Boarding one stop past purchased itinerary?

Old Apr 9, 18, 11:25 pm
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Boarding one stop past purchased itinerary?

I certainly understand that the practice is not encouraged. Once I was stuck at LGA and all flights to DCA were cancelled last minute due to "high winds".


looking NY PENN to Washington union station was filled on Amtrak as lots of flyers scrambled to buy train tixs. . So out of curiosity I put in new York Penn station to Alexandra Virginia , ( necessity is the mother of all invention) VA LA , magic availability appeared


I booked a roomette and got of the train one stop early at Washington Union station. Now obviously they can't force you to remain on the train.

What would happen if the same thing was done in reverse,
For instance booking Alexandria Virginia to New York Penn on a train that definitely stops and has passengers disembark in DC but does not sell in the DC to New York Penn station market for whatever reason.
I would book straight coach seats,, no fancy business car or accommodation sleepers,. My concern is that Paxs don't normally board at DC . would a sympathetic ( well tipped) skycap be able to bring us to the track?-- obviously Skycaps have access to the disembarkation only track to help disembarking Amtrak travelers with their luggage.
Would boarding one stop late be a problem???--- what if it was points receptions instead of cash purchase?
These stations are only about 10 miles apart , ( Alexandra VA is a suburb of DC )

but passengers normally do not board 10 miles later as Amtrak does not sell that market. ( Alexandra VA is a suburb of DC )
Any advice would be appreciated
Thanks

Last edited by writetorich; Apr 10, 18 at 12:04 am
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Old Apr 10, 18, 8:20 am
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This is actually a fantastic strategy, Amtrak has long distance trains that travel from NY to Florida and New Orleans and don't allow local traffic from NY-Washington. They do this to prevent someone from booking a NY-Washington ticket and blocking out a larger NY-Miami ticket in a sleeping car. As you discovered, the "Receive only" restriction ends at Washington and allows you to book the NY-Alexandria ticket.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 8:40 am
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It's possible that Amtrak would auto-cancel the ticket before boarding at WAS. Especially since there's no passengers that would be getting on in WAS, Amtrak may auto-cancel anyone that didn't board in ALX once the conductor clears the stop and states in the app that they've pulled all the tickets.

I personally wouldn't risk it.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by jebr View Post
It's possible that Amtrak would auto-cancel the ticket before boarding at WAS. Especially since there's no passengers that would be getting on in WAS, Amtrak may auto-cancel anyone that didn't board in ALX once the conductor clears the stop and states in the app that they've pulled all the tickets.

I personally wouldn't risk it.
With the old paper-ticket-based system, it was no problem to do this.

The newer electronic system and harsher no-show rules does make it a little more risky, but I have a hard time believing that the system would do anything in the few short minutes between ALX and WAS. What if a pax boards in ALX and is in the bathroom when the conductor goes through to check tickets? What if the conductors don't make it all the way through the train to check all tickets during that short journey?

I wouldn't risk something longer like booking ALX and getting on at PHL or even BAL, though.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 1:09 pm
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My understanding is the system generally allows 2 hours after leaving the departure station before cancelling. I don't know if that varies by train, such as the NEC having a different/shoreter window.

I think your issues would be more around platform access, as you note. I don't know if a well tipped red cap would get you access, it would be entirely up to them. Also, note that the train could leave early from WAS.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:27 am
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Originally Posted by zephyr17 View Post
My understanding is the system generally allows 2 hours after leaving the departure station before cancelling. I don't know if that varies by train, such as the NEC having a different/shoreter window.

I think your issues would be more around platform access, as you note. I don't know if a well tipped red cap would get you access, it would be entirely up to them. Also, note that the train could leave early from WAS.
Getting platform access at WAS is easy, as Amtrak shares a platform with commuter rail and commuter rail tickets aren't checked until after boarding.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 10:27 am
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Originally Posted by ambyr View Post
Getting platform access at WAS is easy, as Amtrak shares a platform with commuter rail and commuter rail tickets aren't checked until after boarding.
Just be sure you go to the correct place. The trains that come up through ALX arrive on different tracks than the trains that terminate at WAS. Union Station D.C. boarding hack: The best I can do.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 2:34 pm
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Just be sure you go to the correct place. The trains that come up through ALX arrive on different tracks than the trains that terminate at WAS. Union Station D.C. boarding hack: The best I can do.
But these trains do share platforms with commuter trains headed to Virginia.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
But these trains do share platforms with commuter trains headed to Virginia.
Correct, as pointed out in the linked article. But it's through a different door, so you have to go to the right place.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 3:47 pm
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It may not be so easy to board a train which is not scheduled to take on pax. You may simply need to explain yourself to a Conductor.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It may not be so easy to board a train which is not scheduled to take on pax. You may simply need to explain yourself to a Conductor.
I'm trying to recall, but I think they did let people detrain in WAS last time I came through on a long-distance train (with the whole "take your ticket and be back on board no later than X:XX" spiel). But I'm not 100% sure.
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Old Apr 15, 18, 7:56 pm
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This should work at WAS, since:
- the train will definitely stop, and dwell on the platform for a while during the engine switchover
- the doors will be open, since the dwell time means WAS is a smoke stop
- the conductors don't really care to scan every ticket between ALX and WAS, since they're about to clock out and switch crews at WAS
- so many pax board at ALX that the headcount isn't going to be thrown off by a single no-show

As mentioned above, any Virginia-originating train will board at the east (McDonald's) end of Washington Union. Don't try anything funny, like showing up with checked luggage or a bike. (This occurred to me when looking for northeast-bound LD trains with baggage cars that could take a bike from WAS; there are almost none, but several do work from ALX.)

However, Amtrak has wizened up a bit about this and no longer sells ALX-originating tickets on many LD trains. Instead, you have to go even further afield (Burke, Quantico).

I've done this a few times in the other direction -- was too late going to Washington Union, so told the cab to go to Alexandria instead and caught the train there. The trick would be making sure that other pax are boarding at station #2 . The conductors really only care where you're going, not where the ticket was sold from.
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