Auto Train delays

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Anderson

Conductor
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Nov 16, 2010
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I believe the main overarching issue here is communication. Many public transportation companies in the U.S., including Amtrak, are absolutely terrible at it. They create many more "never again" riders than they need to if they would just give a little bit of communication, even if there is no update, status, or progress. People talk, especially if they have had a bad experience.

This, along with customer service consistency closely followed by on-time performance, is the issue that should be of utmost importance and priority to Amtrak. Unfortunately, even with the new regime, it seems that is not the case.
One saving grace that Amtrak has is that pretty much everyone else sucks at communication. As a handy example, I was on a delayed Delta flight out of DTW last week. I ended up puttering around the gate area for about half an hour more than was really necessary because there was no reliable way to know when the flight was going to "go", even though the lounge was about 15m/45ft from the gate (and since it was a smaller plane, when it was going to go I expected it to load pretty quickly...if it had been a 320 or anything bigger I would've been rather more relaxed in the same circumstances).
 

seat38a

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
One saving grace that Amtrak has is that pretty much everyone else sucks at communication. As a handy example, I was on a delayed Delta flight out of DTW last week. I ended up puttering around the gate area for about half an hour more than was really necessary because there was no reliable way to know when the flight was going to "go", even though the lounge was about 15m/45ft from the gate (and since it was a smaller plane, when it was going to go I expected it to load pretty quickly...if it had been a 320 or anything bigger I would've been rather more relaxed in the same circumstances).
This is where United really excels at. Their App has made flying less painful. You can track your aircraft realtime and get notified instantly when it lands and when boarding starts. As I understand it, as soon as the first boarding pass is scanned for ones flight, the notice goes out that your flight is boarding.
 
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Seaboard92

Conductor
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Dec 31, 2014
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This is where flightaware comes in handy. Just know your flight number and click “where is my flight now”
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
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This is where flightaware comes in handy. Just know your flight number and click “where is my flight now”
In this particular case, it wasn't helpful since the plane was on the ground but since the previous flight at the gate was delayed it was holding on the ground. My real fear was that we were going to get assigned to a new gate at the proverbial last minute and I'd be stuck reenacting part of the ending of Airplane.
 

BLNT

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
81
How often does the Auto Train run behind or, perhaps I should ask, how often does it run on time?? !

Giving the Auto Train a try (first) on 12/20 --- fingers crossed !
 

keelhauled

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 3, 2014
Messages
847
This is where United really excels at. Their App has made flying less painful. You can track your aircraft realtime and get notified instantly when it lands and when boarding starts. As I understand it, as soon as the first boarding pass is scanned for ones flight, the notice goes out that your flight is boarding.
You don't even need the app; when I flew United a couple months ago they texted me when it was time to check in, two hours ahead of departure with the gate, when boarding started, and upon landing with the arrival gate and the baggage claim location.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
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How often does the Auto Train run behind or, perhaps I should ask, how often does it run on time?? !

Giving the Auto Train a try (first) on 12/20 --- fingers crossed !
It's not that bad of a train. Here is a snapshot for the northbound Auto Train (52) from Dec 1st, 2018 until today. As you can see, there have been some massive delays but the bottom line yields:

Average Ar delay: 18 minutes late
Median Ar delay: 6 minutes early


The southbound Auto train (53) for the same period yields similar results:

Average Ar delay: 27 minutes late
Median Ar delay: 0 minutes

The thing is, once a set gets late, it can take a few trips to get it back in sync.
 

BLNT

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
81
It's not that bad of a train. Here is a snapshot for the northbound Auto Train (52) from Dec 1st, 2018 until today. As you can see, there have been some massive delays but the bottom line yields:

Average Ar delay: 18 minutes late
Median Ar delay: 6 minutes early


The southbound Auto train (53) for the same period yields similar results:

Average Ar delay: 27 minutes late
Median Ar delay: 0 minutes

The thing is, once a set gets late, it can take a few trips to get it back in sync.
THANKS - yes, quite a range of possibilities !!
 

