Rail barons and the new gilded age: one-percenters travel in style by hitching private "super-luxe" railcars to Amtrak trains

The Wall Street Journal profiles rich "train buffs" who buy vintage Gilded Age railcars and refurbish them, then pay to have them hitched to Amtrak trains and pulled between their city houses and their country places. Read the rest

Amtrak train carrying passengers jumps tracks and dangles over a highway near Seattle

An Amtrak train full of passengers derailed this morning at 7:40am, leaving cars dangling over an overpass near Seattle, WA. There have been multiple deaths and injuries.

Via CNN:

"I was traveling to work this morning along I-5 and we came to a sudden stop," Greg Mukai told CNN. "We all tried to stop quickly to avoid running into each other to be honest. Once we all came to a stop I was able to look up and see, unfortunately, this scary thing of ... a train hanging off of the overpass. Lots of military personnel and people ran to try to help the best they could."

"We came around the corner and it had to have just happened...there were no police there yet. There was one link of the train off to one side and the other on the other side of the freeway. There were crushed cars underneath. There was an insane amount of fire trucks and ambulances heading towards us." Amtrak said it is aware of the incident involving the 501 train which travels from Seattle to Portland, Oregon.

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I rode Amtrak's Coast Starlight the wrong direction. I still loved it.

"Toot toot!" I yelled, as my friends and I were delayed and waiting around at the San Francisco Bay Area's Emeryville Station, waiting for the Amtrak Coast Starlight train to arrive.

I was being paid $1 every time I yelled "toot toot!"

The train was probably my idea. I am not sure why I'm reluctant to take credit, but I've always wanted to ride Amtrak's Coast Starlight. Trip Advisor says the Coast Starlight is the 1050th most fun thing to do in California. Also, I like slow travel. I drive a goddamn VW Vanagon when I go on vacation, and that should tell you enough.

Some friends and I were heading to see Puddles Pity Party in Los Angeles that weekend. We'd all traveled from the Bay Area south to the City of Fallen Angeles so many times in 2017, we needed a break from driving and airports. Amtrak seemed like a great adventure. I like adventure.

I did not consider, however, that the coast part of the Coast Starlight, at least on the SF to LA leg of the trip, would be transited at night. As in, when it is dark. And you can't see. I did see some interesting California scenery, and experience what may be the very best Amtrak has to offer, but this isn't a review of the LA to SF trip, which is actually lets you see the coast.

Our train was two hours late. Surprised? Luckily, I had packed a bunch of edibles and some pre-rolled joints. Read the rest

Amtrak vs snow, in slow-mo

An Amtrak train pulls into a station somewhere up east. The only problem? The tracks are already occupied by snow, piled a good six inches higher than the platform itself. Commuter Nick Colvin knows what's about to happen and has his iPhone set to record slow-mo footage, but as he writes, there was "a more spectacular arrival than expected." Read the rest

Turn air miles into train miles

Do you like trains? Do you have a lot of Continental Airlines OnePass miles? Until December 31st, you can turn those air miles into Amtrak GuestRewards points. There are certainly some people this wouldn't make sense for, but I know some of you will be interested, so I thought I'd post it. Call the Continental service center at 713-952-1630 to make the switch. (Thanks to my Twitter Train Buddy rstevens!) Read the rest