Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Reno Worldcon by Train

I expect to be driving to Renovation because I expect to be hauling a lot of gear to the convention and because Lisa and I are at least tentatively planning some post-con traveling for which we'll need the vehicle. However, it's really easy to get to Reno by train, and there are groups putting together group plans for traveling together. See this message from smarier for one of them for people coming from Seattle and Portland.

The only bad thing about the trip from the Pacific Northwest is that the transfer from the Coast Starlight (Seattle-Portland-Bay Area-Los Angeles) to the California Zephyr (Bay Area-Reno-points east) is at Sacramento, where (assuming the train is on time) you have to get off the train at 6:15 AM (thus missing breakfast, even if you were in first class and thus had it included in your fare) and wait for five hours until the Zephyr arrives from Emeryville.

Ideally, you could ride the Starlight to Emeryville, where you would have less than an hour's wait before the Zephyr departed. You'd be back-tracking a little (the Sacramento-Emeryville stretch is common to both routes), but you could enjoy a nice breakfast while heading through the Sacramento Valley and you wouldn't have to hang around Sacramento station all morning. Unfortunately, Amtrak won't let you book it that way in their system because the transfer time is less than an hour, which is too risky. It's not like an airport where you might have to hike a mile from gate to gate (the two trains arrive and depart from the same platform in Emeryville, I think); it's just that the timekeeping is too sketchy to risk it. If you knew that the Starlight was definitely going to be on time, it would be a nice way to spend the morning, I think.

Folks coming from Southern California can also make this train trip, but you'll have to stay overnight at Emeryville, with the northbound Starlight arriving about 10 PM. There are lots of hotels nearby, including a nice-looking one just across the tracks and a Hilton Garden Inn in which I've stayed about 1 km away (I've walked it; most people would probably take a taxi; I haven't checked if they have shuttle service). Although it's a short night in Emeryville (the Zephyr leaves at 9 AM), you don't have to rush to eat before boarding the train. The last time I took that train (2009), I discovered that they do a breakfast seating right after departure.

Besides people up and down the coast connecting to the California Zephyr, people coming from the east can also take the wonderful scenic trip across the country from Chicago. (From farther east, you have to take a train to Chicago and change there.) Yes, it's not fast — two nights and three days from Chicago — but you don't (usually) have Security Theatre, porno-scanners, grope-happy TSA agents, $25/bag luggage fees, and turning up two hours early because of monster security queues. You also don't have to be tied into your seat at all times, you can get up and walk around when you choose, and you can have your electronic devices on at all times, because they're not going to interfere with the train's navigation.

The Reno Amtrak station is a mile or two from the convention center and hotels. There is a public bus route that runs down Virginia Street (the train station crosses under it), Reno's main street that goes right past the convention center. You can of course also take a taxi from the station. I wouldn't advise the walk in the summer heat, though.
Tags: trains, travel, worldcon
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