Atlanta losing checked baggage service?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,779
Right hand does not know the left time ere is part from reservations.

Details
Select

Direct
Atlanta, GA, (ATL)
Peachtree Station

20 Crescent
11:29p, Thu, Jul 1 (18h 45m)
New York, NY, (NYP )
Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station

6:14p, Fri, Jul 2
Amenities
  • Carry-On Baggage
  • Checked Baggage
  • Cafe
  • Flexible Dining
  • Free WiFi
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,119
Location
HFD/POU
I just got off the phone with Amtrak, the agent said they're doing station renovations (probably meaning the repairs to the elevator mentioned before) and that they're due to be completed on July 14th. The reservation system has been updated to reflect this, with 19 on July 15th being the first Crescent with checked baggage restored.
 

AMTRAK709

Train Attendant
Joined
May 6, 2021
Messages
40
Location
Columbus, GA
Although not particularly on point, ATL station is the, (or nearly the) worst facility in the Amtrak system when you consider the facility, the location, the parking, the traffic, etc., etc. For exactly that reason for the last 21 years I have boarded and returned the Crescent dozens of times from/to Anniston AL. I realize that is not a reasonable solution for those living right in Atlanta, but for me, even though 15 miles farther to Anniston than Atlanta, it is a no-brainer.
 

PVD

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,898
Location
NYC/Queens
Since this particular thread revolves around checked baggage, Anniston would not help since it doesn't have bag service. Not sure if it is manned or not.
 

cassie225

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
320
Location
Louisiana
So my return trip on that Sunday the 17th I should be able to check baggage from Atlanta to NO. Yeah, ok lol
 

crescent-zephyr

Engineer
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,916
Although not particularly on point, ATL station is the, (or nearly the) worst facility in the Amtrak system when you consider the facility, the location, the parking, the traffic, etc., etc. For exactly that reason for the last 21 years I have boarded and returned the Crescent dozens of times from/to Anniston AL. I realize that is not a reasonable solution for those living right in Atlanta, but for me, even though 15 miles farther to Anniston than Atlanta, it is a no-brainer.
I completely disagree. Atlanta is fine, nothing special, but nothing wrong with it either.

Indianapolis is my least favorite but I’m not sure I’d say it’s the worst.
 

John Santos

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
222
Although not particularly on point, ATL station is the, (or nearly the) worst facility in the Amtrak system when you consider the facility, the location, the parking, the traffic, etc., etc. For exactly that reason for the last 21 years I have boarded and returned the Crescent dozens of times from/to Anniston AL. I realize that is not a reasonable solution for those living right in Atlanta, but for me, even though 15 miles farther to Anniston than Atlanta, it is a no-brainer.
Anyone traveling to Atlanta would have to rent a car and drive an hour and a half each way. Anyone traveling FROM Atlanta who lived north, east or south of Atlanta would have to travel at least an extra hour and a half to reach Anniston. Not really a useful suggestion, except to point out the general crappiness of Atlanta's Amtrak service, which may have been your point. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,319
Location
South Carolina
I honestly don't see why the busted freight elevator was such a big issue. Just make the baggage cutoff time a bit earlier and send bags down 5-6 at a time down the regular elevator and place them on a baggage cart down there so they don't roll on the main. Then take the detraining luggage off after the train departs. It wasn't rocket science.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,913
Location
Socal
I honestly don't see why the busted freight elevator was such a big issue. Just make the baggage cutoff time a bit earlier and send bags down 5-6 at a time down the regular elevator and place them on a baggage cart down there so they don't roll on the main. Then take the detraining luggage off after the train departs. It wasn't rocket science.
It's Amtrak's Center of Excellence. What do you expect?
 

jimdex

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
58
Just make the baggage cutoff time a bit earlier and send bags down 5-6 at a time down the regular elevator
There is only one elevator. The baggage elevator and the "regular" elevator are one and the same.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
648
There is only one elevator. The baggage elevator and the "regular" elevator are one and the same.
That’s incorrect. There is a freight elevator in the station, not visible from the waiting room. That is what is normally used to bring the luggage cart down to the platform.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

John Santos

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
222
I was last in the Atlanta station in Oct. 2019, and noticed at the time there was an alternate route to the platforms, that I think would work fine for baggage. Deering Rd is parallel to the track on the north side and descends from the station to be level with the tracks in a couple of hundred feet to the west. There is a paved sidewalk the entire way and no obvious steps. There is a chain link fence between the sidewalk and the track, but there is a gate in the fence and what looks like crushed packed gravel through the gate leading directly (about 20 feet) to the platform. I just checked on Google maps and street view confirms my memory.

The sidewalk isn't very steep and I'm sure someone could easily push a baggage cart up or down the walk. They would need the key for the padlock on the gate, but I'm sure the fence is railroad property and the station master should have or be able to get the key.
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
648
OK, I finally get to add my experience with the current Atlanta baggage situation. Over the past several days, I’ve twice started a post, but both times was waylaid before I completed the post. As I write this, I’m currently sitting in the Club Acela (that’s what the sign still says) in Washington, DC.

