CZ and SWC sleepers removed (downgraded to coach)

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I hate conspiracy theories and negative thinking, but the situation brought by Amtrak on the national network by now is obviously a crisis. Yes, this summer has been challenging from operational, staff and rolling stock standoints. They have somehow muddled through much of the summer with relatively full consists on most trains, with some exceptions and some hiccups. But as we head into the fall, the wheels seem to be coming off. What about the on-board staff they supposedly have hired to get through the summer? Are they going away in the fall? Is Amtrak taking cars out of service to concentrate on getting them back into a state of good repair? Haven't they been hiring craft people in their shops? How about they become a litte more transparent? How about RPA get some answers? How about Congress start putting some pressure on for those answers? If Amtrak was forthright and transparent, most of us here would be more understading and accepting and cut them a break. Their communications are absolutely abysmal. You can't say they are attempting to reach professional level of communication. Right now, who really wants to roll the dice and plan a trip? I am glad my plans are made for the fall and seem solid, but do I know that for sure? No, I can't count on that. But I sure can't think about next year given the current situation. Rant over.
Amtrak's future will indeed be determined in large extent on how they are navigating this crisis.

Do travel when you can and enjoy the whistle over the hum of the tracks. That is here now. A good opportunity to create memories for tomorrow.
 

UserNameRequired

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Noting for information purposes, we were booked in car 532 for 08-29-22. On 08-06-22, they moved us to car 540 trans dorm. So, either the 532 got removed for the 08-29-22 run, or, they started canceling people for 09-01-22 run and people were madly rebooking back into August on the 6th and that’s how we got bumped. We are only going one state over on train 5.

i originally wanted coach for that leg, but booked roomette only because of mask requirements. After the mask requirements ended, the thought was well, may as well just stay in roomette for the traditional dining experience.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Backup flights aren’t really an option for those of us that can’t or won’t fly.
I have no problem flying but last minute tickets cost crazy money for a middle seat in the last row.

Maybe Amtrak should ask for volunteers to ride coach in exchange for a full value voucher, like the airlines do (did?) when overbooked. (I haven't flown for a few years, so I don't know whether they still do that.)
On the airlines I fly the loss of a premium cabin is simply refunded. Sometimes it's the amount you paid to upgrade and other times its based on some equation they created. Delays due to overbooking are where the DOT gets involved and the vouchers and credits come out. AA was offering between $400 and $900 per domestic flight (VDB), and when I was younger I might have taken it, but at this point I just wanted to get where I was going without creating any more headaches.

From what I'm reading here, I can't see we can plan a trip with Amtrak with their current customer service levels. Our reservations with accommodations, rental cars, and flights are all at the whim of Amtrak honoring our reservations or not, it just appears to be a pure roll of the dice with them at this time.
This is exactly where I'm at right now. I really want to ride but I do not want to be jerked around.
 
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Joined
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This is exactly where I'm at right now. I really want to ride but I do not want to be jerked around.
Nor should you have to put up with this. On my own thoughts... when downgraded I would either go to the station manager or call immediately. If a train is running excessively late I call both Amtrak and the affected hotel so I can either cancel the hotel or have Amtrak give me credit for it... but I act immediately.

If its a major downgrade of services ahead of the trip I also call to reschedule. But these days bring so much uncertainty I guess each traveler needs to step back, be patient, and polite but persistent with reservations and customer service.
 
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Nor should you have to put up with this. On my own thoughts... when downgraded I would either go to the station manager or call immediately. If a train is running excessively late I call both Amtrak and the affected hotel so I can either cancel the hotel or have Amtrak give me credit for it... but I act immediately.

If its a major downgrade of services ahead of the trip I also call to reschedule. But these days bring so much uncertainty I guess each traveler needs to step back, be patient, and polite but persistent with reservations and customer service.
Sounds good, keep us advised how it all works out. 🤙
 

SteveSFL

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I'm in 631 at the beginning of September but I suppose I could always end up on a non-departure day if they reduce frequency. I made a backup reservation on Southwest with points, which are fully refundable up to departure time. The flight from Oakland to O'hare was the equivalent of about $129.

