A Millenial's List of Improvements/Ideas

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Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
Warning - long thread!

I was told millennials were a big target market now, so my last recent trip I kept notes on what I'd like to see. I really doubt it differs much from the majority of passengers tbh.

Of note, I've only traveled on Superliners - so these suggestions are mainly tailored to those cars, and mostly to Roomettes at that. Some of these may already be in the works for Superliner refurbs.

1) Bathrooms - oh man. I think I've gotten lucky and mostly only had the Superliner 1 refurb bathrooms with the "granite" style sink. These ones are fine. Small but workable. The type I had recently was the one with the sink and cabinet panel all along the side, dark grey, where you spray water all over yourself and the bathroom trying to use it. And can only wash one hand at a time. Can't get trash to go down in the can without sticking your hand all over it. Can't even bend over for the most part. Also, maybe a notification button light outside the door that can be lit up if bathroom needs servicing and attendant could get alerted. Also could prevent other passengers from having to discover this on their own (🤢) I saw a button in that bathroom but I wasn't touching anything else and didn't want to have to wait there.

2)Roomettes
- nightlight and outlet for use by upper berth when pulled down
- 2 outlets by the pullout table, and more room around outlets to fit charge cubes, etc
- tables definitely need improvement - coach pullout tables were nicer
-more climate control (have seen this mentioned a lot). 4 directional vents, 2 on top (one on each side for head/feet) for upper berth, 2 for lower
- fix that lever that pulls out the bottom seats for the bed - kept cutting my leg on it when bed was down
- also for having beds made up - feels like you have to do it pretty early. 10 is ok but with a time change sometimes it's 9 and with dinner reservations starting at 8 that can be awful early. I get the SCA can't be up all night and needs to get up early. Maybe a general staff member not assigned to a specific car to do tasks like that? Monitor bathrooms overnight too. I get it, more staff more $$$.
- I'd like the printed route brochures back. I'm thinking a brochure box near the coffee, no need to put in every room but those that want one can grab it. I like them, especially as souvenirs.
- sell the new blankets! Maybe 50% off for sleeping car passengers?

3) Announcements and Notifications
- in coach, I couldn't hear half of the announcements, some of which were quite important. Need to work on speakers and volume control in coach and in roomettes too.
- do more to standardize announcements. Some engineers really keep us informed, others don't say much. I feel it's better to know what's going on, people will likely be less agitated. Be clear about delays. I hate sitting there wondering.
-maybe create an opt-in text line for announcements? I know there's Twitter, that's more for major items. Also, able to text in safety concerns rather than call or have to speak in person (I only saw a phone number but maybe that is already an option).
- a little speaker box in roomettes/bedrooms you can flip open to speak to attendants, like maybe dining car taking breakfast reservations but you're still in bed and don't want to open the door or yell...

4) Dining
- the fresh flowers/tablecloth at dinner are nice, so is the free alcoholic beverage. Keep that up! I'll be even happier the day I can get something like a margarita.
- more lighter fare options, especially at dinner. Or some credit to cafe car. I'm not paying $10 for a small frozen pizza when I'm already paying $$$$$ for a roomette/bedroom.
- a few more vegetarian/vegan options. More customizable salad options. The vegan chili was actually really good!
- also more basic items on the menu. Sometimes maybe I just want pizza or a burger but not paying extra for cheaper food.
- stock - should not be running out of basics like halfway through the trip. Makes it especially hard for those with food allergies or sensitivities who can eat some items on the menu but not all. Or quite frankly at that price point should be able to get what you'd like barring extreme delays/circumstances.
- not gonna lie, a bar car could be cool. Especially in art deco style. Could probably really make up some $$$ there. I understand this used to exist on some routes.

