Amtrak Dining

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jruff001

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 23, 2020
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Does the Downeaster, Alaska RR, and Rocky Mountaineer have poor quality employees?
Maybe you missed the "six days (I mistakenly said "nights") away from home each trip, year round" part of my post?

What kind of business are you running these days where you can attract good employees for $10/hr with no benefits?
 

jruff001

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 23, 2020
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Couldn't really be any worse than a lot of Amtrak's dining car waitstaff.
I agree, sadly. A lot of Amtrak's OBS employees don't know how good they have it, given their compensation and a lot of their attitudes. (Not to ignore the fact that there are some gems out there who do a great job.)
 

River in Sight

Train Attendant
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Sep 22, 2015
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You couldn't when I went but it's sounding like you can now - every other table.
just to answer my own question, every other table was indeed open for dining. Two tables were taken by the crew but we had no trouble finding one. Of course, a freight train derailed in front of us just south of RVR so we had to take an Uber the rest of the way to VA Beach.
 
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I watched an RPA webinar yesterday on the on board experience. I’m cautiously optimistic that Amtrak has gotten the point on the food service complaints. The messaging RPA is getting from Amtrak on the return of traditional dining sounds pretty good with even talk of consideration of going back to non disposable dishware. It also sounds like they are willing to revisit and make changes to the flexible dining format - though it sounds like they want to get traditional dining going and get the bugs out on these five trains first.
 

Cal

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I watched an RPA webinar yesterday on the on board experience. I’m cautiously optimistic that Amtrak has gotten the point on the food service complaints. The messaging RPA is getting from Amtrak on the return of traditional dining sounds pretty good with even talk of consideration of going back to non disposable dishware. It also sounds like they are willing to revisit and make changes to the flexible dining format - though it sounds like they want to get traditional dining going and get the bugs out on these five trains first.
I hope you are right. I mean if they are considering China, the meals surely are going to be better.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Maybe you missed the "six days (I mistakenly said "nights") away from home each trip, year round" part of my post?

What kind of business are you running these days where you can attract good employees for $10/hr with no benefits?
No I didn’t miss it. Rocky Mountaineer would be a 4-5 day turn. Alaska would be 2.

Besides... the LSA on the sunset isn’t getting paid more than the lsa on the Surfliner that is home every night. Actually the lsa on the Surfliner is probably getting more cause they have seniority and bid on the easier job.
 

jruff001

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 23, 2020
Messages
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No I didn’t miss it. Rocky Mountaineer would be a 4-5 day turn. Alaska would be 2.
And those are all year round, full time jobs?

I am sure you could get a few foamers to work a few specialty trains at those wages and schedules, but good luck trying to find a full, dependable staff.

Besides... the LSA on the sunset isn’t getting paid more than the lsa on the Surfliner that is home every night. Actually the lsa on the Surfliner is probably getting more cause they have seniority and bid on the easier job.
Sorry, not sure what point you are trying to make here. Some people like to be home every night; some would not mind being out for a week in exchange for being home for a week.

But I am still curious about your recruiting results when you are offering $10/hr with no benefits. Can the applicants pass a pre-employment drug screen? Will they be willing to report to work at odd hours and are they fine with being away from home for up to six days, including major holidays?
 

crescent-zephyr

Engineer
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And those are all year round, full time jobs?
According to the report... Amtrak has too many year round full time f&b employees. The Rocky Mountaineer has a lengthy season, many f&b employees probably work the same number of days in a year that a full time Amtrak lsa works.

I am sure you could get a few foamers
Oh back to the name calling I see.

But I am still curious about your recruiting results when you are offering $10/hr with no benefits. Can the applicants pass a pre-employment drug screen? Will they be willing to report to work at odd hours and are they fine with being away from home for up to six days, including major holidays?
You’re acting like drug tests, odd hours, and working on holidays is somehow unique to Amtrak?
 

jruff001

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 23, 2020
Messages
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According to the report... Amtrak has too many year round full time f&b employees.
Agreed.

