Empire Builder discussion 2023 Q4 - 2024

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Thanks for the report. I was in a car with nonfunctional toilets on the CZ two years ago, and it’s now what I dread.
It's a pain, that's for sure, especially for older or simply less spry passengers. If it happens, my strategy now is to head for the transdorm for relief, if the consist has one, since the crew definitely both are aware of the limitations of the onboard facilities and have a sense of 'ownership' of the condition of the lavatories. I also took advantage of 'fresh air' stops with decent stations to dash in for a quick visit.

Still, having non-working toilet facilities is pretty much a deal breaker for us. Amazingly, our ten year old granddaughter was unfazed by the non-working toilets in our car of the Southwest Chief, and still thinks train travel is fun. Her teenaged self-to-come may have other thoughts.
 
took #7 on 10/26 from CUS to SEA. Late boarding in Chicago due to a problem with one of the engines. Jury rigged somehow which enabled us to leave about 30 minutes late. The engine broke down again in the middle of North Dakota, resulting in a three hour delay. In Spokane, the crew didn't want to split the train because someone would end up with the bad engine. So we proceeded to Seattle with the full consist and a 3 hour late arrival. To add insult to injury, Amtrak turned that consist into #8 and tried to fix the engine which resulted in a 5 hour delay leaving Seattle. The time was never made up and arrival in Chicago was 10:00 PM. Overnight in the Swissotel on Amtrak!
 
took #7 on 10/26 from CUS to SEA. Late boarding in Chicago due to a problem with one of the engines. Jury rigged somehow which enabled us to leave about 30 minutes late. The engine broke down again in the middle of North Dakota, resulting in a three hour delay. In Spokane, the crew didn't want to split the train because someone would end up with the bad engine. So we proceeded to Seattle with the full consist and a 3 hour late arrival. To add insult to injury, Amtrak turned that consist into #8 and tried to fix the engine which resulted in a 5 hour delay leaving Seattle. The time was never made up and arrival in Chicago was 10:00 PM. Overnight in the Swissotel on Amtrak!
Is this why they bussed everyone to Spokane?
 
took #7 on 10/26 from CUS to SEA. Late boarding in Chicago due to a problem with one of the engines. Jury rigged somehow which enabled us to leave about 30 minutes late. The engine broke down again in the middle of North Dakota, resulting in a three hour delay. In Spokane, the crew didn't want to split the train because someone would end up with the bad engine. So we proceeded to Seattle with the full consist and a 3 hour late arrival. To add insult to injury, Amtrak turned that consist into #8 and tried to fix the engine which resulted in a 5 hour delay leaving Seattle. The time was never made up and arrival in Chicago was 10:00 PM. Overnight in the Swissotel on Amtrak!
Were you allowed access to the sightseeing lounge between Spokane and Seattle at least? lol
 
This past summer, because of "lack of equipment", Amtrak was going to bus me from Portland to Spokane. Then get on another train (or the same one that was to leave Portland?) for my destination of Whitefish. I didn't accept and flew home from Portland.

I think that any bus substitution should require an automatic partial refund by Amtrak, based on the distance the bus has to travel. You may be paying an inordinate price (especially if you book a sleeper) for the train trip, not for a bus trip. If the bustitute was half the distance of your trip, in mileage, I think Amtrak should give you a 50% refund. I know it's a poor analogy, but say you are at a high scale restaurant and order a filet mignon steak. The restaurant says they're out of filet mignon steaks and, instead, serve you chipped beef on toast. Afterward, the tab shows you were charged for the filet mignon price and not the chipped beef on toast price. Not acceptable.
 
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This past summer, because of "lack of equipment", Amtrak was going to bus me from Portland to Spokane. Then get on another train (or the same one that was to leave Portland?) for my destination of Whitefish. I didn't accept and flew home from Portland.

I think that any bus substitution should require an automatic partial refund by Amtrak, based on the distance the bus has to travel. You may be paying an inordinate price (especially if you book a sleeper) for the train trip, not for a bus trip. If the bustitute was half the distance of your trip, in mileage, I think Amtrak should give you a 50% refund. I know it's a poor analogy, but say you are at a high scale restaurant and order a filet mignon steak. The restaurant says they're out of filet mignon steaks and, instead, serve you chipped beef on toast. Afterward, the tab shows you were charged for the filet mignon price and not the chipped beef on toast price. Not acceptable.
One time, I was booked on a sleeper PDX to CUS and got bustituted as far as Spokane. They handed us our boxed dinners as we lined up to board the bus, and we proceeded through every station stop to Spokane. The long ride sitting up was torture for me (why I get a sleeper), and I was so very happy to see our sleeper ready made-up in Spokane, and fall right into bed!

You can bet that after our trip I called and received my voucher for the cost of the sleeper from PDX to SPK! I agree with you, the refund should be automatic - you shouldn't have to call. And it should be by the form you originally paid, not a voucher that you have to use on more Amtrak travel within a year. I don't travel every year, so I had to make a reservation before the voucher expired, then cancel and re-make the reservation when I eventually traveled.
 
I can imagine how tired you were after the Portland to Spokane (what town or city is CUS?). What time did the bus arrive in Spokane? I imagine it was quite late. I agree the refund should be automatic. I sent Amtrak an email and asked if I could get some sort of refund, but no reply to my email (not unexpected). I mentioned my reservation code number, , train number 28,, and the day I was going to hop aboard. But, no luck.
 
I can imagine how tired you were after the Portland to Spokane (what town or city is CUS?). What time did the bus arrive in Spokane? I imagine it was quite late. I agree the refund should be automatic. I sent Amtrak an email and asked if I could get some sort of refund, but no reply to my email (not unexpected). I mentioned my reservation code number, , train number 28,, and the day I was going to hop aboard. But, no luck.
Yeah, they are terrible with emails... If you really want compensation you have to call the secret Customer Relations line.
 
I can imagine how tired you were after the Portland to Spokane (what town or city is CUS?). What time did the bus arrive in Spokane? I imagine it was quite late. I agree the refund should be automatic. I sent Amtrak an email and asked if I could get some sort of refund, but no reply to my email (not unexpected). I mentioned my reservation code number, , train number 28,, and the day I was going to hop aboard. But, no luck.
"CUS" = Chicago Union Station
 
This past summer, because of "lack of equipment", Amtrak was going to bus me from Portland to Spokane. Then get on another train (or the same one that was to leave Portland?) for my destination of Whitefish. I didn't accept and flew home from Portland.

I think that any bus substitution should require an automatic partial refund by Amtrak, based on the distance the bus has to travel. You may be paying an inordinate price (especially if you book a sleeper) for the train trip, not for a bus trip. If the bustitute was half the distance of your trip, in mileage, I think Amtrak should give you a 50% refund. I know it's a poor analogy, but say you are at a high scale restaurant and order a filet mignon steak. The restaurant says they're out of filet mignon steaks and, instead, serve you chipped beef on toast. Afterward, the tab shows you were charged for the filet mignon price and not the chipped beef on toast price. Not acceptable.
They do that fairly often from Portland to Spokane if they're running late. Happened to me. I wrote a letter and was given a voucher large enough to take a roomette NYP to Miami so I was happy how they handled it.
 
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