Amtrak service cancellations and restorations (2022)

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If Amtrak's claim that it is equipment availability, then the government should be able to verify that claim by auditing hires and shortages if any of maintenance workers.
RPA has some blog entries on the labor situation and how we got here, and the conclusions are (1) no, this isn't a subterfuge to end long-distance trains, and (2) yes, Amtrak really is working on hiring. Without a government audit, Amtrak's careers website is right out there for everyone to see with literally hundreds of jobs open for applications.
 
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jis

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If Amtrak's claim that it is equipment availability, then the government should be able to verify that claim by auditing hires and shortages if any of maintenance workers.
Naively it seems to me that the government may have just a few drastically more pressing issues to deal with at this time than keeping track of how many of the Amtrak car inventory are serviceable. I think they are collectively happy to leave that to Amtrak for the time being ;) Eventually the OIG may get around to say something about it.
 

Trogdor

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Naively it seems to me that the government may have just a few drastically more pressing issues to deal with at this time than keeping track of how many of the Amtrak car inventory are serviceable. I think they are collectively happy to leave that to Amtrak for the time being ;) Eventually the OIG may get around to say something about it.

I was going to ask, why does one assume "the government" has folks sitting around waiting to specifically audit Amtrak's attempts at hiring?

I honestly get the sense that many folks fail to grasp just how deep the staff shortage situation is running in this country. Some transit systems nationwide have cut service 10-15% in recent months because of staffing shortages. CTA in Chicago, though they refuse to publicly acknowledge it, is missing up to 30% of service on a regular basis because of a lack of drivers. And most places I talk to are saying the problem is getting worse, not better. It's not about a spike in absenteeism because of a new COVID variant. It's that more people are leaving (resigning/retiring) than are applying to the positions to replace them, and this trend has been going on for at least a year, meaning it started well after the initial COVID shutdowns took place.

We'll see if the tide turns at all, but I'm not expecting anything to get significantly better in the near future.

Do I think Amtrak is well-run enough to be at the forefront of the recovery? Absolutely not. At best they'll be middle of the pack in terms of transportation carriers recovering from this crisis. But for now I can't completely hold their shortages against them. The change in employment dynamics in this country caught pretty much everyone off guard, and nobody has really yet figured out the key to solving this issue (given that there isn't infinite money to just buy everyone into a job with massively increased pay and benefits). Once we have definitive answers, it will be a question of how quickly large bureaucracies can adapt. On that latter point, I may not have as much faith in Amtrak.
 

jis

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The problem at Amtrak is exacerbated by the fact that the shortfalls are extremely acute in the mechanical department, which means otherwise serviceable equipment cannot be sent out on the road because they are lacking even regular inspections and such, let alone long term overhaul shortfalls. The spate of loco failures have also been partly attributed to this problem.
 
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The staffing problems are not just in the transportation industry. I'm sitting in a food service establishment having a coffee waiting for my wife, and found the place to be ridiculously understaffed, even for the light mid afternoon crowd. Because I have a family member who worked in this industry, I have an idea about why they're having trouble with hiring people - the pay is lousy, no benefits, and they don't even guarantee you a set number of working hours. This has been going on for years, I guess the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Amtrak must be different, as they're offering real jobs with decent pay, benefits, and guaranteed work hours. From comments made by Jim Matthews on the RPA blog, it sound like Amtrak management goofed when they encouraged early retirement at the height if the pandemic. The furloughs didn't help, either. Ince you lose experienced people, it's hard to get them back.
 
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The staffing problems are not just in the transportation industry. I'm sitting in a food service establishment having a coffee waiting for my wife, and found the place to be ridiculously understaffed, even for the light mid afternoon crowd. Because I have a family member who worked in this industry, I have an idea about why they're having trouble with hiring people - the pay is lousy, no benefits, and they don't even guarantee you a set number of working hours. This has been going on for years, I guess the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Amtrak must be different, as they're offering real jobs with decent pay, benefits, and guaranteed work hours. From comments made by Jim Matthews on the RPA blog, it sound like Amtrak management goofed when they encouraged early retirement at the height if the pandemic. The furloughs didn't help, either. Ince you lose experienced people, it's hard to get them back.

It's not just the service industry or low paying services - I'm in a profession (architecture) and we are short staffed and exceedingly busy, as is everyone else I talk to from the trades (plumbing, framing, etc) up to the higher paid engineers (structural, mechanical, etc). My mid-sized firm has been hiring gangbusters and we're still short staffed for the amount of work we have. We've even (had to) fire a few clients who were too much of a hassle!

A friend of a friend just got a job offer from a small video production company who's sole owner had lost all his staff (like three, two of whom were related if I'm understanding correctly) due to the hot job market. The FOF likes the owner and thinks it's a perfect fit, but is still able to negotiate due to the desperation of the employer.
 

Burns651

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I don't know if it was ultimately canceled, but 364 had engine problems tonight: left Chicago at 4 PM but never made it past CP 503 (18 miles past 21st St). As of 9 PM CT it was back in the yard, with everyone still aboard and presumably hitting the roof.
 

frequentflyer

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So if 22 is not leaving San Antonio tomorrow, what happens to the cars at the end of #2 leaving Tuscon today? Stay on the train to NOL?
 

Bob Dylan

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So if 22 is not leaving San Antonio tomorrow, what happens to the cars at the end of #2 leaving Tuscon today? Stay on the train to NOL?
#21 and #22 don't run on Wed and Thursday, so the #21 that arrives into San Antonio on Tuesday Night lays over for 2 days and becomes #22/#422 on Friday Morning.

