i did chicago to reno on amtrak 4 times. its a long ride.. but it can be quite enjoyable.. I liked it.. Sleeping can be a bitch in those seats.. even though they let you spread out a lot.. (sleeping next to someone sucks.. you cant spread out as much)
edit2: the first time i took amtrak out to reno i said that just doing the amtrak trip was worth it, I had fun ..some people don't like it.. its a different way to travel.. you can talk peoples heads off all day long! (and get a lot of walking done moving about the train) :edit2
if youve never been through the mountains off of a main highway i tells ya, its friggen beautiful... sure is a lot difference to see the wilderness/nature without a huge strip of concrete and roadsigns with thousands of other cars and mcdonalds in the way..
many of the areas dont have cell phone service as the train is away from the main highway..
it is a great way to get to burning man.. as mentioned, you can bring lots of stuff.
HARRAHS Hotel and Casino is like 300 feet from the amtrak station, makes it easy to have a place to stay once you arrive (the trains can be 7~ hours late.. itd probably be good to have a place to stay rather than planning on getting up to the burn right after the train 'arrives').. HARRAHS has a 'free' airport shuttle.. it can get you to the airport for the cost of a tip to the driver.
edit: the airport is about a 15minute ride from the amtrak station :edit
I never left from a Checked Baggage station and I felt that this is a Benefit. You can have it so your bags never leave your sight.. a lot easier to keep track of them.. odds of losing one are much lower! (friend i went with in the past checked bags and lost a few... i was glad i didnt!)
As for other burners.. in the past there had been quite a few on the train.. 5-8 was common.. We would often sit up at night in the lounge car talking about the upcoming trip.. And On the way back a few times thered be the same folks.. and we would talk about the burn.. We would also share meals in the dining car.. It is quite enjoyable that way...
Many of the amtrak people have become aware of the trip..
When I did the trip I always arrived a day before I intended to go up to the playa and always got back to reno a day before i would leave toward home.. Again mostly because of the not-exactly-on-timed ness of amtrak.. ..and so i could get a good nights rest, (two days on a train is a long time!) (a good meal in a hotel with a big bed and TV is good after a long time sleepin in a tent!)
Let it be known that on that blog that Bounce530 linked it shows PLASTIC containers... Amtrak is NOT too fond of these.. It is much preferable to use a CARDBOARD BOX to a plastic container.
Bring FOOD for both ways (or plan to be able to get some food on the way back in to reno). It is a long trip.. "DINNER" in the dining car is not really 'worth' it in my vision, and the food in the 'LOUNGE CAR' isnt great.. (microwaved!) ... Also, bring beverages (like water.. and Coke products!).. The water on the train sucks.
There is USUALLY a stop at GRand Junction Colorado where you can get snacks/drinks/(cokeproducts)/icecream in the little gift shop there.. If you are wise you will take the chance to get something different than what is available on the train (to keep you sane!)
some photographs from the train part of my journey to burning man in the past:http://www.luser.org/Train