Amtrak System Sampler Reviews and Impressions - Fall 2021

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20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
Just completing an extensive tour and though of sharing my impressions... collectively we have all kinds of experiences and viewpoints but thought this would add interest.

Oct 5 CS EUG - LAX
Oct 6 TE LAX - SPI
Oct 10 Lincoln Service -SPI - STL
Oct 10 Missouri River Runner - STL - JEF
Oct 11 Missouri River Runner - JEF - STL
Oct 12 TE / BNL - CHI
Oct 12 Cardinal - CHI - CVS
Oct 14 NEC Regional - CVS - NYP
Oct 15 Empire Service - NYP - ALB
Oct 16 Empire Service - ALB - NYP
Oct 16 Crescent - NYP - NOL
Oct 18 CONO - NOL - CHI
Oct 19 Wolverine - CHI - KAL
Oct 20 Blue Water - KAL - CHI
Oct 20 EB CHI - PDX
Oct 22 PDX - EUG Bus

These are personal opinions and impressions... other points of view are inevitable as experiences vary. I used the following as an arbitrary rating system to express my personal opinions of the above Amtrak experiences:

A - Outstanding… better than expected… fulfilling and joyful experience.
B - Very good… met expectations… satisfying… almost perfect
C - Average… plain… no better or worse than expected… room for improvement
D - Below average with some or many problems / difficulties as explained
F - Service levels / products - failed basic expectations

Oct 5 CS - EUG - LAX
Arriving in EUG at dusk and on time. Enjoyed first 'Reimagined Dining' experience in room. Due to one party per table [COVID] an assigned time in the dining car is difficult to get and most pax end up eating in their rooms. My boarding was in the middle of the dinner service hours. The crab cake, steak, and carrot cake for dessert was a lavish way to start the first Amtrak travels after a two year COVID delay. A good attendant would make for a great ride down to LAX. Delivering meals to SC pax adds to their burdens but this SCA didn't disappoint and had a positive attitude. Sightseer lounge not too crowded and enjoyed the spectacular ocean views. An early arrival at LAX allowed for a stop in the Metropolitan Lounge and a delicious chocolate chip cookie. Personal opinion and impression - a solid A for this trip.

Oct 6 TE LAX - SPI
With a 10pm departure beds were made and I dove into a solid 8 hours of sleep. Waking in TUS as we rolled right by. Due to the shooting incident several days before the TE stopped in Benson the detrain and pick up TUC pax who were bussed in while investigation was in process. Today we would be picking up the entire consist and those pax as the investigation had ended. This put a tremendous strain on the single dining car already servicing the SL, TE, and now X2! Food was delivered to rooms at random times and poorly prepared… as SCA's had to walk back and forth 6 car lengths with the bagged meals. The trains should have been run separately. SSL packed. When both double trains split in SAS the downgraded lounge and TE food service now had to serve double capacity… only one employee to prepare flex meals for sleepers and cafe for coaches. My ordered kosher meals not boarded onto train. SCA's helped deliver bagged meals at random times and rooms made up when they could get to it. Poor management decisions resulted in a dismal travel experience. Freight delays. Was glad to get off this train in SPI. D-.

Oct 10 Lincoln Service -SPI - STL
Cheerful crew and very comfortable 2x1 BC seating. Train on time. Enjoyed a hot coffee and enjoyed the views approaching STL. An easy trip gets an easy A!

Will add more reviews as I complete them...
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
system sampler reviews... continued...

These are personal opinions and impressions... other points of view are inevitable as experiences vary. I used the following as an arbitrary rating system to express my personal opinions of the above Amtrak experiences:

A - Outstanding… better than expected… fulfilling and joyful experience.
B - Very good… met expectations… satisfying… almost perfect
C - Average… plain… no better or worse than expected… room for improvement
D - Below average with some or many problems / difficulties as explained
F - Service levels / products - failed basic expectations

Oct 10 Missouri River Runner - STL - JEF
STL station involves up from the tracks and back down to the station… too small for crowds that were backed up everywhere. A small waiting room for BUS pax with refrigerated water was a nice respite. Had no trouble boarding the River Runner… enjoyed views of historic Kirkwood and river scenes. Just before reaching JEF we were stopped for 2 hours for two freight trains and the other River Runner. Friendly crew. Squeezed my sleep time in JEF. Overall opinion score drops to a C due to the extensive delay.