RichieRich

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
249
Or if you just count late vs. early = Late - 152 times...Early - 178 times. As an 8+ trips-a-year...I can tell you - you don't want to be too early, as the station opens and employees arrive at a given hour...so you just sit on the tracks (at the station) in your room til the "on-time" time! Having had about 3 trips canceled so they could get back on schedule...better late then not-at-all!
 

BLNT

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
81
Or if you just count late vs. early = Late - 152 times...Early - 178 times. As an 8+ trips-a-year...I can tell you - you don't want to be too early, as the station opens and employees arrive at a given hour...so you just sit on the tracks (at the station) in your room til the "on-time" time! Having had about 3 trips canceled so they could get back on schedule...better late then not-at-all!
Interesting - so kind of like flipping a coin :)

-------------

I'm curious about something else with the Auto Train. We're booked in a bedroom heading north, but there's only coach availability heading back south a week later. Thus, we're considering either driving back (ugh) or booking "flexible" coach and hoping a room (w/toilet) opens up. With that in mind, is there a fair chance that can happen and, if not, can I assume that both the coach ticket and $ for our vehicle are fully refundable?

THANKS
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Messages
4,385
I'm curious about something else with the Auto Train. We're booked in a bedroom heading north, but there's only coach availability heading back south a week later. Thus, we're considering either driving back (ugh) or booking "flexible" coach and hoping a room (w/toilet) opens up. With that in mind, is there a fair chance that can happen and, if not, can I assume that both the coach ticket and $ for our vehicle are fully refundable?

THANKS
I think there is a chance people will cancel. Keep checking. As for the refund policy, it seems you can cancel a flexible fare without a penalty as long as you do it in advance. You should confirm it with Amtrak though.
 

seat38a

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
You don't even need the app; when I flew United a couple months ago they texted me when it was time to check in, two hours ahead of departure with the gate, when boarding started, and upon landing with the arrival gate and the baggage claim location.
You do if you want to have more control of what you get notified of and what not to.
 

RichieRich

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
249
" we're considering either driving back (ugh)"

No...UGH. If it weren't for the A/T I wouldn't see Florida at all. Been "communing" on it for more then 15 years. Between traffic, weather, possible car break-downs, wear & tear on both the car & body...I would never chance "That Drive".
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
840
To a certain extent it’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. When something happens to create a massive delay with the auto train it takes a few days to get back in sync. This obviously ticks off all the late passengers. Then again you can cancel one day and get back in sync immediately but then you inconvenience all those people even more and have to accommodate some of them on a later trip. It’s tough when you have to turn the train around every day without a third train in the mix along with the unique requirements of the auto train.

That being said I will say though it’s a great train and my default way to go to Florida and I don’t see that changing. Still better than the drive every time.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 4, 2014
Messages
7
To a certain extent it’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. When something happens to create a massive delay with the auto train it takes a few days to get back in sync. This obviously ticks off all the late passengers. Then again you can cancel one day and get back in sync immediately but then you inconvenience all those people even more and have to accommodate some of them on a later trip. It’s tough when you have to turn the train around every day without a third train in the mix along with the unique requirements of the auto train.

