ICE

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tricia

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Found a picture, not pods, but pushbutton dispensing. K cups and other pods are generally pretty good, but pricey.
That is actually a pretty good solution (and obviously different from the setup inside the Club Acela). At least hot water is available (which, like ice, is another item not easily supplied by passengers); I default to tea when foodservice coffee isn’t to my liking.
Glad to see this is available on the autotrain. Alas, as far as I know, none of Amtrak's other sleepers offers anything but caffeinated Amcoffee. No hot water or decaf.
 
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PVD

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The AutoTrain is a bit odd compared to other LD routes, If on schedule, it doesn't have a "normal" morning, it is continental breakfast and prepare to detrain.
 

Karl1459

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Glad to see this wasn't about the other ICE.
Which is what I thought of originally, since the ice you put in a drink is "ice", and "ICE" is an abbreviation for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for those that don't know.
There is the third "ICE" which we all should have in our cell phones, a contact for "In Case of Emergency".
 

dlagrua

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I have no idea what anyone at Amtrak has to gain by keeping ice out of the sleeping cars. Years ago ice was freely available and we didn't have any problems. On Viewliners the attendants kept a box in their room or near the coffee machine. On many Superliners there was an ice compartment below the coffee machine. No one died from using that ice. Today we just take our own cooler full of ice aboard.
 

niemi24s

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I have no idea what anyone at Amtrak has to gain by keeping ice out of the sleeping cars.
I believe what they have to gain is compliance with some FDA (or other gov't agency) rule or guideline about having uncontrolled access to ice that can be used for human consumption. The do-gooders have much control over our lives, like it or not.
 

PVD

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The FDA tightened the rules on ice. Ice is treated like food. Unless you have a dispenser where the ice is protected from public access until it is dispensed it is non compliant. It's why hotels have been changing to those horrible versions where you push up on the shroud and half the ice ends up on the floor.
 
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seat38a

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I have no idea what anyone at Amtrak has to gain by keeping ice out of the sleeping cars.
I believe what they have to gain is compliance with some FDA (or other gov't agency) rule or guideline about having uncontrolled access to ice that can be used for human consumption. The do-gooders have much control over our lives, like it or not.
During the foam cooler days, I personally saw people use their hands to scoop the ice out of it even though a scoop was available. Those "do-gooders" probably saw something similar transpire or they probably grew a sample in the petri dish which showed unwashed hands and hands in general had been touching the ice. Problem isn't the "do-gooders" but the douchebags who thought using their hands to scoop out the ice was perfectly acceptable thing to do. One time a barista at Starbucks thought it was ok to use his fingers to take out a piece of ice that was blocking the lid from closing on the drink I ordered, while I was standing right in front oh him. When I refused the drink and pointed out why, he did not understand how him taking out the ice with his finger was a problem. So to cut it short, the few ruin it for the rest.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The FDA tightened the rules on ice. Ice is treated like food. Unless you have a dispenser where the ice is protected from public access until it is dispensed it is non compliant. It's why hotels have been changing to those horrible versions where you push up on the shroud and half the ice ends up on the floor.
I'm not sure the ice is really any cleaner with those dispensers. Some folks just shove their uncleaned mugs into or over the ice chute and possibly make it worse than if they simply used a scoop.
 

PVD

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I'm not sure either, but obviously the people who make the rules are willing to guess. It is probably easier to periodically wipe down the dispenser than risk the whole supply being contaminated.
 