The Rocky Mountaineer has a lengthy season, many f&b employees probably work the same number of days in a year that a full time Amtrak lsa works.
Disagreed. Cite please?

Oh back to the name calling I see.
Lame. I already admitted to being a foamer. Wear it with pride!

You’re acting like drug tests, odd hours, and working on holidays is somehow unique to Amtrak?
Quite the opposite. Lots of companies right now are looking for those attributes, mine included. But $10/hr with no benefits is not gonna cut it. We are offering thousands of dollars in sign-on bonuses and near-six-figure salaries for those who are willing to be away from home for several days at a time. Of course we would not tolerate the rudeness towards customers some Amtrak employees exhibit.
 
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Poor quality? I couldn't say, not having experienced these lines. But definitely poor, at those quoted wage-rates. And triple shame on the Rocky Mountaineer--charging exorbitant prices and paying their staff starvation wages.
Other than a few full-time trainers/"co-ordinators", I believe the bulk of the RM summer service staff are college students, eager for work and travel. Most are looking for cash as opposed to a career. That is why off-season trips vary from infrequent to non-existent - even pre-Covid. The model has more similarity with cruise ships than other railroads.
 
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When looking at pay rates, you also have to look at whether the other services allow tipping and how much the employees actually make in total. The IG report did not indicate the former much less the latter.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Agreed. Why they'd compare themselves with a seasonal tourist service is puzzling to say the least.
Because they operate multi-day trains, on a mainline railroad, with food & beverage service?

They operate April-October.
 

Trogdor

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Amtrak OIG ≠ Amtrak. The report is an Amtrak OIG report, not a report from Amtrak management.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Disagreed. Cite please?
It’s just math. Amtrak f&b on the western trains get like 6 days on and then 6 days off. I figure some end up working like 150 days a year. If you work a season on the Rocky Mountaineer from April-October you could easily get in 150 days.

Now some Amtrak f&b will pick up extras and some Rocky Mountaineer staff maybe only work 1 trip a week or something I don’t know - I was just saying it could be pretty close.
 
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Because they operate multi-day trains, on a mainline railroad, with food & beverage service?

They operate April-October.
Rocky Mountaineer does not operate any multi-day trains that I'm aware of. They operate several one-day trains that happen to connect points on a route. The best Amtrak parallel would be if the Coast Starlight ran from Seattle to south Oregon one day, stopped for the night, continued to the Bay area the next day, stopped for the night, then finished up in L.A. on the third day.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Rocky Mountaineer does not operate any multi-day trains that I'm aware of. They operate several one-day trains that happen to connect points on a route. The best Amtrak parallel would be if the Coast Starlight ran from Seattle to south Oregon one day, stopped for the night, continued to the Bay area the next day, stopped for the night, then finished up in L.A. on the third day.
The train consist and staff continue on correct? We are talking about staffing f&b here.
 
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I am not sure about the status of ARR on board service staff. The operating crew are certainly 'railroad' employees, subject to FRA, RRB, and RR union rules.
Not even sure if the obs staff even is directly employed by the ARR, or are outsourced....🤔 ARR does operate all year round, with a reduced schedule.

The entire staff on the privately owned cars carried by ARR are definitely not railroad employees, nor union. The ones working the Princess and Holland-America cars do get benefits from their employer, including a free or reduced rate cruise.:)
 
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The train consist and staff continue on correct? We are talking about staffing f&b here.
The consist yes, the crew not so much. Their crew base was in Kamloops, so OBS would work to either extremity (Vancouver or Calgary) then return on the next service. I believe the service manager/cruise director would be the only common staff passengers would see for an entire trip. Since they haven't been operating for some time, who knows how it will work on resumption.
 

zephyr17

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The consist yes, the crew not so much. Their crew base was in Kamloops, so OBS would work to either extremity (Vancouver or Calgary) then return on the next service. I believe the service manager/cruise director would be the only common staff passengers would see for an entire trip. Since they haven't been operating for some time, who knows how it will work on resumption.
Or what they're doing for the Colorado Rockies trip. Kamloops isn't exactly feasible as a crew base 😉
 
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