Awful Trip on The Zephyr

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5280 Guy

Train Attendant
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
16
I thought I'd take a friend of mine from Denver to Glenwood Springs, CO. It's 190 miles. I booked a trip to and from this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was $800 roundtrip for a roomette.

The train was late in leaving Denver and had mechanical problems. We arrived two hours late. Average speed around 30 MPH. (I tracked the trip with a Garmin handheld).
The return train was supposed to leave Glenwood Springs at 12:10 PM, but left at 3:15 PM. Apparently the crew timed out. They said they'd make up an hour of the the three, but we didn't believe them and we were right. We wound up another half hour late, arriving in Denver at 10:15 PM. There were 10 MPH slow orders along the way.
(Apparently the tracks were too hot in some areas (thermal distortion). If that's true, do trains routinely run at 10 MPH in the desert during the summer and everywhere else that's hot)? The average speed was just over 29 MPH.

They were out of the meals that we wanted. I also thought the roomette was cramped. For that cost you'd think they'd be a little better. The trip was exhausting.

I'm done with Amtrak. I admire those of you who ride it. I knew the railroad was rough around the edges, but I wasn't ready for this. You guys are far more adaptable than we were. It was dumb and naive of me, and I am a bit spoiled, but I expected a little more for a short (mileage-wise) $800 trip. Never again.

P.S. The only bright spot was conductor Brad. He did a good job.
 
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Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,185
Location
Austin Texas
I thought I'd take a friend of mine from Denver to Glenwood Springs, CO. It's 190 miles. I booked a trip to and from this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was $800 roundtrip for a roomette.

The train was late in leaving Denver and had mechanical problems. We arrived two hours late. Average speed around 30 MPH. (I tracked the trip with a Garmin handheld).
The return train was supposed to leave Glenwood Springs at 12:10 PM, but left at 3:15 PM. Apparently the crew timed out. They said they'd make up an hour of the the three, but we didn't believe them and we were right. We wound up another half hour late, arriving in Denver at 10:15 PM. There were 10 MPH slow orders along the way.
(Apparently the tracks were too hot in some areas (thermal distortion). If that's true, do trains routinely run at 10 MPH in the desert during the summer and everywhere else that's hot)? The average speed was just over 29 MPH.

They were out of the meals that we wanted. I also thought the roomette was cramped. For that cost you'd think they'd be a little better. The trip was exhausting.

I'm done with Amtrak. I admire those of you who ride it. I knew the railroad was rough around the edges, but I wasn't ready for this. You guys are far more adaptable than we were. It was dumb and naive of me, and I am a bit spoiled, but I expected a little more for a short (mileage-wise) $800 trip. Never again.

P.S. The only bright spot was conductor Brad. He did a good job.
You should contact Customer Relations( not Customer Service) with the details about the lack of meals, Lateness of your Train and since you paid $800 for what's really worth about maybe $400, you should receive a Partial Refund or a Travel Voucher.

I'm curious why you didn't just ride in Coach for the Short trips, that would probably have been around $200 RT Max( even Less if Low Bucket).

Don't join the Never again Bunch based on 1 trip, especially since you agreed to this Outrageous Fare knowing the Meals sucked!
 

5280 Guy

Train Attendant
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
16
I will take your suggestion about contacting customer relations if I can find them. I already wrote to customer service. I'll see where that goes before I contact Visa.
I didn't want to sit in open seating with a mask for 6 or 7 hours.
I never said the meals sucked. And how was I supposed to know that they were out of many of the choices?
 

crescent-zephyr

Engineer
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,781
There were 10 MPH slow orders along the way.
(Apparently the tracks were too hot in some areas (thermal distortion). If that's true, do trains routinely run at 10 MPH in the desert during the summer and everywhere else that's hot)?
That’s like asking “do planes routinely get cancelled in places like Seattle where it rains a lot?” - all transportation has weather delays for various reasons.

Between global warming and our enhanced safety culture - there will be more and more delays like this in all forms of transportation in the future.

I’m really curious that you never once commented on the scenery... you rode one of the most scenic portions of railroad in North America (I’ve ridden most but not all... still working on it!) - I hope you enjoyed the scenery!

