Craziest Drama on Amtrak you've seen?

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StanJazz

Service Attendant
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CHI
While in the dining car of The Starlight I saw the Eugene police waiting to remove a smoker from the train. You can see a reflection of an Amtrak plate in the glass.

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bratkinson

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QB 101
In the 42+ years I've been a regular Amtrak customer, on the Silver Meteor I've seen a drunk, partially clad lady dancing on a lounge car table about 1AM on early New Years day in '75 or '76 (3-4 of us bought out all the beer in the lounge just before he closed), hookers soliciting business from the ground while stopped at Fayetteville, witnessed a dining car cook removed for being too drunk to work at Sacramento, and this past May, a woman removed the window in a Superliner coach on train #1 while going through Arizona...we were going track speed at the time!

Drunk and not so drunk passengers fall into other coach passengers laps surprisingly often. I sort-of wanted-to and did fall into an attractive ladies' lap while riding the subway in Toronto about '74...100% clean and sober, too!
 
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KmH

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Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa.
Last May the Chicago bound Texas Eagle had to detour in southeastern Missouri, cross to the east side of the Mississippi River, and pull into the St. Louis station facing west instead of facing east - the normal direction.

They unhooked to locos and switched them around to the opposite end of the consist instead of turning the entire train around.

So they then had to go through each coach car and rotate the seats 180° so they all faced the direction the train would be going leaving St. Louis.

Coach passengers had to get out of their seats and get their stuff around their seat out of the way so the seats could be turned around.

It was kind of like the wave at a sports stadium.
 

PaulM

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Once while boarding the SWC in Lamy, I was about to go up the stairs when I barely missed catching a gentleman who came tumbling down the stairs. It took a while for the medics to arrive from Santa Fe and administer to the patient; but the he opted to stay on the train and was given the vacant handicapped room.
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
on the Silver Meteor I've seen a drunk, partially clad lady dancing on a lounge car table about 1AM on early New Years day in '75 or '76 (3-4 of us bought out all the beer in the lounge just before he closed)
I wish I did not cancel that trip!
I sort-of wanted-to and did fall into an attractive ladies' lap while riding ... 100% clean and sober, too!
Me too - and the train was not even moving at the time!
(Using a cane has an advantage!
)
 

SarahZ

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The only drama I ever witnessed was a coach passenger losing her ever-loving MIND on the LSA.

The LSA had taken all of the sleeper passenger dinner reservations. We were on a sold-out Southwest Chief, traveling the week of Christmas, so she ran out of reservations by the time she got into the Coach cars. I believe we were in the last car, so there was zero hope. We hadn't planned on eating in the dining car and had brought two days' worth of food, so we really didn't care.

This lady cared. Ohhhh, did she care. She had two young boys with her, and she accused the LSA of trying to "starve" them and deny them food. The LSA kindly explained that the meals are included in the sleeper passengers' fare, so they get priority, and then Coach is more of a first-come, first-serve. The LSA even explained that she tries to rotate which Coach car she visits first, so that it's fair throughout the journey. She also mentioned that if the lady would like to ensure a reservation for the next meal, she could sit in the lounge car when the reservation process was announced and flag down the LSA as she passed through the lounge on her way to the coaches. Then she informed the lady that the cafe car was open and had all sorts of food available for purchase.

My rational brain and I sat there thinking, "That is an extremely fair and amicable way of handling things. Surely, this argument has come to an end," and started to pick up my book, thinking it was over.

It was not over.

Foodzilla decided the LSA was being "rude" and got right in her face to tell her so. She said the LSA didn't understand because the LSA was "an uppity white girl" and "you're only denying us dinner because you think I'm just another fat welfare queen who don't need no cheeseburger".

You could have heard a pin drop at that point. People started taking their headphones off to listen. And, of course, my boyfriend and I were sitting there like this:

popcorn.gif

This continued for a moment or two, and then the conductor showed up. The conductor listened for a bit, repeated the LSA's spiel about dinner reservations, and then told Foodzilla that if she continued to harass the LSA, she and her adorable children would, most assuredly, be put off the train at the next station stop.

Foodzilla continued to argue with him, to which he finally said, "I AM NOT JOKING. I WILL PUT YOU OFF AT RATON. YOU CAN EITHER TRAVEL BACK TO CHICAGO WITH US OR ENJOY THE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO SCENERY. YOUR CHOICE."