Oct 11 Missouri River Runner - JEF - STL
Running a half hour delay due to freight. Cheerful crew, great river scenery, and a nice hot cup of coffee bring a solid A rating for this run.

Oct 11 Lincoln Service STL - BNL
Walked across the platform to board my next train. Although packed, BC was pleasant and I got a good window seat. Just before arriving at BNL a weather delay due to possible tornadoes… arriving 30 minutes late. All things considered for comfort and service… and a friendly crew… another A.

Oct 12 TE / BNL - CHI
Train running 2 hours late. Upon boarding I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort and availability of a good coach seat with excellent window alignment. 2 hours late arriving into CHI but very comfortable trip. Opinion score B.

Oct 12 Cardinal - CHI - CVS in H Room
Probably the best private room in entire Amtrak Fleet… very comfortable forward facing private accommodation with facility. Entire train very dirty inside and out… windows so filthy the view was extremely dimmed. Attendants appeared upset about their jobs and working conditions… and barking at pax to wear masks or be kicked off of train with threat of banishment from ever riding Amtrak again. Food service car lounge area adjacent to sleepers - for staff only but if eating sleeper pax could use the opposite side closest to coach cars. Otherwise must remain in rooms. Fresh air stops extremely restricted. Meals were brought to rooms on attendant's schedule; same with turn down and turn up bed service. Done hastily; dirty towels not removed… with pax expected to tidy up. Coffee and water available at end of car; coffee served from 6am to 11am only. Very regimented, militant, and 'hostile' MINIMAL service. I finally asked one of the crew why everyone was so unhappy… he said… "Cause it feels like a Monday morning." Hmmm I thought… if you don't like your job don't take it out on the passengers! Many of the elderly were terrified at some of the sharp comments. Personal opinion score: a solid F.

Oct 14 CVS - NYP - NEC Regional 176 Business Class:
Train slightly late / BC in rear of train. Seats pre-assigned. All seats taken. My seat misaligned with window and couldn't change. When large person sat next to me I was boxed in… space was tight with just an inch or two more than coach... that had open seating... I would have paid less and better off with the option to switch to another seat. Difficult to get up to use WC. WC was in constant use and cleaned twice. NEC roadbed excellent with speeds in excess of 100mph. Very uncomfortable 5+ hours but on time. BC a wasted expense choice when no 2x1 seating. Coach a better option. Personal opinion scores: D- for uncomfortable travel day.
 

alpha3

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 29, 2018
Messages
34
20th century - am enjoying your review and impressions! But.....so many trains, one after the other; I wish I was you! But what is all this? Business trips? Random pleasure routings? Just curious.
 

Triley

Real Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,562
Location
Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Oct 14 CVS - NYP - NEC Regional 176 Business Class:
Train slightly late / BC in rear of train. Seats pre-assigned. All seats taken. My seat misaligned with window and couldn't change. When large person sat next to me I was boxed in… space was tight with just an inch or two more than coach... that had open seating... I would have paid less and better off with the option to switch to another seat. Difficult to get up to use WC. WC was in constant use and cleaned twice. NEC roadbed excellent with speeds in excess of 100mph. Very uncomfortable 5+ hours but on time. BC a wasted expense choice when no 2x1 seating. Coach a better option. Personal opinion scores: D- for uncomfortable travel day.
Without being able to easily get up from your seat, the added value may not be inherently known. The two best perks (at least of NER Regional service) is unlimited nonalcoholic beverages, and “better” clientele in the car (usually more respectful, no kids, and quiet).

If you’re still going to charge from the thruway bus over to 503 for the PDX-EUG segment, you’ll miss me by one day. However, if you enjoy Talgo, the Bachelor trainset will be operating.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,166
Location
Socal
Have a pickup waiting for me in EUG but if you live in the area perhaps we can connect 😊
Unfortunately I think that Triley lives in Canada.