JayPea

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The story I got, from more than one SCA, was that an FDA was aboard the Texas Eagle and observed a dirty diaper in the chest full of ice. And that was what supposedly led to the ice not being left out. In one case an SCA on the EB told me he left out ice anyway....and Amtrak got hit with a fine. In just about (but not all) cases since then, on the Western LD trains, ice was still stored in the Styrofoam chest, but in the SCA's room. Only once was that not the case and that was with an SCA who has no business working with the public. With an admittedly small working sample, ice has always been out and available on the Eastern LD trains I've been on.
 

seat38a

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The story I got, from more than one SCA, was that an FDA was aboard the Texas Eagle and observed a dirty diaper in the chest full of ice. And that was what supposedly led to the ice not being left out. In one case an SCA on the EB told me he left out ice anyway....and Amtrak got hit with a fine. In just about (but not all) cases since then, on the Western LD trains, ice was still stored in the Styrofoam chest, but in the SCA's room. Only once was that not the case and that was with an SCA who has no business working with the public. With an admittedly small working sample, ice has always been out and available on the Eastern LD trains I've been on.
Doesn't surprise me at all. People just can't be trusted these days. I don't know what is worse the diaper in the ice chest or parents leaving the dirty diaper in the seat back pocket of airplanes after changing their kids on the tray table.
 

Rail Freak

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The story I got, from more than one SCA, was that an FDA was aboard the Texas Eagle and observed a dirty diaper in the chest full of ice. And that was what supposedly led to the ice not being left out. In one case an SCA on the EB told me he left out ice anyway....and Amtrak got hit with a fine. In just about (but not all) cases since then, on the Western LD trains, ice was still stored in the Styrofoam chest, but in the SCA's room. Only once was that not the case and that was with an SCA who has no business working with the public. With an admittedly small working sample, ice has always been out and available on the Eastern LD trains I've been on.
Doesn't surprise me at all. People just can't be trusted these days. I don't know what is worse the diaper in the ice chest or parents leaving the dirty diaper in the seat back pocket of airplanes after changing their kids on the tray table.
Reminds me of my 1st trip, where someone tried flushing a diaper! We were held up quite a while!!!
 
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RSG

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With an admittedly small working sample, ice has always been out and available on the Eastern LD trains I've been on.
As I mentioned on the other thread where this discussion recently ensued, on the Viewliners there is a wet bar setup where the ice is in a recessed area with a drain sink, so in theory anyway, melted ice which accumulates can drain off through the bag and even someone who uses their hands as an ice scoop is not as likely to wash their hands in melted ice water doing so. Of course that depends on if the melted ice water can actually drain through the bag. In my personal experience with commercially bagged ice, when you don’t want the bag to leak, it does; and when you might actually want it to, it turns into a Hefty® bag. Because this setup is essentially a galley area where there are very tight spaces for everything, it probably is less prone to those who would dump garbage there, other than in places labeled for it.
 

RSG

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During the foam cooler days, I personally saw people use their hands to scoop the ice out of it even though a scoop was available. Those "do-gooders" probably saw something similar transpire or they probably grew a sample in the petri dish which showed unwashed hands and hands in general had been touching the ice. Problem isn't the "do-gooders" but the douchebags who thought using their hands to scoop out the ice was perfectly acceptable thing to do. One time a barista at Starbucks thought it was ok to use his fingers to take out a piece of ice that was blocking the lid from closing on the drink I ordered, while I was standing right in front oh him. When I refused the drink and pointed out why, he did not understand how him taking out the ice with his finger was a problem. So to cut it short, the few ruin it for the rest.
Good for you on calling out the SBUX barista on his bad behavior. I would like to say I’m surprised by the behavior, but after a few years working in foodservice back in the day, I am not. As I was remarking to a server at a favorite restaurant the other night (who it turns out has the same cleanliness standards that I do), I never worked in a place that stressed handwashing outside of the training videos. As a result, I saw a number of violations and still do today as a customer, so I’m sure the lack of detail remains. Another issue is the proper handling of cups. Even in those served with straws or drink-through lids, the top inch of a cup or mug should be inviolate and not touched by human hands. Good luck on getting the majority of foodservice workers to consistently recognize that fact though.

Back to the Styrofoam coolers...I would never partake of the ice in one when there was a fair amount of melting occurring---or when it was obvious that the ice scoop was an annoyance to someone. I’m sure most people used a cup to scoop the ice, even when a scoop was provided (and I have to say many times, it was not), but that is still a sanitation no-no. On such occasions when my car had a messy cooler, I would go to a neighboring car and usually find one with a cooler in very good condition. That also told me that some SCAs paid more attention to the ice cooler than others.
 
