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Guest

Guest
Starting around 12June07, one of the trains on the Coast Starlight route

will include an Arcade Room on the lower level of a coach car. Designed

to offer passengers a fun, new form of onboard entertainment, as well as

potentially become a new revenue source, the room features coinoperated

video, trivia and prize games. The Arcade Room will be run as a

pilot program and may become permanent, depending upon the outcome

of its trial run.

Rack cards in coach seatbacks and sleeping car accommodations will

advertise the Arcade Room to passengers. Onboard staff will not need to

assist passengers with their Arcade Room needs, as a change machine

will be available in the room and a toll-free Arcade Room customer assistance phone number

will be posted

-from the Amtrak intranet
 

Penn Central

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
86
Location
Northern Virginia
I'm less then excited about this. Personally, I hope that the Arcade Room is a financial faliure. Why? Remember the infamous Material Handling Cars? How much money did Amtrak spend on them, and how much did they get in the end? Even if Amtrak did break even on them,(which they didn't), all they would have been doing would have been sending money away and getting it back later. And while Amtrak is spending millions on shiny new MCH's, it is using a fleet of decript, high-maintenance, falling-apart hertitage fleet baggage cars. Amtrak has proven how long a well-built baggage car can last. Amtrak has no choice: it must offer checked baggage if its long-distance trains have any hope of being viable. It has no obligation, however to carry mail and freight. Yet where does the money go?

Of course, the Material Handling Cars episode is a much more extreme example, the theme is the same. The Corporation's manegement, in hot pursuit of quick, easy profit, refuses to spend money on services is obligated to provide, while it spends its limited resources instead on completely unrelated areas. The costs from the obligations builds, while the other areas do not perform well enough to balance it out. The Corporation sinks. The Corporation I am thinking of while writing this is actually the Penn Central, but it is unsettling to think how easily it can be applied to Amtrak.

Back to the original topic. The Arcade Room is harmless in itself. However, if Amtrak management decides that the Arcade Room brings so much revenue that it has to be put onto every train, you can see where I'm getting at. A while ago, someone proposed jokingly that Amtrak put at casino on every train. Now though, more cynical minds could see the begining of Chuck E. Cheeses on wheels.
 
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Everydaymatters

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May 15, 2006
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Just North of Normal, Illinois
There has always been a certain amount of pride and dignity to saying "I take a lot of Amtrak trips." If this arcade thing takes off, next thing you know the lounge car will have a McDonalds, the dining car will be rented out to a restaurant chain, and the charm of Amtrak will be gone forever.

Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the McDonalds wouldn't be a reality in the future.
 

RailFanLNK

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Mar 24, 2006
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Lincoln, Nebraska (LNK)
Yeah...I've think we discussed this before..."this Amtrak Arcade has been brought to you by Chucky Cheese's where the pizza sucks and we suck the money out of alot of adults and kids". Or "welcome to the Holiday Inn Superliner Sleeper" ....."hey mom and dad, can I go get a pop in the Casey's General Store Lounge Car?" I too, love to tell people that I take Amtrak. I get befuddled looks, lots of questions, some snide remarks but alot of inquisitiveness (is that a word...trying to sound a tad scholarly here) :lol: I was at a graduation party last weekend when a friend I haven't seen for awhile walked up and said, "was that your letter in the paper the other day regarding Amtrak?" He went on to say how he used Amtrak alot in the 1990's for business purposes because he had gotten so sick of the airlines. He is now retired and he says he wants to hop back on again. His company he worked for always thought it was "odd" taking the train instead of the plane, but he got alot of business work done on the train during the trip. Try doing some work in the "arcade". It sounds like alot of noise to me.
 
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Amtrak Watcher

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 1, 2002
Messages
482
Location
Texas
I was riding the German railways (the DB) some years ago when the DB tried McDonalds on some routes: a complete disaster. After the smoke cleared, the DB published a study (I'm looking for an English copy), which suggested these kinds of schemes (McDonalds, arcade rooms, wine fests, etc.) merely distract everyone from the business of running a railroad. It is apparently very difficult to realize additional revenues from these kinds of things, because they distract too many people from the business at hand.

