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Passenger Trains > Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station


Date: 04/20/17 22:32
Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: GenePoon

On April 14, 2017, an Amtrak Customer and Station Services plan for
boarding passengers on trains at Chicago Union Station was issued,
which specifically authorized employees boarding trains (does this
include the infamous "Gate Nazis?") to allow passengers to board
without authorization of the train conductor. It threatened
employees who did not follow this plan, which includes specific times
for each scheduled train, that if a departure were delayed due to
failure to follow the plan, disciplinary action could follow.

In some cases the specified boarding time was prior to the train
crew's on-duty time, so no authorized crew member would even be on
the train when passenger boarding began.

One train isn't even on the list accompanying the Plan; whether
by design or by accidental omission is unknown.

Train and engine crews are not governed by Customer and Station
Services; both road and yard crews moving trains into the station are
to secure and lock the doors if leaving the equipment. Moreover, an
instruction to board a train without a conductor in charge is in
specific violation of the General Code of Operating Rules, which
requires an authorized operating employee to be in charge when any
occupied passenger cars are coupled to an engine.

Management has stated that the instructions are being withdrawn but
no official notice as to that withdrawal has yet been issued.



Date: 04/21/17 00:29
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: ColdRainAndSnow

Well they better get their sh-t together out there. Twice in recent times, I have left the Met Lounge upon boarding announcements, walked to the prescribed track, only to find a clusterf--ked line of people being haphazardly detained by a terse station agent who held us for up to 15 minutes until conductors waved us down. Poor execution and planning. Make the advanced boarding call in the ML when the train is ready for pax to board it. Dunno why this continues to vex the Chicago people.



Date: 04/21/17 05:16
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: Northeaster

Possibly the few staff at the front desk of the ML are now overtaxed with duties such as keeping an eye on the open baggage storage room's video monitor, checking in new passengers, giving directions to the lavatories, announcing location of Red Caps, giving general information, telling passengers about various housekeeping things like coffee, food, clean up, etc. Since the front lobby is so shallow, swarms of passengers try to get in and run into those trying to get out, at least the old lounge exited most thru the track door in the rear. Management of Amtrak frequently just does not observe what is happening before their eyes! I will be in that lounge in two days between trains, maybe a whole new Amtrak experience?



Date: 04/21/17 06:22
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: stuporchief

Our small group had a similiar experience boarding the Hoosier State earlier in March from the CUS Legacy Club. This is the lounge available to any Amtrak passenger for a $20 fee, and one of the benefits is pre-boarding.

When we arrived at the Legacy Club at about 4:50 (for a 5:45 departure) we were told that if we wanted a glass of complimentary wine we better move quick, because the boarding would be at 5:00. "Wow," I thought, "this will certainly give us plenty of time to get settled on the train."

Ha Ha.

Passengers for the Hoosier State were indeed called to the door at 5, and then we all stood there for several minutes while the harried attendant had us call roll! Then out the door he rushed, and the group (25 - 30 passengers) did not keep up with him. Knowing the station well, our smaller group just went the way we thought we should through the south gate concourse ... weaving our way through the crush of rush hour Metra/BNSF commuter traffic.

We walked unchallenged past the "security barrier" that exists at about Track 20 and were then directed into the regular pre-boarding area and told to sit in the chairs against the concrete block wall. There we sat for some time, until summoned to finally board the train. I didn't keep track of the time, but we must have boarded at about 5:20, or 20 minutes after we started our "pre boarding" adventure.

I was glad we hadn't paid for this experience. Amtrak was offering a free IPH Liberation (my interpretation) Pass to the Legacy Lounge for all Hoosier State passengers during March. It would have been much less hassle to go through the standard boarding process. I'll certainly never use the Legacy Lounge again.

ColdRainAndSnow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well they better get their sh-t together out
> there. Twice in recent times, I have left the Met
> Lounge upon boarding announcements, walked to the
> prescribed track, only to find a clusterf--ked
> line of people being haphazardly detained by a
> terse station agent who held us for up to 15
> minutes until conductors waved us down. Poor
> execution and planning. Make the advanced boarding
> call in the ML when the train is ready for pax to
> board it. Dunno why this continues to vex the
> Chicago people.



Date: 04/21/17 10:17
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: retcsxcfm

Northeaster Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Possibly the few staff at the front desk of the ML
> are now overtaxed with duties such as keeping an
> eye on the open baggage storage room's video
> monitor, checking in new passengers, giving
> directions to the lavatories, announcing location
> of Red Caps, giving general information, telling
> passengers about various housekeeping things like
> coffee, food, clean up, etc. Since the front lobby
> is so shallow, swarms of passengers try to get in
> and run into those trying to get out, at least the
> old lounge exited most thru the track door in the
> rear. Management of Amtrak frequently just does
> not observe what is happening before their eyes! I
> will be in that lounge in two days between trains,
> maybe a whole new Amtrak experience?

I agree with all of the above.But,I think there
ia a back door beyond the showers.But Heaven forbid
that we use that.

Uncle Joe
Seffner,Fl.



Date: 04/21/17 10:43
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: ColdRainAndSnow

The nice folks in Chicago have had a long time now to figure this out and work up the new procedure. That they still don't seem to have a handle on it is disappointing. Say what we will about the Kindergarten Walk, but at least that process reliably and predictably delivered us to our trains. On the upside, the new lounge is really a nice place to wait so I appreciate that very much.



Date: 04/21/17 15:36
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: palmland

Good idea - to improve boarding process. But, apparently, poorly executed. Why is this so hard?

Posted from iPhone



Date: 04/21/17 16:14
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: joemvcnj

Amtrak has been in business for 45 years and is still too stupid to know how to load a train, and simply adds more and more steps in the process. For the number of people boarding, any commuter railroad could do it in 5 minutes.

Management is dealing with the symptom, not the root of the problem, with chasing people out of the Legacy and Metro lounges so far ahead of time, but does not have the attention span to understand why the crews do not load their trains sooner, for which there may be legitimate reasons.



Date: 04/21/17 17:29
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: BRAtkinson

palmland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Good idea - to improve boarding process. But,
> apparently, poorly executed. Why is this so hard?
>
Perhaps it all stems from years of breathing diesel exhaust in confined quarters has melted the planning and designing portions of their brains...



Date: 04/21/17 18:11
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: ST214

Boarding in Chicago is a mess. Always has been and always will be. I was boarding 48/448 once, even the conductors were furious. The gate attendants decided to take a break right before the conductors were ready to board. After some waiting and finally the conductors asking us where they went, they started doing the boarding themselves! Well, as you can guess, this did NOT go over well when the gate attendants returned and they were screaming at us passengers to return to the station. Some did, most like myself just ignored them and went anyway. Of course, due to this whole mess, we left 45 minutes late.



Date: 04/21/17 19:49
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: mundo

I do not recall prior to Amtrak, that boarding at CUS was a mess. Most of the long distance train checked in with the Conductor prior to going through the gate. At least this was for Pullman passengers. Not sure about coach passengers.



Date: 04/21/17 21:58
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: ProAmtrak

Oh brother, my friend Cristal had a bad experience in Chicago getting on No. 3 and I'm going through there twice just for my big trip! I'm not looking forward to the infamous Chinese Fire Drill if they haven't gotten this squared away compared to how LA makes it so easy for people getting on trains, Chicago needs to learn from that!



Date: 04/22/17 04:29
Re: Disputed boarding instructions, Chicago Union Station
Author: sums007

Isn't it pretty clear that the problem in Chicago is just plain poor management, oversight and accountability. IOW, who's managing the managers?



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