A Millenial's List of Improvements/Ideas

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Skylark

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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.
Ahh, you are correct. I was thinking on that and for some reason I was hearing it in my head as "this is your engineer speaking." But yeah engineers are usually too busy for that.
 

Bob Dylan

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Ahh, you are correct. I was thinking on that and for some reason I was hearing it in my head as "this is your engineer speaking." But yeah engineers are usually too busy for that.
Yep, the Engineer communicates via Radio with the Dispatcher and the Conductor(s).
 

Barb Stout

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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.
I wouldn't be surprised if there already is some audiobook with such information. If so, one would have to stop it and restart it, so one would have to know where they are anyway. Are there mile markers on the tracks?
 

Barb Stout

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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!
On the SWC and in the desert/mountain southwest in general, there are a lot of areas without cell phone service at all and even where it does exist, the signal wasn't good enough most of the time to access the internet, as you already discovered and so relying on a hotspot won't do any good in those regions. I have unlimited data and there are certainly plenty of times I can't access the internet while traveling either by riding in a car or on a train in NM. Part of the issue is one isn't in cell phone tower areas long enough to do a lot of things. I think the situation may be good enough to order a pizza on-line prior to Albuquerque, so as to have it delivered during the 20-40 minute stop there. When traveling in general, either by automobile or train, I don't depend or utilize the internet much. I like to watch the landscape roll by and I'm a bookworm when the landscape becomes boring to me. It would be tough to try to do business that relies solely on the internet while on the train in the desert/mountain southwest and I suppose other rural areas also. I'm not sure why anyone would want to stream entertainment while traveling. That's asking for frustration if you were to ask me. Download before traveling when and where you have a stable signal.
 

TinCan782

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I wouldn't be surprised if there already is some audiobook with such information. If so, one would have to stop it and restart it, so one would have to know where they are anyway. Are there mile markers on the tracks?
Yes, railroads have mileposts. Easy to miss/not easy to spot unless you are staring out the window! At speed, you have to be quick to read the numbers!
And, if mileposts are on the opposite side of the train as you, you wont see them at all.
westfieldma_108.jpg
 
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Nick Farr

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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.
The other thing is cost recovery. Airline-based internet services can easily recover their costs and make a profit, on top of additional demand for those services from the traveling public.

Internet is a "nice to have" for Amtrak passengers, especially since they can use their cell phones without any issue or problem. While satellite-based internet is possible, it would be cost-prohibitive and not as reliable or fast as users would come to expect.

Same goes for on-board entertainment. The costs associated with that are easily borne by airlines who have much greater passenger capacity. It's not something that would be a good use of Amtrak resources for the maybe few dozen on Amtrak who would use it at any given time.
 

jis

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I think nominal on board entertainment service which is accessible through customer owned devices over a WiFi system can be provided rather inexpensively. Its can be partially covered by commercials, though not necessarily so. It would be nice to provide things like front and rear view live cameras and such like some airlines provide, among other things. There could be other information unique to the journey shared that way.

This same WiFi link could then be used to connect to the external world when a link is available either gratis or for an additional charge, using terrestrial, satellite or hybrid links. This is basically what many airlines do these days though using a select satellite system. Satellite systems are inherently shaky on ground when traveling through terrains and forests as anyone who owns a Sirius system knows.

Providing an at seat monitor is where things start getting expensive, though several airlines are starting revert back to that, without taking the WiFi access from personal devices away. In upper class many allow the personal device to display its video on the large screen too. They are getting pretty sophisticated. We ain't in Kansas anymore Toto!
 

Tlcooper93

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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 many good points.
Millennials get grouped together too often, and in reality, there are a lot of differing views amongst us. Moreover, most millennials are more like older generations; we were still largely raised without phones and tech.

I agree with all of your points except WiFi. Long distance trains really don’t need it. The scenery is beautiful enough, and so long as cell service improves (which it continues to do so) most who need to get work done can.

I definitely agree with the points regarding on board entertainment similar to the airlines. Amtrak ought to provide a network that one can tap into to access a small library of current and popular movies and tv shows. This would tremendously improve the onboard experience, especially at night, when there Is no scenery.
 
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Ziv

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Are you sure, Bob?
The next thing you will be telling us is that the engineer isn’t the one in charge of the train! 😆
Sorry, I will see myself to the door…

… 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.
 