Some extras actually enhance the basic rail experience, e.g. the occasional volunteer tour guides on some of the long distance trains don't add a spurious service, they enhance what's already there and they don't cost much. But distractions add nothing. Look at the typical TV shows these days; even the news is a thinly disguised info-mercial. Then, of course, network television executives wonder why the viewers are gong away. They must be idiots. What's wrong with making money doing whatever it is you do best?

Thus, I also hope the arcade adventure fails. I prefer the time, money and effort be applied to routes, equipment, staff, and basic services. I am saddened by each of these "trial" adventures, because I know something basic is going to suffer. People ride the train to because they prefer not to fly: to get somewhere (hopefully on time), meet people, look out the window, and otherwise avoid the humiliation at the airports. They don't ride Amtrak so they can gain access to an arcade and stuff down a McDonalds cheese burger; people can do that anywhere.
 
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guest_AmtrakCrescent20

Guest
It might not actually be too bad if the dining car was run by an outside chain (and no I don´t mean McDonalds or the like). Since the quality of Amtrak food is now, with SDS relatively low but overpriced, a chain such as Ruby Tuesday might be able to provide a better dining experience, along with consistently friendly service.
 

AmtrakWPK

Conductor
AU Supporter
Honored Member
Joined
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Messages
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a chain such as Ruby Tuesday might be able to provide a better dining experience, along with consistently friendly service
The problem is that although it sounds like a wonderful idea, how the heck could they make it work? A Ruby Tuesday has a big, stationary kitchen, more than enough stationary storage, a telephone to call their suppliers with when they need more of a particular foodstuff or supply (and a specific, stationary location to deliver those supplies to). a stationary location that the employees can drive (or take a bus) to, work their shift, and then drive or take a bus home to overnight, and so forth. They have a stationary location for the janitorial service to come to in order to clean it overnight for the next day's operation. What does Ruby Tuesday know about running the galley/restaurant on a moving train, provisioning it, hiring dependable employees that will be able to change from regular people to tumbleweeds with no home life, and so forth. Guess what all of that is going to do as far as menu, price, quality, and service? It's sort of like expecting the driver of a jet-ski to automatically know how to fly an airplane (they're both just vehicles, right?). On the surface, the similarity (they are both "restaurants") makes you think it ought to be equivalent, but the differences are really more significant than the similarities.
 

XNWA

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
102
Location
Atlanta
I'm less then excited about this. Personally, I hope that the Arcade Room is a financial faliure. Why? Remember the infamous Material Handling Cars? How much money did Amtrak spend on them, and how much did they get in the end? Even if Amtrak did break even on them,(which they didn't), all they would have been doing would have been sending money away and getting it back later. And while Amtrak is spending millions on shiny new MCH's, it is using a fleet of decript, high-maintenance, falling-apart hertitage fleet baggage cars. Amtrak has proven how long a well-built baggage car can last. Amtrak has no choice: it must offer checked baggage if its long-distance trains have any hope of being viable. It has no obligation, however to carry mail and freight. Yet where does the money go?
Of course, the Material Handling Cars episode is a much more extreme example, the theme is the same. The Corporation's manegement, in hot pursuit of quick, easy profit, refuses to spend money on services is obligated to provide, while it spends its limited resources instead on completely unrelated areas. The costs from the obligations builds, while the other areas do not perform well enough to balance it out. The Corporation sinks. The Corporation I am thinking of while writing this is actually the Penn Central, but it is unsettling to think how easily it can be applied to Amtrak.

Back to the original topic. The Arcade Room is harmless in itself. However, if Amtrak management decides that the Arcade Room brings so much revenue that it has to be put onto every train, you can see where I'm getting at. A while ago, someone proposed jokingly that Amtrak put at casino on every train. Now though, more cynical minds could see the begining of Chuck E. Cheeses on wheels.
Sounds like a good idea to me. B)
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 13, 2006
Messages
849
Location
Baltimore, MD
Sounds like I'm definitely in the minority here. I actually think this is promising, and can actually make the train quieter. Why?!?

