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b243923

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AmtrakBlue

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52(9) and 53(9) are taking the Silver Star's route to FL. At some point they needed to add freight engines as the trains could not handle the hills in SC.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Passengers on an Amtrak train were left stranded on a rural stretch of track for 29 hours. ABC News’ Andrea Fujii explains.


Misleading. I don't think they were stuck on that rural stretch for 29 hours. I think the trip took a total of 29 hours (it's normally a 17-1/2 hour trip). And some of those 12 extra hours were due to slow moving train due to using freight engines at some point.
 

jebr

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Misleading. I don't think they were stuck on that rural stretch for 29 hours. I think the trip took a total of 29 hours (it's normally a 17-1/2 hour trip). And some of those 12 extra hours were due to slow moving train due to using freight engines at some point.
The trip total was 37 hours - a delay of 20 hours. From the ABC News article:

"The train rolled into the station in Sanford, Florida, on Wednesday morning, ending the 37-hour trip. The 563 passengers and 333 vehicles onboard had been delayed by almost 20 hours."

Edit to add: Realistically, the "29 hour" remark might be wrong, but if that's the only factual error, it's still an extremely poor service recovery by Amtrak. Amtrak's caring for hundreds of passengers, and if they're running out of food without any backup plans people will be (very rightfully) frustrated and angry. I'd certainly be leery of taking transport where food might just run out while I'm stuck in the middle of a rural area.
 

Hans627

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IMHO the problem with such delays is the lack of information and the appearance that no one cares. I've been delayed for hours on Amtrak and trying to understand what is happening is very frustrating.

Who is in charge and what is being done to mitigate a difficult situation? Answering those questions would go a long way for those dealing with such issues.
 
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The piece also said they ran out of food. In the video, where the conductor makes the announcement of no more food, there's a digital clock showing 18:24. Then the reporter says the train started to move at about 9 p.m. So they were without food for maybe 3 hours. Oh, the horror!

But from transitdocs it looks like they were stuck in the town of Hamlet. I don't know why Amtrak couldn't have sent a truck of emergency rations down there -- even just some AmStew & rice and snack packs.
 
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The piece also said they ran out of food. In the video, where the conductor makes the announcement of no more food, there's a digital clock showing 18:24. Then the reporter says the train started to move at about 9 p.m. So they were without food for maybe 3 hours. Oh, the horror!
I suspect the standard emergency food of Dinty Moore stew and rice was used at lunch. That was the case when we were on a 10 hour late train. For dinner we pulled into JAX and received pizza off a delivery truck. Not possible in the boonies.

Did the train detour via Hamlet/Columbia or did it wait fro a track to clear and continue on its normal route?
 

jis

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I suspect the standard emergency food of Dinty Moore stew and rice was used at lunch. That was the case when we were on a 10 hour late train. For dinner we pulled into JAX and received pizza off a delivery truck. Not possible in the boonies.

Did the train detour via Hamlet/Columbia or did it wait fro a track to clear and continue on its normal route?
It detoured, and then it would seem that the detoured trains ran into problem finding enough qualified crew to take them along as the original crew expired.
 

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Now that's really strange. If they were detouring but the crew was running short of time, it would not have been hard to plan an accessible place for them to be re-crewed, emergency food restocked, and pets allowed off.
I suspect there was a combination of factors including a whole bunch of CSX freights detouring too, and CSX dispatchers probably not as cognizant of the needs of a passenger train to be not parked in the pine forest for a long time.

The problem is once things start going wrong things tend to pile up in these days of super efficient but extremely fragile facilities, which cannot handle deviation from the normal too well at all. Maybe the prudent course for Amtrak would have been to revere course at the whiff of trouble and take the trains back to their respective origins, and then be criticized for doing that instead 🤔
 

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I guess , if you think about it, it would be better to be stranded on the train "on a rural stretch" than be stranded on a pane the could not land ...

All planes have to land eventually.

That said, if the passenger air industry had a tenth of the issues per trip that Amtrak seems to have while in transit, passenger planes would be grounded. In air travel, it's far more likely that I'll be stuck at an airport (maybe a random airport that I'm transferring through) than any sort of air issue - and I'd much rather be stuck at an airport than stuck in whatever random place Amtrak gets stranded for many hours, especially since Amtrak does not seem to be properly prepared for such issues.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but when 24+ hour delays have happened multiple times in the past few years, it's reasonable to expect Amtrak to have proper contingency plans for them, and to criticize them when they fail to deliver.
 
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All planes have to land eventually.

