First NEC Sleeper Journey - A Huge Letdown

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
332
Location
Boston
Just wanted to share a few thoughts and pictures from my overnight journey from BOS - WAS on the inaugural return of sleeper cars to the NE Regional 65-67.
I would put this in the trip reports, but I thought it might spark additional conversation.
Miles in Transit (who had a roomette next to mine booked only from BOS to BBY) has a video out.

Arriving at South Station and being able to wait in the lounge is a plus. Amtrak lounges are great, and often staffed by wonderful people. This was no exception.
They offered to check my bags, but I did not have any luggage aside from my instrument and backpack.

The sleeper car was the first car at the front of the train, so it was quite a walk, especially since tracks have been shortened at SS due to construction. I must admit, the cars are old, but from the outside, they look great!
LRG-DSC01249.JPGLRG-DSC01315.JPG0.jpg

I am sorry to report the my roomette was dirty when I arrived. The floor had not been thoroughly vacuumed, and while the seats were clean, the table and all other surfaces had to be wiped down. This was different from my November trip aboard the Cal Zephyr, which was overall a well cleaned room and pleasant trip.
The train departed and arrived on time, and station stops were exactly as planned, with the exception of New Haven, which lasted longer than scheduled. I was genuinely surprised how well patronized the train was, especially at the Providence stop. About 50 people boarded the train there.

In the morning, the "continental breakfast" they offered was abysmal. It was a cracker, a muffin, with a bottle of Fiji water (the best thing in the box) with a Kind Breakfast bar. The box they offer is identical on the outside to the Acela First Class "snack box," just much worse.

My experience at Union Station was positive, though the Acela Lounge there is quite a letdown. I expected cleaner seats (crumbs were all over some of them) and cleaner bathrooms (someone left the men's room a mess in more ways than one).

My Acela return journey after brief business in DC was great. The train was on time every step of the way, and Amtrak's Acela product is obviously fine tuned and very good. I would say business class offers the best value, as first class really is not much different with the exception of food (but during covid times, there's basically no difference). It was especially fun to take advantage of the 20 minute NYP stop and check out the new station.
IMG-8204.JPGLRG-DSC01217.JPGLRG-DSC01301.JPG

By far the biggest let down of the sleeper train however, is the full volume diatribes the took place at every single major stop throughout the journey (the worst was NYP; that announcement lasted 2 minutes).
How is anyone in the sleeper car supposed to get consistent sleep. I doubt anyone who books a sleeper car is getting out at any of the intermediate destinations (especially NYP).
Doesn't Amtrak have a moratorium on announcements after 9 p.m.? I know that this train is technically a corridor train, but when I last road the sleeper version in 2001, there were no announcements after New London.

Overall a big disappointment, despite this being a much desired service. Will I take it again? Definitely. Will I recommend it? Maybe not to everyone.
Thoughts on the announcements and food service?
 
Last edited:

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,207
Just so typically Amtrak. Come out with a new product and just plain screw it up with poor food, dirty rooms and loud announcements for an overnight train on its inaugural run. If it fails, some exec at Amtrak will probably say "See, I knew it wouldn't work. We shouldn't have listened to those whiners on A.U. and the low level employee who proposed the idea. Let's fire him so we have someone to blame".
 

jiml

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,682
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Thank you for the report. As a previous sleeping car patron on this route I've been watching the return of the service with interest. Some of your pics are outstanding. I'm curious about the one - the bed wasn't made up when you boarded? Seems counter-productive on Amtrak's part.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,071
Location
Austin Texas
Just wanted to share a few thoughts and pictures from my overnight journey from BOS - WAS on the inaugural return of sleeper cars to the NE Regional 65-67.
I would put this in the trip reports, but I thought it might spark additional conversation.
Miles in Transit (who had a roomette next to mine booked only from BOS to BBY) has a video out.

Arriving at South Station and being able to wait in the lounge is a plus. Amtrak lounges are great, and often staffed by wonderful people. This was no exception.
They offered to check my bags, but I did not have any luggage aside from my instrument and backpack.

