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Down the tubes .......again......sigh.....

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greatcats

Conductor
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Feb 27, 2006
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Flagstaff, Arizona
My friend and I are going to Hawaii and are leaving from Los Angeles Monday. The plan was to take Amtrak tonight Flagstaff to LA in a roomette. I had been tracking the train and it seemed to be doing fine to Dodge City. Then- service disruption. While in the chiropractors office my phone rang- robo call saying " schedule change ". Ha! Then spoke with real person and she read me her info and said " head end problem- passengers being provided blankets and lodging ". The train is apparently. Being tied up in La Junta. I was not yelling at her, but told the lady that this is a disgrace and to cancel this trip. Now booked on flight tomorrow Flagstaff to LAX. The good part is I get to spend another evening with my kitties! Go with the flow.
 

greatcats

Conductor
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Feb 27, 2006
Messages
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Flagstaff, Arizona
Stopped in at the station to ask why I was issued scotched, not a refund which was discussed on the phone. Looks like I should get my credit. The agent says it looks like it will be here around 4am. ( although Amtrak status no longer shows service disruption- more like 2am ). This is no good and will fly- shelled out $200 more.
 

oregon pioneer

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near Seneca, Oregon
Oh dear. I am due to take the westbound SWC in a couple of weeks. I do hope it will at least go through (not too worried about them taking care if me if late).
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Real bad ice storm came thur the Dodge City Area. A lot of cold weather issues showing up on trucks traveling in this area. Keeping the road service guys busy. Had an guy lock out if his truck, due the locks freezing up. Another driver had gel up as he was pulling into the customer gate. And my favored, brakes frozen to the drum.

Welcome to winter.

Amtrak losing Hotel Power on the Southwest Chief, that a two engine train. That interesting. With the ice and snow, could be a short in the wires, fixable after you find it. Anyways with the bitter cold getting the passengers off to a warm location would be a priority. Then hunting/finding and repairing the problem. It was in the single number this morning in Colorado. With a nice breeze. Up to 30mph.
 

greatcats

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Feb 27, 2006
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Flagstaff, Arizona
Thank you Just Thinking, for the information. It is a bit chilly with a snow flurry here in Flagstaff. I just printed out the boarding passes for the flights tomorrow. Yes, welcome to winter, but didn't trains used to be known as the all weather mode of travel?
 

CCC1007

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Jan 2, 2015
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Didn't Amtrak have a preventative maintenance program back then?
 

SarahZ

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KAL
I'm sorry your train trip was canceled, Greatcats. :( I hope you have a really nice time in Hawaii.
 

Railroad Bill

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My friend and I are going to Hawaii and are leaving from Los Angeles Monday. The plan was to take Amtrak tonight Flagstaff to LA in a roomette. I had been tracking the train and it seemed to be doing fine to Dodge City. Then- service disruption. While in the chiropractors office my phone rang- robo call saying " schedule change ". Ha! Then spoke with real person and she read me her info and said " head end problem- passengers being provided blankets and lodging ". The train is apparently. Being tied up in La Junta. I was not yelling at her, but told the lady that this is a disgrace and to cancel this trip. Now booked on flight tomorrow Flagstaff to LAX. The good part is I get to spend another evening with my kitties! Go with the flow.
Sometimes I think our kitties are part of a conspiracy to disrupt Amtrak trains so we will stay home more often.. :p
 

Hytec

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MS Gulf Coast
Didn't Amtrak have a preventative maintenance program back then?
The pre-Amtrak railroads sure did. During a blizzard in December 1947, my father arrived home the next morning after spending 12 hours in the only car out of five that still had steam heat. But the New York Central employees did everything they could to get those folks to their destinations regardless of problems. I guess that's the difference between a system run by a private company versus one run by the federal government.
 

Gemuser

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Jul 14, 2012
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Sydney, Australia
I guess that's the difference between a system run by a private company versus one run by the federal government.
Don't you believe it! The real difference is between companies where the employees have PRIDE in their company and companies where they don't! I could give numrous examples, but they'd all be Australian and wouldn't mean much to most members.
 
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CCC1007

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The Amtrak employees that I know in Montana all have lots of pride in their jobs
 

Triley

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The Amtrak employees that I know in Montana all have lots of pride in their jobs
Just as I take pride in my job, and being told that Amtrak employees don't take pride in their jobs is a huge smack in the face to me and others on these very forums. Sure there may be some who don't care, but can't that be said about any company world wide?
 

keelhauled

OBS Chief
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Oct 3, 2014
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Camorr
Didn't Amtrak have a preventative maintenance program back then?
The pre-Amtrak railroads sure did. During a blizzard in December 1947, my father arrived home the next morning after spending 12 hours in the only car out of five that still had steam heat. But the New York Central employees did everything they could to get those folks to their destinations regardless of problems. I guess that's the difference between a system run by a private company versus one run by the federal government.
The Chief in question is still moving west, six hours late but still moving. I struggle to see how this leads you to condemn Amtrak crews as unable to get passengers to their destinations.
 

