Amtrak restores staffing positions at Marshall station

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frequentflyer

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The Marshall Depot board was pleased to learn, on Monday, Amtrak’s plans to restore the service.

“On May 19, we received a phone call from Amtrak informing us that Amtrak plans to restore the paid Customer Service Representative staffing at our Marshall Depot station, as well as at the 14 other U.S. cities who had staffing eliminated in 2018,” Ms. Anderson announced Wednesday.
The 14 other cities are: Texarkana, Arkansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Topeka, Kansas; Meridian, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hammond, Louisiana; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Madison, Iowa; Ottumwa, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas; La Junta, Colorado; Lamy, New Mexico; Shelby, Montana; and Havre, Montana.
 

tricia

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Behind a pay wall. Does anyone know if this means checked baggage will be allowed at these stations?

Still no staffing for Greenville, SC, alas. And no checked baggage between Charlotte NC and Atlanta on the Crescent. :(
 

Just-Thinking-51

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No jobs for station personal posted. One thinks they will be bagged handling. However some of those station were destaffed due to lack of people to fill those positions.
 

ehbowen

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Very good news if it happens. But a part of me can't help but wonder who leaned on whom in order to make it happen?
 

saxman

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Of some of those stations, Marshall didn't have checked bag service anyway. So glad Cincinnati is getting it back too. That was a big mistake. I was also wondering how trainside checked bags was going at unstaffed stations. Or is it something Amtrak tried but never really worked sort of thing.
 

flitcraft

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Let's hope this actually gets implemented. For one thing, it means jobs at a time when a lot of folks need them. For another, it will make train travel more practical. And for a third, the optics--support of trains in flyover country--are great!
 

IndyLions

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I couldn't care less about Marshall (a corrupt and opportunistic town infamous for catering to patent troll lawsuits) but I'm glad Lamy, NM is on the list. 👍
As a traveler from the Midwest to Houston I disagree 😀

That’s my get off point from the Eagle to rent a car and drive to Houston.
On the return, multiple times the station attendant allowed me to drop my luggage at the station for a couple of hours while I walked to an excellent downtown cafe.

That was a nice perk. Dragging your luggage around is a pain in the neck...
 

Chey

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I couldn't care less about Marshall (a corrupt and opportunistic town infamous for catering to patent troll lawsuits) but I'm glad Lamy, NM is on the list. 👍
I'm wondering how that's going to work now that the Lamy station has been turned into a restaurant/bar? I haven't seen it in about 3 years so I don't know if the new stuff took over the whole station.
 

the_traveler

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multiple times the station attendant allowed me to drop my luggage at the station for a couple of hours while I walked to an excellent downtown cafe.

That was a nice perk. Dragging your luggage around is a pain in the neck...
I agree.

Once, I did a SAN turn, spending the day in SAN before returning to SBA and then taking the bus to EMY. Even though the Surfliners have checked baggage and I was leaving EMY by sleeper, the SAN agent would not check my bags (because according to her there would not be enough time to retrieve then in SBA), nor hold them for me - unless I wanted to pay (whatever it was) $10 for each bag for my 4 hours.

I needed to go shopping, so I had to drag my 2 bags on the Trolley and thru the mall and back!
 

Bob Dylan

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As a traveler from the Midwest to Houston I disagree 😀

That’s my get off point from the Eagle to rent a car and drive to Houston.
On the return, multiple times the station attendant allowed me to drop my luggage at the station for a couple of hours while I walked to an excellent downtown cafe.

That was a nice perk. Dragging your luggage around is a pain in the neck...
Longview is where the Thruway Busess for Shrevport and Houston meet the Eagle, and the Historic Rennovated Station is a great place with friendly,helpful agents.

It's not far to downtown, which has lots of good eating places.

I like it much more than Marshall,( a Crew Change Stop) although the Pretty Station, which has a Museum, is a neat place too.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm wondering how that's going to work now that the Lamy station has been turned into a restaurant/bar? I haven't seen it in about 3 years so I don't know if the new stuff took over the whole station.
The tap room was located in a disused rail freight room on the West side of the station. Amtrak decided they didn't like the arrangement and managed to kick the tap room out of the station earlier this year. That was a real shame since it was a fun place to chat and relax in a little town trying to make a comeback. Supposedly Amtrak had safety concerns allowing a bar to be located in a busy passenger station with two whole trains per day. Amtrak's own lease is about to expire and the previous owner had no leverage to dictate terms, but a new group (which includes novelist George R.R. Martin) recently purchased the Lamy station with the intention of bringing the tap room back and finding a way to keep both tenants happy. They are also talking about repairing and reopening the tracks to Santa Fe, but that project is likely to take a few years to complete under current conditions.
 
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me_little_me

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Behind a pay wall. Does anyone know if this means checked baggage will be allowed at these stations?

Still no staffing for Greenville, SC, alas. And no checked baggage between Charlotte NC and Atlanta on the Crescent. :(
I agree. Considering the crowds in Atlanta station 3-4 hours away from me and the late late night (nothbound) or early early morning (southbound) arrival in Charlotte 2 hours away, Greenville with it's hours not favorable (5AM southbound but almost never late) and 11PM northbound (often 2 hours late) is at least a shorter drive at 3/4 of an hour. But then cheapo SC doesn't believe in contributing a dime to any Amtrak customer needs so I guess Amtrak is still punishing them.
 

