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Thread: Amtrak Falling Apart

  1. #1
    Moonie Guest

    Default Amtrak Falling Apart

    My wife and I booked a trip in March thats going to take two weeks and 18 states starting in early July. Well we just got a call from the Amtrak Reservations Department, on Fathers Day of all days,that they are removing our sleeper car on the Califonia Zepher and bumping us to Coach! Not a good way to start our trip. So I asked them why couldn't they replace the car,they told me that there were no replacement cars and that our car would be in matainance until sometime in August.What a way to run a RailRoad. Just though I'd share this with you people.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Jefferson, Texas, USA.
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    419

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    It's not Amtrak's choice really. Without funding they can't repair the wreck-damaged Superliners. One more major wreck and the long distance trains will be severely affected.

    Blake Harris
    Vice Dean, Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Jacksonville,, FL, USA.
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    3,589

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    Refer to your other respondent. He is quite right. Ever since 1971, when Amtrak was created, Congress has fed it just enough to keep it barely alive. Graham Claytor was a pretty straight shooter, and although he was universally disliked by most of the employees, he got the respect of Congress, and his customers. I believe David Gunn will be of the same fabric. What we are seeing was inevitable, and perhaps it is fortunate that it comes so close after 9-11.

    I have reservations for a RT to Houston on the Sunset Ltd. in late August. Personally, if I get such a phone call, I will demand a refund of my $750, which is an exorbitant amount to pay for a ticket - but railfan that I am, I am willing, and this train usually is 100% full - EVEN THOUGH IT USUALLY IS 2 HOURS OR MORE LATE WESTBOUND BY HOUSTON, AND 6-8 HOURS LATE EASTBOUND, and of course it is one of the "unnecessary long distance trains".

    I submit that the correct response to such shenanigans is to write forceful letters to your congressman & senators. I did, and my representatives have at least supported what efforts there are at the moment to mend the problem.

    Selling Amtrak to private interests is not the anser either, unless you are willing subsidize those interests to the same tune as we do the highways and airlines. If we did, you could make your 8 day trip for less than $1000, instead of the $2500 or so you are spending now. (I am guessing because I made an 8 day trip all around in 1/99, and with my NARP discount, it was $2300 and some odd. We used economy rooms on the Silver Star, Capital Ltd., and Coast Starlight, and deluxe rooms on the Empire Builder, and Sunset Ltd.

    J. H. Sullivan, P.E. (retired)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
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    nowhere famous, Minnesota, USA.
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    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Jun-18-02 AT 09:14PM (EDT)[/font][p]Actually the coach cars arent that bad. BELEIVE ME! I was once in one for 2 or 3 days (with an hours delay due to a freight train on the wrong track or something like that) But it was very nice. I got to see the back of an F40 (lets just say after the delay the train cars werent in the order they were in when we left Minneaoplis!). Getting to see the Rockies was the best. We were going from Minneaoplis to Portland, then we took another train from Union Station to Eugene where we went to my great-uncle's house.



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  5. #5
    I_totally_love_trains Guest

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    My Dad and I are planning a 4 day train trip (round trip) on the Amtrak Capitol Limited. With the beds and all for both of us from Cumberland, Maryland to Chicago, Illonois and back is 1,000 dollars and something! My Dad said the reason why Amtrak Train Travel is decling is because the trains are almost always late. Heck the Pennsylvanian me and my dad were waiting for in Johnstown, PA the other day to take pictures of was 2 hours late and then we left after that so don't know how late it was after that time! The Amtrak Employee at the Cumberland, Maryland Train Station said that the Capitol Limited was late 6 hours one time and that's no good for business people!

    Adam

  6. #6
    Moonie Guest

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    Might be a small change in our plans.We are now considering flying from Boston to Denver, an continuing our trip from there. Have talked to someone we know who just took the same trip as we are. He said the trip from Boston to Chicago and Chicago to Denver was a nightmare.The train from Boston to Chicago was so delayed getting into Chicago that they missed their connecting train to Denver and had to stay over night in Chicago ,which messed up his connections the whole trip. Don't think I need the headache!Plus flying to Denver is quite a bit cheaper then the train,and we will still have plenty of Train Travel time. In fact the best train travel is west of Denver!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
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    Jacksonville,, FL, USA.
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    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    The trains are usually late because the freight railroads naturally put their interests first. Generally speaking CSX and BNSF are considered to be "Amtrak Friendly", whereas NS and Uncle Pete, well they isn't.

