CL #29 food service cuts May 17?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
I hate to spread rumors, so please take this in the form of a question. I have been told that no. 29 went west May 17 with no food service available. This seems highly unusual and unlikely, but my source is an individual who is usually reliable. Can anybody shed any light?

Tom
 

J-1 3235

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 6, 2004
Messages
468
Location
BOS
I was onboard the CL of 5/17. The problem was an almost complete lack of OBS crew. We had two coach attendants, the Chef, and a Food Specialist. No TA/S at all.

The Food Specialist came by each sleeper and explained the problem. They had decided to give it their best shot, and were going to invite one sleeper at a time to the diner. Initially, the Conductor was hesitant, believing that it would be too much work for these few people.

After some discussion, the plan was given the OK, and being in the 2900 car, we were called into the diner.

The chef put our meals together, and the Food Specialist, and one of the coach attendants served us. The other coach attendant worked a makeshift café counter on the other side of the CCC.

After all were fed, these guys came through and put down the beds.

As we approached Chicago, I called Customer Relations to advise them of the fantastic treatment provided by Lercy, Joseph, and Ralph. Unfortunately, I never knew the other gent's name, but I'm certain CR was able to find out.

This is an experience I would not like to repeat, but these employees really stepped up for their passengers.

Edited to add: More staff boarded 29 in Pittsburgh; they helped out in the diner and sleepers in the morning :)

Mike
 
Last edited by a moderator:

wjh2

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 16, 2015
Messages
56
I'm glad the crew decided to do the right thing. I wonder how the train left with roughly half of the crew not onboard. Was anyone notified to report that day? Anyways, I'm glad they didn't let the situation escalate further.

Earlier this month, I was on tain 29. The diner/CCC only had one waiter. He was very friendly and very efficient and definitely had control of the situation.

I never understood what the CCC was created for. Both times I rode the Cap. the cafe portion was arranged for dining car seating, but they wouldn't seat anyone. I thought they would allow cafe patrons to sit there, but I guess that is what the SSL's tables are for.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
22,124
Location
Austin Texas
The Cafe section of the CCC is utilized as a Crew Hangout when there is a Sightseer Lounge in the consist! ( Regular consist on the Texas Eagle and City of New Orleans and lately the Cap Ltd.)

When there is no SSL it serves as the Cafe and passengers can use the tables on that end of the CCC.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

J-1 3235

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 6, 2004
Messages
468
Location
BOS
I'm glad the crew decided to do the right thing. I wonder how the train left with roughly half of the crew not onboard. Was anyone notified to report that day? Anyways, I'm glad they didn't let the situation escalate further.
We never heard any explanation as to the lack of crew......
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
The original story came to me from some people who traveled in coach and left the train in Cleveland. From what I heard, they were never offered an opportunity to eat, and of course were not there when more staff were on the train in the morning. I wonder where they got the staff to put on the train in Pittsburgh.

I know of an incident when an Auto Train manager was confronted with a similar problem many years ago due to extreme hurricane delays. He arranged for catered food to be put aboard at Savannah. We have also had boxed chicken dinners or a variety of different kinds of submarine sandwiches put aboard the Auto Train in the distant past. I don't know for sure, of course, but I suspect current mid-level management is afraid to take the responsibility to spend money on such things, even when it is obviously necessary.

Another rumor is that vending machines have been appearing on some trains. Any truth to that?

Tom
 

rrdude

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
3,693
Location
Baltimore/DC Area
Well, we know that the Carolina-supported trains have vending machines on them, did I see them on the Cascades? I don't think so.

Tom, you've been hanging around the Rumor Mill a bit lately! Keeps the forum interesting!
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
I'm adding this for historical context:

There was a time when all long distance trains had Onboard Service Chiefs. Now, the Auto Train is the only one that still does. In a pinch, the Chief would pitch in and help. At least one Auto Train Chief currently helps out in the diner on nearly every trip. He is a veteran who harkens back to the days when Managers were not afraid to get their hands dirty. I also know of times in the past when Crew Base Supervisors and other Management employees have gone out on the train to work vacant positions in emergencies. The contrast between these "old head" Managers and the current crop is striking --- and appalling.