That being said I will say though it’s a great train and my default way to go to Florida and I don’t see that changing. Still better than the drive every time.
We had the trip from hell on #53 on 11/2 - departed after midnight. But, in Sanford we were in our car in less than 30 minutes - and I only drive 105 miles from PA to Lorton. I see the schedule performance data and for the most part it is good, I figured we had a one time anomaly. Boarded #52 on 11/9 and we departed Sanford 12 minutes early. I’m “This is more like it!” Right up until 10:03 pm - we stopped about 25 miles from Charleston. We didn’t resume until 5:45am - yup
another BIG delay - almost 8 hours. Now we’re going to get to Lorton around 5pm - just now leaving Florence at 8:36am. We had a car carrier axle problem that locked the breaks. They worked on it unsuccessfully and ended up cutting one one of the 25 car carriers from Out consist. But wait! there’s more! By that time the crew had expired! We had to wait for anew crew. #53 stopped when it passed us and dropped on one new crew and the others came by van. Another entertaining night on the AT. This morning the announced “if I did not contact you during the night, you’re Car is still with us.” We we’re OK. Not so for young lady sitting across from us at breakfast - her car was on the broke carrier. AMTRAK is giving her a rental car in Lorton and she can pick I p her car Monday. Compared to her we didn’t do bad. But we won’t be home around noon - more like evening. So far I’m zero for two with the AT. Next time we need to go to FL, I’m going to have a tough time convincing myself that the AT is better than the drive. Travel this trip was not pleasant.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2019
Messages
12
I haven't had a chance yet (family visiting) but did anyone have any success calling Amtrak and complaining for a partial refund? The folks at the station were leaning on that pretty hard, not sure if anything would come of it or if they were just trying to get people out the door.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
4,385
I haven't had a chance yet (family visiting) but did anyone have any success calling Amtrak and complaining for a partial refund? The folks at the station were leaning on that pretty hard, not sure if anything would come of it or if they were just trying to get people out the door.
Something usually comes from it but it isn't handled at the station. You must go through customer relations.
 

daybeers

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
679
Yes, customer relations, not service. You have to ask for them specifically because they're the ones authorized to give refunds or vouchers and take feedback on service.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
840
We had the trip from hell on #53 on 11/2 - departed after midnight. But, in Sanford we were in our car in less than 30 minutes - and I only drive 105 miles from PA to Lorton. I see the schedule performance data and for the most part it is good, I figured we had a one time anomaly. Boarded #52 on 11/9 and we departed Sanford 12 minutes early. I’m “This is more like it!” Right up until 10:03 pm - we stopped about 25 miles from Charleston. We didn’t resume until 5:45am - yup
another BIG delay - almost 8 hours. Now we’re going to get to Lorton around 5pm - just now leaving Florence at 8:36am. We had a car carrier axle problem that locked the breaks. They worked on it unsuccessfully and ended up cutting one one of the 25 car carriers from Out consist. But wait! there’s more! By that time the crew had expired! We had to wait for anew crew. #53 stopped when it passed us and dropped on one new crew and the others came by van. Another entertaining night on the AT. This morning the announced “if I did not contact you during the night, you’re Car is still with us.” We we’re OK. Not so for young lady sitting across from us at breakfast - her car was on the broke carrier. AMTRAK is giving her a rental car in Lorton and she can pick I p her car Monday. Compared to her we didn’t do bad. But we won’t be home around noon - more like evening. So far I’m zero for two with the AT. Next time we need to go to FL, I’m going to have a tough time convincing myself that the AT is better than the drive. Travel this trip was not pleasant.
Sorry to hear about your bad trip. Every AT trip I’ve taken so far has been pretty good. Hopefully customer relations did something for you. While you may not buy it considering what you went through, normally AT is a pretty solid experience Hopefully you’ll give it another shot and have a better experience
 
Joined
May 4, 2014
Messages
7
I haven't had a chance yet (family visiting) but did anyone have any success calling Amtrak and complaining for a partial refund? The folks at the station were leaning on that pretty hard, not sure if anything would come of it or if they were just trying to get people out the door.
We had the trip from hell on 11/2 LOR-SFA - 8 hours late. That was followed by a second trip from hell on 11/9 SFA-LOR. We were stopped from 10pm until almost 6 am in SC. Around 4am I entered a complaint on the Amtrak app with details about both trips. I just got an apologetic email from Customer Service with a $200 travel voucher for both of us. The only problem is I gotta ride another train to take advantage of it! :)
 
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