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Date: 05/25/23 05:24
When was the last time ...
Author: RevRandy

When was the last time Amtrak did anything that you would want to praise?  How far back does this present general TOs antipathy go?  What decision/event started your own personal criticism?

(lest you think this is a cynical comment, it is not .... I am trying to generate ideas for what historical positive steps could be taken and what pitfalls should be avoided.)
 



Date: 05/25/23 05:55
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: aehouse

Gradual restoration of full dining service to the eastern LD trains (Silver Star now, Meteor and LSL to come) is a positive step.

Art Houyse



Date: 05/25/23 06:32
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: steve4031

The implementation of contemporary dining on the east coast trains before Covid is an issue for me.  Then the continuation of flex dining on overnight trains.  Flex dining on the Eagle is just not acceptable at all.

A couple of years ago I had booked a trip on the California Zephyr for my GF and myself from EMY to Chicago.  We had flown to California and were vacationing in Mt. Shasta.  I got a call from Amtrak two days before we were to return to inform me that we are no longer accommodated on the July 2 departure and had been accommodated on the July 4 departure.  At least we still had roomettes.  There was no offer to pay for a hotel for the two extra nights in EMY. GF just wanted to get home and opted to fly.  I was really looking forward to the train trip so I waited it out. I had an extremely rough year at the school I worked at and looking forward to the trip on the CZ was what kept me going.    I regret that decision now.  It took a while for her to get over being mad at me.  

Later that year I again flew out to California at Christmas with a friend and we boarded the CZ in EMY, got to Sacramento, and then they canceled the train because Donner Pass was closed by a snow storm.  I have no problem with the decision to cancel.  My complaint was how Amtrak handled it.  The conductor told passengers to go into the station to see the ticket agent get a hotel night in Sacramento.   We hurried into the station to find a ticket agent totally unprepared to do anything for us.  We reboarded the train which was pulled back to EMY.  I went into the station to get a refund.  The ticket agent flatly refused, stating you ain't getting anything tonight.  I found out later that since the ticket had been scanned it was much more difficult to get a refund.  There was no effort to accommodate us on the next day's train.  Many of the rooms on the sleepers were occupied by passengers traveling to Reno or Truckee for Skiing.  IMHO these people could have been accommodated in coach and long-distance passengers could have been assigned to the rooms.  We ended up flying home.  

I have had some good trips since then, but I am reluctant to book the long-distance trains until I am sure that I will be accommodated.  I don't want another call two days before the trip informing me that my sleeper space is not available.  



Date: 05/25/23 06:43
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: Hou74-76

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When was the last time Amtrak did anything that
> you would want to praise?  

Right now I see Amtrak recovering from Anderson's radical economizing, system wide cuts in labor and attempt to pursue an airline style service model of efficiency and marketing.  So anything that returns Amtrak back to its potential strengths of offering comfort in travel with more bargain price for your travel dollar is welcome.  Returning lounge cars you can sit in AND dining car experience back to a more traditional, freshly prepared and leisurely meal is worthy of my praise. They never should have been taken away in the first place.  Anderson weaponized safety, COVID and the economy to raise ticket prices, reduce available seats and widen the divide between coach and sleeper class. 

I shall praise any Amtrak steps that promote and market the strengths train travel can provide and not try to replace its service with a bus or a cramped seat with a dirty window.



Date: 05/25/23 07:12
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: Lackawanna484

I've always enjoyed corridor trains, and used them frequently for business. Fast, relatively clean, staff is fine.

Long distance has been Auto-Train. Good staff, mostly. But the unloading process has been screwed up for DECADES. Frustrates a lot of folks.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/25/23 07:31
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: MM171

Haven't booked travel on Amtrak for seven years now.  In the many years I traveled the rails, I only had one poor sleeper car attendant.  Food was always very good outside of one fiasco running south on the Starlight.  If I got a last minute urge to hop on the Builder, there was always Amsnag where one could see bucket prices.  Amsnag appears gone now.  The Builder has gotten like the other LD trains and doesn't seem to have a consistent time of arrival at a chosen point.  Fares are through the roof.  It appears my favorite run from Montana to Oceanside, CA are seeing fares double of what I paid last time.  Throw the mega freight trains into the mix and the lure is no longer there.  Once my wife and I were fully retired the plan was to make two circles of the country on Amtrak.  I've pretty much trash canned that bucket list line item.  Unfortunately, the frequent flyer miles on my charge card are now fairly significant.  I despise air travel but have realized I really do not have a choice anymore.  Oh! I can play the baby grand piano on Concourse A at the Salt Lake City airport.  Woohoo!  Does that qualify as a choice???