It was absolutely beautiful.
 

oregon pioneer

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near Seneca, Oregon
Waiting to leave PDX on the Empire Builder in December 2013, we watched a youngish man arrive with a couple of cops and wait while they boarded the train. The cops got off with a woman and a couple of small children, along with baby carrier and assorted baggage. The man, woman and kids left the station together, cops separately. We assumed it was a custody dispute, and they arrived just in time to prevent her from taking the kids. Train departure was somewhat delayed -- I think they made the train wait for the cops to arrive.
 

Bob Dylan

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Austin Texas
I've seen lots of strange and amazing things aboard Trains in my 70+ years of riding, but probably the Number One Dramatic happening was when a woman went into Labor on the Sunset Ltd. after the Alpine,Tx stop and we were heading to El Paso with no scheduled stops after Alpine.

The woman was moved to the unoccupied Family Room on one of the Sleepers(mine), and the Conductors checked the Train for Doctors and Nurses, but none were aboard.

Fortunately one of the Passengers was an EMT/Paramedic from LA, and he and one of the SCAs stayed with the Woman while she delivered a healthy baby girl.

We stopped in the Middle of Nowhere at a crossing West of Valentine, an Ambulance and Sherrifs Car met the Train, and Mother and Baby were transported to the closest hospital which was in Alpine.

I had had breakfast with the lady after leaving Del Rio that morning and she was hoping to make it home to Northern California before delivering.

Thus another New Californian Texan joined us, but at least she,was born here unlike the Millions that have moved here!
 

JayPea

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One time on a return trip to Spokane from Portland, I was riding coach and went downstairs to use the bathroom. The conductor and car attendant were by the bathroom door. The conductor quietly asked me to go to the next car to use the bathroom. Seems a stowaway had sneaked onto the train at Vancouver and locked himself in the bathroom, and the conductor didn't want to spook him. The train crew had alerted authorities and there was a group of Klickitat County's finest waiting for him at the Bingen-White Salmon station. His free trip from Vancouver to Bingen-White Salmon resulted in another free trip, this one from the Bingen-White Salmon station to the Gray Bar Hotel in White Salmon.
 

Green Maned Lion

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Kung Fu Panda. On the auto train. It was preposterous.

All of the animation quality of Rocky & Bullwinkle, the stupendous hilarity of Mr. Rogers, and the drama of Walter Cronkite.
 
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FrensicPic

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She also mentioned that if the lady would like to ensure a reservation for the next meal, she could sit in the lounge car when the reservation process was announced and flag down the LSA as she passed through the lounge on her way to the coaches.
I've frequently heard LSA announcements saying the lounge car is the LAST car (as in after all the coaches) where the LSA would take reservations.
 

SarahZ

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She also mentioned that if the lady would like to ensure a reservation for the next meal, she could sit in the lounge car when the reservation process was announced and flag down the LSA as she passed through the lounge on her way to the coaches.
I've frequently heard LSA announcements saying the lounge car is the LAST car (as in after all the coaches) where the LSA would take reservations.
I think it was intended as a way to mollify the situation, not so much that it was standard procedure.
 

Hotblack Desiato

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For me, it was probably sitting in the cafe car on the Lake Shore Limited held outside of Toledo for some kind of emergency up ahead. Meanwhile, this quite obviously on drugs lady is screaming about how her daughter is dead and she has to get off the train. She started clawing at windows and doors trying to open them and jump off. Apparently her traveling companion a few cars back was texting her harassing notes as well (and it was unclear whether her daughter was actually dead, or if she was just going on some crazy drug-induced trip, fueled by some other guy's texts). The conductors were ready to throw her off at a nearby crossing, but eventually managed to settle her down enough to go on to Cleveland (her destination).
 
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anumberone

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The only drama I ever witnessed was a coach passenger losing her ever-loving MIND on the LSA.

It was absolutely beautiful.
Sarah,you have left us all wondering. Exactly what was the beautiful scene, the argument, or the family enjoying the sunset from the train station platform.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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The only drama I ever witnessed was a coach passenger losing her ever-loving MIND on the LSA.

It was absolutely beautiful.
Sarah,you have left us all wondering. Exactly what was the beautiful scene, the argument, or the family enjoying the sunset from the train station platform.
I'm sure it was how the conductor handled it with "I AM NOT JOKING. I WILL PUT YOU OFF AT RATON. YOU CAN EITHER TRAVEL BACK TO CHICAGO WITH US OR ENJOY THE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO SCENERY. YOUR CHOICE."
 

Anderson

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Virginia
I've only had to call a conductor for assistance once, but it was a doozy...

