Awful Trip on The Zephyr

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lordsigma

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Was it some type of passenger strike incident or something? Just asking because I thought those types of incidents require a re-crew no matter the circumstances.
 
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OBS

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"The Crew timed out" might just be an Amtrak explanation much like "police activity"...The truth could be a crew member was sick or unavailable so a crew person scheduled to get off in Winnemucca stayed on and worked til their time ran out. Or there was a rule violation by a crew member (real or alleged) which results in the crew being taken out of service and a replacement crew brought in. These are just a couple potential examples where a simple "crew timed out" is given to passengers instead of more info than really necessary....
 

Bob Dylan

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"The Crew timed out" might just be an Amtrak explanation much like "police activity"...The truth could be a crew member was sick or unavailable so a crew person scheduled to get off in Winnemucca stayed on and worked til their time ran out. Or there was a rule violation by a crew member (real or alleged) which results in the crew being taken out of service and a replacement crew brought in. These are just a couple potential examples where a simple "crew timed out" is given to passengers instead of more info than really necessary....
To paraphrase Mark Twain: There's 3 kinds of Lies: Lies,Damn Lies and Amtrak Press Releases!🤥
 

Tlcooper93

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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 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.
Wow....
I'm going to ignore that.

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. My fiance and I took the Zephyr from CHI-EMY this past november in a Roomette and it arrived early! So I didn't experience a late train. That said, I did my research before I boarded (I recommend you research a trip before you take it. Anyone can take a trip, but research will make your experience better, and you wont be so dissappointed after), and planned for at least half a day of buffer.

I don't think it matters what causes a train to be late. You can simply research that the train has a tendancy to be late, and plan accordingly.

Moreover, we looked at the measurements of the roomette and were mentally and physically prepared for what we got.

Flex dining is terrible. There are 80 pages of complaining about it in another topic if you're in to that. We bought food at longer stops. Problem solved.
 
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tonys96

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I agree with the OP. There was an expectation of an enjoyable experience and it did not materialize. For whatever reason.
Trains are late. That is the rule, a train on time is the exception to the rule.
A decent meal is expected. When "out" of choices, that falls directly in Amtrak's lap. Happens way too often, even with traditional dining car experience.
When a CUSTOMER is not satisfied, they have every right to express that dissatisfaction. Hopefully to customer relations.
Those who say they don't since Amtrak got them from point a to point b are full of baloney.
IMHO
 

MARC Rider

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A decent meal is expected. When "out" of choices, that falls directly in Amtrak's lap. Happens way too often, even with traditional dining car experience.
That part I have to agree with. The actual flex dining meals may be minimally acceptable, but the variety is not, and when they're out of even the limited choices they have .....
 

Devil's Advocate

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I would have done a lot more research on what to expect before spending $800 on Denver - Glenwood Springs RT but that's just me
In the past Amtrak had events like National Train Day when new and prospective customers could see what to expect before booking. Now they're mainly stuck with Amtrak's increasingly useless website that does a poor job of informing new customers on what to expect and how to work around problems.

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 had no idea that trains could run on time fully stocked with friendly staff until I ventured well beyond Amtrak.

I don't think it matters what causes a train to be late. You can simply research that the train has a tendancy to be late, and plan accordingly.
There is only so much planning you can do when you're randomly stuck in the middle of nowhere or arrive after everything has closed.
 

caravanman

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One thing we should keep in mind is that the experiences are subjective. If a poster feels that a trip did not meet expectations, that was their experience. Advice about how others would have done things differently does not add to the posters experience, retrospectivly.
A crap trip is not improved by being told "you should have expected it to be crap", or "If you tried harder to find out in advance how crap it might be, you would have had a better trip".

The above is my subjective opinion! ;)
 

Barb Stout

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I got to say that I was disappointed in some of the responses to this poster. If you don't know, then you don't know. Had I paid $800 for such a short section, I would have been highly disgusted too. It was a coincidence that I found out that Amtrak was often notoriously late before I booked my first trip. I had mentioned that I was thinking of taking the train to my fellow musician and it so happened he had worked as an attendant on Amtrak out of LA when he lived there and he went on and on. "Don't take Amtrak. It's usually late and I don't mean a few minutes late or even a few hours. It can be DAYS late..." and on and on he raved. But I took it anyway knowing that I needed to be flexible and patient which I am anyway, but it was good to get that heads up before I tried it. As for being out of the meal that I want, most of the times I go to restaurants, that happens to me and so, indeed, I don't go to restaurants very often anymore, but not just for that reason; I have other reasons also.
 

