COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: Amtrak-related Discussion

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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
429
In many Amtrak restrooms the sink design requires constant physical contact to release water with a basin that comfortably fits one adult sized hand. Under typical operation a soiled right hand operates a lever to rinse a soapy left hand which is then recontaminated by having to operate the same lever to rinse the right hand. In other restrooms you might be able to use an elbow or something but this would be rather difficult on Amtrak. If you push just slightly too far the water will enter the basin with enough force to ricochet off your hand or even the bottom of the basin and land almost anywhere.
Good points. Possible solution is Purell that is operated with your forearm.
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
629
Sigh... I didn't want to weigh in on this thread, somehow, feel like I have to. So without further ado. Here is my guide to surviving the restrooms on Amtrak.

First, let's recognize that cleaning is not the most awful thing to do: the alternative, to leave things uncleaned, is worse.
So with that out of the way... you go in to the shared Amtrak restroom with the goal of cleaning. Simply by doing that you will leave it cleaner.
I like to take cleaning wipes in with me, even just one Lysol wipe in my hand or pocket, preferably more, depending on what I have available. (If the SCA leaves a canister there you are gold, doesn't happen often and that was before shortages). Pocket sanitizers, gels, sprays, anything works. But if you've got none of those? You still have what's there - hopefully- paper towels and soap.
Short distance coach trains seem to have only hand dryers and not paper towels, so be sure to take in some napkins if you don't have sanitizing wipes.
So you go in there, lock the door, and survey the domain. Take your sanitizing wipes or use paper towels and soap to clean the faucets, soap dispenser top, sink counter, and toilet seat. Don't forget the door locker knob. Throw paper in trash as you go, don't be shy about using a lot and protecting yourself. If the floor is wet throw down some paper, dry with your feet and use extra paper to pick up these papers. If the previous user has left you a present, pump soap into a cup or your hand and direct soap into the toilet bowl and flush it. I've seen some appalling sights but the extra flushing with soap takes care of it. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry. Line the toilet seat with paper before you use it. By the way if you're wearing long pants roll up the legs to just below your knee so the bottoms of the pants don't touch the floor. For #2 also put some soap into the bowl, that should ensure everything is flushed down. After washing your hands again, dry the sink counter top for the next person. Lastly, get one more fresh paper towel (or napkin from your pocket) and use that to unlock the door and leave.
I might be crazy but have never gotten sick from a train trip.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,153
We have to many pigs that use bathrooms anywhere. Maybe it is time for us patrons to call down any persons behaving like a pig in any restroom that includes not just train bathrooms. My wife always leaves a bathroom better than she finds it.
 

John Bobinyec

Conductor
Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Messages
1,751
We have to many pigs that use bathrooms anywhere. Maybe it is time for us patrons to call down any persons behaving like a pig in any restroom that includes not just train bathrooms. My wife always leaves a bathroom better than she finds it.
So how do you do that? Most bathroom business is done in private. Unless you catch someone in the act by spying on them, how do you know the mess they left wasn't already there when they got there?

jb
 

MrNews

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
15
Many interesting points in this thread. As I do not travel coach, I have no worries about the state of their rest rooms, but I would not have used them before the pandemic. My solution would be to bring lots of hand sanitizer, and use it often. This will kill most of the germs & virus on your hands. Because yes, the sinks do cause water to spray all over the place. As for my roomette, I would bring lots of Lysol wipes and sanitize everything upon embarkation. The primary ways to catch Covid19 are through close and enclosed contact with an infected person, or touching a surface with virus on it and then touching your face. Avoiding both those activities reduces the risk for near zero. And I'd still rather be on a train for 24 hours than an airplane for 3.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,005
I will agree that Amtrak could do a much better job at keeping the restrooms clean.

However, there are times, and I have seen this happen, where the Amtrak employee leaves the restroom after cleaning it. The very next person who uses it leaves it a total mess. The next person who goes in there sees the condition of the restroom and puts the blame on Amtrak for not cleaning the restrooms.

Unless the Amtrak attendant goes into the restroom after each person uses it, they will never keep the restrooms up to the standards some expect.

Can they do a better job than they do now - YES!

Can they always have "perfect looking" restrooms - No.


One trip I was on a guy went into the H-restroom. You could hear a bit of banging/bumping sounds coming from the room and the water running. He was in there for 15-20 minutes. When he came out, his hair was wet and he had different clothes on then he had on when he went in there. The restroom was a total mess! Every surface was wet - even the walls. There was fresh toothpaste on the counter. There was paper towels and toilet paper strewn on the floor. The toilet had not been flushed. Unfortunately, I was the next person to go in there. The other restroom was being used and I could not wait any longer so I had to use this disaster area - and, yes, I flushed the toilet before and after I used it. I did my best to stay dry and get out of there as quickly as I could. I will admit, I did not feel it was my place to clean and dry this room after that man had "taken a bath" in there - so, I didn't. I did wipe up the toothpaste.