I think that Amtrak's goal is to eliminate long-distance land-cruise travel. They will keep the national network so that a family with four kids can move from Elko, NV to Hastings, NE with 12 free suitcases, or a hostel-hopping 20-something can travel far and wide while finding himself. Those types of travelers don't need (or can't afford) sleepers or full-service dining anyway.

As long as Amtrak continues to serve rural communities that lack access to other modes of transportation, congress will be happy. They might keep a sleeper on each train and charge exorbitant prices that fully cover the cost of operating it.

I'm glad I did a lot of trips between 2014 and 2020. I fear that my upcoming Zephyr trip will be my last.
 

trimetbusfan

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I think that Amtrak's goal is to eliminate long-distance land-cruise travel. They will keep the national network so that a family with four kids can move from Elko, NV to Hastings, NE with 12 free suitcases, or a hostel-hopping 20-something can travel far and wide while finding himself. Those types of travelers don't need (or can't afford) sleepers or full-service dining anyway.

That’s definitely not how Amtrak markets their routes on the media and websites though! (Lots of press about sleeper travel)

Although I feel like Amtk is under a lot of pressure to operate service on the 7 day a week schedule right now. This is unfortunately the result of that.

While sleeper travel is important, it is ultimately it is public transportation. The fact that they can get you from point A to B in Coach is better than no train at all.
 

greatwestern

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Bristol England
Backup flights aren’t really an option for those of us that can’t or won’t fly.
Also, for those of us not in the US even if we booked refundable back up flights, we would be hit by the exchange rate differences between purchasing and selling upon our cancelling the back up. Indeed I will suffer (and did in June this year) when Amtrak (eventually) refund me my accommodation fare on my downgraded CZ booking.
 
Joined
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I don’t think Amtrak will totally eliminate sleepers and dining cars. But I think they do believe there are areas that would be served better by day running service that are currently served only by a single LD train. And they aren’t wrong in some instances. Though the reasonable way to address that would be to add on service. There may also be some existing trains where a tweak could be warranted. But I don’t think that would happen on a route like the Zephyr. I think the Zephyr is one route they would retain in its present form.

All one has to do is look at the Auto Train - which presently is the company’s only revenue positive operation. That route at least isn’t going anywhere so you’ll always have sleepers there at least.
 
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Also, for those of us not in the US even if we booked refundable back up flights, we would be hit by the exchange rate differences between purchasing and selling upon our cancelling the back up. Indeed I will suffer (and did in June this year) when Amtrak (eventually) refund me my accommodation fare on my downgraded CZ booking.

This is a good point - I actually encountered this in the US with VIA. I booked a trip on the Corridor back in June and wanted to change some of my trains. As their website assessed the change fee (rather than give the COVID waiver that was in effect until July 31), and cancelling gave a full refund, I cancelled and rebooked (actually did this multiple times, as I switched two of the trains I was on and upgraded to Business Class on another). However, that meant I got a little bit less back given the conversion and fees (for some reason VIAs site didn’t want to take my card with no exchange fees, and if the exchange rate had changed significantly it could have been worse). When I booked the Canadian I would have gotten hit worse if I had needed to cancel (or had VIA cancel on me, which is thankfully not as big of an issue as with Amtrak), and made a mental note to call if I wanted to change accommodations. Luckily none of that transpired, but I get why you wouldn’t want to make a reservation with a high chance of having to do that (and with a backup flight, you’re guaranteed to have to do it for at least one reservation).