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John Bredin

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Glad to see this wasn't about the other ICE.
Which is what I thought of originally, since the ice you put in a drink is "ice", and "ICE" is an abbreviation for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for those that don't know.
It's also what I thought of when I saw the headline, but I knew that this being a conversation about Amtrak that it couldn't possibly be about the 'other' ICE...
Amtrak and some of its passengers have to deal with that ICE: the Maple Leaf, the Adirondack, and some Cascades cross the US-Canadian border.
 

PVD

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Way more likely to be one of the 2 segments of CBP The former Customs or Border Patrol. ICE is the old INS
 

jis

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Way more likely to be one of the 2 segments of CBP The former Customs or Border Patrol. ICE is the old INS
There is a current Customs and Border Protection. That is the patch that all the staff at the airport checkpoint wears as far as I can tell. Just passed by one a few days back at IAD. Incidentally, it was one of the smoothest C&I experience I had in a while. The Global Entry machine worked perfectly and the CBP guy who collected the printout didn't even look at it while waving me through.

AFAICT INS function was split among three DHS agencies - USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service), CBP (Customs and Border Protection), and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) of which CBP is the largest. OTOH ICE carries out most of the handling of deportation of illegal aliens that are already in the US, the so called ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations) function..
 

PVD

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Yes, old Customs and old Border Patrol are all under the DHS umbrella now. Any border crossing train will see the Customs "group" the BP group has popped up on trains, sometimes in places that triggered long threads on this site. Most of INS is now the ICE component. At the airport or border its usually the blue uniformed officers, the BP was usually in green.
 

s10mk

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I have an ice question. Is there a good place in or around Chicago union station where I can load my cooler up with ice before departing?
 

dlagrua

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I have an ice question. Is there a good place in or around Chicago union station where I can load my cooler up with ice before departing?
Easy if you don't mind walking a few short blocks to Greektown. The walk takes about 10 minutes. Leave Union station and exit at the North side corner which is Jackson Street. . Look to your right (down Jackson street) and you will see a building in the distance with a clock tower. Walk in that direction 5 blocks down to So. Halstead Street. As soon as you walk over the expressway the next corner is So. Halstead Street. Make a right and walk two blocks up to Mariano's market. They sell bags of ice, drinks, cooked foods, Gelato, groceries, fruits, pastries and whatever you want for your trip. The food court has everything from pizza to grilled fish, while the bakery makes some superb Itaian pastries. There is also a CVS pharmacy across the street a Starbucks, numerous restaurants and a whole foods market there. A great place to stop and recharge between trains.
 

FormerOBS

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I have no idea what anyone at Amtrak has to gain by keeping ice out of the sleeping cars. Years ago ice was freely available and we didn't have any problems. On Viewliners the attendants kept a box in their room or near the coffee machine. On many Superliners there was an ice compartment below the coffee machine. No one died from using that ice. Today we just take our own cooler full of ice aboard.
Right. Nobody has anything at all to gain except maintenance of public health standards, and protection for Amtrak against lawsuits and citations for FDA violations.

The Auto Train converted to the enclosed Doue-Egbert machines many years ago after some unsupervised kids were caught putting some very objectionable substances into a 36 cup percolator. Amtrak personnel are there to provide service, but they can''t do that if they have to play the role of prison guard and ride herd over people with uncivilized behavior.

I remembered those Doue-Egbert as being capable of dispensing coffee, decaf, or hot water for tea. I texted my friend, who is working a sleeper on the Auto Train today, to ask him whether this is still true. He responded, "Some of the machines are and some are not". I believe most of the machines in the sleepers will dispense hot water.