Oct 12 Cardinal - CHI - CVS in H Room
Probably the best private room in entire Amtrak Fleet… very comfortable forward facing private accommodation with facility. Entire train very dirty inside and out… windows so filthy the view was extremely dimmed. Attendants appeared upset about their jobs and working conditions… and barking at pax to wear masks or be kicked off of train with threat of banishment from ever riding Amtrak again. Food service car lounge area adjacent to sleepers - for staff only but if eating sleeper pax could use the opposite side closest to coach cars. Otherwise must remain in rooms. Fresh air stops extremely restricted. Meals were brought to rooms on attendant's schedule; same with turn down and turn up bed service. Done hastily; dirty towels not removed… with pax expected to tidy up. Coffee and water available at end of car; coffee served from 6am to 11am only. Very regimented, militant, and 'hostile' MINIMAL service. I finally asked one of the crew why everyone was so unhappy… he said… "Cause it feels like a Monday morning." Hmmm I thought… if you don't like your job don't take it out on the passengers! Many of the elderly were terrified at some of the sharp comments. Personal opinion score: a solid F.
Fairly similar to my Cardinal experience, felt nothing like the atmosphere on the western trains where you had the SSL to just relax and the crew was amazing. My SCA was a bit moody, but nice enough. However definitely not one of my best SCA's. Makes me hesitant to try other viewliner trains as well.

Overall, great reports. Enjoyed reading.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
More updates on this lengthly trip! These are personal opinions and impressions... other points of view are inevitable as experiences vary. I used the following as an arbitrary rating system to express my personal opinions of the above Amtrak experiences:

Oct 15 Empire Service - NYP - ALB
Long and crowded train with no cafe service. Delayed 45 minutes due to 'police involved incident on tracks.' Was lucky enough to grab a window with good seat alignment on the left side heading north. This meant great views of the Hudson River including views of the Pocono Mountains… and many riverside towns with nostalgic view restaurants, sail boat marinas, riverside camping areas… parks… etc. with a European look. The long and graceful bridge spans are also a visual delight for the eyes. Trees just starting to turn fall colors. This run is one of the most scenic on the Amtrak system… and a well kept secret! Will give this an "A" but don't let the secret out!

Oct 16 Empire Service - ALB - NYP
With an early departure I called for an early cab pick un to insure plenty of time. So I get there an hour early. OK. But then the train ends up being two hours late. I'm thinking… so much stress and wasted time… could have slept later and enjoyed breakfast. Same nice scenery on the return trip but the needless early start gets this stretch a C.

Oct 16 Crescent - NYP - NOL
There was still enough time to run up to the new Metropolitan lounge and grab some mini sandwiches and chips. I boarded what was a very clean and sparkling train… same older single level cars as the Cardinal. A nice and patient attendant verified my Kosher meals and said she would do her very best to get them to me when she could… and said she was doing the work of 4 crew members. I appreciated her attitude of willingness to try in spite of a heavy work load… rather than complain with a situation similar to the Cardinal crew. This was a very pleasurable ride and I enjoyed the southern small towns, landscapes, and scenery. Ice available in the cafe car… and I never heard the annoying announcements saying that the attendant would be on break. Rather… the staff was easy going. Coffee was available in the back all day long as well. Everyone was pleasant and positive… despite the exact same work situation as the Cardinal… and for a much longer journey. All passengers were treated with kindness and respect further contrasting from the experience on the Cardinal. There were many freight delays and the 2nd sleeper suffered plumbing problems… but with extra time scheduled in we arrived at NOL on time. Despite staffing cuts and food problems, I found the Kosher meals to be fully adequate and better than the updated flex. Have to give this a run a perfect A.

Oct 18 CONO - NOL - CHI: Although these were one of the first series of superliners, the cars were spotless inside and out; crew was professional, attentive, and helpful. This run includes flex dining only, but there were flowers at the tables in the lounge car where sleeping car pax could enjoy their meals and linger. There was also an observation car on this train. Even with a few short freight train delays, the train arrived in CHI ahead of schedule. No surprises or disappointments… exceeded expectations. A perfect A.