Date: 05/25/23 07:37
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: BigSkyBlue

aehouse Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Gradual restoration of full dining service to the
> eastern LD trains (Silver Star now, Meteor and LSL
> to come) is a positive step.
>
> Art Houyse

What is your source of info that the LSL (Lake Shore Limited) is to get full dining?  Several Amtrak officials have responded to questions by saying that NO further expansion of traditional dining is planned beyond that announced for the Silver Meteor and Star.  BSB 



Date: 05/25/23 08:37
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: joemvcnj

IOW, only the Florida service and the western trains judged by Anderson as "experiential" get diners. 
Anderson's mouth was hard wired to Gardner's brain. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/23 08:45 by joemvcnj.



Date: 05/25/23 09:28
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: Drknow

21 years ago when I rode 5/6 for a uncle’s funeral in late winter.
The weather was not great but Amjoke actually came through with on time trains. The crews were great also and everything was clean and the dining car food was good too.

Regards

Posted from iPhone



Date: 05/25/23 09:28
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: bioyans

steve4031 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  Many of the rooms on
> the sleepers were occupied by passengers traveling
> to Reno or Truckee for Skiing.  IMHO these people
> could have been accommodated in coach and
> long-distance passengers could have been assigned
> to the rooms.  We ended up flying home.  

I'm just asking, to see if I understand this correctly. Do you believe that folks who bought and paid for sleeper space should have been downgraded to coach to make room for your rebooked trip, based only on you traveling to a further destination?

If I were downgraded from space I bought and paid for, I'd be a bit upset that it was given to a rebooked passenger who somehow felt more entitled to it.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/25/23 09:39
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: ironmtn

To answer RevRandy's original question, the last time Amtrak did something praiseworthy was during my last trip, in April, from Michigan to St. Louis and return. And on every previous trip in the last two years. I've completed about 5300 miles on Amtrak, both regional trips in the Midwest, and three long-distance trips both east and west in the last 14 months or so.

Every one of them was satisfactory. The negatives, if any, were minor and certainly not sufficient to condemn the entire trip, or Amtrak as an organization (which some folks on this forum seem to look for every opportunity to do). Every trip had some element of exemplary service beyond just an average "good". And my trip on the California Zephyr from Chicago to Salt Lake in February was exemplary across the board - one of the very best travel experiences I've ever had anywhere (and I am very well-traveled guy, and I like my amenities when I travel). The whole trip was just beautiful, start to finish. I went into it with just a feeling of "routine", and expecting it to be just run-of-the-mill satisfactory, neither particularly good or bad.. But it was a wonderful experience, start to finish, across the board in every respect. And I've said so here on TO.

All of these actual experiences are why I sometimes have a problem with the extreme negativity towards Amtrak here on TO by some. Call out the specific problems and failures and discuss them thoroughly - absolutely. I do that too. Those problems didn't happen to me, but I don't deny that they are real. Deal with them specifically. But don't overgeneralize from them to Amtrak overall. It's neither accurate, nor appropriate.

MC



Date: 05/25/23 09:49
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: steve4031

This process happens with the airlines all the time each time a flight is canceled or the equipment is changed.  When there are service disruptions I would think passengers paying the most money and going the furthest would get consideration over those traveling shorter distances.  



Date: 05/25/23 10:25
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: OnTime

On my recent trip on #5 we were delayed by 14 hours due to the bad ordering of the transition sleeper in Chicago. The problem was compounded by the subsequent bad ordering of the substitute transition sleeper they had on hand in Chicago. We had to await the arrival of an incoming train with a functioning transition sleeper. Additional days were an hour waiting for tornado weather to pass and 2 hours awaiting a rested engineer to be taxied to the train in Burlington.

The praiseworthy good news here is that Amtrak sent me (without my doing anything) a $300 credit voucher for a future trip.



Date: 05/25/23 11:11
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: bioyans

steve4031 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This process happens with the airlines all the
> time each time a flight is canceled or the
> equipment is changed.  When there are service
> disruptions I would think passengers paying the
> most money and going the furthest would get
> consideration over those traveling shorter
> distances.  

Not true. Was flying United back from Hawaii to the east coast on the mainland. We got a delay notification for our flight right after dropping off the rental car. The 757 assigned to our flight (the only one on the island) needed a part flown in from Honolulu. We had booked paid (not frequent flyer redemption) first class seats. Agent advised us we had two choices ... get booked to available space on another flight with no guarantee for first class (difference in fare would be redunded), or wait for our flight and possibly miss our connection in Denver with no guarantee for first class on that leg. In either case, we were told unequivocally that either choice could result in being seated in a downgraded cabin ... they weren't going to bump anyone from their seats just because we paid for first class and were flying cross country.