Trollopian

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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!
Swiss Miss? I thought Amtrak made hot chocolate by running hot water over a brown crayon.
 

McIntyre2K7

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What about on the western trains they can remodel one of the superliners so that up top its a lounge car and at the bottom it has multiple showers? That way if the people in coach want to take a shower they can buy a shower card. The sleeper car passengers would have their own showers as well so there's no random person in the sleeper car section of the train.
 

George Harris

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Are you sure, Bob?
The next thing you will be telling us is that the engineer isn’t the one in charge of the train! 😆
Sorry, I will see myself to the door…
Nope, the engineer is not in charge of the train. The conductor is. Once the train is moving, the engineer is in charge of keeping moving properly as to speed, obeying signals and restrictions, etc., but if the conductor calls the engineer and says stop the train, the engineer had better bring it to a stop. Conversely, the conductor tells the engineer it is ok to start moving, with engineer must do unless prevented by higher authority, such as signals or time. Anything going on inside the train is solely the responsibility of the conductor.
 

Barb Stout

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It would be nice to provide things like front and rear view live cameras and such like some airlines provide, among other things. There could be other information unique to the journey shared that way.
When did this start and which airlines? Last I flew was in January of 2020 and as far as I know, this was not available. I haven't flown very much at all in the last 10 years, so I'm not aware of what is available these days.
 

jis

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When did this start and which airlines? Last I flew was in January of 2020 and as far as I know, this was not available. I haven't flown very much at all in the last 10 years, so I'm not aware of what is available these days.
Among my flights I have seen them only on Lufthansa A380s and Boeing 747-8is. I am told Emirates has this on all their planes, though I have no way of knwing first hand since I have never flown Emirates. I think they are only only very large aircraft these days, though other airlines may have them on smaller planes too. I am not aware of any American airlines that do this.
 
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George Harris

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finally! Back in Mississippi
Are there mile markers on the tracks?
Yes, absolutely. Everything on the railroad is defined by milepost location. There are several versions of these things, the one shown in the picture in ForensicPic's post being about the most common, but not the only version. Ex L&N lines have or had square concrete posts about 4 to 5 feet high, on the right side in direction of increasing mileage. For them zero was Louisville on all lines. However, or most lines, the starting of the particular line or branch is zero. Southern had round metal ovals on posts. Things can get confusing at times. In case of line relocations you may have less than 5,280 feet between posts, and in some cases a milepost no longer there. Reposting miles is seldom done as it can lead to endless confusion. Then you get such things as on the frequently mentioned Gulf Coast Line between New Orleans and Jacksonville, You start at New Orleans with whatever the highest number L&N milepost there is and follow decreasing mileage to Flomaton AL. At that point you get on the P&A line with mileposts increasing from whatever the milepost is at Flomaton until you get to Chattahoochie FL, then you are following decreasing milepost from there to Jacksonville based on the Seaboard Airline mileposts. The Sunset Line west of New Orleans also has multiple milepost systems, but I don't recall their directions and zero points, except that everything west of El Paso or thereabouts is based on zero at San Francisco. On the original Southern Pacific, San Francisco was effectively the West Pole with all lines being designated as running east therefrom.
 

AmtrakMaineiac

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Probably the strangest milepost setup is the London Underground which has its zero location at Ongar on the Central Line which is no longer part of the system since the Ongar to Epping section was abandoned, in the 1970s IIRC
 

UserNameRequired

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Among my flights I have seen them only on Lufthansa A380s and Boeing 747-8is. I am told Emirates has this on all their planes, though I have no way of knwing first hand since I have never flown Emirates. I think they are only only very large aircraft these days, though other airlines may have them on smaller planes too. I am not aware of any American airlines that do this.
I have no personal knowledge, but I do remember the accident reports for AA 191 from 1979 that the front view of the takeoff was likely on the screens as the aircraft rolled over and stalled with a nose down attitude into the ground. This would have been a DC-10. A possible reason that front view is no longer shown to passengers here?
Reference:
 

west point

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I have no personal knowledge, but I do remember the accident reports for AA 191 from 1979 that the front view of the takeoff was likely on the screens as the aircraft rolled over and stalled with a nose down attitude into the ground. This would have been a DC-10. A possible reason that front view is no longer shown to passengers here?
Reference:
Correct was a MD DC-10. AA changed a wing engine. MD had procedure that change had to use specialized engine lift. Lift not available. Maintenance director ordered maintenance to use fork lift . Fork lift not steady enough shaking mounting replacement engine partially broke mounting. Engine ( #1?) broke off on takeoff pulling control cables for leading edge devices. Left wing stalled. Maintenance director for ever know as fork lift joe! Even after went to another airline !
 