I also did not blame the Amtrak employees for the condition of this restroom - I blamed the slob who left the mess.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
723
I also did not blame the Amtrak employees for the condition of this restroom - I blamed the slob who left the mess.
Since Amtrak employees do not check the condition of the restrooms anywhere as often as they should (and certainly nowhere close to that specified in the job descriptions), they do bear a substantial amount of responsibility for the condition of the restrooms.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,997
Since Amtrak employees do not check the condition of the restrooms anywhere as often as they should (and certainly nowhere close to that specified in the job descriptions), they do bear a substantial amount of responsibility for the condition of the restrooms.
Do you know that for a fact?

I would suggest that Amtrak revive what they were doing on the Silver Star when I rode coach 8 or 10 years ago -- they had a sheet posted on the restroom door with the signature of the attendant and the time he/she cleaned the room. They were doing it every couple of hours, and the restrooms were the cleanest I've ever seen in public restrooms anywhere. I've also seen this done at restrooms in turnpike service plazas. It's easy and fast, and provides positive evidence to both customers and management that the job is getting done.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,032
Sigh... I didn't want to weigh in on this thread, somehow, feel like I have to. So without further ado. Here is my guide to surviving the restrooms on Amtrak.

First, let's recognize that cleaning is not the most awful thing to do: the alternative, to leave things uncleaned, is worse.
So with that out of the way... you go in to the shared Amtrak restroom with the goal of cleaning. Simply by doing that you will leave it cleaner.
I like to take cleaning wipes in with me, even just one Lysol wipe in my hand or pocket, preferably more, depending on what I have available. (If the SCA leaves a canister there you are gold, doesn't happen often and that was before shortages). Pocket sanitizers, gels, sprays, anything works. But if you've got none of those? You still have what's there - hopefully- paper towels and soap.
Short distance coach trains seem to have only hand dryers and not paper towels, so be sure to take in some napkins if you don't have sanitizing wipes.
So you go in there, lock the door, and survey the domain. Take your sanitizing wipes or use paper towels and soap to clean the faucets, soap dispenser top, sink counter, and toilet seat. Don't forget the door locker knob. Throw paper in trash as you go, don't be shy about using a lot and protecting yourself. If the floor is wet throw down some paper, dry with your feet and use extra paper to pick up these papers. If the previous user has left you a present, pump soap into a cup or your hand and direct soap into the toilet bowl and flush it. I've seen some appalling sights but the extra flushing with soap takes care of it. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry. Line the toilet seat with paper before you use it. By the way if you're wearing long pants roll up the legs to just below your knee so the bottoms of the pants don't touch the floor. For #2 also put some soap into the bowl, that should ensure everything is flushed down. After washing your hands again, dry the sink counter top for the next person. Lastly, get one more fresh paper towel (or napkin from your pocket) and use that to unlock the door and leave.
I might be crazy but have never gotten sick from a train trip.
Some OBS leave Fabreeze or Lysol in the Restrooms but lots of people have Allergies to Sprays and Air Freshners!

I always try to clean up a little on Trains as needed ! Some people are real Pigs!!
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
723
Do you know that for a fact?

I would suggest that Amtrak revive what they were doing on the Silver Star when I rode coach 8 or 10 years ago -- they had a sheet posted on the restroom door with the signature of the attendant and the time he/she cleaned the room. They were doing it every couple of hours, and the restrooms were the cleanest I've ever seen in public restrooms anywhere. I've also seen this done at restrooms in turnpike service plazas. It's easy and fast, and provides positive evidence to both customers and management that the job is getting done.
Comments are based on my personal observations (and my study of the Amtrak service manual which I have previously cited).

The sign-up sheet is a good idea but hardly novel. My local gas station has been doing this for about 20 years. Why it is not a standard practice on Amtrak is good question.
 

gwolfdog

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
89
Has anyone here ever had to use an outdoor Latrine, or been ordered to burn the contents of the half barrel with Diesel Fuel, while stirring it with a pole? How about bathrooms in Barracks will no walls around the toilets? How about squatting in the Jungle with a magazine for toilet paper? The Army lowered my standards. When I travel I monitor what I drink and eat, to avoid the seat. 😷
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
...
The virus spreads through the nose and mouth but the source of contamination can potentially be any number of bodily fluids or fecal matter.
...
I hadn't read yet that one should be afraid of getting the virus via fecal matter.
But IF a person can excrete active virus via fecal matter et cetera, it poses the question, whether going commando after eating beans is wise. 😉
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
986
There has been talk about testing sewage for the virus to see if it is present in a population. My friend at Mweird (Metropolitan Water Reclamation Dist.) here in Chicago was a bit cagy about telling me more on whether they are doing it yet - I mean, they can test for Asian Carp dna in the lake.

Interestingly, a saw an article last night, which was citing Italian epidemiologists (iirc - can't find it now) saying that "the virus" was becoming less potent. Good news perhaps?
 

Twinkletoes

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
21
Providing clean and sanitary toilets for common use is complex. When I first started riding trains the coaches had a "Ladies Lounge." It had a large common room with sink and mirrors with seats. Overall the restrooms seemed to be cleaner.

