Downeaster discussion

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Just rode the Downeaster today. A $12 coach ticket POR-BON. The train was pretty full. We left on time, got into Boston about 15 minutes late. No real problem with the silly gate scan to get put of BON. The cafe car had a pretty long line. Seemed cheaper than the NEC cafe car, but fewer items. People wre buying a lot of beer, cider. and hard seltzer from what looked like a good selection
I got a coffee and the last whoopee pie they had in stock.

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railiner

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The cafe on the Downeaster is the only one on Amtrak AFAIK that is not actually staffed and managed by Amtrak but by a contractor (NexDine) which is why it has a different menu than the usual Amcafe.
I still don't know how they managed to get the OBS union to agree to that. The train and engine employees are Amtrak, the train itself is owned by Amtrak...I know it's funded by a local authority, but then, so are most of the other regional trains outside the NEC....🤔
 
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I still don't know how they managed to get the OBS union to agree to that. The train and engine employees are Amtrak, the train itself is owned by Amtrak...I know it's funded by a local authority, but then, so are most of the other regional trains outside the NEC....🤔
I think because the train is contracted by NNEPRA and that was part of the terms of the contract. It probably saved them some money as I believe the cafe car attendants are non union and paid at a food service rate rather than the union rate that an Amtrak attendant would be paid. For that reason I try to give them a decent tip when I use the cafe on the DE,
 

railiner

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I think because the train is contracted by NNEPRA and that was part of the terms of the contract. It probably saved them some money as I believe the cafe car attendants are non union and paid at a food service rate rather than the union rate that an Amtrak attendant would be paid. For that reason I try to give them a decent tip when I use the cafe on the DE,
I am still surprised the Amtrak union (TCU? Not sure...), in its "scope" clause, did not walk out over this....I don't know the exact specifics of their contract...
 
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One BIG plus about the MLB pitch clock is now being able to take Amtrak to Exeter, NH after the game as the train leaves at 11:25 PM. You simply say the rosary that the Green Line can get you from Kenmore/Fenway to North Station without an issue.
As long as the game doesn't go into extra innings.
 

railiner

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It was not an Amtrak train, and the T&E jobs I believe are a different union. New jobs were created, no one was displaced, this was the way NNEPRA and Amtrak set it up. Very different from trying to outsource existing jobs.
Again, I haven't read Amtrak's agreements with the union's involved, but most of those might have a "scope clause" that covers manning of new services in the covered crafts.
How does your Local 3 do that? ;)
 
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Construction trades would be different because they are exceptions to the legal prohibition on closed shop agreements. This is different, Amtrak was hired by NNEPRA to run a train with their leased equipment and operating crew. Apparently (and I am not 100% on this) OBS unions could not claim it because it did not exist prior.
 

EchoSierra

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I am still surprised the Amtrak union (TCU? Not sure...), in its "scope" clause, did not walk out over this....I don't know the exact specifics of their contract...
I’m pretty sure the other obstacle would be Amtrak having to establish a provisioning restock point or two for the cafe just for that one route at either North Station and/or Portland. It was probably more of a “NNEPRA, if you want cafe service you’re going to have to do it yourself” kind of deal.

Does anyone know if business class on the Downeaster has assigned seating or is it still a free for all?
 

Maverickstation

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Does anyone know if business class on the Downeaster has assigned seating or is it still a free for all?

A Free For All, hardly. You need a Business Class Ticket, and then you pick your own seat.
When we travelled on 8/12, single passengers were asked to use the single seats, and they all did.
2 passengers traveling together were seated on the other side.
The Cafe Attendant who overseas Business Class kept an eye on everything.

Ken
 
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The Cafe Attendant who overseas Business Class kept an eye on everything.
Wouldn’t that be nice if Amtrak did that for all business class cars-seems you only see that on state supported trains. You’d think with the high volume of passengers on NEC they could manage another attendant for business class as well as attend to cleanliness on all cars. For a while the AC did that on the Palmetto but I think it was just because he was conscientious.
 

EchoSierra

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Does anyone know if business class on the Downeaster has assigned seating or is it still a free for all?

A Free For All, hardly. You need a Business Class Ticket, and then you pick your own seat.
When we travelled on 8/12, single passengers were asked to use the single seats, and they all did.
2 passengers traveling together were seated on the other side.
The Cafe Attendant who overseas Business Class kept an eye on everything.