Edit - I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your trip more and delays can certainly put a damper on a trip. Most of us on this forum agree that the dining is not what it should be on the zephyr right now.
 
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Larry H.

Conductor
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
1,001
I thought I'd take a friend of mine from Denver to Glenwood Springs, CO. It's 190 miles. I booked a trip to and from this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was $800 roundtrip for a roomette.

The train was late in leaving Denver and had mechanical problems. We arrived two hours late. Average speed around 30 MPH. (I tracked the trip with a Garmin handheld).
The return train was supposed to leave Glenwood Springs at 12:10 PM, but left at 3:15 PM. Apparently the crew timed out. They said they'd make up an hour of the the three, but we didn't believe them and we were right. We wound up another half hour late, arriving in Denver at 10:15 PM. There were 10 MPH slow orders along the way.
(Apparently the tracks were too hot in some areas (thermal distortion). If that's true, do trains routinely run at 10 MPH in the desert during the summer and everywhere else that's hot)? The average speed was just over 29 MPH.

They were out of the meals that we wanted. I also thought the roomette was cramped. For that cost you'd think they'd be a little better. The trip was exhausting.

I'm done with Amtrak. I admire those of you who ride it. I knew the railroad was rough around the edges, but I wasn't ready for this. You guys are far more adaptable than we were. It was dumb and naive of me, and I am a bit spoiled, but I expected a little more for a short (mileage-wise) $800 trip. Never again.

P.S. The only bright spot was conductor Brad. He did a good job.
Quite a few years ago now I checked on a room from Chicago to Kansas City. The fare was many times what they used to charge for that same trip. I think what there doing is trying to prevent people on short trips from tying up the rooms when maybe someone going much farther would buy if it were available for that portion of the trip. I don't think its right, but then it seems how Amtrak is going now days. Perhaps if they ran way more sleepers, which they don't any more they could afford to book shorter distance rooms without losing long distance customers? I much preferred the days when the trains were regulated and you knew what a trip would cost at anytime you wanted to go. Once that was removed then the prices surges began in earnest. For a long time living south of Chicago about 5 hours we could purhase a bedroom, pay a coach fair for the other person to ride in the bedroom also and got a free meal when they were worth eating. And the total cost came in below the coach fares for two with no food. They finally got smart and raised the sleeper fares.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,759
Location
Washington State
Sorry about that, but there is no way I, or many of us here, would pay $800 for a roomette between Denver and Glenwood Springs. That is probably in an upper bucket, which most of us here try to avoid. I know when faced with a high bucket I will typically try a different day or go to an alternative form of transportation. Or skip it. The fact you willingly paid that for a what amounted to a short joyride on something you clearly knew very little about says a lot.

You would have been better served by coming here and asking some questions before spending the money and complaining afterwards.

P.T. Barnum said there's one born every minute. Thanks for your financial contribution to Amtrak. That contribution will stand, by the way. If you contact Visa and try a chargeback it will ultimately be denied. You paid $800, voluntarily, for transportation between Denver and Glenwood Springs and back. Amtrak took you to Glenwood Springs and back and can prove it. That is all the bank needs to show it is a valid charge.

To get Customer Relations, the people who are empowered to do something, call Amtrak, ask for a live agent, ask the agent to connect you to Customer Relations (NOT "customer service" that agent is customer service in Amtrak's nomenclature). Do it during normal M-F business hours Eastern Time because that is when Customer Relations is there. See, we can answer a lot of questions here, and you just "found" Customer Relations.
 
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Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
510
I thought I'd take a friend of mine from Denver to Glenwood Springs, CO. It's 190 miles. I booked a trip to and from this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was $800 roundtrip for a roomette.

The train was late in leaving Denver and had mechanical problems. We arrived two hours late. Average speed around 30 MPH. (I tracked the trip with a Garmin handheld).
The return train was supposed to leave Glenwood Springs at 12:10 PM, but left at 3:15 PM. Apparently the crew timed out. They said they'd make up an hour of the the three, but we didn't believe them and we were right. We wound up another half hour late, arriving in Denver at 10:15 PM. There were 10 MPH slow orders along the way.
(Apparently the tracks were too hot in some areas (thermal distortion). If that's true, do trains routinely run at 10 MPH in the desert during the summer and everywhere else that's hot)? The average speed was just over 29 MPH.