5) General
- more washing of the windows! Also inside too, coach particularly behind the curtains was a lot of dust.
- more recycling - I start to feel a little guilty about all the trash
- WiFi!!! This is a biggie. I don't think SWC has it at all, even in the bigger cities. If they can figure out a way to offer it most of the way, even in the boonies, that would be cool. I ran out of data and I wasnt streaming anything. I was mostly looking up places we stopped, any route delays, etc. Can advertise this to those who may need to do work on board long routes but don't have the time off so choose to fly instead.

I don't expect anyone to read all this - 🙃
 

CCC1007

Customer Service Agent
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
1,792
I don't expect anyone to read all this - 🙃
Well I did, and I think some of this list is good, but there are some technical issues that need to be addressed first...

I'll add more after I get done with some work...
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
Well I did, and I think some of this list is good, but there are some technical issues that need to be addressed first...

I'll add more after I get done with some work...
I imagine many are repeats, and some not feasible like aspects with the Wifi. But maybe it'll lead to a different idea or interpretation that could work better!
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,180
Location
Ithaca, NY
We all agree! I will point out that a number of the physical design problems in category (2) were actually fixed in the Viewliners, which are decades old now.
 

CCC1007

Customer Service Agent
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
1,792
I imagine many are repeats, and some not feasible like aspects with the Wifi. But maybe it'll lead to a different idea or interpretation that could work better!
I would love to discuss this further, but that is going to have to wait. Reach out in PM's and I'll see what I can do to talk with you personally.
 

SarahZ

Quality Control
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,365
Location
KAL
I'm more of an Xennial (born in 1977), but I agree with the majority of this list.

WiFi is tricky in remote areas because it works off a phone signal. Then you have multiple people trying to access that one hotspot. You really can't do much of anything, and forget streaming. Most people find it easier to simply make their own phone a hotspot. If your carrier charges extra and you don't want to pay, check with your local library. Mine loans out hotspots. :)
 

MARC Rider

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Baltimore. MD
Does such a thing still exist?

I honestly can't remember the last time I had hot chocolate that wasn't thin and overly sweetened.
For anything, except extremely high end, any hot chocolate that's going to get served is going to be from an instant powder. Now, that can be pretty good, if one takes the care to mix the powder and hot water in the correct portions.

But don't hold your breath expecting OBS staff on a train (or any other mode of transportation) actually preparing hot chocolate by heating up fresh milk and mixing it with sugar and cocoa...
The same is true for expecting a bartender to mix up a cocktail to order. (There was once a passenger I saw on Acela first class who was under the impression he could get an Old fashioned made up with his favorite brand of whiskey. Turns out what they were offering was a pre-mixed cocktail from a can.)
 

MARC Rider

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Baltimore. MD
I'm more of an Xennial (born in 1977), but I agree with the majority of this list.

WiFi is tricky in remote areas because it works off a phone signal. Then you have multiple people trying to access that one hotspot. You really can't do much of anything, and forget streaming. Most people find it easier to simply make their own phone a hotspot. If your carrier charges extra and you don't want to pay, check with your local library. Mine loans out hotspots. :)
They now have wifi on some of the eastern long-distance trains. I was able to attend a Zoom meeting while sitting in my roomette on the Lake Shore Limited. I think the Silvers have it, too.
 

enviro5609

Train Attendant
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Jun 10, 2021
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48
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New York
I'm more of an Xennial (born in 1977), but I agree with the majority of this list.

WiFi is tricky in remote areas because it works off a phone signal. Then you have multiple people trying to access that one hotspot. You really can't do much of anything, and forget streaming. Most people find it easier to simply make their own phone a hotspot. If your carrier charges extra and you don't want to pay, check with your local library. Mine loans out hotspots. :)
I don't understand the technical limitations involved, but if planes can get data service at 35,000 feet, I don't see why Amtrak can't get some level of wi-fi, even if its satellite based instead of cellular. Servicses like HughsNet has been providing internet service to these same rural areas for decades now.
 