Cal

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it so happened he had worked as an attendant on Amtrak out of LA when he lived there and he went on and on. "Don't take Amtrak. It's usually late and I don't mean a few minutes late or even a few hours. It can be DAYS late..." and on and on he raved
It's nice to know that (former) employees really help upsell long distance by train. . . not.
 

railiner

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It's nice to know that (former) employees really help upsell long distance by train. . . not.
As a former employee, my friends and relatives ask my advice regarding using Amtrak, and I try to give them a balanced opinion of the good, and the not so good. My final advice is to look at it as a travel adventure, and to have low expectation's, and then you won't be disappointed...
 

daybeers

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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.
I'm sorry, but is this how AU welcomes new members these days? By calling them suckers? If so, I'm ashamed to be a part of this community. @5280 Guy I apologize on behalf of this community for the negative response you have gotten from some members on this thread. I assure you this is not the norm.

While most people wouldn't pay what you did for a short distance trip, most people also wouldn't travel in overnight coach for three days cross country, so it's all relative. I don't know why some felt they needed to criticize everything about your post, especially the fare you chose to pay. Yes, you would have gained good knowledge and tips here before embarking on your trip, but a paying passenger shouldn't have to go to a third-party random internet forum of train nerds (which in and of itself is a niche hobby which many don't know about) to be satisfied with a train trip on a company that should be competent enough to communicate key information to its passengers.

How was 5280 Guy supposed to find out more about the train trip they took: navigate Amtrak's increasingly unaccessible and unintuitive website that uses more screen real estate for animations and graphics instead of actually useful information? Go in person to Denver to ask a ticket agent? Call 1-800-USA-RAIL? Would any of these options been able to tell them to expect the train to be over 90 minutes late, as you say below? Or that the flexible dining meals are filled with salt and other gross things, look nothing like the marketing pictures on the website, and to expect them to not have what you want to eat in stock? Does that happen on airlines? Or to expect mechanical problems because the cars are over 40 years old? Excluding highway infrastructure, what other mode of transportation in the United States uses equipment that old?
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.
Maybe some on this board, including me, expect delays on certain routes, but that's not how competent transportation, not to mention railroads, works. If 5280 Guy had a business meeting two hours after arrival, they most likely would have been late. And don't give me "they should allow buffer time" because there's already plenty of schedule padding between Denver and Glenwood Springs. If a new passenger looked at this particular segment in the schedule and thought "wow, that's slow" before the trip, I don't think their next thought would be "I hope it's not 90 minutes late, but I guess I should expect that."
I agree with the OP. There was an expectation of an enjoyable experience and it did not materialize. For whatever reason.
Trains are late. That is the rule, a train on time is the exception to the rule.
A decent meal is expected. When "out" of choices, that falls directly in Amtrak's lap. Happens way too often, even with traditional dining car experience.
When a CUSTOMER is not satisfied, they have every right to express that dissatisfaction. Hopefully to customer relations.
Those who say they don't since Amtrak got them from point a to point b are full of baloney.
IMHO
I got to say that I was disappointed in some of the responses to this poster. If you don't know, then you don't know. Had I paid $800 for such a short section, I would have been highly disgusted too. It was a coincidence that I found out that Amtrak was often notoriously late before I booked my first trip. I had mentioned that I was thinking of taking the train to my fellow musician and it so happened he had worked as an attendant on Amtrak out of LA when he lived there and he went on and on. "Don't take Amtrak. It's usually late and I don't mean a few minutes late or even a few hours. It can be DAYS late..." and on and on he raved. But I took it anyway knowing that I needed to be flexible and patient which I am anyway, but it was good to get that heads up before I tried it. As for being out of the meal that I want, most of the times I go to restaurants, that happens to me and so, indeed, I don't go to restaurants very often anymore, but not just for that reason; I have other reasons also.
Many thanks to you both, tonys96 and Barb Stout, for having calm, respectful, and empathetic responses to 5280 Guy's post about the negative experience on the Zephyr. Who cares if they decided to spend $10,000 on a roomette for 190 miles? They would still have every valid right to express their dissatisfaction with the food and on-time performance, as tonys96 said.
In the past Amtrak had events like National Train Day when new and prospective customers could see what to expect before booking. Now they're mainly stuck with Amtrak's increasingly useless website that does a poor job of informing new customers on what to expect and how to work around problems.
This doesn't get brought up enough, so thanks DA. I am now (temporarily) living in an area where most people's thought of a train is a 10-30 mph freight that's 15 cars long and ties up their road, or an uncomfortable commuter train that averages 30 mph. They've never thought of a train as actual long-distance transportation or a replacement for a car, bus, or plane trip. As is always said, the solution to Amtrak is more Amtrak. How are they supposed to do that if nobody knows how their system works and what to expect? I have many family members for whom I would happily for their travel to a major station on National Train Day to have them see what a real train looks like.
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 will say this was rude. What does people's success have to do with understanding why you made a certain fare choice?

