Amtrak Lake Shore Limited 449/448 tips

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited train consists of:

  • westbound 449 from Boston joins 49 at Albany, NY going west to Chicago
  • eastbound 48 splits at Albany, NY going east to NYC and 448 to Boston

Ticket type

Coach, Business, and Sleeper tickets are available. If available, Business class tickets are worth it for the 2x1 leather recliner seating, which takes up about half of the Café car. A curtain separates the Café from the Business class seating, which helps a bit with light and noise. Coach can be crowded many times of the year due to the high population areas all along the route.

Likewise, Sleeping class tickets are often more expensive than other Amtrak routes of similar length, due to Amtrak’s ticket yield management system accounting for that the train will likely nearly sell out at many times of year.

Sleeper ticket hack

As on other routes, you can sometimes save by booking a multi-city ticket, and getting a sleeper only for nighttime hours. However, because the route is so popular, rooms turn over often, and this may not help.

One hack unique to this route is that sometimes a split ticket 449/49 or 48/448 will be more than 10% cheaper. This often means that you will have to switch sleeping cars at Albany. In particular for westbound 449/49 travelers this is a good thing, as the 49 sleeping cars (4911, 4912) are adjacent to the dining car, while the 449 sleeping car (4920) is 7 coach cars away from the dining car.

If you choose to do the split ticket hack, at Albany you’ll just walk on the platform from 4920 to 4911/4912. Sometimes the SCAs (sleeping car attendants) will give you the option of staying in 4920.

Best roomette

As on all Viewliner sleepers, the best roomette is room #1. This is the only roomette that you can see out windows on both sides. The full bedrooms can see out both sides as well, with the curtains open looking across the hallway.

Amtrak Viewliner roomette #1 hallway view
Amtrak Viewliner roomette #1 is the only roomette that can view both sides.

Meals

As of June 1, 2018, the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited use a unique dining concept for sleeping car passengers. There is no longer a traditional dining car on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited. Offboard-prepared cold meals are provided to sleeping car passengers only as part of their ticket price.

Food for meals is available in:

  • Coach and Business class: Café/Lounge car
  • Sleeper class: sleeping class lounge car, or in your room.

westbound 449

The first class sleeper car number is 4920 going west. Lunch is served for sleeping car passengers only on westbound 449 at about 2PM, or after the Worcester, MA stop. Business class passengers get a complimentary beverage before the Café car opens to all at about 3pm. For westbound 449 sleeper class passengers, dinner is served upon departing Albany.

eastbound 448

The first class sleeper car number is 4820 going east. Dinner is served for sleeping car passengers only on eastbound 448 upon departing Albany.

Missed connections

Chicago

In bad winter weather scenarios, the Lake Shore Limited can be so late as to miss westbound trains from Chicago Union station. It’s important that you do not wait for Amtrak to call you. There will be dozens of sleeper passengers being rebooked, and only a few empty sleepers on the next day’s train, so chances are if you wait for Amtrak to call you, your connecting sleeper ticket will be rebooked as coach seat with an eVoucher for the difference. This can be a big problem if you were going a long distance out of Chicago!

For sleeper passengers in particular, watch the time train 49 arrives in Toledo. Typically 49 does not make up more than 10-20 minutes time, and can even lose another hour of time! If you don’t anticipate having at least 15 minutes between arrival and Chicago and departure of your train, call Amtrak. Amtrak will normally not hold a connecting westbound train more than about 10-15 minutes, and I have seen where they would not hold the connecting train 20 minutes.

Train 29 (Capitol Limited) is less susceptible to misconnects due to its hour-earlier arrival in Chicago vs. train 49.

Albany

This should never happen, because all the Lake Shore Limited sections wait for each other. However, some passengers get so fascinated by the amenities at Albany-Rensselaer station that they miss the numerous announcements. The taxi cost from Albany to Boston is several hundred dollars. Lyft Albany → Boston is also in the $200-$300 range. Greyhound departs Albany-Rensselaer train station at 8:15pm, arriving at Boston South Station at 11:40pm for a cost of about $50. The Amtrak 448 coach fare Albany → Boston South Station starts at $24, 3:05pm-8:01pm.

Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station

The Capital District Transportation Authority runs the station, and provides the RRS-Public WiFi network on 2.4 and 5 GHz throughout most of the station. Amtrak WiFi is not provided. Numerous shops and cafes are inside, with bus transfers downstairs. The bathrooms are at the opposite end of the station from the train platforms.

If transferring between Lake Shore Limited sections, perhaps using the “hack” above, consider staying in the overhead station section above the platforms. If you exit to the station proper, you won’t be let back in, and so you’ll have to content with a large number of other passengers waiting to board, vs. being first in line to reboard.

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