oldtimer

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Sep 23, 2006
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902
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rollin along the high iron
Didn't Amtrak have a preventative maintenance program back then?
The pre-Amtrak railroads sure did. During a blizzard in December 1947, my father arrived home the next morning after spending 12 hours in the only car out of five that still had steam heat. But the New York Central employees did everything they could to get those folks to their destinations regardless of problems. I guess that's the difference between a system run by a private company versus one run by the federal government.
First of all Amtrak does have a preventative maintenance program. The budget for it is very lean, thus staffing and supplies are minimal. Thanksgiving is Amtraks busiest holiday weekend lots of pressure is put on mechanical employees to get the equipment on the road. All of the recent grade crossing incidents and derailments have taken a toll on the numbers of locos and cars available.

Secondly, you can talk about 1947 but in that year there were 1,516,000 railroad employees in the US. The latest statistic for railroad employees is from 2014 at which time the number was 235,000 up from the 2010 low point of 216,000. In those days, employees were close at hand and ready to help in emergencies.

I can tell you that Amtrak employees care, and have pride in their work. I speak from almost 100 years of Amtrak employment in my direct family!
 

Seaboard92

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Dec 31, 2014
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South Carolina
One thigh I have noticed when studying historic passenger trains there was some sort of pride every employee had for them. There was the CEO of the IC who called station services if the Panama Limited didn't leave on time. Even if it was just a minute late. Then there were track workers I've talked to from the NYC when the Century passed it was a matter of pride. Part of what is different then that hasn't been mentioned is that the NYC had six competitors on their Chicago-GCT service. While I think a great deal of Amtrak employees take that level of pride in their company especially Triely, Tom, John, and Reginald. I think there are some who do it for money and that makes the good ones look bad. And I'm sure the NYC and the IC both had good employees and bad employees. So Amtrak is no different then them except they don't run freight.
 

greatcats

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Feb 27, 2006
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Flagstaff, Arizona
OP here. I agree that Amtrak has minimal means to cope and that it is under pressure. What I was told on the phone yesterday sounded like the train was being terminated at La Junta, so I bailed out and am still at home. We would rather have been on the train, but it is now due Flagstaff over 8 hours late, a sad state of affairs. There are certainly many excellent employees and I always praise them if they rate. Let's see how the flights go later today.
 

greatcats

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
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Location
Flagstaff, Arizona
For what this may be worth, word of the Amtrak snafu was received while running errands around town. For the first time, I banged out a plane reservation on the IPhone on the American Airlines website,while waiting for my friend to transact business at the bank. It took some trial and error, but am glad that I did not wait until I arrived home a few hours later, as the flights then showed sold out. I see Train 3 arrived Flagstaff nearly 9 hours late and is continuing to lose time.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Ithaca, NY
I think there's a regional difference going on too. In the Northeast, we *expect* ice storms and have equipment to prepare for them on hand -- in Kansas, they really don't expect them and it can catch them off guard. It takes record, "roofs collapsing by the hundreds" snows to shut down the Lake Shore Limited...

You see this with the roads. A few flurries of snow, and Washington DC shuts down completely; the same amount of snow in upstate NY and we don't even blink.

*Unexpected* weather can bring down any organization. The P42s for the Lake Shore Limited would be turned on in subzero weather, so they'd know if there was a problem before they even attached it to the train. The P42s for the Southwest Chief were turned on in warm weather and then driven *into* cold weather, so if a fault triggered only in cold weather, they wouldn't discover it until halfway through the trip.
 

Tennessee Traveler

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Apr 11, 2010
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Franklin, TN
In comparing Amtrak 2015 with Freight Railroads that ran the passenger trains pre 1970, it should be noted that it was the freight railroads that wanted to get out of the passenger business and was cutting passenger trains as much as they could pre 1970. You can't really compare. I sincerely doubt the 2015 freight railroads would care about running and maintaining any passenger trains on their rail lines. They begrudgingly allow Amtrak trains on their tracks only because it is "the law" which they agreed to to get rid of their own passenger trains to form Amtrak. Here in middle Tennessee(Nashville) CSX is opposed to allowing any regional, LD, or commuter trains on their tracks.
 

WoodyinNYC

Conductor
Joined
Aug 9, 2013
Messages
1,515
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NYC
...

I can tell you that Amtrak employees care, and have pride in their work. I speak from almost 100 years of Amtrak employment in my direct family!
Congratulations, and thanks to your family -- and to the greater Amtrak family -- for all the good work.

Has morale improved?

I'd been wondering if morale has improved in any noticeable way among Amtrak employees over the past 6 or 7 years.

The President, Vice President, and two Secretaries of Transportation have supported Amtrak, instead of attacking and undermining it. Along with almost 8 years of steady leadership from Joe Boardman being able to run the company without constant strife and drama.

