Trip Report, day minus 1

I’m headed to a meeting of the C++ standards committee in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.  This will be my first train ride, and my first face-to-face WG21 meeting, since COVID; and I’m looking forward both of them.


I’m allowing an extra day westbound just in case the Builder gets stuck in a snowdrift…or something.  That also gives me a chance to do some touristy things in Seattle where I haven’t been in ages.  I’ll also spend the last night of the return trip at a hotel just three blocks south of Chicago’s Union Station because the Builder often runs late, and there’s the danger of missing the connection to the next train home.

Between Chicago and St. Louis, I’ll take a couple of corridor trains.  Prior to COVID, we had four “Lincoln Service” round trips per day, two of which would run through St. Louis, where they would change their names to “Missouri River Runner”, and continue to Kansas City.  COVID was an excuse for Amtrak to cut service; so we now have just three daily Lincoln Service round trips, and only one Missouri River Runner per day.

The Lincoln Service trains typically have four cars, three coaches and a café car with very comfortable 2-1 business-class seating.  I’ll have biz.-class seats between Chicago and St. Louis which will also get me one complimentary non-alcoholic beverage.

St. Louis is also served by an overnight train, the Texas Eagle, that runs daily between Chicago and San Antonio.  Three days per week, one coach and one sleeper from the Eagle get switched in San Antonio to or from another train called the Sunset Limited that runs between New Orleans and Los Angeles.  I might change my mind and get a roomette on the Eagle for the last leg home.  I’ll decide when I get back to Chicago.

Between Chicago and Seattle, I’ll be riding on the Empire Builder.  Trains 7 and 27 run as a single train to Spokane, Washington, where they split in two, train 7 going to Seattle, and train 27 going to Portland, Oregon.  Trains 8 and 28 recombine in Spokane.  Train 7 turns south around Everett, Washington, and then runs down along the ocean, eventually along Puget Sound, and then into a tunnel that leads to Seattle’s King Street Station.  Train 27 heads down to Pasco, Washington, and then along the northern bank of the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington, where it crosses the river and heads back east a bit to Portland Union Station.

The Builder uses Superliners as expected.  The Seattle section usually has a baggage car, a crew sleeper, two revenue sleepers, a diner, and two accessible coaches.  The Portland section is typically just four cars long, a Sightseer Lounge, an accessible coach, a coach-bag, and a sleeper.

More detailed timetables for the trains I’ll be taking can be found here and here.

Tomorrow I’ll begin a series of posts about the trip which might read something like a live blog, but won’t be live.  I plan on a single post per day, probably around bedtime.


  1. says

    That sounds fun! I hope you can post a few pictures, too.

    At the first USENIX C++ conference, I wound up at lunch with Andy Koenig and Bjarne S. As we were walking back to the conference center, Bjarne (who was talking intently with ark) almost stepped right in front of a bus but I pulled him back. This was at the time where C++ users were using cfront 2.0. I was evaluating it and concluded it was a non-starter because it took 5-10 minutes to compile something that the K&R C compiler did in seconds.

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