In any case, making backup flight reservations isn’t really a good option, save for people who are willing/able to fly and can afford the initial cash outlay of two reservations. I just wouldn’t want to depend on an Amtrak sleeper reservation as my only option to get from point A to point B right now if I had any alternatives. And in that case it’s probably easier to just fly - though in reality Amtrak should probably be paying for flights if they’re going to do this (two nights in coach with no dining car access and no showers is hardly an acceptable substitute). That still wouldn’t help those who can’t fly/won’t fly or for whom the train is the point of the trip, but it would at least be a better option for many. Perhaps if Congress made them do that (and/or pay a considerable cash penalty) they’d either prioritize fixing their equipment/staffing issues or stop selling sleeper tickets that they’re not sure they can honor.
 

Bob Dylan

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And the Builder. It was the first one hit. They pulled this stunt in May for the second sleeper during the summer on the Builder.
And the Texas Eagle when they pulled the Transdorm and only run 1 Sleeper even on #421/#422 Days, which means the OBS have to use Roomettes in the Revenue Sleeper resulting in SOLD OUT/High Bucket Rooms!🤬
 

Bob Dylan

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I don’t think Amtrak will totally eliminate sleepers and dining cars. But I think they do believe there are areas that would be served better by day running service that are currently served only by a single LD train. And they aren’t wrong in some instances. Though the reasonable way to address that would be to add on service. There may also be some existing trains where a tweak could be warranted. But I don’t think that would happen on a route like the Zephyr. I think the Zephyr is one route they would retain in its present form.

All one has to do is look at the Auto Train - which presently is the company’s only revenue positive operation. That route at least isn’t going anywhere so you’ll always have sleepers there at least.
See the SP Playbook from the 50s/60s when the Plan was "Run em Off/Train Off" even on their Crack Train, The Sunset Ltd.

Chair cars only, Rude Staff, Horrible OTP, DIrty/Broken down Equipment,Agents telling Potential Customers the Trains were "SOLD OUT"and Vending Machines for your Nourishment for the 2 day/2 night Trip.

Sound familiar?
 
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See the SP Playbook from the 50s/60s when the Plan was "Run em Off/Train Off" even on their Crack Train, The Sunset Ltd.

Chair cars only, Rude Staff, Horrible OTP, DIrty/Broken down Equipment,Agents telling Potential Customers the Trains were "SOLD OUT"and Vending Machines for your Nourishment for the 2 day/2 night Trip.

Sound familiar?
What's a rail buff to do??? I keep on being my own psychiatrist telling myself to come prepared with as much food and drink as I can carry, then retreat to the privacy of my room; ignoring the broken this and that... paying no attention to rude staff... and just looking out the window and enjoy the wheels rolling beneath... and the sound of the whistle.

'Little old me' ain't gonna change the dysfunctionality of the Amtrak bureaucracy so one must camouflage into the landscape and get what can be gotten from what's real and what's available. Unfortunately the ethic of 'customers first' has faded and adaptability and flexibility allow one to get what positives there are to be gotten out of a rail experience.

fb5ff120e53848a89fa2903b27f7d8d8.jpg
 
Joined
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I have 6 roomette and 2 sleeper trips coming up in the next 6 months. I am so nervous that it's going to be all screwed up. :(
Same here with three sleeper coast to coast trips in December, January, and February... when mid winter ridership allows availability ... although I've had to 'flex myself' to pay high buckets on many segments.

Along with that I know to pack a lot of patience and flexibility... food and drink sustenance, and as Winston Churchill said, "A stiff upper lip!"
 

Bonser

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This isn’t meant to make excuses and I understand your frustration. But in fairness the airline industry has had far from a model summer with many of the same problems and has had to drop flights at a moment’s notice, cut flights routes etc without much notice for much the same reasons. Obviously despite all this the airline industry has infinitely more capacity so eventually there’s a flight they can get you on - and for most people a coach seat on an airline is more likely to be tolerated due to the shorter trip. With the extremely limited capacity of once daily overnight train routes it can be impossible to reaccomodate someone without making someone endure an overnight coach trip as remaining sleepers can be sold out for days.