The sleeper car was the first car at the front of the train, so it was quite a walk, especially since tracks have been shortened at SS due to construction. I must admit, the cars are old, but from the outside, they look great!
View attachment 21534View attachment 21539View attachment 21533

I am sorry to report the my roomette was dirty when I arrived. The floor had not been thoroughly vacuumed, and while the seats were clean, the table and all other surfaces had to be wiped down. This was different from my November trip aboard the Cal Zephyr, which was overall a well cleaned room and pleasant trip.
The train departed and arrived on time, and station stops were exactly as planned, with the exception of New Haven, which lasted longer than scheduled. I was genuinely surprised how well patronized the train was, especially at the Providence stop. About 50 people boarded the train there.

In the morning, the "continental breakfast" they offered was abysmal. It was a cracker, a muffin, with a bottle of Fiji water (the best thing in the box) with a Kind Breakfast bar. The box they offer is identical on the outside to the Acela First Class "snack box," just much worse.

My experience at Union Station was positive, though the Acela Lounge there is quite a letdown. I expected cleaner seats (crumbs were all over some of them) and cleaner bathrooms (someone left the men's room a mess in more ways than one).

My Acela return journey after brief business in DC was great. The train was on time every step of the way, and Amtrak's Acela product is obviously fine tuned and very good. I would say business class offers the best value, as first class really is not much different with the exception of food (but during covid times, there's basically no difference). It was especially fun to take advantage of the 20 minute NYP stop and check out the new station.
View attachment 21540View attachment 21541View attachment 21542

By far the biggest let down of the sleeper train however, is the full volume diatribes the took place at every single major stop throughout the journey (the worst was NYP; that announcement lasted 2 minutes).
How is anyone in the sleeper car supposed to get consistent sleep. I doubt anyone who books a sleeper car is getting out at any of the intermediate destinations (especially NYP).
Doesn't Amtrak have a moratorium on announcements after 9 p.m.? I know that this train is technically a corridor train, but when I last road the sleeper version in 2001, there were no announcements after New London.

Overall a big disappointment, despite this being a much desired service. Will I take it again? Definitely. Will I recommend it? Maybe not to everyone.
Thoughts on the announcements and food service?
Not worth the Money till a better Breakfast is served, and Amtrak needs to "walk the walk"when it comes to cleaning the Cars!( Maybe even put a New Viewliner II on since the Is are getting so long in the tooth.

I'd think the Money would better be spent riding AcelaFC, but to each their own.

I too think the announcements should only be audible outside the Sleeper after 10pm, and always thought that the Bright Lights @ the Long NYP Layover were a PITA!
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,082
Location
Socal
I thought you could change the announcement volume in the VI's, that's a shame
 

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
332
Location
Boston
Thank you for the report. As a previous sleeping car patron on this route I've been watching the return of the service with interest. Some of your pics are outstanding. I'm curious about the one - the bed wasn't made up when you boarded? Seems counter-productive on Amtrak's part.
I requested the top bunk. A decision I later regretted, as the upper mattress is too hard, the the PA system was right above my head.
And thank you!
 

Night Ranger

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
123
I don't do upper bunks anymore. ;)
I CAN"T do upper bunks anymore. Both knees, one shoulder and one hip replacement have eliminated that choice for me. I've done several trips back in the day when I could climb semi-gracefully into a top bunk but not any more.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,347
Location
Baltimore. MD
My experience at Union Station was positive, though the Acela Lounge there is quite a letdown. I expected cleaner seats (crumbs were all over some of them) and cleaner bathrooms (someone left the men's room a mess in more ways than one).
That's a real shame, I've used the Club Acela at Union Station for almost 10 years before I retired, and I never had a problem with cleanliness. My last trip was in January, and it was perfectly clean. In fact, I always thought that the bathrooms at the Club Acela at Union Station were one of the reasons I made sure to qualify for Select Plus every year. If you've ever used the public restrooms at Union Station, you'll know what I mean.

Did you let the attendant know there was a problem? They really can't be patrolling the space all the time, and it only takes one pig to mess things up.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,347
Location
Baltimore. MD
So checked baggage is offered at BOS for the 9 hour ride on this train to WAS but not for the 22 hour ride on the LSL to CHI.