I hope you got to see the spectacular scenery, since the section of the Zephyr you traveled on is considered to be some of the most scenic railroad in the country. Did you know about the Sightseer Lounge car? It has open seating with floor-to-ceiling windows. I don't fault you if you didn't know, since I don't even think that information is on the darn Amtrak website anymore. 😡
 

toddinde

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Train crew do die on the law as one commenter explained. Operating crews can only operate so long, and require rest, by law. When their time is up, the train stops. One of the problems with the foolish plan to furlough employees and go tri-weekly during the pandemic is many employees found other work. Amtrak probably has a shortage of employees including operating employees. Late trains are, sadly, a fact of life, until we get the railroads operating better and following the law. In reality, there has never been a time in my life when long distance trains ran like clockwork. In the early Amtrak days, the Milwaukee Road frequently ran a make up train out of Minneapolis for a late running Empire Builder. As long as Amtrak prices fares on yield management, the CZ is going to be expensive in the summer. I understand the situation is worse because Superliners weren’t maintained during the tri-weekly fiasco, and some coaches and lounges are leased to California which is a leftover from the Anderson years.
 

MARC Rider

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And unfortunately, in those cases it is often the best of the employees that do that. The less than ambitious ones, are the ones that remain....:(
I have to take some exceptions with that popular "wisdom" that only the "best" people leave when there are reductions-in-force. As is pointed out, the ones who stay may be less ambitious, but it's not a given that the most ambitious employees are always the best. After all, if you're ambitious, you're always looking for your next job, which means you might not be fully committed to the job you already have. The people who leave and find other jobs may well be the people who are best at job hunting, not the best at doing their job. There is an expression, "fail upward;" I believe I've heard it applied to the careers of at least a couple of former US presidents, who then ended up in positions of great power and failed at their jobs.
 

joelkfla

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I have to take some exceptions with that popular "wisdom" that only the "best" people leave when there are reductions-in-force. As is pointed out, the ones who stay may be less ambitious, but it's not a given that the most ambitious employees are always the best. After all, if you're ambitious, you're always looking for your next job, which means you might not be fully committed to the job you already have. The people who leave and find other jobs may well be the people who are best at job hunting, not the best at doing their job. There is an expression, "fail upward;" I believe I've heard it applied to the careers of at least a couple of former US presidents, who then ended up in positions of great power and failed at their jobs.
I agree especially in the case of Amtrak OBS & conductors, which are unique and appear to require a lot of personal sacrifice (as in being away from home for days). I think the ones who stuck it out are most likely the ones who simply love what they do.
 
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As a former employee, my friends and relatives ask my advice regarding using Amtrak, and I try to give them a balanced opinion of the good, and the not so good. My final advice is to look at it as a travel adventure, and to have low expectation's, and then you won't be disappointed...
OMG so true!
I have to second and third this. I've been a foaming-at-the-mouth railfan since I was about seven years old, but when "normal" people ask me about Amtrak I always tell 'em straight- that's better than setting people up for disappointment. I tell them about good things and I tell them about experiences you can't have any other way. I also tell them about my 10-hours-behind-schedule Silver Meteor trip (broken down F40PH rescued by a CSX AC4400CW) to Washington, DC and my 8-hours-behind-schedule Auto Train trip (broken rail in North Carolina). Did we run out of food? Heck yeah. Amtrak brought us Popeye's fried chicken because we were in the Meteor's slumbercoach; I think coach people got to starve. I tell them to take a can of lysol along if they're traveling in coach. Overall it has gotten much better than it was in the 1980s when I was a kid (with some minor exceptions like dining) but things can still get interesting once in a while, especially if you're on a line like UPs Moffat route which to be blunt they view as pure cost these days.
 