At the end of the day for most people flying is a necessity while overnight train is discretionary - hence people are going to have higher expectations for Amtrak and a lower threshold for “never again.” Which is the dilemma faced when these things happen.
Whatever the reason Amtrak is seriously screwing up. And I'd venture to say that most coach passengers aren't discretionary ones either. Over the years almost all I've talked were just trying to get from Point A to Point B.
 
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Just so everyone knows what they are up against. I called customer service about 2 hours ago. I got transferred to customer relations. Message said a 7 minute wait and I opted for a call back which I promptly received. I was number 1 in line. 40 minutes later I gave up and called back. A very nice customer service agent tried to get someone in customer relations to pick up. She must have given up because after about 10 minutes I was back waiting for customer relations to pick up. 53 minutes later I'm still waiting. Also I am assuming that they don't have enough people to actually staff the Select Plus special handling number. You "talk" to a recording and when "it" can't help you it appears you just get dumped into the standard customer service lines. Got to love what Covid has done to this country.
 
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So they picked up after about 75 minutes. She insists that car 532 has an electrical problem now so they are pulling it from all the west bound CZ trains. She also told me that although the email I received from Amtrak says that the car has been pulled and that my wife and I are now in coach is not what she shows. She says that we had NO seats on the train. What is going on?
 
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I wonder if there is a different protocol for Auto Train passengers. As unpleasant as my 10 hour late trip was in May their customer service was good. Had repeated updates on the status of my late departure then a call the day after my trip offering a voucher for the full value of the trip without my asking. We’ll try again on October.
 
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See the SP Playbook from the 50s/60s when the Plan was "Run em Off/Train Off" even on their Crack Train, The Sunset Ltd.

Chair cars only, Rude Staff, Horrible OTP, DIrty/Broken down Equipment,Agents telling Potential Customers the Trains were "SOLD OUT"and Vending Machines for your Nourishment for the 2 day/2 night Trip.

Sound familiar?

Not really. I have had some recent good trips. I don’t think todays problems have anything to do with the SP in the 50s/60s. As much as some don’t want to believe - there are legitimate workforce/economic problems contributing to the current situation - it’s not a massive management conspiracy. I think they could do a better job of customer relations on the reservation side of things and perhaps they should reduce the amount of capacity they’re selling in advance to prevent ticking people off with cancellations - but I believe the operational/workforce problems are what they are.
 
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Not really. I have had some recent good trips. I don’t think todays problems have anything to do with the SP in the 50s/60s. As much as some don’t want to believe - there are legitimate workforce/economic problems contributing to the current situation - it’s not a massive management conspiracy. I think they could do a better job of customer relations on the reservation side of things and perhaps they should reduce the amount of capacity they’re selling in advance to prevent ticking people off with cancellations - but I believe the operational/workforce problems are what they are.
Speaking of the CZ and current situation... I've never seen it this bad... snap shots taken today, AUG 15 at 1:10 PST... two eastbound 5's sitting on the tracks... one running 14 hours late. Equipment problems? Two in a row???

Screen Shot 2022-08-15 at 1.19.36 PM.png
 

Bob Dylan

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Not really. I have had some recent good trips. I don’t think todays problems have anything to do with the SP in the 50s/60s. As much as some don’t want to believe - there are legitimate workforce/economic problems contributing to the current situation - it’s not a massive management conspiracy. I think they could do a better job of customer relations on the reservation side of things and perhaps they should reduce the amount of capacity they’re selling in advance to prevent ticking people off with cancellations - but I believe the operational/workforce problems are what they are.
And who's to blame for this Cluster Flub?

If you said Amtrak Management you Win the Grand Prize!( No offense to you, but things are getting Worse Daily @ Amtrak)

"They All Do it and its the Workers Fault!" is the Oldest Failed Manzgement Excuse there is!💩🤡🤬

Every Department in Amtrak is in disarray, with Paying Customers being the one a who take the blows as the Suits continue to Cash their Bonus Checks!
And The Beat Goes On!
 
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