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Passenger Trains > Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.

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Date: 05/21/20 09:55
Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: andersonb109

Since many here might not be traveling, for those interested in life on Amtrak as well as some other observations about life under the lock-downs associated with the Chinese Virus, here's my trip report from earlier this week.  I rode No. 30 from Waterloo, IN to DC in a bedroom and No. 19 from DC to Birmingham, AL in a roomette. The purpose of the trip was to meet up with my friend Laurie who had been working in Florida for the Winter (and thus escaping the draconian restrictions in Michigan you may have read about), and help her drive her van back to Michigan.Thus this trip violated our Governor's "Stay at Home, Stay Safe" orders which have yet to expire.

No. 30 arrived into Waterloo on time. There, they have restored the original station and it's in Amtrak use. No mask required by the care taker. I had originally booked a roomette but on departure day found a bedroom for only $70 more. The Conductor said the load was about 30 with only 3 of us in the one sleeper. I found my accommodation to be spotless and the overall condition of the Superliner I to be excellent. Consist was one sleeper, diner/lounge, and two coaches. And a one hit wonder up front. Crew wore masks but had them off when not actually working. No problem as far as I was concerned. My attendant rarely wore his and he was excellent.  All meals for those who wanted them were served in the rooms. Tables in the diner half of the car were not open at all for seating. You could sit in the very small lounge are if you wanted. The only issue was the position of the sleeper. With no transition car or baggage, it was directly behind the loco. No issue with fumes. But the horn. WHY does Amtrak insist on doing this? I get that with the normal consist it is necessary so as to sell space in the Transition Sleeper. But without that car and the bag, why not have the sleeper on the rear. And I'm hearing impaired but even without my hearing aids, it was very difficult to get to sleep with the many crossings in Indiana and Ohio.  

Arrival to Union Station was a few minutes early. The station and DC are like a ghost town. The only places open in the station were Starbucks and a few places in the downstairs food court. But no place to sit and eat. I walked to the Lincoln Memorial and passed a few people walking, running, etc. No tourists. Nothing open. The plan was for dinner at Wendy's since Amtrak's food is unacceptable. But on the way I found an English Pub open for take out along a side street near the station. But where to eat?  The nice English owner took pity on e and served my carry out at one of her outdoor tables. 

No 19 came in from NY early. My roomette was at the rear just ahead of a brand new Dorm/Baggage. The way God and Mr. Pullman intended. Consist was those two cars,  cafe and two coaches.Two units up front. (why does the Crescent get two units and the Cap only one? Aren't Superliners heavier than single level cars and the grades over Sandpatch must be more than anything on the NS).  By contrast to the Capitol, the train was quite crowded. Most of the rooms seemed occupied.  Most got off in Atlanta. Sadly, the Viewliner sleeper was not at all well kept and filthy. I wiped down my room with Clorox wipes and they were black when I finished. I told my very nice car attendant (a former chef who lost that job) and he came in and did another cleaning. Even without the virus around, this lack of cleanliness is unacceptable. With all the new sleepers out there, why aren't they in service replacing this battle wagon until it can at least be re furbished. The carpeting was gross as well. Arrival to Birmingham was about 10 minutes late. We stopped in Kentucky for an actual sit down dinner as the state is mostly open. All precautions were taken by the restaurant staff at 50% capacity. Our Best Western Plus was very clean and about half full judging from the parking lot. Even the TV remote came in a little plastic bag. Staff at both the hotel and restaurant said business is slowly picking up. A good sign. Dinner was at  a mom and pop truck stop in Indiana. Again sit down with half the tables roped off with police tape! No one there wore masks. Not sure if it's required there or not. 

The bottom line is that people are riding Amtrak. And the crews said business is picking up. Life seems almost normal in the two red states that were either opening or open. In DC and Michigan, not so much.  Photos follow. The first three are deserted Union Station followed by empty DC.

Date: 05/21/20 09:58
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: andersonb109

A few more

Date: 05/21/20 10:00
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: andersonb109

Sadly Mr. Trump's hotel was closed. I had been in the building when it was the old post office and was interested to see the changes made. 

Date: 05/21/20 10:02
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: andersonb109

The Birmingham Amtrak Station. Shared with Greyhound. It looks like a different building than the one I remember from the early 1990's. 

