Leaving the Twin Cities. But first, allow me to vent for a sec.


It’s a little after 11 pm Central Time and I’m waiting for the Empire Builder at St. Paul Union Depot to take me home. Besides bike complications and a very soggy Monday, it’s been a good trip.

But the getting home part has become slightly complicated. And I’m not thrilled.

So the Empire Builder is running late, by about two hours. While not exciting, it’s to be expected with Amtrak. But I was texted a warning, telling me that it was expected to arrive around 11:55 pm, and I should get there at least one hour early if I needed “station assistance”, which I assumed would mean boxing and checking my bike. So getting to the station at 10:25 would be ample, right?

Apparently not.

I arrived to the ticket/baggage counter and was told that because I didn’t get it there “in time”, the bike would be delayed a day. What?

After much back-and-forth with the agent, who seemed more interested in arguing with me and interrupting me rather than be actually helpful, I learned that I should have had it there at 9, an hour before the scheduled arrival. Even though the train is coming in at midnight. Even though I got a text telling me to be here at least an hour before the delayed arrival.


And oh yeah, they somehow don’t have any packing tape?

Just to be clear, having the bike delayed a day is annoying, but not the end of the world. I’m going home to my other bikes, and the Wayfarer needs work. What I’m most irritated by is the ambiguity of the information I received. And the unprofessional attitude of the agent.

8 thoughts on “Leaving the Twin Cities. But first, allow me to vent for a sec.

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  1. And… another customer is lost to N. American train travel.
    Maybe not you, but it’s how they lose other customers. Via in Canada is also terrible, so I’d far rather drive any distance under 600km (Toronto-Montréal) even if I have to rent the car, and fly any distance more than that. Not like the train is cheaper! JR in Japan? I’ll take that over any flight less than 1000km, and only because further takes you off the main island from Tokyo.

        1. Well, to put it in perspective, many people drive and fly, even after a bad experience. The difference in the US is that there is only one national rail carrier-Amtrak.

  2. We’ll it could be worse….
    I’ve taken that train route a couple times. The first time (when I moved here) we got held up in Montana for a little over half a day because a corpse was found on or just off the tracks and the engineers needed to stop report it and file the reports and what not.

  3. Yes, American long distance passenger rail, where no one in the Midwest needs to travel north-south or vice-verse, and passengers take a distance third to coal and cargo traffic. It’s a national disgrace.

    1. Hear hear. It’s going to take popular and political will to change things. Several times over the years I thought we were just about to turn the corner, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  4. Shawn, I can imagine how frustrated and annoyed I’d be by that kind of situation. I think you are a much for experienced and patient traveler than me. Hopefully, the remainder of the trip was much smoother.

    By the way, couldn’t readily locate an email address for you, so I uploaded the two photos I took of you at the brew up on my flickr set. If you’d like to access these another way, just let me know.

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