To fast forward to moderns times. As a result of working with a board of health for 10 years, I’ve never taken train cleanliness (toilet or otherwise) for granted. I am acutely aware of the possibility of viruses and bacteria in the public environment (E. coli, norovirus, hepatitis, staph, to name a few)—including trains. Thus, I’ve always carried both spray and wipe sanitizers for train travel. I usually request a redcap so that I can board early (my usual boarding station is the origination station) to spray my seat and to wipe down the tray table, arm rests and window sill. This way I can avoid anyone's getting bothered by “chemical” spray or smell. After sanitizing my area, I then make what I hope will be my one and only restroom visit. I similarly sanitize my sleeper accommodation.

Some people are piggy in their home bathrooms and it doesn’t stop when they are outside, while others are just inconsiderate in public spaces. Many of us have seen workplace signs such as the following in the break room or toilets: “Your Mother doesn’t work here…” or “Please be neat,…” Finally, I’m reminded about a famous actress who was being interviewed on a talk show about the challenges of celebrity recognition. Surprisingly, she said that it has led to her cleaning a lot of airplane toilets. Why? Even if the toilet were a mess when she entered, she felt compelled to clean it because any person who came after her would assume that she had trashed the toilet and run around telling people that “actress X was an entitled, piggy person who is was too rude to clean up after herself.”

All that being said, just the volume of people using toilets requires attention to sanitation. It’s not demeaning work, it’s an important public health function. With the general attention to sanitizing in the age of Covid-19, perhaps attention to toilet cleaning will be considered a part what’s needed.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,997
There has been talk about testing sewage for the virus to see if it is present in a population. My friend at Mweird (Metropolitan Water Reclamation Dist.) here in Chicago was a bit cagy about telling me more on whether they are doing it yet - I mean, they can test for Asian Carp dna in the lake.

Interestingly, a saw an article last night, which was citing Italian epidemiologists (iirc - can't find it now) saying that "the virus" was becoming less potent. Good news perhaps?
What they might find from a PCR test wouldn't necessarily be active virus, so even if they found coronavirus or coronavirus fragments in the sewage, that doesn't mean it's a source of coronavirus infection. Of course, there's lots of other infectious stuff in sewage.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
986
What they might find from a PCR test wouldn't necessarily be active virus, so even if they found coronavirus or coronavirus fragments in the sewage, that doesn't mean it's a source of coronavirus infection. Of course, there's lots of other infectious stuff in sewage.
True, the way I understood it, it was a way to tell if there was a certain infection level in the population.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,997
True, the way I understood it, it was a way to tell if there was a certain infection level in the population.
Yeah, that's what I thought too, but I've seen the discourse shift to this being solid evidence that you can catch Covid in the toilet or from swimming. (Of course, you can catch it in the toilet from touching unsanitzed surfaces, and these are a lot of other good reasons why I wouldn't swim near a wastewater treatment plant outfall, but coronavirus is not the top of the worry list.
 

Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
121
Prior to Amtrak every sleeping-car room had its own toilet. Even the Penn Central sleepercoaches (I believe they were later called slumbercoaches), economy roomette type accommodations, had their own toilets. When Amtrak ordered the Superliners they downgraded roomettes by eliminating the toilets and adding a claustrophobic upper berth. Only the Viewliner roomette has a toilet - not practical when there are two people in a room that should be designed for one. The new Viewliners will not have the in-room toilets, however. The only way to avoid the unsanitary public toilets is by travelling in an overpriced Bedroom. With Covid-19 Amtrak's sleeping car flaws are a critical problem.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,564
When Amtrak ordered the Superliners they downgraded roomettes by eliminating the toilets and adding a claustrophobic upper berth. Only the Viewliner roomette has a toilet - not practical when there are two people in a room that should be designed for one.
I prefer the Amtrak designed roomette over the traditional roomette. The design of the room is more practical, clean, and less claustrophobic. The only thing I miss is the physical bed and mattress of the traditional room.
 

Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
121
I prefer the Amtrak designed roomette over the traditional roomette. The design of the room is more practical, clean, and less claustrophobic. The only thing I miss is the physical bed and mattress of the traditional room.
Interesting. I found the old Roomettes much better. It's true that opening the bed once its down is a bit complicated but having the toilet and sink in the room makes it a lot better to me. Less claustrophobic? The Amtrak Superliner roomette accommodates two people in space that used to be for ONE. Two people in one of those rooms couldn't be more claustrophobic.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,564
Interesting. I found the old Roomettes much better. It's true that opening the bed once its down is a bit complicated but having the toilet and sink in the room makes it a lot better to me. Less claustrophobic? The Amtrak Superliner roomette accommodates two people in space that used to be for ONE. Two people in one of those rooms couldn't be more claustrophobic.
To me, and this is my personal experience traveling on via and Amtrak, sitting in a room facing a blank wall is more claustrophobic feeling than facing a chair that’s facing me. The toilet and sink taking up extra space doesn’t help.

I really don’t like the traditional roomette by day, but thankfully on VIA I can spend most of my day In the dome or park car, so no real complaint.

The Amtrak roomette I find very cozy and a better use of the same amount of space. That’s my opinion of course. And as I said in night time mode I much prefer the traditional roomette with a real mattress.
 
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