They were out of the meals that we wanted. I also thought the roomette was cramped. For that cost you'd think they'd be a little better. The trip was exhausting.

I'm done with Amtrak. I admire those of you who ride it. I knew the railroad was rough around the edges, but I wasn't ready for this. You guys are far more adaptable than we were. It was dumb and naive of me, and I am a bit spoiled, but I expected a little more for a short (mileage-wise) $800 trip. Never again.

P.S. The only bright spot was conductor Brad. He did a good job.
$400 EACH way? It's a four to five hour trip. Why did you even consider that? Coach would have been $50 or less
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,649
FYI, that $800 (actually, probably $794) round trip fare was the next-to-most expensive Roomette trip for two adults. High bucket would have been $892 and the cheapest would have been $504.

Be glad you didn't spring for the most expensive Bedroom cuz the round trip fare for two would have been $1,810! The cheapest fare would have been $148 for Coach.
 

BoulderCO

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2015
Messages
155
Location
Longmont Colorado
I've done DEN to Glenwood Springs and return many times in coach and would never even consider a sleeper - even at low bucket.

Actually, not really accurate to say "Coach", as I spend 80% of my time in the observation car. For that route the observation car is an order of magnitude better than any sleeper.
 

5280 Guy

Train Attendant
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
16
FYI, that $800 (actually, probably $794) round trip fare was the next-to-most expensive Roomette trip for two adults. High bucket would have been $892 and the cheapest would have been $504.
I hear that. I have to laugh at those here who ask why I didn't just take coach, why didn't I do my research, etc. There will always those types who don't understand things and just don't get it. They are not successful people, are bitter, etc. That's fine. I get it.

I took the same trip in November and it was flawless.

To the others:

I don't care about the money. I didn't take coach because I didn't want to take coach. I don't live paycheck-to-paycheck. Is that so hard to understand? If I ever do this again I might book the biggest and most expensive room. As far as the research silliness, should I have researched that the crew would time out? Should I have known that most of the meal options would be gone? Is it wrong to expect to receive what you're paying for? To some here it is.

The world is full of feckless folks who just take whatever they are handed without complaints or questions. It is amusing to the rest of us.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,353
Location
Baltimore. MD
I didn't want to sit in open seating with a mask for 6 or 7 hours.
I just took the Capitol for an 8 hour joyride from Pittsburgh to Washington. I had no problem wearing a mask the whole time (except when I was eating). Actually, I had the mask on from about 4:45 AM when I entered the Pittsburgh trains station until about 4PM when I got back into my car in Baltimore. The day before I rode to Pittsburgh via Philly. From about 10 AM when I entered the Baltimore station until 7:30 that evening when we arrived in Pittsburgh, I was wearing the mask (except when eating). And this included an unplanned 5 hour bus ride. It really wasn't a problem.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,759
Location
Washington State
The world is also full of feckless folks who spend money foolishly without investigation. Particularly those who perceive they have a lot of it. But, you know what they say about a fool and his money...

You mentioned you did this before, yet your original complaint expresses surprise at the size of the roomette, among other things. That indicates a lack of experience or an episode of memory loss.

Also, whining here is not an effective complaint technique. It is mere venting that accomplishes nothing. You now have the method to contact Customer Relations. Use it.

Many of us here have the means to do what you did. We choose not to.
 
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anumberone

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
2,819
Location
Los Angeles
I never plan for things to go perfect. But, you have the right to complain. You cant buy time though.

edited after further review of your complaint. $$ is not the object.
 
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F900ElCapitan

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
413
I hear that. I have to laugh at those here who ask why I didn't just take coach, why didn't I do my research, etc. There will always those types who don't understand things and just don't get it. They are not successful people, are bitter, etc. That's fine. I get it.

I took the same trip in November and it was flawless.

To the others:

I don't care about the money. I didn't take coach because I didn't want to take coach. I don't live paycheck-to-paycheck. Is that so hard to understand? If I ever do this again I might book the biggest and most expensive room. As far as the research silliness, should I have researched that the crew would time out? Should I have known that most of the meal options would be gone? Is it wrong to expect to receive what you're paying for? To some here it is.