Early morning on the Surfliner out of San Diego, a passenger tries to get off for a smoke when we're stopped on a siding. The guy also reeks of weed. Frankly, I got worried that he was going to manage to open the door, step off, and get run over or something...so I quietly step next door and tell the conductor that there's an issue...and then end up getting to see quite the show.

Turns out that the guy has been smoking in the restroom. He's definitely quite baked. Once he fesses up (and that took some arm-twisting from the Conductor...he did not want to admit it) the conductor informs the gentleman that he'll be getting off at, I believe, Anaheim. The guy tries to argue against this but the conductor is quite firm. We get to Anaheim...and the guy won't leave the train. It takes about five demands and three threats to call the police before the guy finally disembarks.

The next best was some drama that I missed, but saw a Blue Light Special outside and a conductor coming upstairs in the sleeper on the Chief. I asked what was up (since this is, well, not normal). All I was told was "This is a family train..."
 

bcanedy

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Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
My favorite has to be on the Southwest Chief west of Dalies (where the Chief turns back on to the BNSF transcon. An unruly passenger was removed from the lounge car and taken to the transition sleeper where he was to wait before being handed over to the authorities in Gallup, NM. Instead, he pulled the emergency brake, exited the train, removed his clothes and ran off into the New Mexico desert. I still wonder to this day if anyone over on I-40 ever picked up that naked hitch-hiker.

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 

crescent-zephyr

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Well I've seen random officers search and question passengers for no reason (I myself being one of said passengers one time)... seems like pretty crazy and unnecessary drama to me.

But more so in the spirit of this thread I saw a Conductor in Atlanta remove a passenger after he questioned and argued why an empty coach was closed and locked on the train and everyone was being stuffed into the other coaches. In fairness, there were plenty of seats for all passengers and he just wanted 2 seats for himself, but either way the Conductor totally blew it out of proportion and immediately threatened the man "if you don't like how I run my train you won't be riding it any further" he continued to argue with her (but he NEVER acted violently or threatened her or anything) and she had the cops escort him off the train.
 

Maglev

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Instead of going home from prep school to Hawaii for the holidays, at the end of 1977- beginning of 1978 I took a trip from Concord, NH to Eugene, OR in coach. I went out by way of the Lone Star, and as we were arriving in Houston, someone took pot-shots at the train, hitting a window near me in my Hi-Level coach. As far as I know, no bullets penetrated the glass. We were met by law enforcement officers at the station.

Then on the way back, via the Southwest Limited and the National Limited, a group of military inductees on their way to basic training got off the train and stole a case of beer when our train stopped after hitting a car in Indiana. The culprits were escorted off the train by Military Police in Indianapolis.

Was it more common for trains to hit cars in Amtrak's early years? I was on a train to Florida once that hit two cars.
 

SarahZ

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The only drama I ever witnessed was a coach passenger losing her ever-loving MIND on the LSA.

It was absolutely beautiful.
Sarah,you have left us all wondering. Exactly what was the beautiful scene, the argument, or the family enjoying the sunset from the train station platform.
The conductor’s no-nonsense and slightly snarky response, which ended the argument.
 
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Lonestar648

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I have seen a an obviously drunk man who grabbed at woman walking through the DC then take a swing at the conductor who was escorting him out of the DC. Soon the train stopped at a gravel road crossing where two SO cars came racing up to the train. As the man was being escorted to one of the cars he managed to kick one of the officers really hard, causing him to fall. We sat for a while with the man in the back seat, the conductor said so the officers could take statements.
 

Lonestar648

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I think "common sense" goes out the window when you get really drunk. The conductor said he was going to be really unhappy when he sobered up, Assaulting the female passenger, Assaulting the conductor, assaulting the officer, and impeding the travel of the Amtrak train, all felonies.
 

Bob Dylan

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Maglevs post about the pot shot @ the train reminded me of the time I was in the PPC on the Starlight in SLO awaiting the call for Dinner when someone shot one of the top windows over the Swivel Chairs.

Glass flew everywhere and the LSA had everyone move back to the table area.

The Conductor and the AC came and taped off the Swivel Seat area with Yellow Crime Scene tape and told us that this area would be Out of Service until Seattle.

He also told us that local Gang Bangers had been shooting @ trains in SLO for awhile and that the Local Cops and,Amtrak Police were working on this problem.

Also he said that the Window replacement would have to be Custom made and,would cost several thousand dollars since there were no parts left for these ex- Santa Fe Hi-Level Cars.
 
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