I was finally able to take a true rail fan trip, after being unable to do so in several years. On 21 June I went from Atlanta to New York on the Crescent to visit family, then a week later went from New York to Utica on the Empire Service, to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I was there for a day, leaving the next evening for Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited. I spent the day yesterday in Chi-Town, and left in the evening for DC, where I arrived midday today. I’m leaving this evening on the Crescent to return home tomorrow morning. The reason for the circuitous route home was purely to enjoy Amtrak time. I had roomettes on all overnight trains, and business class on the Empire Servce.

I needed to deliver some important items to family in New York, so I used a larger-than-usual (for me) rolling duffel bag as my carry-on. This enabled me to carry what I needed for New York, and would allow me to pack several days worth of clothes for my circuitous rail fan trip home. I had one suitcase that I needed in New York, which I checked in Atlanta when I boarded, and picked up in Penn Station upon arrival the next day. My suitcase, and dozens of others, were routinely checked in Atlanta, without any incident. While waiting for our northbound Crescent, I did hear some passengers in the waiting room talking about the freight elevator there being out of order, but since everyone’s baggage was being accepted, I thought no further about it.

On Tuesday, 29 June, the night before I was to leave for Utica on the Empire Service, I received a voicemail and an email from Amtrak, telling me that the freight elevator in the Atlanta station was being replaced, and there would be no checked baggage service for my Washington-Atlanta trip on Saturday, 3 July. This completely threw off my plans. I had already packed the night before, and had planned to check the suitcase through to Atlanta, as I have done in the past, so that I wouldn’t need to drag it to Utica, Chicago, or DC. I was also going to check the rolling duffel bag to Atlanta, as it was larger than I normally use while on the train. My sister had given me a smaller bag to use on my other trips, and I was going to travel lightly with that from Wednesday, 30 June through Sunday morning, the 4th of July, when I reach Atlanta.

Having heard about the broken freight el while in the Amtrak waiting room in Atlanta, I immediately checked the Atlanta station info on the website, and found, as several people here did, that it did not list baggage service as an available service. I then checked this website, since such things are often discussed here, and was shocked to find the broken freight el and a possible loss of baggage service being discussed more than a month earlier! It seems that a water main had broken during the heavy rains that we had in mid-May, flooding the freight el in the Atlanta station. Again, I was perplexed, because the previous week I had no problem checking my bag in a Atlanta.

I called Amtrak for more info, and was told that the elevator was being repaired (I’m guessing replaced) from 1-14 July, and there would be no checked baggage service for the duration. Here I was, planning to check two bags at NYP the next morning to Atlanta, while I made my Amtrak circuit. I had to completely rethink my luggage plan, which involved unpacking and repacking at 10PM. The new plan was that I would continue to use the rolling duffel bag as my carry-on, which didn’t thrill me, and I would check only the suitcase, just as I had when heading north, to DC, as that was my next-to-last stop. I would get redcap assistance in DC, and bring both pieces into my roomette to Atlanta. My ticket was for NYP—Utica—Chicago—DC-Atlanta, and it was all on a single reservation. I have done this type of thing before, without any problem, since the luggage and I were both going to the same final destination.

Upon arrival at the new Moynihan Train Hall the next morning, a baggage clerk told me that checked bags had “to stay with me” on the trains I was taking, and I could not send the suitcase on ahead to DC. I sensed that the Utica stop overnight was the fly in the ointment. The baggage clerk wouldn’t budge, so I went to Amtrak customer service, where I spoke with a line employee, then a supervisor, both of whom told me what the baggage clerk had. When I told the supervisor that I had done this type of check before, she said that the policy had changed, she wasn’t sure when, but probably within the last two years.

What bothered me the most was the complete insensitivity to my situation, especially by the supervisor. I asked her to grant me, a longtime Guest Rewards Select member, an exception to the amended policy, and permit me to check the suitcase to DC. I didn’t need to be dragging it around from train to train, and surely the “emergency” in Atlanta was grounds to bend the rule a bit. She was rigid, inflexible, and more than a bit unpleasant, wanting only to quote Amtrak policy and CYA herself, so that no one could ever accuse her of not stringently adhering to policy. The fact that a GR member of many years was caught in a pickle by an Amtrak emergency meant nothing to her.

I was raised in New York City, and definitely know how to register a complaint (beef, gripe, whatever you want to call it…), and I know how to talk to union-protected workers who look out for themselves above all things. My southern friends and colleagues regularly tell me how much of a New Yorker I still am in these things, despite having lived in Georgia for many years. I was tempted to address this in a more aggressive New York manner, but decided instead to be like my genteel southern counterparts. So instead I was a polished gentleman, and I prevailed upon the supervisor with flattery and gratitude. I told her that Amtrak would be pleased that an empowered supervisor used her customer service training and experience to resolve a last-minute contingency that an Amtrak equipment problem had caused a longtime loyal Amtrak passenger. In short, I had to kiss her butt to get her to OK checking my bag to DC, which she finally did. But she made sure to angrily tell me that she was putting a note in the system under my name saying that this was a one-time concession, so that I could never “pull this again,” claiming that “the lady in New York had let me do it.” Again, she was concerned about her own self above all other considerations.

