were providing no alternatives. Fortunately, Greyhound buses filled in the gap….
So, the first part of my journey was from Union Station in Los Angeles, California to Tucson Station in Arizona.
I’d been to Union Station on numerous previous occasions and taken many photographs. So this time, I limited myself to just taking a photograph of the tower since it was a warm and pleasant evening.
The departures screen in the main departures hall.
On my previous Amtrak trips I’ve just waited in the departures hall until the train is called. I felt that something seemed different about this trip though, and so I went to the customer services desk to ask if there was anything else that I needed to do. It turned out that this was a good decision of mine.
The man at the customer services desk was particularly helpful and explained that I needed to go and queue up to get a ticket. Instead of giving me directions, he decided to close the desk and escort me to where I needed to be, another helpful touch.
I then spent around thirty minutes in a queue to get a ticket, but that meant I could choose whether I got a window or aisle seat. The Americans (or at least they all seemed American) in the queue was conversational which made for a more entertaining wait. I went for a window seat so that I could look out of the window at California and Arizona, although I forgot it got dark at night and this was primarily a night train….
This was my view for most of the journey…. (not the same hill obviously, but different ones).
Around twenty minutes before departure time there was a call for passengers, so I went to wait on the platform. I hope Dylan and Leon get to see these trains soon, as they are large and slightly clunky, but I think they’re rather beautiful.
Moving the train towards the end of the track is apparently a more complex procedure than it might at first appear.
Ready to board. It looks a bit of a crowd, but the boarding was organised so that individuals could wait outside their carriage. A staff member then welcomed us individually and guided us towards our seat.
It’s hard to give an indication of seat size, but the leg space is substantial and far in excess of that I’ve experienced in any other country. Even if the person in front reclines, it makes absolutely no difference to the comfort of the person behind them.
When I was in the departures hall at Union Station a young guy came up to me and asked if he could borrow my charger. The railway station has a reputation for hawkers and people begging, and I was a little suspicious. I told him that I didn’t have the right adaptor for the plugs there, but I could charge it on my laptop, which I did. This didn’t seem risky as I currently had his phone and he had nothing of mine. All was well, he thanked me and that was that.
Anyway, it transpired that I was seated next to him on the train, which seemed rather a coincidence (the seating was allocated, so he didn’t just sit there). He was a pleasant and helpful guy, and he asked again on the train if I could charge his phone. Which I did, and that’s what is in the photo above.
The guy gave me a can of Pepsi for my help, and so I then agreed to charge his e-cigarette thing. Which promptly leaked. But he was happy 🙂
Getting nearer to Tucson in the early morning.
The train didn’t go that quickly if I’m being honest, but it was relaxing and comfortable. There were cabins on board for those who wanted them, although they’ve quite a bit more money.
Safely arrived in Tucson. The ticket cost around £28 and I thought that this was perfectly good value for money. I was slightly disappointed that there was no wi-fi on the train, but I understand that they’re actively trying to work on this across the network.
Overall, this was a very acceptable way of being transported from one city to another. The train was quiet on boards, there were plenty of toilets and numerous guards were available for any passenger who needed help. I was marginally disappointed I couldn’t get the train from Tucson to El Paso as it had been cancelled, but we arrived into Tucson on time. One final thing, I like that the guards go down the train waking any customer up who is still asleep before their stop, it’s a reassuring service….