Oct 19 Wolverine - CHI - KAL
Didn't realize the Michigan tracks had been upgraded to HS… frequently speeding up to 105 / 108 mph. Friendly crew. Well utilized train was packed… as was BC. I thought it was particularly nice that the Cafe Attendant came into BC and encouraged us to order before he made a general announcement. He then said that BC should stand on the BC side and he would give us priority over others. Although I didn't think that was necessary or even fair the coach… he certainly tried, and served all customers quickly. Nice and very quick trip. A+
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
656
Without being able to easily get up from your seat, the added value may not be inherently known. The two best perks (at least of NER Regional service) is unlimited nonalcoholic beverages, and “better” clientele in the car (usually more respectful, no kids, and quiet).

If you’re still going to charge from the thruway bus over to 503 for the PDX-EUG segment, you’ll miss me by one day. However, if you enjoy Talgo, the Bachelor trainset will be operating.
Wish all BC was 2 to 1 seating. I hate assigned seats. On the NEC from Philly to New Haven earlier this month I was assigned an aisle seat. When we got to NY my seatmate left and I moved to the window sitting alone. Why do they have assigned seats in BC? I find it an annoyance. I am taking BC on the Coast Starlight in January. Day trip Davis to SBA. Only reason is that BC will have dining car access. I plan to be in the SSL car most of the day.
 

Exvalley

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
1,073
Why do they have assigned seats in BC? I find it an annoyance.
It's kind of like, "Why do they have toilets in Viewliner I roomettes?" There are people on both sides of the issue.

I, for one, like how they have reserved seating in business class. No need to rush onto the train to find a nice window seat.
 

Triley

Real Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,562
Location
Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Wish all BC was 2 to 1 seating. I hate assigned seats. On the NEC from Philly to New Haven earlier this month I was assigned an aisle seat. When we got to NY my seatmate left and I moved to the window sitting alone. Why do they have assigned seats in BC? I find it an annoyance. I am taking BC on the Coast Starlight in January. Day trip Davis to SBA. Only reason is that BC will have dining car access. I plan to be in the SSL car most of the day.
I absolutely agree. Burocratic mgmt doesn’t get it!
Better buckle in, because the plan has been for all of the NEC to go to assigned seats. Not sure if it’s supposed to roll out to other trains or not.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
Better buckle in, because the plan has been for all of the NEC to go to assigned seats. Not sure if it’s supposed to roll out to other trains or not.
Woah! Assigned seats are a real pain. But that's Amtrak... getting everything exactly wrong!

FLEX dining and UNFLEX seating 😫 😫 😫
 

Triley

Real Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,562
Location
Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Woah! Assigned seats are a real pain. But that's Amtrak... getting everything exactly wrong!

FLEX dining and UNFLEX seating 😫 😫 😫
As a single traveller, I agree with you. I like the flexibility of being able to move and have a seat pair to myself. Plus, on the occasions I need to be a ticketed passenger, 99% of the time I sit in the Cafe anyway. If I had an assigned seat, this could prevent a couple from sitting together.

However…as an employee I understand the need for this. Too many people turn selfish and at times we end up needing to bribe people with freebies to get them to move, so we can sit a couple or family together.
 

como

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
230
system sampler reviews... continued...

These are personal opinions and impressions... other points of view are inevitable as experiences vary. I used the following as an arbitrary rating system to express my personal opinions of the above Amtrak experiences:

A - Outstanding… better than expected… fulfilling and joyful experience.
B - Very good… met expectations… satisfying… almost perfect
C - Average… plain… no better or worse than expected… room for improvement
D - Below average with some or many problems / difficulties as explained
F - Service levels / products - failed basic expectations

Oct 10 Missouri River Runner - STL - JEF
STL station involves up from the tracks and back down to the station… too small for crowds that were backed up everywhere. A small waiting room for BUS pax with refrigerated water was a nice respite. Had no trouble boarding the River Runner… enjoyed views of historic Kirkwood and river scenes. Just before reaching JEF we were stopped for 2 hours for two freight trains and the other River Runner. Friendly crew. Squeezed my sleep time in JEF. Overall opinion score drops to a C due to the extensive delay.

