If you've ever ridden a train in or out of Albuquerque, you've seen the sad state of the cramped, worn-out Amtrak station down on 1st Street. For a town with a proud history of locomotive repair, the largest Harvey House by the rails (the old Alvarado) and some spectacular railroad boom years, this station was pretty tragic.

The new Alvarado bloomed next door. And Amtrak was left out. The Alvarado Phase II popped up on the other side to house Greyhound. And Amtrak was left out. Until now. Amtrak has cozied into its new shared digs with Greyhound.

They have an expanded ticket counter, pleasant tile work all around the interior, much more seating and even a little cafe with cheap hot eats (heavy on the hamburger offerings). That's a big step up from the vending machines that previously fed waiting customers.

The old facility will be fixed up for crew use. Passengers and rail workers alike will get to enjoy the clean and spacious new station area. It should give a much improved impression to the travelers that step off at the long Albuquerque stop to stretch their legs and get a fleeting glimpse of our fair city.

I'm looking forward to taking a train ride that launches from the new station. As a huge rail fan in a city with a rich railroad history, I'm thrilled that Amtrak has finally gotten a little bit of respect here. Now, if we could only turn back time and get the original Alvarado back...

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Comment by Dr Dan on January 31, 2008 at 11:50am
I have to admit it has been a fantasy of mine to take a train trip to Chicago and catch a Cubs game, spend one night in the city and take the train back.
Comment by Edith Grove on January 31, 2008 at 12:02pm
Dr. Dan - you should do it. Amtrak and Wrigley Field! It's a lovely ride up there and Wrigley is just fantastic as well.
Comment by Sun Dog on January 31, 2008 at 12:13pm
This is good news..Amtrak stations are usually pretty bad. We did a round trip from Kansas City to Albuquerque last April and the old station was about average so this new station would be a big step up. We heard that there was some kind of war going on between Amtrak and Greyhound over use of the facility. We wern't even allowed to wait for our ride in front of the bus doors -- we got chased away by the security guys. I guess Amtrak won a fight for once.
Comment by misterhinkydink on January 31, 2008 at 3:05pm
The previous station built in 1902 was considered a great example of Mission Revival architecture and burned down in late '92. I was fortunate enough to travel through it a month before.
Comment by Dr Dan on January 31, 2008 at 3:25pm
Edith

3 years ago my parents and I flew to Chicago (we were there when pieces of the roof was falling down)
we spent 6 days there and I fell in love with Chicago. I was amazed that a Major league ball park is in the middle of a neighborhood, a game at Wrigley is true bliss, the downtown is very compact, and Navy Pier is amazing.

I want the expierence of a long train ride into a major city for one sole reason, even if it is frivolous
Comment by James Tapia on February 1, 2008 at 11:27am
I live about a block away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, but my family lives in ABQ. This past Christmas I couldn't find round trip airline tickets (to visit the family in ABQ) for less than $500, so I opted to take an Amtrak train (the Southwest Chief) to ABQ and then fly back to Chicago. I don't regret it a bit.

It was really interesting to sit in the observation car, with a bottle of wine of course, and talk to people who were on their way to Kansas City, ABQ, Flagstaff, L.A. and coming from places like Toronto, Buffalo, different parts of Indiana and Chicago

I left Chicago at something like 3:10 pm on a Friday and arrived in ABQ around 3:00pm on Saturday.

I thought the New Mexico portion of the trip was, by far, the most beautiful - from about Raton to dowtown ABQ.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND A TRAIN TRIP! Although I'll bet that in the summer it's actually much more beautiful.
Comment by Dr Dan on February 1, 2008 at 9:47pm
James?T[api}a

On your trip was it easy to get a little sleep? And the meals, did you eat on the train, or at one of the stop overs. I am planning on taking the trip in a couple of years and I wonder if it is worth it to get one of the rooms.
Comment by Donny Ozmund on February 1, 2008 at 10:19pm
Similar question from me as Dr. Dan's... Except anyone please feel free to comment:
Were you able to sleep on the train OK or at all? Do you think 5 and 8-year-old kids would be able to sleep?
Comment by Sun Dog on February 1, 2008 at 11:41pm
Don't expect to get a good night's sleep. We had a Roomette on our trip last April. It is a small private compartment with two seats that face each other that will convert into an upper and lower bunk. The attendant takes care of setting up the bunks. In theory this should provide a suitable sleeping space....in practice it is a little cramped and the train moves and vibrates so much that you can't really sleep well. The train stops 5 or 6 times with passengers getting on and off at all hours of the night. At least you can stretch out and get a little sleep. If you ride in a coach you will have to sleep sitting up (more or less) and there will be people moving around the car at times. If kids have a sense of adventure it will be great fun...like camping out.

Meals are a little expensive but are included in the price of the Roomette. I would say the meals are significantly better than airline food and you have a choice of 3 or 4 entrees per meal...but usually the same choices each day. Meals are served in the dining car by reservation and you will be seated at a table with other passengers which is a great way to meet people. We sat and visited with another couple at our table for about an hour and a half and no one seemed to care that we were taking that long.

None of the stop overs we had on our trip from Kansas City would be long enough to get a meal...maybe you could buy some snacks. You could also carry on a small cooler with food or snacks. The trains are all non-smoking so many people get off at the stops to have a quick smoke.
Comment by Dr Dan on February 2, 2008 at 1:08am
Thanks sundog,
this is very useful info, anyone else have any input

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