Wunnerful - simply wunnerful!
What are you talking about? The Lake Shore Limited offers checked baggage between both Boston and New York to Chicago. Also to Springfield, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo and South Bend.
Lake Shore Limited-New York-Boston-Chicago-October122020 (amtrak.com)
This is the October 2020 timetable, so I guess it's the most current.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,517
Location
Chicago, Illinois
What are you talking about? The Lake Shore Limited offers checked baggage between both Boston and New York to Chicago. Also to Springfield, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo and South Bend.
Lake Shore Limited-New York-Boston-Chicago-October122020 (amtrak.com)
This is the October 2020 timetable, so I guess it's the most current.
That timetable is inaccurate; checked baggage service is no longer offered on the Boston section of the LSL.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
2,205
Location
USA
Mostly money.

Additionally staff on board (one conductor per three cars.), staff at stations, weight of the car (fuel use, extra locomotive). Maintenance of equipment, both train and station. The cost of the equipment to provide the service.

A strong desire to make it harder to use the long distance trains. (Conspiracy theory)
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
921
Location
QB 101
Mostly money. Additionally staff on board (one conductor per three cars.)
Unless things have changed since Covid, every time I've ridden #448/449 ALB-SPG or BOS-SPG (I live in the Springfield area), there's been both a conductor and an assistant conductor to handle 'all those passengers' in the 2 coaches. Maybe they've cut back due to low passenger counts? I don't know what the union staffing rules are for a 4 car train, but given I regularly ride the 2-car 'shuttle' SPG-NHV, I would surmise that a conductor and A/C are the minimum staffing for any Amtrak train.

I'll be in the sleeper on #67 next week. I'm hoping it's in the rear of the train like it should be and was back in it's previous incarnations (I rode it a couple times). If not, I'll venture they've cut back on expenses and don't turn the train at BOS. Perhaps they stopped turning it at NPN as well as I suspect the sleeper is not switched out at WAS, only vacated, to save switching costs.
 

ehbowen

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,443
Location
Houston, Texas
Yes, the lack of a baggage car is one of the reasons.
That's just lack of will. There is always a way to do it if you want to. I remember when the Houston section of the Texas Eagle. was still running. They didn't have a baggage car, either...but they offered checked baggage. They used the A/C equipment space at the end of the Superliner Cafe/Coach to hold the checked baggage. I realize that Amfleets and Viewliners don't have this same space, but an analogue could be found if they really wanted to. For example, they could place a VL roomette Out Of Service and use it to hold the checked bags. It's not like they need to offer checked bags to intermediate points; just having Albany and Boston (in that section) would suffice.
 

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
332
Location
Boston
Unless things have changed since Covid, every time I've ridden #448/449 ALB-SPG or BOS-SPG (I live in the Springfield area), there's been both a conductor and an assistant conductor to handle 'all those passengers' in the 2 coaches. Maybe they've cut back due to low passenger counts? I don't know what the union staffing rules are for a 4 car train, but given I regularly ride the 2-car 'shuttle' SPG-NHV, I would surmise that a conductor and A/C are the minimum staffing for any Amtrak train.

I'll be in the sleeper on #67 next week. I'm hoping it's in the rear of the train like it should be and was back in it's previous incarnations (I rode it a couple times). If not, I'll venture they've cut back on expenses and don't turn the train at BOS. Perhaps they stopped turning it at NPN as well as I suspect the sleeper is not switched out at WAS, only vacated, to save switching costs.
Sleeper is at front of train just behind baggage car for 66 as well, so I think it’s a permanent move.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
959
What are the others?
All you really need to know is that 448 and 449 are the least respected trains in the Amtrak system. They get no respect. They used to offer good service but that has declined. I wouldn't be surprised if the sleeper will go next, followed by the cafe car. And then 448 and 449 will disappear but no one will notice.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
959
That timetable is inaccurate; checked baggage service is no longer offered on the Boston section of the LSL.
I believe that technically you can check baggage in Boston for Chicago if you are travelling on the Lake Shore. The problem is that your baggage does not travel on the Boston section of the Lake Shore but goes to New York that night on 67 and then goes out on 49 the next day so there will be a slight delay in picking up your baggage.

The indication in the timetable that Springfield has checked baggage is incorrect as far as I know but corrections would be welcome.
 

