How often do trains run late???????

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We are taking a family trip at the end of march and it will be the first time on amtrak. All of the posts on this board have been enlightening and helpful to say the least. Everyone seems friendly and your tips and comments have helped us prepare for the upcoming trip.

With that said, I read in many posts about the trains running late. It raises a couple questions:

1. How often are the trains late?? What is the normal time early or late the train runs?

2. If a train is especially late, how do they ever catch up with their schedule?

I read someplace that trains and type A people may not be a good mix. Well, on my way to my vacation spot, I'm more likely to be the laid back type, it is the coming home part I'm worried about! :lol:
 

Amfleet

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canoe86 said:
We are taking a family trip at the end of march and it will be the first time on amtrak. All of the posts on this board have been enlightening and helpful to say the least. Everyone seems friendly and your tips and comments have helped us prepare for the upcoming trip.
With that said, I read in many posts about the trains running late. It raises a couple questions:

1. How often are the trains late?? What is the normal time early or late the train runs?

2. If a train is especially late, how do they ever catch up with their schedule?

I read someplace that trains and type A people may not be a good mix. Well, on my way to my vacation spot, I'm more likely to be the laid back type, it is the coming home part I'm worried about! :lol:
I'm sure others will have more input, but this might help out.

1. The national on-time performance (OTP) average for Amtrak is about 70-75%. Each trains OTP varies, mostly in part to the host railroad it runs over. The earliest a train can arrive is about 15-30 minutes ahead of schedule. That rarely happens and a train can not leave a station early. It can only leave at scheduled departure time. However, some trains can run late, very late. If a train arrives within 30 minutes of its scheduled arrival it is considered "on-time" by Amtrak. Anything more is late.

2. If a train is late within an hour of its schedule then it does have an opportunity to make up time due to padding in the schedule. Padding is extra time alotted between two stations for a train to make up time in case it is running late. However, everything has to run like clockwork in ordered for a train to make up time. If it runs into any further delays within the alotted padding time than it is very unlikely any time will be made up.
 

WICT106

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it can vary from day to day, and from Route to route. Just because one route is chronically tardy doesn't mean the entire system is bad. It also depends upon the amount of frieght traffic on that particular line that particular day, and on the atitude the "host" (i.e., landlord) railroad has towards Amtrak. For example: the Empire Builder, running over Canadain pacific & Burlington Nothern rails, has a history of being quite punctual. The Sunset Limited, OTOH, travels over Union Pacific RR tracks, and, due in part ot the sheer quantity of traffic over that line, has a history of chronic tardiness. There are numerous exceptions to these rules, however.

The answer to your second question is that when a train is really late, they won't catch up to their schedule.

Years ago, during the time when the passenger trains were run by the individual private railroads, many companies took great pride and extensive measures to see that the passenger trains were almost never late. Nowadyas, that isn't always the case. In all fairness, I should point out that busses and airplanes can also be late, or delayed, as well. It's inaccurate and incorrect to say that only trains are late. Sometimes flights can be delayed for several hours.
 
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In our own discussions and final decision to take the train, we agreed that planes can be late too. Even driving, you are bound to get a traffic stoppage or 2. I was just curious about how often it happened because in many posts people comment on it. The train we are riding is the City of New Orleans from Chicago. We also have a small connecting ride from Michigan to Chicago. Thanks for the replies so far.
 

AMTRAK-P42

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The City of New Orleans is not normally extremely late. I have ridden it anywhere from ontime to two hours behind schedule. The biggest risk I can see on this route, is that it only travels with one engine, so if it breaks down, you will find larger delays then on 2-Engine routes.
 

Bill Haithcoat

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The good news is that your specific trains will probably be ok, they do not have a reputation for lateness as some do.

Lateness is a strange thing with the railroads. I have been on trains which arrived as much as one hour early and I have also been up to nine hours late.

A really long trip, like, say. Chicago to the West Coast can see enormous fluctuations during the course of a trip, you can get over an hour late and yet make it up,due to padding in the schedule before you get there..

Padding is not just to help absorb delays over the entire trip, rather it also absorbs delays into larger stations. For example, a southbound train might leave a big station at 8 p.m., it may stop at the first small station at 9 p.m. Northbound, it might leave that last small station at 4 p.m. and arrive at the big station at 5.20. Do you see what happened there? They allow 20 extra minutes in this hypothetical example to better ensure on time arrival into the big city,where more people are involved, over the small town.

Trains can never leave early with one or two unique exceptions. There are trains whcih operate from NYC to FLorida and to New Orleans(via Washington,DC) which do not carry passengers locally between NYC and Washington. So, southbound , between NYC and Wash they stop only to receive passengers and of course cannot leave early as they might leave somebody behind.