Cal

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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!
Looks quite similar to roomettes.
 

Cal

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Among my flights I have seen them only on Lufthansa A380s and Boeing 747-8is. I am told Emirates has this on all their planes, though I have no way of knwing first hand since I have never flown Emirates. I think they are only only very large aircraft these days, though other airlines may have them on smaller planes too. I am not aware of any American airlines that do this.
United also has an audio channel on their IFEs to listen to ATC interactions, I’m sure many railfans would enjoy something like that without having to buy their own scanner.
 

Cal

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I have no personal knowledge, but I do remember the accident reports for AA 191 from 1979 that the front view of the takeoff was likely on the screens as the aircraft rolled over and stalled with a nose down attitude into the ground. This would have been a DC-10. A possible reason that front view is no longer shown to passengers here?
Reference:
Front view is still available, throughout the entire flight AFAIK
 

Willbridge

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I can't recall which line tried it but a front view camera on a passenger train was frightening to some passengers. They could see the near-misses at grade crossings.
 

Skylark

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On the SWC and in the desert/mountain southwest in general, there are a lot of areas without cell phone service at all and even where it does exist, the signal wasn't good enough most of the time to access the internet, as you already discovered and so relying on a hotspot won't do any good in those regions. I have unlimited data and there are certainly plenty of times I can't access the internet while traveling either by riding in a car or on a train in NM. Part of the issue is one isn't in cell phone tower areas long enough to do a lot of things. I think the situation may be good enough to order a pizza on-line prior to Albuquerque, so as to have it delivered during the 20-40 minute stop there. When traveling in general, either by automobile or train, I don't depend or utilize the internet much. I like to watch the landscape roll by and I'm a bookworm when the landscape becomes boring to me. It would be tough to try to do business that relies solely on the internet while on the train in the desert/mountain southwest and I suppose other rural areas also. I'm not sure why anyone would want to stream entertainment while traveling. That's asking for frustration if you were to ask me. Download before traveling when and where you have a stable signal.
Ironically a lot of what I was trying to do was order or figure out food 😅 saw it was getting later and later that I was going to be arriving and hoped to secure some hot food for the night. As an aside, for places where hungry travelers regularly arrive late in the evening, it's amazing there's never anything open or even like prepackaged sub sandwiches at substantial hotels or nearby. But that's a rant for another day!

Certainly wouldn't need to stream during daylight, mainly just nightime when you can't see anything or trying to get to sleep, or a long delay somewhere. Though there's something to be said for simply not having the option at all in some areas.
 

CraigInNC

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I was born in 1980 so I am an early millennial (I think) but also have been a long railfan and transportation fan in general. I travel a lot. I just did the Star from Florida to North Carolina last week. I think there is going to be two kinds of millennial passengers, the LD ones whose preferences probably will track closer to the average railfan. Then there may be the potential passenger that will use Amtrak for shorter distances most likely not overnight and won't need a sleeper. Those are two different marketing models for today and the future. The desire to resume traditional dining is nearly universal. Offering the chance to eat in room would alleviate those that dislike communal dining. The long term effects of Covid may bear heavy influence on that anyways. Not having coach passengers in the dining car opens up flexibility. I hope coach access to the dining car resumes at some point. I have taken LD trains for day trips where having a roomette is not necessary but have enjoyed having a meal to pass the time. I would agree that an investment in Wi-Fi would be attractive to the <50 crowd especially. Although these days the proliferation of Unlimited plans with the major cellular carriers is slowing negating that. I am on a 5G Unlimited Plan with AT&T and with the Auto-Pay discount it is $55 a month. I can tether my phone or create a hotspot. As far as food, although I do not have many eating limitations (both in allergy and taste) if I am on a LD train, and some SD trains, I will bring my own stock of food and drink for my own snacking. I generally do not buy anything from the Café car unless its coffee or a soda for a setup. I use Broadcastify as one app to get radio chatter. There are usually train channels in addition to public service channels. LiveATC I usually use for aero. But I generally don't listen to them unless there is a problem or something unusual.
 
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