Date: 05/21/20 10:03
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: andersonb109

Yea! An actual sit down meal served by an actual waitress. Never thought I would be so happy to see that!

Date: 05/21/20 10:22
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: SANSR

Informative details and nice pictures. 

Date: 05/21/20 10:31
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: NYSW252

Good trip report. Interesting to read about your experience on board Amtrak in the COVID-19 era.

Date: 05/21/20 10:35
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: joemvcnj

Doesn't look like much fun to be out and about except to overcome cabin fever.
And Cracker Barrel - yuk. 

Date: 05/21/20 10:52
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: stevelv

Thanks for sharing your travel experiences during the Wuhan Flu.  Please don't let the PC pukes discourage you from posting reports in the future.

Date: 05/21/20 10:56
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: BenWight

Thanks for sharing with so much detail.

Date: 05/21/20 11:00
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: tomdoyle409


Date: 05/21/20 11:02
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: BCutter

I enjpyed reading the trip report and refuse to get exercised over nomenclature such as Chinese vs Covid.  As far as Cracker Barrel -- we have always found the breakfasts to be wonderful (if a tad heavy on calories and carbs!) but the other meals can be hit or miss!


Date: 05/21/20 11:05
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: cabsignaldrop

Cracker Barrel has great breakfast. We've been noticing a slow upturn in ridership also.

Posted from Android

Date: 05/21/20 11:47
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: Englewood

Thank you for the trip report.
Most interesting.

Date: 05/21/20 11:49
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: SanDiegan

Thanks for the report "from the field." Can't believe all the "virtue signaling" in the comments. Their loss.

Date: 05/21/20 12:16
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: robj

Good report, Thanks!!  I have been thinking of a little Amtrak trip just to see how it is. 

Bob Jordan

Date: 05/21/20 12:50
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: co614

Thanks for your report. Glad you had a good trip. Im my location masks are mandatory everywhere...no mask no enter and strictly enforced at all times. Yesterday some bloke gave the door monitor at the super market a rough time about wearing a mask, got into a heated argument with a policeman and ended up spending some time in the crowbar hotel.

   Let's face it. Until we have a universally available test that gives rapid results we'll continue to fly blind. Despite the endless happy talk from POTUS we will not have this capability until August at the earliest if by then. And, until we have a proven, safe vaccine ( early 2021 best case scenario) available to all there will be large segments of our population afraid to be with strangers. IMHO if we're VERY lucky we'll begin to return to a new normal by mid year 2021 and that's if the vaccine effort has been incredibly effective. 

   The way things now stand my WAG is that the next congressional bill will not contain more funds for Amtrak and if the proves correct they will burn through the relief funds well before ridership returns to anywhere near normal and will be forced to cut service a lot. My WAG is that the LDT's will be the first to go??

Those in government who are ignoring the CDC guidlines are taking a terrible gamble that could well end up costing tens of thousands of lives. I certainly get the political urgency of those who will be on the ballot this November to do all possible to try to get the terrible numbers looking like they're getting better......but is that worth knowing by rushing you are deliberatly sacrificing lives???  I do not think so and I've long held that the American people are a lot smarter than they're given credit for and they know bs when they hear it. I think you'll see this reflected at the polls come November.

   In the interim...be smart....stay safe and healthy.  Ross Rowland 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/20 12:53 by co614.

Date: 05/21/20 13:06
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: Lackawanna484

There's a basic assumption that the death and testing information should be correct.  When folks don't believe the information, all kinds of nonsense will fill the gap.

Folks injecting Lysol have the same credibility as an infectious disease specialist, etc.

Date: 05/21/20 13:14
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: Cole42

Thanks for the report.  If some of the sensitive people on TO are offended by your post too bad.  Good to see the states that are getting back to normal, hopefully with more states opening up Amtrak ridership will slowly increase.  Those who want to hide in their homes for the next few years until it is "safe" to come outside, let them, meanwhile let those who understand it isn't the end of the world can get on with life just like with every other health concern that has come along. 

Date: 05/21/20 13:28
Re: Amtrak Trip Report in the age of C 19.
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Thanks for pix & descriptions. Alabama's Birmingham iron industry has an interesting history.
In other matters, from December 2015:  https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-015-0422-1

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