Qapla

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Gator Country Florida
There is a little bit of a difference when a plane is at 30,000 feet (considerably closer to the satellites than a train on the ground) and there are no obstacles like trees, bridges, tunnels, buildings and the like blocking the signal.
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
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"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
I don't understand the technical limitations involved, but if planes can get data service at 35,000 feet, I don't see why Amtrak can't get some level of wi-fi, even if its satellite based instead of cellular. Servicses like HughsNet has been providing internet service to these same rural areas for decades now.
Satellite requires a clear view of the sky - usually the southern sky as that's where the satellites are. Higher up in the air that's pretty easy to do reliably, but when you're on the ground there's a lot more interference. It works okay when stationary as the satellite dish on the ground can be precisely aligned, put in an area where trees won't interfere, etc. but when moving through terrain that can't easily be done.

My understanding is that the wi-fi network on the eastern LD trains (and many of the regionals as well) works with a main node in the cafe car, which has the suite of hardware needed to connect to the cellular networks. Each car daisy-chains off of that one primary connection. That can work okay, and is probably the best balance of cost to usability for Amtrak; having enterprise-grade equipment will result in better reliability, and those options typically allow for multiple cellular networks to be used. That would allow Amtrak to connect to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon towers if they are willing to pay for all three services. It also allows Amtrak to have greater control over the connection, both to block unsavory websites and to limit bandwidth so one user doesn't tie up the whole connection. Ideally, Amtrak would also provide on-board streaming entertainment through the wi-fi; the content could be stored on each train and accessed through wi-fi; my understanding is this is how in-flight entertainment works (saves loads on bandwidth) and so Amtrak could implement that if they so chose.
 

Dakota 400

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Messages
3,317
in coach, I couldn't hear half of the announcements, some of which were quite important. Need to work on speakers and volume control in coach and in roomettes too.
That has been a concern of mine for some time and not only on Amtrak. Announcements on planes are hard for me to hear except before take-off. During the flight, and particularly after landing (because my ears plug up for several minutes, I a "voice", but what that "voice" is saying......not a clue.

I'd like the printed route brochures back. I'm thinking a brochure box near the coffee, no need to put in every room but those that want one can grab it. I like them, especially as souvenirs.
A good suggestion.
a bar car could be cool. Especially in art deco style. Could probably really make up some $$$ there
A "bar car" already exists in the SSL if they would re-activate the top side bar that was done away with some time ago because of cutbacks. Trying to carry a drink up those stairs on a moving train, at least for me, without spilling a portion of it is impossible.
 

JoshP

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
178
Location
Buffalo, NY
If I was the CEO, I would change for Northeast Regional first to these "alike Japan trains"
(ingore the warning, I dunno why the idiot disabled video sharing but click the link to watch it on YT)




For long distance, I would convert the sleeper cars to these:



Then maybe, we can see improvements!
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,151
Does such a thing (good hot chocolate) still exist? I honestly can't remember the last time I had hot chocolate that wasn't thin and overly sweetened.
Well, given the quality of the coffee, if Amtrak provided hot chocolate it would likely be an off-brand Swiss Miss at best.

The easiest way to make good hot cocoa, in my opinion, is to mix good quality Dutch cocoa in a mug with some sugar, a drop or two of vanilla, and some heavy cream. Add boiling water and stir...

But good luck getting anything like that on Amtrak!
 

CCC1007

Customer Service Agent
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
1,792
Something that I would love to see implemented on Amtrak trains would be to have automated Trails and Rails type content available to be streamed to devices onboard. This could be implemented using an onboard server that triggers the playback on the devices that choose to connect to the network and request that type of content.

The same server could also host a library of streaming media that can be piped to the personal electronic devices onboard, without having to connect to the internet to provide the content.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,151
Even easier to implement immediately would be having such content downloadable from the Amtrak website to one's mobile devices. No onboard servers needed. Audio only content would take up negligible space on one's devices, and full movie content could be made available for those with more space on their devices. Heck, I'd even pay a nominal fee to access that kind of content. Though, it would constitute free advertising for Amtrak's glorious scenery, so making it free would possibly be cost-effective.