The world is full of feckless folks who just take whatever they are handed without complaints or questions. It is amusing to the rest of us.
I for one completely understand what you are saying and agree with you on most points.

As for the research questions you presented, I also agree. The crew timing out with the train being only 3 hours down? Ridiculous! The meal situation? Ludicrous considering this is the MIDDLE of the trip for this train!! The last one…on expecting what you paid for? That’s where I deviate a little…I think for the most part you did get what you paid for, transportation from DEN to GSC to DEN in a roomette, in which you did not have to wear a mask. Unfortunately delays are a name of the game for Amtrak (not withstanding the crew situation) as they are dependent on the host railroads for so many things. 10mph slow orders for heat suck! But this rail line isn’t seeing the traffic it used to and that typically means repairs (that might have helped the 10mph) often get deferred and makes delays much more common. Much like weather delays at the airlines, it happens and not much can be done. But for the positive, you got to do one of the most beautiful train trips in the world!
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
12
The average delay on the westbound Zephyr in the last month is 1 hour 6 minutes at Glenwood Springs, the average delay on the eastbound Zephyr is 1 hour 45 minutes. There's a lot of good info on arrival/departure delays here: ASMAD - Amtrak Status Maps Archive Database - Train History Search

There will always those types who don't understand things and just don't get it. They are not successful people, are bitter, etc. That's fine. I get it.
Also wow.......

I mean I started riding Amtrak to get to/from college when I didn't have a lot of money so I guess that helps with my realistic expectations with what kind of service/quality to expect. I think the worst for me was a 5 hour delay on the Crescent that had me leaving Clemson at 3 AM after a 10 PM departure time.
 
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zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,759
Location
Washington State
T&E crews on the CZ work Salt Lake to Grand Junction and back, and Denver to Grand Junction and back. The SLC-GJT run is a scheduled at a bit over 6 hours. If the Salt Lake crew died on the law, the train would have had to have been nearly 6 hours late, and if the GJT crew itself died on the law, it would have been more like 10+ hours late, as the running time between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs is only 1:41.

Perhaps the GJT-DEN crew hadn't had required rest time due to a late arrival the day before or otherwise wasn't in position and ready to go on duty. Otherwise, a mere 3 hours for an HOS situation doesn't make a lot of sense.
 
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Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,735
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x
I've done DEN to Glenwood Springs and return many times in coach and would never even consider a sleeper - even at low bucket.
Some of you may recall the Rio Grande Zephyr and its classic CZ equipment.
During the first half of its existence, until the dome-sleeper-buffet lounge-observation car, “Silver Sky” was rebuilt, it contained 3 Bedrooms and a Drawing Room. These were sold for daytime First Class travel, and did not include any meals. They usually ran empty, but if you wanted to bring a pet, they were the only place you could carry them. In the mid ‘70’s, the rooms were removed for more lounge space. Sometimes people wanting to last minute book the popular weekend in Glenwood Springs, would do so if coach was sold out…
 

mitako

Train Attendant
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
89
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Hubby and I took the CA Zephyr from Emeryville to Denver last month, and the scenery through the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies was absolutely spectacular. The glorious views made up for the "flex" meals -- so glad the dining cars will be back soon. We booked a bedroom, which is insanely expensive, but worth it to us for overnight trips.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,759
Location
Washington State
More facts, 6(8) the train he would have returned on from Glenwood Springs on Wednesday lost 3 hours between Reno and Winnemucca according to ASMAD. It kept being 3 hours down as it progressed east.

5(7), his Tuesday train out of Denver, left Denver 44 minutes late and arrived Glenwood Springs 1:37 late. Those of us who ride a lot wouldn't even blink an eye at that.

Winnemucca is a crew change according to the somewhat old information I have. 5(7) arrived at Winnemucca at 6:47 am, 1:07 late. 6 is scheduled to arrive at 7:08 pm, leaving ample time for 8 hours crew rest. So whatever the reason is for the 3 hour loss between Reno and Winnemucca, it isn't because the incoming crew had insufficient rest time. We can speculate on actual reason, but we can rule out HOS or insufficient rest time.

The ASMAD times do line up with the OP's description, though the eastbound delay reasons he was given seem incomplete at best.
 
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