Oct 11 Missouri River Runner - JEF - STL
Running a half hour delay due to freight. Cheerful crew, great river scenery, and a nice hot cup of coffee bring a solid A rating for this run.

Oct 11 Lincoln Service STL - BNL
Walked across the platform to board my next train. Although packed, BC was pleasant and I got a good window seat. Just before arriving at BNL a weather delay due to possible tornadoes… arriving 30 minutes late. All things considered for comfort and service… and a friendly crew… another A.
You captured the River Runner experience perfectly. The crews are always friendly. The scenery is great. Good coffee and a nice choice of beers. The opportunity to be stuck either side of Jefferson City while long freights move around is not so great. On-time about 75% of the time, stopped somewhere and really really late about 10% of the time. I hope you enjoyed your night in Mid-Missouri.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
Here are the final reviews of a lengthly nationwide trip and sampling of Amtrak's offerings. I hope to come up with an opinion of where I think Amtrak is in terms of customer service. Please let me know your thoughts and impressions!

Oct 20 Blue Water - KAL - CHI
Another quick trip… much of it at over 100mph. Packed train including in BC… but crew was efficient and professional. The cafe attendant came to my seat and advised me of complimentary coffee / water / and one non-alcoholic beverage. I asked if I could get some coffee when he gets back to the cafe… he says, "Oh! I'll bring it to you!" What a contrast with food service personnel on other Amtrak trains. In some ways, I find the attitudes and services to be very much at opposite ends… which is disturbing because there is no consistent level of passenger courtesy and service. For this… the Blue Water gets an A+

Oct 20 EB CHI - PDX
This is a train in which the side you are sitting on makes a big difference. The right side facing to the north gets most station and city views, the Mississippi River, the mountains, and no glare from the sun which is on the left side to the south and west; so when pulling out of Chicago, the left side passengers close their shades to escape the sun and run up to the SSL. Every time I've been on the EB my room has been on the sunny glare side. That includes the H room and all the bedrooms. The roomettes are split equally. I've always wondered why Amtrak is unable to control how the cars are situated on this route [and the CS in which one side gets the ocean, and the other gets the glare.]

Another unpleasant surprise for the PDX section out of SPK. Of course the diner goes to and from SEA and special arrangements are made for the PDX sleepers meal service. There is a very very new and special menu from the cafe choices for sleeping car pax which include a limited selection. Bkfst is hot cereal or cold cereal, or the famous hockey puck Jimmy Dean Breakfast sandwich. Other menu items are available and the attendants emphasized that we were 'free' to order other items but would have to pay for them. This made absolutely no sense to me!

One chap was complaining bitterly… the SEA pax get the omelet, sausages, or French toast, etc. How come we only get a small salty fatty hockey puck sandwich???

Oh well, this was a good opportunity for me to skip breakfast. And while EB offers s a great ride with great scenery from the 'other side' I did avail myself of the SSL and did enjoy the Columbia River views which are on the left side. The turning colors of the leaves put me in a generous mood and I would give the EB a B-. See! I told you I would be generous! Plus by not eating the hockey puck for breakfast I saved myself from much stomach discomfort!

Oct 22 PDX - EUG Bus - ended up on a Talgo!
Wait! I was a few minutes early into PDX… early enough to take a train and not the bus! Better yet it was the last remaining Talgo! So comfortable… and IMHO so much better than those big lanky uncomfortable Superliners with the spindly spine ratcheting spiral staircases. I do have upgrade certs which by efficient design, the victimized recipient can never use due to technical complexities. The check in counter, the lounge attendant, and the conductor… all said they couldn't help me with an upgrade… I would have to call customer service. Well, folks, you just don't 'call' any more… there are thousands of menu options and log hold times. But I was still happy with a comfy seat… and a speedy ride down to EUG. The tango gets an A+ / customer service gets a thumbs down.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
Final observation and assessment score of Amtrak operations sampled this month...