    In 1999, we left Washington on the Capitol Ltd. on time, but the day before there had been a nasty derailment with fatalities involving some Conrail freight trains 100 miles or so west of Toledo. This made it necessary for us to go into the Toledo Station, then backup for several miles and switch onto CSX to reach Chicago via Fostoria & the newly upgraded B&O line. As I was a CSX employee (and had handled some of the signal documentation on that upgrade), I welcomed the "inspection tour", but we were so late in Chi. that we missed the EPB connection. However, ours was a guaranteed connection, and so Amtrak put us on Northwest for St.Paul, where we caught up with the EPB. For whatever reason, the EPB cannot be held in Chicago, but will be held for "disconnects" in St.Paul. Given that my relatives and us gave Amtrak $4600 total for our fares, and they gave us $1600 in one way airline tickets, I would guess they didn't make much profit on us. Last fall, we were 4 hours late arriving back in Chicago which meant that a lot of folks missed their eastward connections. We were taxi cabbing to Midway to catch our return SW flight the next morning, and being late helped, as we were well past the rush hour -- cab fare therefore a lot less.

    You are quite right about the scenery west of Denver. Piece of Advice -- plant yourself in the lounge car, leaving Denver, and don't leave it till dark - forego lunch even. The scenery just gets better & better, starting with the Big Ten curves about 15 miles out of Denver. I rode it in 1984. I also recommend the Southwest Chief, but ride it ASAP cause Amtrak or not, I think the best part of the route, over Raton Pass, may be history before long, if BNSF has their way.

    I will disagree about coaches though. It is for good reason that professional railroaders refer to them as "cattle cars".
    I have never been in one, that did not stink to high heaven after a few hundred miles. Kids get sick, etc. etc. etc. and sleep is impossible unless you are good at Yoga.

    J. H. Sullivan, P.E.

  8. #8
    McDeth Guest

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    Yes, read the above posts. Its not like the government is raising much of a rucus to help out amtrak. Their funding is bearly a hundredth of what the airlines get. I saw a funny satire comic that showed how amtrak finally got decent funding for themselves. It showed an atrack train coming into a station, being pulled by a 747. Go figure.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Newport, RI, USA.
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    454

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    As a fellow P.E., you are probably aware of the practice of funding a project with just enough money to assure its failure. It is my firm opinion that is the goal of Congress, under the guiding hand of the airline industry lobbyists.

    I frequently travel between Rhode Island and New York on business, but rarely take AMTRAK, because it simply cannot be relied on to get me there on time. The only time I can use AMTRAK is when I have an early morning meeting that requires me to travel the night before, giving AMTRAK the whole night to be late.

    Full-fare business travel, not discount recreational travel, is the heart-and-soul of the airline industry. You'd think AMTRAK would try to capture some of that market, especially in the urbanized northeast. I once worked out a schedule that would assure one could travel between any two stations in the Northeast Corridor and arrive in time for a 10 AM meeting. It used the same number of trains AMTRAK now runs in the NEC, so why can't AMTRAK do it?

    Charles V. Beckers, Jr., P.E.
    Newport, Rhode Island

  10. #10

    Default RE: Amtrak Falling Apart

    [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Jun-19-02 AT 11:28AM (EDT)[/font][p]Hey guys, coming from England I cant really fault AMTRAK.

    Compared to English trains, Amtrak provide a much better service. ALL Amtraks staff are much more helpful, trains are quieter, cleaner and more efficient.

    Ive travelled across the U.S lots of times on Amtrak. Ive done full length trips (in coach every time) on the following trains - "Sunset Ltd", "Southwest Chief" and the "Capitol Ltd" and ive never had to complain once. Ive also had the pleasure of sampling 'First Class' on an Acela from New York to Washington - very nice trains I must say :)

    My most recent trip was from Orlando, FL to Los Angeles, CA on the "Sunset Ltd" back in January. I travelled 'coach' all the way and really enjoyed it, then flew back home on United Airlines. Sure enough there were the expected delays due to huge BNSF freight trains hogging the tracks (we arrived in L.A 7 1/2 hours late) but it gave me more time to enjoy the scenery!! :) (lets face it, you dont get scenery like that when your on a plane!!)

    If any of you are interested, I made a page on my website of my trip from New York to L.A back in 2001 (using 'ACELA', 'Capitol Limited' and 'Southwest Chief'). Take a look, theres a few pics and stuff on there (click the P42 to see the other pics!). Tell me what you think.

    http://leenavinuk.tripod.com/holiday/id8.html

    Hopefully AMTRAK will get through the financial difficulties that they have at the moment as I want to do another trip in October :)

    MOONIE, Im sorry for the problems you had with Amtrak, but just be thankful that they told you what was going on.

    At least the company is not privatised. Here in britain, they privatised our rail system in the mid 90s. That turned out to be a complete disaster (weve had a major crash more or less every year since then).

    All I really want to say is "AMTRAK, I applaud you...."

    Lee
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