Tom
 

rrdude

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
3,693
Location
Baltimore/DC Area
I too remember when staff from who worked in the station or yards, in an emergency, worked as OBS, at their discretion. It only happened twice while I was working, 79-81, but these were staff who at one time HAD been on board, and in a pinch, filled in. (One filled in as Steward, one filled in as Chef)

I truly wish the Train Manager position, or "Chief" as I think Amtrak called it, were re-instituted. Although there were certainly a few who did nothing more than sit on their butts, most were very helpful. As I recall, there was a Mgmt vs. Union thing regarding the Chiefs, tht always seemed to crop up.
 

Train2104

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 5, 2011
Messages
887
Location
New York
The Cafe section of the CCC is utilized as a Crew Hangout when there is a Sightseer Lounge in the consist! ( Regular consist on the Texas Eagle and City of New Orleans and lately the Cap Ltd.)

When there is no SSL it serves as the Cafe and passengers can use the tables on that end of the CCC.
Actually, when I rode 30 (17), it was reversed. Both halves of the CCC were open, the lower level of the SSL was closed to all (didn't appear to be used as a crew hangout either)

As for the story about 29: how did that work without an LSA? Can't really sell things without handling revenue...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Location
Queens, New York
As I recall, there was a Mgmt vs. Union thing regarding the Chiefs, tht always seemed to crop up.
The original Chief of Onboard Services (COBS) were union workers who were given more responsibility as the Chief. Some did an amazing job, I can think of two in particular myself. Others were decent; but some just couldn't seem to figure out, or perhaps didn't want to figure out how to be the boss of people that used to be their equals and in some cases friends. These people did nothing, often never even coming out of their rooms except to eat their meals. I saw a few of those too. So Amtrak eliminated the position; except for the AT which operates under different contracts from the rest of Amtrak.

Several years later Amtrak realized that wasn't the answer either. So they tried to restore the COBS position, but as a management position. The union of course protested that move as a way of circumventing the union and Amtrak was forced to put those new managers into more of a desk job, with only occasional rides taken on the trains, instead of having one on every train. I think some of the new COBS were simply let go or moved into other jobs, as they didn't need as many as before.
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
An employee who used to work on the CL says Amtrak used to use Roy Rogers in Cumberland, Maryland as their go-to resource for emergency box lunches. According to my Google map, Roy's is still located about a city block from the Amtrak Cumberland station. I see no reason that some Amtrak manager couldn't have found that number and picked up the dang phone. You don't need an onboard Chief for that. All you need is a manager with a few active brain cells and a sense of responsibility. SERVICE IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

Tom
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
By the way, the hungry passenger does not care about the Union/Mgmt relationships that resulted in the lack of an OBS Chief. The hungry passenger doesn't care why Crew Management Center (CMC) didn't provide a person to manage food service, or enough staff to properly provide service on the train. The hungry passenger just wants food. The rest is sophistry.

Tom
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
2,944
Absolutely right, Tom. And the hungry passenger (unless it's some of us here on AU!) will probably say "Never again. I'll fly or drive."

But if they have caring people like the coach attendants, Chef, and Food Specialist on the 5/17 CL who use their brains and do the best they can in a difficult situation, the hungry passenger just might say, "Ok, I'll give the train a second chance."
 

J-1 3235

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 6, 2004
Messages
468
Location
BOS
A follow up-the café only sold snacks, etc. I'm not sure how the lack of an LSA was dealt with re: cash handling responsibilities. No alcohol was sold, which disappointed a few of my fellow diners, but everyone seemed to understand the situation, and were grateful to have a meal.

The coach passengers didn't fare too well; not much to choose from, and no adult beverage to wash it down. :(
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
Obviously, this trip was never destined to be perfect, but it seems like a little support from Management could have prevented its being such a disaster. It sounds like the OBS crew did as much as they could with very limited resources. How many repeat riders were driven away by incompetent Management that is too timid or too ignorant to be proactive? Sounds like somebody needs to find a big unabridged dictionary, open it up to the page where Service is defined, and hit some Manager over the head with it. (But you didn't hear it from me.)

Tom

P.S. I don't really advocate violence. I suggest that the head massage be administered with love. :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
12,178
Location
Delaware
Obviously, this trip was never destined to be perfect, but it seems like a little support from Management could have prevented its being such a disaster. It sounds like the OBS crew did as much as they could with very limited resources. How many repeat riders were driven away by incompetent Management that is too timid or too ignorant to be proactive? Sounds like somebody needs to find a big unabridged dictionary, open it up to the page where Service is defined, and hit some Manager over the head with it. (But you didn't hear it from me.)

Tom

P.S. I don't really advocate violence. I suggest that the head massage be administered with love. :)
:p
 
Top