Keep in mind that I'm a tech illiterate, so I may be under-estimating how hard this would be, or how easy having onboard servers with streaming media would be.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
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Messages
1,190
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
They now have wifi on some of the eastern long-distance trains. I was able to attend a Zoom meeting while sitting in my roomette on the Lake Shore Limited. I think the Silvers have it, too.
It was very iffy on the the Meteor between Washington & Jacksonville. I got a steady WiFi signal, but no internet for long stretches (while I was awake). Sometimes I got cell data when the Wifi wasn't connecting, and sometimes not.
 
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Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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May 31, 2009
Messages
23,850
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Austin Texas
Warning - long thread!

I was told millennials were a big target market now, so my last recent trip I kept notes on what I'd like to see. I really doubt it differs much from the majority of passengers tbh.

Of note, I've only traveled on Superliners - so these suggestions are mainly tailored to those cars, and mostly to Roomettes at that. Some of these may already be in the works for Superliner refurbs.

1) Bathrooms - oh man. I think I've gotten lucky and mostly only had the Superliner 1 refurb bathrooms with the "granite" style sink. These ones are fine. Small but workable. The type I had recently was the one with the sink and cabinet panel all along the side, dark grey, where you spray water all over yourself and the bathroom trying to use it. And can only wash one hand at a time. Can't get trash to go down in the can without sticking your hand all over it. Can't even bend over for the most part. Also, maybe a notification button light outside the door that can be lit up if bathroom needs servicing and attendant could get alerted. Also could prevent other passengers from having to discover this on their own (🤢) I saw a button in that bathroom but I wasn't touching anything else and didn't want to have to wait there.

2)Roomettes
- nightlight and outlet for use by upper berth when pulled down
- 2 outlets by the pullout table, and more room around outlets to fit charge cubes, etc
- tables definitely need improvement - coach pullout tables were nicer
-more climate control (have seen this mentioned a lot). 4 directional vents, 2 on top (one on each side for head/feet) for upper berth, 2 for lower
- fix that lever that pulls out the bottom seats for the bed - kept cutting my leg on it when bed was down
- also for having beds made up - feels like you have to do it pretty early. 10 is ok but with a time change sometimes it's 9 and with dinner reservations starting at 8 that can be awful early. I get the SCA can't be up all night and needs to get up early. Maybe a general staff member not assigned to a specific car to do tasks like that? Monitor bathrooms overnight too. I get it, more staff more $$$.
- I'd like the printed route brochures back. I'm thinking a brochure box near the coffee, no need to put in every room but those that want one can grab it. I like them, especially as souvenirs.
- sell the new blankets! Maybe 50% off for sleeping car passengers?

3) Announcements and Notifications
- in coach, I couldn't hear half of the announcements, some of which were quite important. Need to work on speakers and volume control in coach and in roomettes too.
- do more to standardize announcements. Some engineers really keep us informed, others don't say much. I feel it's better to know what's going on, people will likely be less agitated. Be clear about delays. I hate sitting there wondering.
-maybe create an opt-in text line for announcements? I know there's Twitter, that's more for major items. Also, able to text in safety concerns rather than call or have to speak in person (I only saw a phone number but maybe that is already an option).
- a little speaker box in roomettes/bedrooms you can flip open to speak to attendants, like maybe dining car taking breakfast reservations but you're still in bed and don't want to open the door or yell...

4) Dining
- the fresh flowers/tablecloth at dinner are nice, so is the free alcoholic beverage. Keep that up! I'll be even happier the day I can get something like a margarita.
- more lighter fare options, especially at dinner. Or some credit to cafe car. I'm not paying $10 for a small frozen pizza when I'm already paying $$$$$ for a roomette/bedroom.
- a few more vegetarian/vegan options. More customizable salad options. The vegan chili was actually really good!
- also more basic items on the menu. Sometimes maybe I just want pizza or a burger but not paying extra for cheaper food.
- stock - should not be running out of basics like halfway through the trip. Makes it especially hard for those with food allergies or sensitivities who can eat some items on the menu but not all. Or quite frankly at that price point should be able to get what you'd like barring extreme delays/circumstances.
- not gonna lie, a bar car could be cool. Especially in art deco style. Could probably really make up some $$$ there. I understand this used to exist on some routes.