However....northbound, once these same trains, from Florida to NYC and New Orleans to NYC arrive Washington, they are no longer picking up anybody (remember--------they do not carry passengers locally between those two points--------there are plenty of other trains to do just that.) This means that once they leave , actually, ALexandria for some of them and Washington for one of them, they are no longer picking anybody up and thus,really can breeze through early, ALL TRAFFIC CONDITIONS OTHERWISE BEING EQUAL. I have heard of such trains arriving NY even more than an hour early.

There are one or two other cases like this on Amtrak.

But, don't sweat, your trains are usually on time. As to trains and type "A" personalities not mixing, there may be some truth to that.....but maybe sometimes, ....just sometimes.....learning to relax and appreciating the down-on-the ground landscape might help a least a few type A's to "stop and smell the roses" and get a little calmer.
 
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swamp

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I also had some concern about the lateness discussed many, many times in this discussion group. We are booked Ca to Boston with connection in Chicago, then Boston to Seattle with connection again in Chicago.

Despite the concern of missing the connection, we still plan on going.

Our philosophy is: Even a mis-adventure can be an adventure!

The one thing that does concern me, is the availability of a sleeper on the next train, if we are so late that we spend the night. Especially an accessible room. Does anyone know what the policy of providing an accessible room, on a misconnection, on the next train??

I too find this room interesting and informative, Canoe
 

battalion51

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Well it all depends on the availability on the next train. It may not be available, but I would just stay relaxed and take it as it comes, Amtrak will take care of you one way or another.
 

Amfleet

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swamp said:
I also had some concern about the lateness discussed many, many times in this discussion group. We are booked Ca to Boston with connection in Chicago, then Boston to Seattle with connection again in Chicago.
Despite the concern of missing the connection, we still plan on going.

Our philosophy is: Even a mis-adventure can be an adventure!

The one thing that does concern me, is the availability of a sleeper on the next train, if we are so late that we spend the night. Especially an accessible room. Does anyone know what the policy of providing an accessible room, on a misconnection, on the next train??

I too find this room interesting and informative, Canoe
Swamp, I'm not sure when you are traveling and what train(s) you are on from Chicago to Boston, but there has been some changes that are in effect until further notice. The thru Sleeper to Boston was pulled from the train and further more there is no longer a thru train to Boston. You take train #48 to Albany where there is a cross platform transfer to train #448 on to Boston. Make sure that you have a Sleeper on train #48 from Chicago to Albany. From there to Boston it will be in Coach, but it is only 6 hours. Same in reverse except it's #449 to Albany and #49 from Albany to Chicago.
 

AlanB

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Amfleet said:
You take train #48 to Albany where there is a cross platform transfer to train #448 on to Boston.
Alas, it is not an across the platfrom transfer, at least from my experience. In fact, unless the Boston shuttle train makes a reverse move, it can never be a cross platform connection.

The Boston section can only pull into the Main track, which is a single track platform. So unless it pulls forward past the station and then backs up to reach the center island platform for the other two tracks, then one cannot transfer without going upstairs into the station and back down.

When I rode the LSL from NY this past Tuesday, the Boston consist wasn't even in the station when we pulled in. It was already in the yard, and we were not late either from NY.
 

Amtrak Watcher

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As one who rides planes, trains, buses, and drives all the time, I can assure anyone that Amtrak is different from the other modes when it comes to being late. First, if you are late Amtrak will get you to your destination without a big hassle. This is in sharp contrast with the airlines, which leave much of the responsibility for getting to your destination to you. Second, when things start to look questionable as to your arrival, it is much easier to get the truth out of the conductor than any airline employee. Third, if you are late, it really doesn’t matter much, because it’s much more comfortable on the train than on the bus, or plane, or in the car.
 

Bill Haithcoat

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Amtrak Watcher said:
As one who rides planes, trains, buses, and drives all the time, I can assure anyone that Amtrak is different from the other modes when it comes to being late. First, if you are late Amtrak will get you to your destination without a big hassle. This is in sharp contrast with the airlines, which leave much of the responsibility for getting to your destination to you. Second, when things start to look questionable as to your arrival, it is much easier to get the truth out of the conductor than any airline employee. Third, if you are late, it really doesn’t matter much, because it’s much more comfortable on the train than on the bus, or plane, or in the car.
Wow!! What a neat testimony.That is a good way to begin a Monday morning. Thanks amtrakwatcher for your input.
 
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swamp

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Amfleet,

we are booked on 448 & 449 July 18and July 29, respectively. I remember reading previous postings that the schedule will return to normal in May. Hope this is still the case. As my wife is 'non wheel chair bound' handicapped, I was concerned about the chance of not having a accessible sleeper. Especially on the Chicago to Seattle route. We could probably handle the single level LSL, albeit not easily.

I noticed the CZ OTP at 12 %, and LSL @ 24% (posted today by you). I wonder if they have average time of lateness data. Those percentages are bothersome and amazing in a way. Guess you dont set your watch by amtrak lol.

thanks

:(
 
S

swamp

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addendum to above

Alan,

Does the station at Albany have an elevator, if we need to go over to the other platform??

thanks
 

AlanB

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swamp said:
addendum to above
Alan,

Does the station at Albany have an elevator, if we need to go over to the other platform??

thanks
Yes Albany's station is brand new, having only opened a year ago, so it is fully ADA compliant.
 