Notes: If you would like all the reviews and opinions on the trains in one place I would be happy to send them to you ... do request in conversations.

Your reaction to the my opinions based upon your own experiences on a specific train would be helpful and appreciated by all of us ... including your take on 'changes' we are all seeing at Amtrak. Opinions are just that... and can be influenced by differing conditions... so they can vary greatly.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts 😇 😇 😇

==========================
Final Observation and Assessment Score… noting the good, the mundane, the bad, and the ugly.
These are personal opinions and impressions... other points of view are inevitable as experiences vary. I used the following as an arbitrary rating system to express my personal opinions of the above Amtrak experiences:

A - Outstanding… better than expected… fulfilling and joyful experience.
B - Very good… met expectations… satisfying… almost perfect
C - Average… plain… no better or worse than expected… room for improvement
D - Below average with some or many problems / difficulties as explained
F - Service levels / products - failed basic expectations

The Good: HS lines on the NEC, Michigan, and Illinois. Some very courteous and professional staff, good food in the West although it can become repetitious.

The mundane: repetitious menus in the West, the brownies at flex meals, the flex meals, and salad sampler [flex dining gets many bad knocks in the bad section because they are… so really bad.] The new and improved bedding and towels are not so wonderful… and don't fit all the bedding properly.

The bad: Oh, the poor orphaned Texas Eagle… short on staff, no SSL… passengers relegated to rooms because they can't all fit into the small lounge area which is used by the staff. The lounge on the other side can be used by sleeper passengers who share with coach riders ONLY when eating. Food is served and beds made when the SCA gets to it. Whining and cranky staff. OK! Now time to talk about the new upgraded and improved flex meals. Everywhere I went the passengers were angry and demanding their money back or at least a refund. While quality and taste has improved, the tapas sized dishes are simply too small to be called a full meal… need to be larger. The salad is too small to be called a 'meal course,' it's just one bite! As mentioned before, the boring and repetitious same brownie is literally a slap in the face to passengers who are paying hundreds of dollars to travel in sleepers. And because prepackaged meals and desserts are available in such vast and imaginative varieties, the flex idea is simply not defendable… no excuses Amtrak!

More bad: Inconsistencies and generally poor condition of many of the lounges. Of course the lounge at Moynahan certainly raises to bar for Philly and WAS. Many of the lounges are beautiful but catering needs to include real food… just as they are providing at Moynahan.

More bad: Late running trains cut back on my sleep and sightseeing time. Arriving at Jeff City MO and Albany, the incoming train was delayed due to freight and 'track issues.' With time already squeezed in both cities, I slept restlessly knowing I had to be at the station early for the next segment. In both situations I got to the station only to have to wait several hours for that train due to freight, breakdowns, etc. Lotsa time just sitting around stations waiting when I could have been doing other things took a toll on the overall experience.

And finally: The Ugly: When elderly passengers are literally being traumatized by an out of control crew, this goes against core moral and ethical standards of conduct. On the Cardinal we were literally confined to our rooms… and when going to the cafe for ice, I was literally yelled at because I started waiting right at the entrance on the sleeper side… and was told to wind around and go to the end of the long line. You can be I got a lot of snarls from other pax… but of course, this kind of thing could have been controlled… perhaps a bucket of ice could have been placed by the coffee. Coffee? The attendant made only enough to last for the first part of the early morning.

When I finally asked one of the crew why everyone was so unhappy… he said"Cause it feels like a Monday morning." Hmmm I thought… if you don't like your job don't take it out on the passengers!

What score would you give Amtrak??? Amtrak struggles to reach the bar of mediocrity or better; there are just too many places in the system where the clientele are not treated fairly or even with respect. Amtrak is not reliable because of operational and management problems resulting from inefficient relationships with the freight RR's. Maintenance of equipment needs more priority. Amtrak has a captive audience because it is the only nationwide rail system in this country. Yet it continues to run; and there are some bright and shiny places where one can enjoy the experience. But too few and far between are the more disappointing flaws that just can't seem to get fixed.