5) General
- more washing of the windows! Also inside too, coach particularly behind the curtains was a lot of dust.
- more recycling - I start to feel a little guilty about all the trash
- WiFi!!! This is a biggie. I don't think SWC has it at all, even in the bigger cities. If they can figure out a way to offer it most of the way, even in the boonies, that would be cool. I ran out of data and I wasnt streaming anything. I was mostly looking up places we stopped, any route delays, etc. Can advertise this to those who may need to do work on board long routes but don't have the time off so choose to fly instead.

I don't expect anyone to read all this - 🙃
You make some good points. One thing you missed on is that Engineers don't announce things to the Passengers, it's the Conductor (s)and the OBS that make PA announcements.
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
I'm not sure the "engineer" makes any of the announcements ... the Conductor might.

I also think there should be quality options for those of us who don't drink coffee - like good hot chocolate.
I don't drink coffee either... unfortunately I rely on something like Coke Zero for my caffeine. I usually bring some with me.

In the past there has been juice along with the water bottles but I think it was on the SCA to provide that so it varied greatly. Also pre-Covid. Hot tea/hot chocolate could be a nice amenity. Spilling is an issue - lidded insulated cups not filled to the brim could help with that. Hot chocolate could be a nice treat for younger travelers too. Yeah, it would be instant but eh some instant mixes arent bad lol.
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
I'm more of an Xennial (born in 1977), but I agree with the majority of this list.

WiFi is tricky in remote areas because it works off a phone signal. Then you have multiple people trying to access that one hotspot. You really can't do much of anything, and forget streaming. Most people find it easier to simply make their own phone a hotspot. If your carrier charges extra and you don't want to pay, check with your local library. Mine loans out hotspots. :)
I did have a hotspot but it didn't seem interested in working either....honestly though I haven't really used them much before. I think because it was tied to my data plan and that ran out (really need to get a pay as you go vs limited amount of data plan).

I didnt think about my library - will definitely check there!
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
For anything, except extremely high end, any hot chocolate that's going to get served is going to be from an instant powder. Now, that can be pretty good, if one takes the care to mix the powder and hot water in the correct portions.

But don't hold your breath expecting OBS staff on a train (or any other mode of transportation) actually preparing hot chocolate by heating up fresh milk and mixing it with sugar and cocoa...
The same is true for expecting a bartender to mix up a cocktail to order. (There was once a passenger I saw on Acela first class who was under the impression he could get an Old fashioned made up with his favorite brand of whiskey. Turns out what they were offering was a pre-mixed cocktail from a can.)
If they could get a good old fashioned served up, I know some people who would probably never leave the train 😂
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
A "bar car" already exists in the SSL if they would re-activate the top side bar that was done away with some time ago because of cutbacks. Trying to carry a drink up those stairs on a moving train, at least for me, without spilling a portion of it is impossible.
They would definitely need to serve it in a non-traditional manner - probably like the lidded cups for coffee. Or you just have to sip it down enough to allow some "wiggle" room for walking about 😅
 

Skylark

Train Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Chicago
If I was the CEO, I would change for Northeast Regional first to these "alike Japan trains"
(ingore the warning, I dunno why the idiot disabled video sharing but click the link to watch it on YT)


For long distance, I would convert the sleeper cars to these:




Then maybe, we can see improvements!
These are cool! Looks like some are more relaxed (curtains) while others retain more privacy. The curtains could be nice for coach class and the doors for rooms. Fascinating designs there.
 
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