We lucked out. Kept our reservation, and the aircraft we departed Hawaii on was the same one assigned to the Denver-EWR leg. Got to enjoy our paid for seats after all, which would NOT have happened if we rebooked.

Doesn't matter what mode of transportation it is. If your trip is canceled, you'll get whatever space is available on the next available trip. They aren't going to kick someone out of their room for you, because Amtrak probably has it booked again for someone else along the route. They aren't going to potentially reaccommodate 2 or 3 bookings on a multi-night train, with a possible combined fare that is more than you paid for your room, just for your convenience.

Posted from Android



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/23 11:29 by bioyans.



Date: 05/25/23 11:18
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: Geordie405

For me the rot started when freshly cooked eggs disappeared from the menu on the Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder, these being (if I recall correctly) the last two LD trains to offer them at breakfast.  The removal of the Parlor Car and the wine & cheese tastings from the Coast Starlight was another retrograde step.  Then you have lots of other little things that may be inconsequential on their own but cumulatively lessen the travel experience: things like plastic plates, no juice in the sleepers, removal of individual toiletries in roomettes etc.  However, despite all of this I still enjoy travelling by Amtrak.  My wife and I are taking the CS from LA to EMY on Saturday and we're looking forward to it.

As for when Amtrak last did something good?  Our SWC trip from LA to Chicago over Christmas last year was most enjoyable.  We had a lazy sleeper attendant (to the point where we'd make our own bed on our own schedule) but the dining car crew were excellent - lots of laughs, very generous with the complimentary dinner beverages, some great food etc.  The relaunched LD traditional dining menu is definitely an improvement - not just on the Flex Dining (which was terrible - we'd actually order food to be delivered to the train rather than eat the microwave lunches and dinners) but also on the pre-COVID traditional dining.

Amtrak definitely still has its faults (most of which are self-inflicted) but it's still pretty good for public transportation.  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/23 11:19 by Geordie405.



Date: 05/25/23 13:41
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: TomG

steve4031 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Later that year I again flew out to California at
> Christmas with a friend and we boarded the CZ in
> EMY, got to Sacramento, and then they canceled the
> train because Donner Pass was closed by a snow
> storm.  I have no problem with the decision to
> cancel.  

I have a real problem with it. In the past pre Amtrak, WP used to detour over Donner if the canyon was closed, and the canyon was available if SP chose to detour. In Amtrak era the Canyon was a normal detour if Donner was closed as well as the highline for Coast Starlight detours. It happened quite a few times in the 70s and 80s. There is no reason for it not to be an option other than Amtrak doesn't want to bother.

And before someone says something about clearences, yes Superliners fit in the Canyon as well as the Highline.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/23 13:47 by TomG.



Date: 05/25/23 15:57
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: dcfbalcoS1

              The last decent trip we had was 25 years ago. Southwest CHief Kansas to California - LA north to Portland - Portland east to Chicago on the Builder and back to Kansas on the SWC.

         After that the food began to go down hill slowly, service stayed pretty good for a long time. Last straw was leaving Chicago on the LSL when the car attendant hid our tickets for four roomettes, claimed we only had had reservations for three and would be glad to sell us an unoccupied family room for $500 CASH. She had he friends riding free in one of my roomettes. Our son found my tickets for four roometts hidden UNDER the seat in the family room just as I was holding up my second set of four roomette tickets. Horror struck her face !!!!  The conductor was standing there because she called him hoping for back up. He turned and walked away. NO DEAL and NO CASH.  Son and family rode in the family room free.      Amtrak had no interest in the story.

             NEVER rode again.



Date: 05/25/23 16:02
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: lordsigma

TomG Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> And before someone says something about
> clearences, yes Superliners fit in the Canyon as
> well as the Highline.

You are assuming of course this is completely due to Amtrak and not the hosts. With PSR UP and other carriers have dramatically reduced staffing - they don’t always have the people readily available to provide pilots.



Date: 05/25/23 16:41
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: TomG

lordsigma Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> TomG Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
>
> > And before someone says something about
> > clearences, yes Superliners fit in the Canyon
> as
> > well as the Highline.
>
> You are assuming of course this is completely due
> to Amtrak and not the hosts. With PSR UP and other
> carriers have dramatically reduced staffing - they
> don’t always have the people readily available
> to provide pilots.

They quit long before PSR. You can't blame it on covid, PSR, flex meals, quality of life, sick leave, staffing or Ed Dickens. ( well....maybe Ed) I think its been at least 15 years since they rerouted and the last time was the Coast Starlight.



Date: 05/25/23 17:33
Re: When was the last time ...
Author: RRBMail

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When was the last time Amtrak did anything that
> you would want to praise? 

The short answer is ZIP!



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