IMHO Amtrak gets a solid D.
 

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,367
Location
Nottingham, England.
Thanks for an interesting "trip report". I have to agree with your assesmrnt of Amtrak overall, a D in my experience too. It is a mode of transport, and mostly we don't judge a holiday/vacation by the journey to the resort. Of course, for us train fans, the journey is the holiday, so when staff are a bit rubbish, it tends to spoil the rest of the holiday, even if the views outside are good.
I understand that all folk have different budgets, but would you care to say a little about the hotels, etc, where you stayed overnight? Folk often ask for tips on accomodations near stations?
I am on a Motel 6 or hostel type of budget these days, but even so I like to read of folks travel adventures!
 
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John from RI

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
25
Location
Bloomfield NJ
I'm a retired Federal Employee who worked for Social Security. It is good to hear about your good experiences with Amtrak staff disappointing to hear of your experiences which were no so good. Anyone who deals with the public knows that some members will be difficult, obnoxious or worse. But if we let that relatively small number control our attitudes we ourselves will be miserable in our jobs. Even worse, we will begin to create bad experience which otherwise would not have been bad. And we will deny ourselves of the good experiences with members of the public who are really inspiring. I certainly had my share of those too and even now look back on those individuals with happy memories.
Every Amtrak employee cannot always be inspiring. But there should be no reports of really bad service; even one is too many. And I am happy to see you have not given up on Amtrak.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,166
Location
Socal
The new and improved bedding and towels are not so wonderful… and don't fit all the bedding properly.
Can you elaborate on this? Especially about the towels. All other reports have said they're a really good improvement so I'm curious to hear your take.
More bad: Inconsistencies and generally poor condition of many of the lounges. Of course the lounge at Moynahan certainly raises to bar for Philly and WAS. Many of the lounges are beautiful but catering needs to include real food… just as they are providing at Moynahan.
Agreed. Please, give the other lounges more food! And update the LAX lounge! And give SEA a lounge (although I realize that the city has to agree)!
And finally: The Ugly: When elderly passengers are literally being traumatized by an out of control crew, this goes against core moral and ethical standards of conduct. On the Cardinal we were literally confined to our rooms… and when going to the cafe for ice, I was literally yelled at because I started waiting right at the entrance on the sleeper side… and was told to wind around and go to the end of the long line. You can be I got a lot of snarls from other pax… but of course, this kind of thing could have been controlled… perhaps a bucket of ice could have been placed by the coffee. Coffee? The attendant made only enough to last for the first part of the early morning.
My Cardinal experience wasn't as bad, but the atmosphere was definitely different than the western trains. As I've said before, I'm not so sure if the other eastern trains would be much better.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,304
Location
Denver
The split for the Empire Builder between having no Sightseer-Lounge to Seattle and no diner to Portland is a compromise forced by the under-supply of the SSL's. I've heard varying comments about the meals for sleeping car passengers but after several years of convoluted connections via Seattle, we concluded that having train service with one disappointing meal and fabulous scenery was better than spending all day traveling around the Evergreen State.

The scenery on the North Bank Line is mostly higher than the trains, so there are definite advantages to the SSL being on the Portland/California connection.

Wishram, Washington...

1976 096.jpg
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,932
Location
Oregon Coast
Can you elaborate on this? Especially about the towels. All other reports have said they're a really good improvement so I'm curious to hear your take.

Agreed. Please, give the other lounges more food! And update the LAX lounge! And give SEA a lounge (although I realize that the city has to agree)!

My Cardinal experience wasn't as bad, but the atmosphere was definitely different than the western trains. As I've said before, I'm not so sure if the other eastern trains would be much better.
Some towels were really nice and had Amtrak branding... and some were the old ones a bit frayed. A little bit of each. Amtrak is inconsistent with service levels, dining [East vs West / lounge food, etc.]. Consistent improvement would being much delight to the ridership! But until that happens we need to get past the pandemic with all its issues and effect on the work force and the economy.

I'm optimistic we will eventually get through this and that Amtrak will see better days ahead [we can only hope!];)
 
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