While massive problems remain, from crippling equipment shortages and 3-day-a-week trains to obsolete facilities, equipment, and technology to uncooperative host railroads, things are looking better, and could get much better fairly soon.

Farebox recovery has reached a nice level -- is 93% an Amtrak record? Acelas and Regionals are showing operating surpluses above the rails. Ridership has grown nationwide, and growth is limited now largely by the lack of railcars to carry more riders. Tweaks in Virginia and Maine have added mileage to the system and proved there is pent-up demand for more routes and more service.

With the equipment fleet, first 90+ cars were recovered from the wreck yard. Now 70 brand spanking new baggage cars are birds in hand, along with almost all the 70 electric locomotives, all ordered on Boardman's watch, as well as two Talgo trainsets, ready for the upgraded Cascades service. The 25 new Viewliner diners are coming next year, and the 30ish sleepers by the year after. Still in the bush are the diesel locomotives and the bi-levels coaches for the Midwest and Pacific Coast trains. A mega-order for Acela IIs could come any day now.

Meanwhile, within two years, substantial upgrades are coming on line in Illinois and Michigan and Seattle-Portland, as well as lesser improvements on NC's Piedmont route and in NY State.

Not to forget that labor relations seem to have been drama-free under Boardman.

So are the employees feeling better about Amtrak -- seeing it from the inside -- and feeling better about their jobs and themselves? Seeing Amtrak from the outside it should seem so, but I'm asking.
 
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capltd29

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 27, 2004
Messages
334
Location
Chicago, IL
...

I can tell you that Amtrak employees care, and have pride in their work. I speak from almost 100 years of Amtrak employment in my direct family!
Congratulations, and thanks to your family -- and to the greater Amtrak family -- for all the good work.

Has morale improved?

I'd been wondering if morale has improved in any noticeable way among Amtrak employees over the past 6 or 7 years.

The President, Vice President, and two Secretaries of Transportation have supported Amtrak, instead of attacking and undermining it. Along with almost 8 years of steady leadership from Joe Boardman being able to run the company without constant strife and drama.

While massive problems remain, from crippling equipment shortages and 3-day-a-week trains to obsolete facilities, equipment, and technology to uncooperative host railroads, things are looking better, and could get much better fairly soon.

Farebox recovery has reached a nice level -- is 93% an Amtrak record? Acelas and Regionals are showing operating surpluses above the rails. Ridership has grown nationwide, and growth is limited now largely by the lack of railcars to carry more riders. Tweaks in Virginia and Maine have added mileage to the system and proved there is pent-up demand for more routes and more service.

With the equipment fleet, first 90+ cars were recovered from the wreck yard. Now 70 brand spanking new baggage cars are birds in hand, along with almost all the 70 electric locomotives, all ordered on Boardman's watch, as well as two Talgo trainsets, ready for the upgraded Cascades service. The 25 new Viewliner diners are coming next year, and the 30ish sleepers by the year after. Still in the bush are the diesel locomotives and the bi-levels coaches for the Midwest and Pacific Coast trains. A mega-order for Acela IIs could come any day now.

Meanwhile, within two years, substantial upgrades are coming on line in Illinois and Michigan and Seattle-Portland, as well as lesser improvements on NC's Piedmont route and in NY State.

Not to forget that labor relations seem to have been drama-free under Boardman.

So are the employees feeling better about Amtrak -- seeing it from the inside -- and feeling better about their jobs and themselves? Seeing Amtrak from the outside it should seem so, but I'm asking.
Something to keep in mind is that some people on this forum will NEVER be happy with Amtrak. Many of those people have no idea how an organization is run especially on the scale of a railroad operating at the mercy of freight railroads and a small operating budget at the mercy of the least productive congress in American history. Having met a lot of Amtrak's employees on trains and off over the years, the vast majority of them do take pride in their jobs and want the customer to have a positive experience. There are lots of bad apples. In a workforce the size of Amtrak's there will be, but I doubt that there is some maintenance guy in Chicago grinning at the thought of the SWC being stuck in La Junta, or anywhere else. Amtrak does what it can with what it has. Anyone want to get their checkbooks out to buy some new diesels?
 

greatcats

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
2,385
Location
Flagstaff, Arizona
I have certainly been happy with Amtrak on certain trips and have an overall good opinion of the employees, with exceptions, of course. However, I did the right thing bailing out of this trip. I arrived three hours ago at LAX Airport on time and the train, #3, which was due at 8:15am is due in shortly nearly nine hours late. I met a BNSF man on the plane from Flagstaff to Phoenix who was headed back to Fort Worth and he knew all about the Amtrak fiasco. The passengers were taken off for a time at La Junta due to no hotel power. Then a freight locomotive was coupled on, which has a speed limit of 70 mph, so it continued to lose more time, which is normal under such conditions. I would not have minded the daylight trip, which actually sometime I hope to take, but this mess would have put my prepaid plans in jeopardy. Yes, Amtrak does what it can with what it has to work with, but this sort of thing is too common and looks pretty grim.
 
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