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Hi canoe86, i know just what u mean about not knowing how late the trains run. we have train tickets for our trip this summer and i have heard some real troubling stories about late trains; especially the one that i will be boarding. the Sunset Limited. i am concerned about making our connection with the Coast Starlight on time. everyone says to relax and not to worry. hehe

:rolleyes:
 

battalion51

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Well if you're going to hope for any amount of lateness, let it be 24 hours, so that you'll still have your connection, just with the next days trains. :lol:
 

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esorami said:
Hi canoe86, i know just what u mean about not knowing how late the trains run. we have train tickets for our trip this summer and i have heard some real troubling stories about late trains; especially the one that i will be boarding. the Sunset Limited. i am concerned about making our connection with the Coast Starlight on time. everyone says to relax and not to worry. hehe

:rolleyes:
The worst that happens is Amtrak takes you off at a stop before Los Angeles and buses you to the Coast Starlight stop at a more northern location. Thus, you miss much of the coastline the train passes through southern California. If it all possible, I would suggest that you overnight in LA and take the next mornings Coast Starlight.
 

engine999

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Amfleet said:
esorami said:
Hi canoe86, i know just what u mean about not knowing how late the trains run. we have train tickets for our trip this summer and i have heard some real troubling stories about late trains; especially the one that i will be boarding. the Sunset Limited. i am concerned about making our connection with the Coast Starlight on time. everyone says to relax and not to worry. hehe  

:rolleyes:
The worst that happens is Amtrak takes you off at a stop before Los Angeles and buses you to the Coast Starlight stop at a more northern location. Thus, you miss much of the coastline the train passes through southern California. If it all possible, I would suggest that you overnight in LA and take the next mornings Coast Starlight.
Thats not as bad as being on the east bound limited and beign bussed from NOL to Orl cause the train is so late there is no way for it to be turned around for the run back the next day. Thats over 12 hours on the bus! :(
 

Amfleet

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engine999 said:
Amfleet said:
esorami said:
Hi canoe86, i know just what u mean about not knowing how late the trains run. we have train tickets for our trip this summer and i have heard some real troubling stories about late trains; especially the one that i will be boarding. the Sunset Limited. i am concerned about making our connection with the Coast Starlight on time. everyone says to relax and not to worry. hehe  

:rolleyes:
The worst that happens is Amtrak takes you off at a stop before Los Angeles and buses you to the Coast Starlight stop at a more northern location. Thus, you miss much of the coastline the train passes through southern California. If it all possible, I would suggest that you overnight in LA and take the next mornings Coast Starlight.
Thats not as bad as being on the east bound limited and beign bussed from NOL to Orl cause the train is so late there is no way for it to be turned around for the run back the next day. Thats over 12 hours on the bus! :(
This is why I feel once equipment is avalible the Sunset should broken up into two trains. I think the long transcon run has some affect on delays. There should be a daily, MIA-NOL train, Gulf Coast Limited that would connect to a thrice daily NOL-LAX, Sinset Limited. The Gulf Coast could share equipment with the City of NOL while the Sunset turns in NOL using its own set of equipment.

Now a few problems with my idea come up. One is that Sanford is now the homebase for the Sunset and performs a lot of the maintenence on the Superliner II cars. With the Gulf Coast in effect, that Superliner maintenence would be shifted to Chicago and Hialeah. That would be some what of a loss considering Sanford does a good job with the Superliners.
 

Amtrak Watcher

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As a rule, I overnight when changing trains unless I have a specific reason to suspect I can meet my connecting train on the same day. For example, when going from Dallas to Philadelphia (a regular trip for me) I recklessly book the Three Rivers (#40) which departs Chicago at 22:30, eight hours after arriving in Chicago off the Texas eagle (#22) which is scheduled to arrive in CHI at 14:25. I take this chance, because my long experience with the Texas Eagle suggests I’ll probably make the connection. My experience also tells me I would suffer a substantial risk of missing the Lake Shore Limited (#48), which departs CHI at 19:00. Likewise, I always book the Texas Eagle (#21 departs CHI at 15:20) the same day I arrive in Chicago on the Three Rivers (#41 arrives in CHI at 07:45). On the other hand, I regularly book same-day connections FROM the Empire Builder TO the Coast Starlight, but never the other way around. I always overnight in Portland or Seattle when meeting the Empire Builder off the Coast Starlight. Similarly, I ALWAYS overnight in San Antonio or New Orleans when meeting ANY train off the Sunset Limited (even the constituent Texas Eagle). Booking connections is a combination of experience and your own personal tolerance for things. For me, and I suspect for most people, it’s not so much the lateness as it is surprises and a lack of control that annoys us. I make my bookings to avoid surprises and maintain control. Those lacking personal experience with the trains can routinely get good advice on this forum.
 
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