Boarding at an unstaffed station

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I will be catching #1 at NIB Saturday (tomorrow). At least, I earnestly hope I will ;). When I de-trained last Monday, I was the only passenger to get off. The station was locked up and the surrounding area was completely deserted. The train was running late, so it idled only long enough until I got off, even though it had been earlier announced as a smoking/stretch stop.. I was in coach, in the last car of the train. The sleeper cars were far in the distance, well beyond the end of the platform (one coach, one sightseeing/cafe car, and one dining car before getting to two sleepers).

What is the protocol for boarding in such situations? I do not expect there to be any ground crew around, and given my prior experience, it's possible no passengers will be de-boarding. I'll be standing on the platform with my bags in sight, so I hope someone (conductor or engineer) sees me and stops the train. I have comical visions of hearing a toot of the horn as the train majestically rolls by without stopping. sounding one final toot as I watch it round the bend down the line. Maybe I should hold up a big card the says "LA' with a hitch-hiker's thumb on it.

Joking aside, is there anything I should be doing to be able to board my sleeper car from the platform? I have a confirmed reservation, so I presume the conductor will know that someone will be boarding the sleeper car I've been assigned to.

Thanks for any helpful advice (or even some additional (?) humor!).
 

Devil's Advocate

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If it's an official stop or ticketed flag stop then the train is supposed to pause long enough to confirm nobody is there even if it's running late. If it's a flag stop with no ticketed passengers the train might do a rolling stop. This can be brief so stand near enough to the tracks that someone would notice you and assume you want to board. If you're unsure you'll be noticed wave your hands in the daylight or wave a flashlight pointed toward the ground at night. So long as you start moving toward the train when it stops you should be alright. Usually the conductor will have a manifest and ask if you're boarding. If you stand there without moving or saying anything then the conductor might think you're a train spotter or some other weirdo and call for the train to get going again. I really like the idea of a cardboard hitchhiking sign though. ;)
 
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AmtrakBlue

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You will be on the manifest, so yes, they know at least one person will be boarding.
Just make sure you are visible on the platform so they don’t think you’re a no-show.
If you know the sleepers are at the front of the train, stand near the end of the platform furthest from where the train is approaching from. Or stand in the middle. I don’t know the station. If it’s a small platform, they’ll double spot the cars if they have both sleeper pax and coach pax boarding/detraining.
 
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Thank you both for this info. I guess I won't need to fix up a hitch-hiking sign. :) After I made my original post, I walked down to the station. It's only a block away from my beautiful little Airbnb apartment. I walked the platform, and it is longer than I originally thought. At the far end, I encountered an elderly African American gentleman dressed in a formal suit that was all red, and sporting a red bowler hat and a furled umbrella that he employed as his walking stick. We had a pleasant conversation for about five minutes before he bid me adieu and continued down the deserted platform. For a moment there, I was transported to a bygone era.
 

oregon pioneer

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I live in the middle of nowhere, and for the last 20+ years have been boarding any of three trains (CZ, EB, CS) at unstaffed stations (WNN, WIH or CMO). At Wishram for the EB, I'm often the only passenger. Here's the procedure: whether or not you are the only one at the station, you've got a confirmed reservation (which you should re-check online 24 hours before your departure). The conductor will be planning the stop, no worries there.

You should stand near the center of the platform or shelter (if any) for the best visibility. If there's only one passenger, the conductor will often spot the appropriate car right there. As the train rolls to a stop, at least one door will open on a car they are boarding. The attendant or conductor will be leaning out the door or window, calling for their passengers. If they are going to "spot" the train (make a second stop for a car that won't fit on the platform), they will explain that to you as you approach the door. If you're in the "spotted" car, the conductor will usually (always?) descend to the platform and you can just hang out with them as they direct the train to pull your car up.

I have never worried about being left behind, and I don't expect to be. You can call 1-800-USA-RAIL and ask for "train status" to check on arrival time.. If you would like a more visual representation of where your train is, you can track it at Amtrak/VIA Live Map (gets the data directly from amtrak, but seems to load more easily on my browser).
 
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what station is NIB?
New Iberia, situated on the Bayou Teche, in the heart of Cajun country. I have just spent almost five days here. It is a fantastic region. I was fortunate enough, by asking around, to find a really nice guy who gave me a day of his time driving me around the bayou and swamp country and to the Tabasco factory. He asked for only $110 for over 6 hours, And I treated him to a really nice lunch at Jefferson Island, where peacocks strutted amidst the outdoor tables by the bay. This area is where the famous crime author, James Lee Burke, sets his prize-winning novels featuring a fictional New Iberia homicide detective named Dave Robicheaux.

Sorry, a rather long answer to your very concise question. But I highly recommend visiting This southwest Louisiana area.
 

oregon pioneer

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I'd like to add that it doesn't matter what time you board. If it's early enough, your attendant will send you to the diner for dinner, and ask you when you'd like the bed made up. If it's late enough that the attendant is "off"( so they can get some sleep), the bed will already be made up for you, and the conductor will show you to your room.
 

PaulM

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Is it double track at NIB? If so, there is the question of which track to stand on. My only suggestion is to stand on the station side and wave. At KEE (Kewawne, IL) this caused the engineer to stop short of the station and honk, signifying I as to cross over to the opposite track.
 

WWW

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Is it double track at NIB? If so, there is the question of which track to stand on. My only suggestion is to stand on the station side and wave. At KEE (Kewawne, IL) this caused the engineer to stop short of the station and honk, signifying I as to cross over to the opposite track.

There is a double track in front of the Depot - reference Google Map zoomed in to that location - the tracks leading south and east merge to
a single track and the track nearest the Depot would be the through track - that other track about a mile an a half north and west of town
merges back to a single - result conclusion stand on the track platform nearest the Depot

Google Maps

Google map could be outdated
 

CCC1007

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There is a double track in front of the Depot - reference Google Map zoomed in to that location - the tracks leading south and east merge to
a single track and the track nearest the Depot would be the through track - that other track about a mile an a half north and west of town
merges back to a single - result conclusion stand on the track platform nearest the Depot

Google Maps

Google map could be outdated
Sounds like a standard passing siding. Convention is that the passenger station is sighted along the main line, and the passing siding shouldn’t be used by the passenger trains in normal operations.
 

Trollopian

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I was fortunate enough, by asking around, to find a really nice guy who gave me a day of his time driving me around the bayou and swamp country and to the Tabasco factory.

The Tabasco factory! That must've been fun. I remember reading an article once that it was theoretically possible for us to bottle Tabasco at home. If we didn't mind the extremely pungent smells. Which last for up to 5 years while the product ages. Most normal people just buy a bottle. As I'm sure you did, at the very source.
 
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