To understand why Amtrak doesn't allow free access to ice in open, accessible ice wells anymore, please refer to my comments about the kids and the 36 cup percolator. We always kept an ice scoop available by the machine, clearly marked. In fact, when I worked the sleepers, I always kept one or two extra ice scoops in my grip in case the scoop magically disappeared enroute. Nevertheless, I caught passengers more than once reaching into the well to get ice with their bare hands. It's hard to be diplomatic and patient with somebody who is being that idiotic, but I usually tried. I got great, imaginative excuses like "But I only took one" or "I didn't think anybody would care". Once I was so mad that I just emptied the well in front of the offending person. He asked why and I calmly said. "It's been contaminated, so it's condemned until I get a chance to disinfect it. But I won't have time to do that for a while. Too many beds to make right now." It stayed empty for the rest of that trip. Call it passive aggressive if you like, but it p***ed me off. By the way, I never hesitated to go to the lounge or diner to get ice for a passenger on that trip or any other. so nobody can discipline me for not handling the situation right. Anyway, I'm retired now, so it's water under the bridge.

I have often said way over 95% of passengers in my experience were great people who just wanted to have a nice trip and get along. The cretins have always been a tiny minority, but they do exist.

We can transport the passengers, but we can't give them a sense of civic responsibility if they didn't get it at home.

Tom
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Doesn't the CVS caddy corner from Union Station have ice. I doubt s/he wants to walk 10 mins back with a cooler full of ice.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Nobody has anything to gain except protection from lawsuits and citations for FDA violations.
If that's the primary issue then why does Amtrak allow/ignore when their staff dump ice bags on the floor of a trash hauling four-wheeler, on the pavement beside the train, and on the floors of the cars themselves? If they're going to be sticklers about protocol you'd think they'd know those ice bags aren't designed for that kind of use. They're meant to go from freezer to freezer while avoiding contact with rough soiled surfaces.

I never hesitated to go to the lounge or diner to get ice for a passenger on that trip or any other. so nobody can discipline me for not handling the situation right.
If that's true then you're the first SCA I've met that was casually handing out ice during the eight or so hours between 10PM and 6AM. Not saying you or any other SCA should have to do that, just pointing out that this more restrictive ice protocol is still impacting folks even if the SCA happens to be great at their job.
 

FormerOBS

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DA:

I get tired of your trolling, which is one reason I don't visit the site daily, as I used to.

1. If a container of ice is sealed, there are many ways to handle it safely, just so it is kept sealed until use. I have not seen how these things are done in all locations, but I have never seen potable ice being hauled on a trash truck in my Amtrak experience.

2. When I was an SCA, I was not on duty 24/7. During my actual shift, I provided the best service I could. I was not "casually handing out ice" in the middle of the night, partly because that would be idiotic and while I may not be a genius, I'm not an idiot. On those occasions when I was working an all night shift, I was ready and willing to provide ice if it was needed. That was rare, but it did happen and I did it because it was my job.

SHEESH!

Tom

PS: There are some real problems in the world. Do you get some perverse delight in conjuring up new ones?
 
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RSG

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If that's the primary issue then why does Amtrak allow/ignore when their staff dump ice bags on the floor of a trash hauling four-wheeler, on the pavement beside the train, and on the floors of the cars themselves? If they're going to be sticklers about protocol you'd think they'd know those ice bags aren't designed for that kind of use. They're meant to go from freezer to freezer while avoiding contact with rough soiled surfaces.
Though I can’t recall seeing that particular example, I have seen instances where the delivery of onboard items is less than ideal. I’m pretty sure the reason for that is that not everyone working for Amtrak (or even their vendors) has been trained in food safety or provisioning. If you have someone who has never worked in a foodservice environment and who normally carts around luggage and trash, then they probably see bags of ice as not much more than ‘frozen luggage’. Someone who is aware would see the need to find a clean box and put the ice in there and then transport it on an ATV or cart. Sadly, I’ve seen similar things go on in foodservice environments where people have presumably been trained. (Like restaurant staff who drop a wiping cloth on the floor and then pick it up and wipe a table.)
 
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