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Last week, I rode AMT005 (the westbound California Zephyr) from Omaha to Salt Lake City as part of an itinerary that went as follows:

  • Omaha to SLC via Denver and the Central Corridor on AMT005
  • SLC to Evanston, WY via private vehicle

However, due to a rockslide that blocked the Central Corridor (ex-D&RGW) mainline in Colorado about halfway between Granby and Glenwood Springs, AMT005/006 were detoured through northern CO and southern WY for several days -- including our trip; furthermore, this detour sent us directly through our final destination of Evanston, WY.

Is it generally not possible to take advantage of this situation, or is a stop/disembarkation at the final destination in this case possible (if so, how would one approach this?), or is this completely up to the conductor?

Note that this was personal travel -- business travel between these two points would be an utterly different situation in my case, and far outside the scope of this question!

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I think the only real answer to this is that it can't hurt to ask the on-train staff -- politely and without sounding like you have a right to be let off there.

However, I wouldn't get my hopes up. There doesn't seem to be a passenger station in Evanston, and railway regulations generally frown on letting passengers alight between stations except in an actual emergency. You would wind up by the trackside, on railway property where you have no business being, and would need to fend your way to a public road for yourself. The train staff probably don't have authority to allow you to do that (particularly since the railway property in question is not Amtrak property).

It looks from Google Maps like there aren't even any level crossings where you could alight directly onto a public road -- and even if there were, that would bring its own set of complications, such as holding up road traffic for longer than necessary by stopping on the crossing.

A further reason why this might be a problem even if there were a station platform to alight at is that if the line is being used for diversions because another one is blocked, it may be under capacity pressure that would be exacerbated by trains making unscheduled stops.

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    Another issue is that it may not be convenient for them to unload your luggage at an unscheduled stop. – Nate Eldredge Dec 3 '14 at 15:42
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    @NateEldredge -- we had no checked luggage, so that was not an issue in our specific case; generally speaking though, a flagstop or other unscheduled stop might be a bit more difficult to handle in that regard, but not impossible. – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 4 '14 at 3:42
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    Also -- there is a passenger depot/station in Evanston (AMT005/006 were routed over that territory for a while until the D&RGW dropped their passenger service), it's simply not used for passengers these days. HOWEVER: due to the track layout and signaling in that area, there are several RR operational concerns that make a WB passenger stop there harder than it looks. I can provide a specific-case answer expanding on this if you folks wish; this does cover the general case well, though. – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 4 '14 at 3:44
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Possibly. The reason is, Amtrak has to do something with its passengers for Glenwood Springs, and you are allowed to make the most out of that "something".

To be clear, #5 did not roll into Ogden via the Transcontinental Railroad and then double back into Colorado to Glenwood Springs. That equipment needed to be in Oakland tomorrow to protect the next day's #6. I also doubt they ran Granby and Glenwood Springs customers all the way to Ogden and doubled them back. Most likely Amtrak precisely did stop at some achievable location, say Green River or who knows? Evanston? -- and put people on buses or cabs. It may be possible to send your cab to Evanston.

So the best thing to do, really, is to contact Amtrak, and also talk to the conductor about your needs.

They are better at this than you think: it's not their first rodeo.

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