jis

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I have to take some exceptions with that popular "wisdom" that only the "best" people leave when there are reductions-in-force. As is pointed out, the ones who stay may be less ambitious, but it's not a given that the most ambitious employees are always the best.
I think you do have a point there. Quite often the most ambitious employees, specially in managerial positions can be remarkably destructive for the organization. They helicopter in and out leaving the organization in shambles. Have seen that happen many times. Actually the outward helicopter trip is to get out of town before anyone can pin any of the destruction on their backs, leaving the next guy to clean up their mess. Of course the next guy could be equally ambitious playing the same game and the cycle goes on. Often it is the less ambitous but more knowledgeable who stick around and try to help clean up the mess simply to restore a more stable work environment that they can be proud of.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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which are unique and appear to require a lot of personal sacrifice (as in being away from home for days).
That’s not unique to Amtrak. Many careers require that. Once you get a regular schedule you can actually have more time at home than those with typical 9-5 jobs.
 

jis

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I agree especially in the case of Amtrak OBS & conductors, which are unique and appear to require a lot of personal sacrifice (as in being away from home for days). I think the ones who stuck it out are most likely the ones who simply love what they do.
When I was working I spent net 4 to 5 months each year, on the road as part of my job at various standards meetings and such. I always considered it as something that I had chosen to get involved with knowing fully well what I was getting into and I could choose to do something else if I got tired of it. And truth be told, to some extent I did enjoy the travel too. I was of course compensated for transportation, lodging and food for the duration of the trip. I did not get paid any hourly rate. My monthly salary was it. I am not sure how that is any different from any "sacrifices" made by anyone at Amtrak.

If it is a sacrifice one is willing to make for whatever reason, is it really a sacrifice at the end of the day? And if it is really a sacrifice, what is exactly forcing one to make it instead of choosing another line of work?

I had honestly wondered about this even about my own work situation. I have wondered if anyone working in standards or sales involving considerable amount of travel really considered it to be a sacrifice, and if they did why were they making that, in return for what? And if nothing, why are they such fools to be making it?
 

Bob Dylan

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When I was working I spent net 4 to 5 months each year, on the road as part of my job at various standards meetings and such. I always considered it as something that I had chosen to get involved with knowing fully well what I was getting into and I could choose to do something else if I got tired of it. And truth be told, to some extent I did enjoy the travel too. I was of course compensated for transportation, lodging and food for the duration of the trip. I did not get paid any hourly rate. My monthly salary was it. I am not sure how that is any different from any "sacrifices" made by anyone at Amtrak.

If it is a sacrifice one is willing to make for whatever reason, is it really a sacrifice at the end of the day? And if it is really a sacrifice, what is exactly forcing one to make it instead of choosing another line of work?

I had honestly wondered about this even about my own work situation. I have wondered if anyone working in standards or sales involving considerable amount of travel really considered it to be a sacrifice, and if they did why were they making that, in return for what? And if nothing, why are they such fools to be making it?
As someone who did work related travel for 30 years, I fully agree! I enjoyed where I got to go, and the work.

It was the airport,rent car,hotel routine that grew old after a few years!
 

railiner

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I have to take some exceptions with that popular "wisdom" that only the "best" people leave when there are reductions-in-force. As is pointed out, the ones who stay may be less ambitious, but it's not a given that the most ambitious employees are always the best. After all, if you're ambitious, you're always looking for your next job, which means you might not be fully committed to the job you already have. The people who leave and find other jobs may well be the people who are best at job hunting, not the best at doing their job. There is an expression, "fail upward;" I believe I've heard it applied to the careers of at least a couple of former US presidents, who then ended up in positions of great power and failed at their jobs.
I did say "often it is", not "only"; but you do make a good point. I didn't mean "ambitious" as in always looking for a better job, but rather as in being pro-active, and not complacent, waiting for their old job to come back. I agree that Amtrak does have many dedicated, hard-working employees....
 
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