I was pleased to find the bag waiting for me here in DC, and the staff here didn’t bother to wonder why it had come in three days before me. When I get back to Atlanta, I plan to inquire about the freight el, since I was able to check my bag there last week. My guess would be that the el was temporarily fixed weeks ago, pending a full replacement now. I also plan to contact Amtrak and ascertain the policy about checking bags ahead, including when and why it changed, and ask if it was properly applied in my situation. Thanks for allowing me this lengthy post.
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
648
I was last in the Atlanta station in Oct. 2019, and noticed at the time there was an alternate route to the platforms, that I think would work fine for baggage. Deering Rd is parallel to the track on the north side and descends from the station to be level with the tracks in a couple of hundred feet to the west. There is a paved sidewalk the entire way and no obvious steps. There is a chain link fence between the sidewalk and the track, but there is a gate in the fence and what looks like crushed packed gravel through the gate leading directly (about 20 feet) to the platform. I just checked on Google maps and street view confirms my memory.

The sidewalk isn't very steep and I'm sure someone could easily push a baggage cart up or down the walk. They would need the key for the padlock on the gate, but I'm sure the fence is railroad property and the station master should have or be able to get the key.
I’ll have to disagree. The road, including the sidewalk, is quite steep, so that definitely wouldn’t work. The sidewalk is a very standard width, and could never handle then number of people that typically crowd around the baggage return. There also would be a risk of people stepping into the street during the process, and that road has a fair amount of traffic.

This same suggestion was made earlier in this thread, and someone else replied with pictures that bear out what I’ve written in this post. See page one of thus thread.

While I’d like to see them have an alternate plan for this type of situation, opening the gate and stepping outside on hilly Deering Road is not the solution.
 
Last edited:

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,482
I was last in the Atlanta station in Oct. 2019, and noticed at the time there was an alternate route to the platforms, that I think would work fine for baggage. Deering Rd is parallel to the track on the north side and descends from the station to be level with the tracks in a couple of hundred feet to the west. There is a paved sidewalk the entire way and no obvious steps. There is a chain link fence between the sidewalk and the track, but there is a gate in the fence and what looks like crushed packed gravel through the gate leading directly (about 20 feet) to the platform. I just checked on Google maps and street view confirms my memory.

The sidewalk isn't very steep and I'm sure someone could easily push a baggage cart up or down the walk. They would need the key for the padlock on the gate, but I'm sure the fence is railroad property and the station master should have or be able to get the key.
I suggested that way back when:

Post with picture
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

John Santos

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
222
I was last in the Atlanta station in Oct. 2019, and noticed at the time there was an alternate route to the platforms, that I think would work fine for baggage. Deering Rd is parallel to the track on the north side and descends from the station to be level with the tracks in a couple of hundred feet to the west. There is a paved sidewalk the entire way and no obvious steps. There is a chain link fence between the sidewalk and the track, but there is a gate in the fence and what looks like crushed packed gravel through the gate leading directly (about 20 feet) to the platform. I just checked on Google maps and street view confirms my memory.

The sidewalk isn't very steep and I'm sure someone could easily push a baggage cart up or down the walk. They would need the key for the padlock on the gate, but I'm sure the fence is railroad property and the station master should have or be able to get the key.

=======
Sorry for the double-post. I saw it on my screen when I went back here and thought I had neglected to press "Post", but apparently I had.
 
Last edited:

John Santos

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
222
I’ll have to disagree. The road, including the sidewalk, is quite steep, so that definitely wouldn’t work. The sidewalk is a very standard width, and could never handle then number of people that typically crowd around the baggage return. There also would be a risk of people stepping into the street during the process, and that road has a fair amount of traffic.

This same suggestion was made earlier in this thread, and someone else replied with pictures that bear out what I’ve written in this post. See page one of thus thread.

While I’d like to see them have an alternate plan for this type of situation, opening the gate and stepping outside on hilly Deering Road is not the solution.
No, That's not what I'm suggesting. Why would any passengers walk in the street? Passengers would use the stairs and/or the passenger elevator. The baggage handler would load up the baggage cart in the station as always. When it was full, or the baggage service was closed, the handler would push it out the station door and onto the sidewalk, down to the gate, open the gate, push it through, close the gate and either push it to the platform or unload the individual bags and carry them to the platform (watching carefully for trains as they did so.) No passengers involved. Depending on how heavy the baggage cart is and how steep the sidewalk is, it might take two people to handle it, but it didn't look that steep to me. Less steep than most wheel chair ramps. It appears to be a standard 4-foot wide concrete sidewalk.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,779
no timbers on inside of tracks or other side. Do you think NS would allow some to be installed?
 
Last edited:
Top