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
332
Location
Boston
All you really need to know is that 448 and 449 are the least respected trains in the Amtrak system. They get no respect. They used to offer good service but that has declined. I wouldn't be surprised if the sleeper will go next, followed by the cafe car. And then 448 and 449 will disappear but no one will notice.
This is largely because 448/49 (but especially the Boston leg) can't compete with any other form of travel on that route (even intermediate cities), and it doesn't offer a service that would make it worth it. The train is late most of the time and has terrible service. It is already far too long a train ride, so a very small portion of passengers use the train to get from either end to the other.

I went to school in Oberlin close to the Elyria stop and would have gladly taken a train from South Station, but the whole Cleveland area has terrible stop times (in early morning around 3-4am), and it just wasn't worth the 16 hours aboard the train. A ticket in coach might be worth it if buses didn't provide faster and cheaper service to KCLE area.
 
Last edited:

edolan

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
16
Location
NJ
Just wanted to share a few thoughts and pictures from my overnight journey from BOS - WAS on the inaugural return of sleeper cars to the NE Regional 65-67.
I would put this in the trip reports, but I thought it might spark additional conversation.
Miles in Transit (who had a roomette next to mine booked only from BOS to BBY) has a video out.

Arriving at South Station and being able to wait in the lounge is a plus. Amtrak lounges are great, and often staffed by wonderful people. This was no exception.
They offered to check my bags, but I did not have any luggage aside from my instrument and backpack.

The sleeper car was the first car at the front of the train, so it was quite a walk, especially since tracks have been shortened at SS due to construction. I must admit, the cars are old, but from the outside, they look great!
View attachment 21534View attachment 21539View attachment 21533

I am sorry to report the my roomette was dirty when I arrived. The floor had not been thoroughly vacuumed, and while the seats were clean, the table and all other surfaces had to be wiped down. This was different from my November trip aboard the Cal Zephyr, which was overall a well cleaned room and pleasant trip.
The train departed and arrived on time, and station stops were exactly as planned, with the exception of New Haven, which lasted longer than scheduled. I was genuinely surprised how well patronized the train was, especially at the Providence stop. About 50 people boarded the train there.

In the morning, the "continental breakfast" they offered was abysmal. It was a cracker, a muffin, with a bottle of Fiji water (the best thing in the box) with a Kind Breakfast bar. The box they offer is identical on the outside to the Acela First Class "snack box," just much worse.

My experience at Union Station was positive, though the Acela Lounge there is quite a letdown. I expected cleaner seats (crumbs were all over some of them) and cleaner bathrooms (someone left the men's room a mess in more ways than one).

My Acela return journey after brief business in DC was great. The train was on time every step of the way, and Amtrak's Acela product is obviously fine tuned and very good. I would say business class offers the best value, as first class really is not much different with the exception of food (but during covid times, there's basically no difference). It was especially fun to take advantage of the 20 minute NYP stop and check out the new station.
View attachment 21540View attachment 21541View attachment 21542

By far the biggest let down of the sleeper train however, is the full volume diatribes the took place at every single major stop throughout the journey (the worst was NYP; that announcement lasted 2 minutes).
How is anyone in the sleeper car supposed to get consistent sleep. I doubt anyone who books a sleeper car is getting out at any of the intermediate destinations (especially NYP).
Doesn't Amtrak have a moratorium on announcements after 9 p.m.? I know that this train is technically a corridor train, but when I last road the sleeper version in 2001, there were no announcements after New London.

Overall a big disappointment, despite this being a much desired service. Will I take it again? Definitely. Will I recommend it? Maybe not to everyone.
Thoughts on the announcements and food service?
If you wanted to go past WAS would you just book two tickets: one sleeper to WAS and one coach to NPN — because if you try to book BOS to NPN it says the sleeper is sold out for all dates... certainly would want to get a sleeper for as much of the journey as possible. Also — if the sleeper stays on the train in WAS would they let you just stay in your room?
 

fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
285
Very disappointing to read this. The Viewliner rooms used to have a volume control that you could use to turn down the announcements. I always set it to zero to avoid being awakened, figuring the SCA or crew would knock on the door if there was something really important to communicate. But in more recent years I've found the volume control either missing or not working on many trips.

There is no way I would want to book a sleeper room on this train if I'm going to be awakened by announcements at New York. The whole point is to be able to sleep through NYP.

And there's really no excuse for not having the room clean at the point of origin.
 
Top