Ken
Not having an assigned seat is a free for all as far as I’m concerned. Last time I took the Downeaster there was no announcement and people rushed to grab the single seats. For me personally, the single seats is what makes business class worth it for me on the Downeaster.

I do like how the cafe car attendant serves the free business class drink at my seat though.
 
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I rode the Downeaster at the end of July with my infant and was surprised to learn they didn't have changing tables in the bathrooms. The attendant (who was very helpful the whole trip) offered to let me into an empty car and change her on a seat or the floor in there but I was frankly a bit nervous to carry her between cars while we were moving. I ended up changing her at my seat (I was in the seats facing the luggage rack across from the accessible seats at the front of a coach car).
 

Rambling Robert

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The Downeaster trains not having changing tables may be an ADA violation. Perhaps if the female AMTRAK employee stood guard while you changed your daughter that may have been enough for the ADA.

Obviously, an infant/child is a person with certain disabilities.

The changing tables I’ve seen in men’s rooms are not in a stall and don’t offer much privacy - being out in the open. But I have seen changing tables mounted inside the handicap stall, which I think is good thinking.
 

Septa9739

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I was reading this earlier. Apparently AMTRAK tried to convince the NNEPRA to switch the equipment of Downeaster consists from 4 Amfleet coaches to 3 Horizon coaches. They didn’t go for it. Obviously makes perfect sense to move cars that don’t like the cold and snowy to Maine 1000 miles from where they usually serve (and are maintained). My guess is AMTRAK wanted the Amfleets for the NER. That would suggest that there are enough Horizons being released from Chicago to add capacity to the Cascades before too long.

 

JWM

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I was reading this earlier. Apparently AMTRAK tried to convince the NNEPRA to switch the equipment of Downeaster consists from 4 Amfleet coaches to 3 Horizon coaches. They didn’t go for it. Obviously makes perfect sense to move cars that don’t like the cold and snowy to Maine 1000 miles from where they usually serve (and are maintained). My guess is AMTRAK wanted the Amfleets for the NER. That would suggest that there are enough Horizons being released from Chicago to add capacity to the Cascades before too long.

The Horizons are the worst of Amtrak's fleet. Also, the Amfleet coaches date to the original Metroliner design in 1967 with smaller windows than earlier cars. Why? A poll taken in the mid-1960's revealed only a minority of the passengers actually looked out during the trip. We've been stuck with them ever since.
 
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The Downeaster trains not having changing tables may be an ADA violation. Perhaps if the female AMTRAK employee stood guard while you changed your daughter that may have been enough for the ADA.

Obviously, an infant/child is a person with certain disabilities.

The changing tables I’ve seen in men’s rooms are not in a stall and don’t offer much privacy - being out in the open. But I have seen changing tables mounted inside the handicap stall, which I think is good thinking.
There are more ADA rules on making a changing table accessible if it is installed as opposed to requirements to installing them where they are not previously required which are very limited. An infant or child usually does not meet the ADA definition of disability.
 

west point

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I was reading this earlier. Apparently AMTRAK tried to convince the NNEPRA to switch the equipment of Downeaster consists from 4 Amfleet coaches to 3 Horizon coaches. They didn’t go for it. Obviously makes perfect sense to move cars that don’t like the cold and snowy to Maine 1000 miles from where they usually serve (and are maintained). My guess is AMTRAK wanted the Amfleets for the NER. That would suggest that there are enough Horizons being released from Chicago to add capacity to the Cascades before too long.

So, is this another effort by Amtrak to somehow reduce costs? Since the operating agreement is not widely known we have no idea what that would do to make less costs. But it would certainly reduce Downeaster revenue especially special evening events in Boston North station. As for repair costs another question. Then would that mean less repair personnel at Brunswick?, Another question about reducing costs.

Even better it would have good for the 3 Amfleets going to Mexico to go to the Downeaster.
Maybe Amtrak already knew that Gulf coast would not start this winter so those Horizons could go to Downeaster. Instead, those Horizons need to go to the Cascades trains.
 
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A poll taken in the mid-1960's revealed only a minority of the passengers actually looked out during the trip. We've been stuck with them ever since.
I suspect that is even more true today with the proliferation of electronic devices to keep people entertained.

It is s shame as there is much to see from the train even on lines not considered especially scenic such as the Downeaster or the NEC.
 
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