Ever been on a LD train (sleeper or coach) where a bunch of bored kids ramble back and forth through the cars to "entertain" themselves. Ever ridden in coach where a bored pre-teen has a temper tantrum and bothers everyone else?!? Having an arcade will at least give the non-railfan young'ns another option of something to do on the train, and possibly leave the upper level of the coaches (and or sleepers) with some peace.

That's not to say I don't worry about potential problems as well. It would be my luck I'm seated behind the mother of a young son who won't give him money to play the arcade games. I can see some people getting testy when the HEP craps out right in the middle of their high scoring run in a video game, and I can imagine if there's an action game, it might be hard to try to keep control of your charachter as the train jolts through an interlocking, or rides rough track.

As for the comparison to outsourcing food service to chain like Mickey D's or Tuesday's, I can't see it. Both of these chains have some of their most signature items in the world of deep fried foods. Train and Deep Fryers do not a good combination make! :)
 
G

Guest_gp35_*

Guest
An excellent Idea 25 years late. Amtrak will neither make or lose on an arcade, but will make

traveling by Amtrak more enjoyable for all.

I would suggest Jason's Deli if food was outsourced.
 

Sam Damon

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 9, 2005
Messages
990
It will be interesting to see how this works out.

One issue with arcade cars will be how the cash is extracted from the machines. Lots of possibilities for pilferage, methinks.
 

AlanB

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Messages
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Queens, New York
Personally I'm not sure that this is a good idea. Yes, it might be good for the passengers, although I'm not convinced that it is. Much less that it will be profitable for Amtrak.

And the issues raised by The Metropolitan, regarding HEP and/or the stability of the games and the ability to play them while on the train are very real.

My problem with this is that I see critics seizing on this as one more sign that Amtrak isn't providing basic transportation, but is instead becoming the land cruise operation that some claim it already is.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Can we bring back the Subway pilot while we are at it? Then when the sun goes down and you run out of scenery I can play some Pac-Man and eat a sammich. I'm on board!
 
G

~guest~

Guest
just a thought....

Were not the best sleeper cars run by the pullman company. This was a seperate company, who added cars to the back of a scheduled train.

Doesn't this show that add-on services by an outside company can work..?
 

AmtrakWPK

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Messages
1,849
One issue with arcade cars will be how the cash is extracted from the machines. Lots of possibilities for pilferage, methinks.
I would expect that instead of coins they would use key cards like they use with copiers, buy one from the attendant, recharge it perhaps at a machine that is in the presence of an employee. So no cash in the actual game machines. But I'm not in favor of the whole idea, personally......
 

GP35

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
261
Not just an arcade, but a whole coach for kids. Movie area, play table for games, video games, puzzles, etc etc...This would keep kids busy while parents enjoy the trip. This would increase parents enjoyment, kids enjoyment, Amtrak benefit with rerturn cxustomers. It could increase riders.
 

TransAtlantic

Service Attendant
Joined
May 7, 2006
Messages
200
Not just an arcade, but a whole coach for kids. Movie area, play table for games, video games, puzzles, etc etc...This would keep kids busy while parents enjoy the trip. This would increase parents enjoyment, kids enjoyment, Amtrak benefit with rerturn cxustomers. It could increase riders.
I suspect that's kind of the idea, to do this as a variation on the kiddie car idea, rather than losing them entirely
 

jphjaxfl

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
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Location
Jacksonville, FL
Pullman Co. went out of business didn't they? Or are they still around? I know some of the Amtrak stuff is made by Bombadier isn't it?
The portion of the Pullman Company that operated the Sleeping Cars was dissolved January 1, 1968. After that the railroads had to operate the Sleeping Cars themselves and some such as Missouri Pacific and GM&O chose to discontinue all Sleeping Car Service. Originally Pullman operated not only Sleeping Cars, but some dining cars, parlor cars and lounges. Some railroads operated their own Sleeping Cars independently of Pullman.

Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing was once part of of the Pullman Company but had to be split off due to what was considered a monopolistic entity. This happened in the late 1930s or 1940s. After that Budd, American Car Foundry and St. Louis Car Company were able to build Sleeping Cars. Pullman Standard went out of business just after the first Superliners were completed for Amtrak.
 

frj1983

OBS Chief
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Jun 11, 2006
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817
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Chicagoland USA
I'm afraid I must agree with Alan,

I could easily see the Administration saying: "Oh look, an arcade, how quaint...see Amtrak is a Land Cruise and only deserves $500 million next year, after all they'll be making so much more money with an arcade on each train."

I'd rather see them refurbish passenger cars and radically improve on-board service!
 

AlanB

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Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Location
Queens, New York
Not just an arcade, but a whole coach for kids. Movie area, play table for games, video games, puzzles, etc etc...This would keep kids busy while parents enjoy the trip. This would increase parents enjoyment, kids enjoyment, Amtrak benefit with rerturn cxustomers. It could increase riders.
I suspect that's kind of the idea, to do this as a variation on the kiddie car idea, rather than losing them entirely
The big problem with this idea though, is that while some parents do the right thing, others don't. They let the car and Amtrak do the baby sitting as it were. So their kids run wild, perhaps even destroying things or worse getting hurt. And of course if the kid gets hurt, guess who the parents blame?
 

GP35

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
261
Not just an arcade, but a whole coach for kids. Movie area, play table for games, video games, puzzles, etc etc...This would keep kids busy while parents enjoy the trip. This would increase parents enjoyment, kids enjoyment, Amtrak benefit with rerturn cxustomers. It could increase riders.
I suspect that's kind of the idea, to do this as a variation on the kiddie car idea, rather than losing them entirely
The big problem with this idea though, is that while some parents do the right thing, others don't. They let the car and Amtrak do the baby sitting as it were. So their kids run wild, perhaps even destroying things or worse getting hurt. And of course if the kid gets hurt, guess who the parents blame?
Kids with other kids playing cards, video games, and watching a movie in the kiddie car is at no higher risk of injury than when they are running up the halls and swinging on the seats. Besides the kiddie car will have rules and a attendant to enforce the rules. Amtrak may have to pay that attendant a little extra.
 

frj1983

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
817
Location
Chicagoland USA
Not just an arcade, but a whole coach for kids. Movie area, play table for games, video games, puzzles, etc etc...This would keep kids busy while parents enjoy the trip. This would increase parents enjoyment, kids enjoyment, Amtrak benefit with rerturn cxustomers. It could increase riders.
I suspect that's kind of the idea, to do this as a variation on the kiddie car idea, rather than losing them entirely
The big problem with this idea though, is that while some parents do the right thing, others don't. They let the car and Amtrak do the baby sitting as it were. So their kids run wild, perhaps even destroying things or worse getting hurt. And of course if the kid gets hurt, guess who the parents blame?
Kids with other kids playing cards, video games, and watching a movie in the kiddie car is at no higher risk of injury than when they are running up the halls and swinging on the seats. Besides the kiddie car will have rules and a attendant to enforce the rules. Amtrak may have to pay that attendant a little extra.
I'm not sure I'd want to be one of those Attendants!!

It would seem to me that this would be a Full Time position...if it's one of the Coach Attendants, who might be opening the door at a Station stop while some kid gets hurt, can you imagine the lawsuit brought against Amtrak and perhaps the attendant him/her-self personally?

Again I believe such a concept gives ammo to an administration that would like to get rid of Amtrak as fast as they can!
 
G

Guest_GP35_*

Guest
Get hurt doing what? I didn't say put a moon walk on Amtrak....hmmm, nawwww. Table games, video games, movies...
 
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