OBS

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Because every Railroad is in a hiring freeze. The only jobs that Amtrak is hiring are for emergency needs. I've mentioned it in my Careers on the Rails thread.
It may also have to do with the fact Amtrak is fighting with the union because it wants to hire part timers to fill these station positions, rather than offering the positions to existing employees....
 

Acela150

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It may also have to do with the fact Amtrak is fighting with the union because it wants to hire part timers to fill these station positions, rather than offering the positions to existing employees....
Why am I not surprised.
 

PaulM

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Of some of those stations, Marshall didn't have checked bag service anyway. So glad Cincinnati is getting it back too. That was a big mistake. I was also wondering how trainside checked bags was going at unstaffed stations. Or is it something Amtrak tried but never really worked sort of thing.
I'm sure Amtrak could sabotage something if they wanted to; but self checking train-side baggage went very smoothly at the two stations I'm familiar with, Fort Madison and Mount Pleasant.
 

Charles785

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This is certainly good news in getting station agents back, but, depending on train schedules to cover seven days a week at a station with just two trains a day, two part times would probably be adequate. There could be stations where forty-hour-a-week full timers would not be necessary.

And if in the process non-union labor could be used, that would be a plus. With sometimes artificially high wage rates and restrictive work rules, Amtrak labor unions add unnecessarily to the company's expenses. (And whenever I've had to endure a dining car server with a surly attitude I've often wondered if the reason that person still had their job was because the union defended an employee who had no business ever working in the customer service world in the first place.)
 

MARC Rider

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And if in the process non-union labor could be used, that would be a plus. With sometimes artificially high wage rates and restrictive work rules, Amtrak labor unions add unnecessarily to the company's expenses. (And whenever I've had to endure a dining car server with a surly attitude I've often wondered if the reason that person still had their job was because the union defended an employee who had no business ever working in the customer service world in the first place.)
I once knew a guy who was a shop steward for a labor union. He said that most of his job was reviewing worker complaints, and finding that they usually weren't justified, and getting the worker to realize this. The unions have as much of an interest in having the company succeed as the management does. Unfortunately, for some reason, the bosses have been able to hoodwink the general public into thinking that all a union does is to protect deadwood, but actually, the real deadwood is more likely to be found in the management suites, protected by the top executives.

As for a dining car server with a "surly attitude," I've generally found that the server's attitude isn't "surly," rather it's that it's not obsequious enough for an overly-demanding customer. There are exceptions, of course, but I don't think that hiring non-union labor will significantly improve "attitudes." In fact, I would suspect that non-union labor, being more stressed by the lower wages and poor working conditions, would be more likely to take out their frustrations on the customers.
 

jloewen

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I once knew a guy who was a shop steward for a labor union. He said that most of his job was reviewing worker complaints, and finding that they usually weren't justified, and getting the worker to realize this. The unions have as much of an interest in having the company succeed as the management does. Unfortunately, for some reason, the bosses have been able to hoodwink the general public into thinking that all a union does is to protect deadwood, but actually, the real deadwood is more likely to be found in the management suites, protected by the top executives.

As for a dining car server with a "surly attitude," I've generally found that the server's attitude isn't "surly," rather it's that it's not obsequious enough for an overly-demanding customer. There are exceptions, of course, but I don't think that hiring non-union labor will significantly improve "attitudes." In fact, I would suspect that non-union labor, being more stressed by the lower wages and poor working conditions, would be more likely to take out their frustrations on the customers.
The customer is usually wrong?? Don't think so. Some Amtrak employees consider customers to be interlopers who mess up an otherwise fun train ride.
 

me_little_me

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I once knew a guy who was a shop steward for a labor union. He said that most of his job was reviewing worker complaints, and finding that they usually weren't justified, and getting the worker to realize this. The unions have as much of an interest in having the company succeed as the management does. Unfortunately, for some reason, the bosses have been able to hoodwink the general public into thinking that all a union does is to protect deadwood, but actually, the real deadwood is more likely to be found in the management suites, protected by the top executives.

As for a dining car server with a "surly attitude," I've generally found that the server's attitude isn't "surly," rather it's that it's not obsequious enough for an overly-demanding customer. There are exceptions, of course, but I don't think that hiring non-union labor will significantly improve "attitudes." In fact, I would suspect that non-union labor, being more stressed by the lower wages and poor working conditions, would be more likely to take out their frustrations on the customers.
I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph as, IMHO, it i management's poor treatment of employees that encourages workers to unionize to protect themselves. But I disagree just as strongly about your second. There really is some deadwood on the trains and the worst of them don't do the basics without complaint - even whining about making beds or assisting elderly and handicapped customers to board (but most of those do help those disembarking as they want the tips). As to non-union workers taking out frustration, I see a far higher percentage of cleaners in fancy hotels and wait staff in fast food places and low priced restaurants (the ones that don't expect 20% of the $100pp lunch bill but get only 20% of the $8 lunch special for the same level of service) who are always nice, friendly and helpful than a comparable number of Amtrak train employees. On the other hand, Amtrak station agents generally outdo those airline ticket agents at the front desks by a long shot when it comes to service.

I'm in my 70s, out of condition, overweight with heart and shoulder problems and I've rarely needed help boarding yet I think I've helped more elderly people than some of the SCAs who will stand and watch them try to board without lifting a finger to help even when it means the train is getting later and later because of the slow boarding.
 
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