Amtrak has only been running One Sleeper and 2 Coaches ( No Sightseer Lounge) on #21/#22, and on #421/#422 Days the Run through Cars are Switched in San Antonio, and they usually keep a Spare Coach and Sleeper in San Antonio, and in the case of a Cancelled or Very Late #2, Passengers going North of San Antonio on #422 can be Bustituted to San Antonio or even Ft Worth to catch the Eagle.
 
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jebr

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I honestly get the sense that many folks fail to grasp just how deep the staff shortage situation is running in this country. Some transit systems nationwide have cut service 10-15% in recent months because of staffing shortages. CTA in Chicago, though they refuse to publicly acknowledge it, is missing up to 30% of service on a regular basis because of a lack of drivers. And most places I talk to are saying the problem is getting worse, not better. It's not about a spike in absenteeism because of a new COVID variant. It's that more people are leaving (resigning/retiring) than are applying to the positions to replace them, and this trend has been going on for at least a year, meaning it started well after the initial COVID shutdowns took place.

Definitely. Here in MSP service continues to be cut due to the driver shortage. Back in mid-2021 while most local routes went back to a regular schedule, commuter routes still weren't fully restarted (or even close to it.) In December they had to pare back service even further, cutting many 10-minute routes to every 12-minutes, removing frequencies on other local routes, and dialing back commuter service even further. Despite that there was still basically no buffer, resulting in a lot of last-minute cancellations during the Omicron surge (as my text history from Metro Transit Alerts can attest,) and now service is being pared back a bit again at the end of the month. They want to run more service, but there simply aren't the drivers to do so.

And fully agree on CTA - the way they've handled the driver shortage is truly horrendous. I visited a couple months ago and an every-8-minute route didn't have any buses for over a half-hour, despite running a trimmed-down holiday schedule that day. At least perusing some Facebook groups it seems as though the issue is quite common. I'd much rather see the approach that we're taking here in MSP - publishing a schedule that can actually be run reliably - than pull a CTA and pretend the issue doesn't exist.
 

DCAKen

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I was on one of the canceled Empire Builder trains and got the fare fully refunded last month. A few days before my original departure date, I still got an alert reminding me of my upcoming trip and the covid email. One hand doesn't know what the other is doing...
 

thully

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I’ve been looking into booking LD trips on Amtrak this summer and fall, and am starting to wonder if they will actually be able to restore daily service as planned. Since I realized some of my preferred travel dates are on the days currently not operating, I’m starting to wonder if I should change my travel dates or book refundable airfare as a backup plan.
 

daybeers

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I doubt 65/66/67 will start on May 28th as planned, as it's "sold out" for all dates I can see. Absolutely ridiculous.
 
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jis

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I doubt 65/66/67 will start on March 28th as planned, as it's "sold out" for all dates I can see. Absolutely ridiculous.
I hope you meant to say May 28th, unless you mean the year 2023 or have acquired a time machine :D to move onto an alternate time-line.
 

Arctifox

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I doubt 65/66/67 will start on May 28th as planned, as it's "sold out" for all dates I can see. Absolutely ridiculous.

I agree - I was hoping to do a day or weekend trip from DC to Virginia but it turned out that it's basically impossible to do that because of the lack of this train ...
 
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Either way the train is "sold out" into 2023.
I was able to make a booking a few weeks ago for 67 BOS-WAS in September 2022. Like you say it now shows "sold out" for test bookings on those dates. But I have not received any notification from Amtrak about that segment being cancelled. I guess I'll give it a couple of months then see if I need to make other arrangements.
 
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I posted this in a different, older thread a few days ago; perhaps it belongs here instead:

Does anyone know whether the southbound early coastal-route train from Sacramento to San Diego will return later this year? My old printed timetable shows it as Capitol Corridor/Pacific Surfliner 523/790 on weekdays, leaving Sacramento at 5:30AM. It hasn't been on the schedule since late last year.

And, more broadly, any word on when/whether any of the other California service reductions will be reversed in the months ahead?

Moderators: If this is in the wrong thread, please remove. And maybe let me know where it should go instead. Thanks.
 

Cal

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I posted this in a different, older thread a few days ago; perhaps it belongs here instead:

Does anyone know whether the southbound early coastal-route train from Sacramento to San Diego will return later this year? My old printed timetable shows it as Capitol Corridor/Pacific Surfliner 523/790 on weekdays, leaving Sacramento at 5:30AM. It hasn't been on the schedule since late last year.

And, more broadly, any word on when/whether any of the other California service reductions will be reversed in the months ahead?

Moderators: If this is in the wrong thread, please remove. And maybe let me know where it should go instead. Thanks.
It might still be a thing, just not on the timetable as they’ve only been putting Surfliner trains on there. I don’t know if there was a connecting bus between the two trains though or if that bus still operates.
 
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It might still be a thing, just not on the timetable as they’ve only been putting Surfliner trains on there. I don’t know if there was a connecting bus between the two trains though or if that bus still operates.

Amtrak's website booking function isn't showing ANY train, bus, or connecting trains between Sacramento or EMY and Santa Barbara (where I'm aiming to go) running earlier in the day than the Coast Starlight--and of course the timekeeping for the southern end of the southbound CS is iffy.

I'm wondering if anyone knows whether additional Capitol Corridor and/or Surfliner service is likely to be restored later this year, and guessing that some combination of equipment, staff, and funding (CA and/or Amtrak) availability needs to align.
 

hmy1

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I haven't seen it mentioned here yet, but restoring daily service doesn't necessarily mean restoring to full service. For example, for my upcoming June reservation on the Starlight, I found out last month that they removed one of the sleepers in the consist, so now all of the rooms show as sold out.
 
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