That said, if the passenger air industry had a tenth of the issues per trip that Amtrak seems to have while in transit, passenger planes would be grounded. In air travel, it's far more likely that I'll be stuck at an airport (maybe a random airport that I'm transferring through) than any sort of air issue - and I'd much rather be stuck at an airport than stuck in whatever random place Amtrak gets stranded for many hours, especially since Amtrak does not seem to be properly prepared for such issues.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but when 24+ hour delays have happened multiple times in the past few years, it's reasonable to expect Amtrak to have proper contingency plans for them, and to criticize them when they fail to deliver.
The difference with this and the Wolverine incident is this isn't really an Amtrak caused delay. I suppose they could have turned back to the initial terminal, but the Auto Train is a tough one. You can let people go an bus them I suppose but them some will complain about being separated from their auto and luggage and may just prefer to ride it out - while others may feel differently. This one is kind of a darned if you do darned if you don't. I'm sure there are some never agains but some people are going to have a never again reaction with this kind of delay no matter what Amtrak does. There may be things they can do to calm people down after the fact with refunds and such but many first reactions will be never again no matter what that lengthy delay is or who is at fault.
 

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Maybe I'm in the minority, but when 24+ hour delays have happened multiple times in the past few years, it's reasonable to expect Amtrak to have proper contingency plans for them, and to criticize them when they fail to deliver.
I have a suspicion that any Amtrak contingency plan when running on a host freight railroad cannot be any more reliable than the underlying contingency plan of the host, and those seem to be relatively few and far between.

It is much more meaningful to criticize Amtrak when a significant failure happens on their own railroad. But when something happens on a host railroad it is harder to pin the fault on the right donkey. But as is always the case, the outfit with the frontline interface with the customer is the one that will visibly bear all responsibility.
 

Amtrak709

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I suspect there was a combination of factors including a whole bunch of CSX freights detouring too, and CSX dispatchers probably not as cognizant of the needs of a passenger train to be not parked in the pine forest for a long time.

The problem is once things start going wrong things tend to pile up in these days of super efficient but extremely fragile facilities, which cannot handle deviation from the normal too well at all. Maybe the prudent course for Amtrak would have been to revere course at the whiff of trouble and take the trains back to their respective origins, and then be criticized for doing that instead 🤔
Although I am in some agreement with Palmland's assessments, one must realize and remember that the Auto Train is a somewhat unique movement as far as a passenger train. Its length, number of axles, and unique consist make it so. Add to that the detour that caused it to vary away from its Florence SC crew base; the Hours of Service Law which is non-negotiable and cast in stone; and the special certifications needs by Auto Train T & E crews--all these factors combine to create the situation for this spectacular delay. While this situation is not necessarily a frequent occurrence and one cannot be expect it every day, Amtrak should plan for the average occurrence and then work around the clock to mitigate passenger discomforts and concerns.
 

Hans627

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I have a suspicion that any Amtrak contingency plan when running on a host freight railroad cannot be any more reliable than the underlying contingency plan of the host, and those seem to be relatively few and far between.

It is much more meaningful to criticize Amtrak when a significant failure happens on their own railroad. But when something happens on a host railroad it is harder to pin the fault on the right donkey. But as is always the case, the outfit with the frontline interface with the customer is the one that will visibly bear all responsibility.
Things happen, like all flights being delayed this morning because of a computer problem. And a derailed freight train caused this problem. But again, who is responsible for resolving the issue? And was there a sense of urgency?

And if the information is correct that they were stranded in Hamlet, SC it makes it even worse. Hamlet has a population of about 6,000 and multiple restaurants and grocery stores. So it's not like food was 100 miles away.
 
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jebr

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It is much more meaningful to criticize Amtrak when a significant failure happens on their own railroad. But when something happens on a host railroad it is harder to pin the fault on the right donkey. But as is always the case, the outfit with the frontline interface with the customer is the one that will visibly bear all responsibility.

Even being on a host railroad, Amtrak still has some duty of care. Running out of food is at least partially within their control, and given all the issues lately I think it's poor practice to seemingly only have enough Dinty Moore for one meal service. If Amtrak was attempting to get food and transportation out to passengers, but CSX was forbidding them from doing so, then Amtrak should be out in front making that point well known as well.

There's only so much Amtrak can do to get the train moving, but given what they're working with they should realize that the old norms are no longer, and being extra-prepared to keep passengers comfortable when a 24-hour delay inevitably happens should be the new prudent policy.
 
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Even being on a host railroad, Amtrak still has some duty of care. Running out of food is at least partially within their control, and given all the issues lately I think it's poor practice to seemingly only have enough Dinty Moore for one meal service. If Amtrak was attempting to get food and transportation out to passengers, but CSX was forbidding them from doing so, then Amtrak should be out in front making that point well known as well.

There's only so much Amtrak can do to get the train moving, but given what they're working with they should realize that the old norms are no longer, and being extra-prepared to keep passengers comfortable when a 24-hour delay inevitably happens should be the new prudent policy.
I don't know how accurate it is, but transitdocs shows the train was holding in the center of the town of Hamlet.

Also, if it is true that the train was running with CSX freight locomotives to handle the hills on the S-line, would it be CSX train crews that were running the train and needed replacement?
 
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I would hope CSX and Amtrak personnel would have a face to face meeting to discuss what went wrong (and right) and have a plan to deal with future occurrences. Like most such incidents good communication is the key to make sure a bad situation does not get worse. Were all the key people in direct comunication - Amtrak engineer, conductor, HQ, CSX dispatcher, Chief dispatcher, and local operating personnel.
 
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