In the spirit of silly rules...

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VentureForth

Conductor
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
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...especially those made up on the fly...

I just boarded the Piedmont in Charlotte. There was initially one boarding line, really long. Suddenly, half the line moved to the back of the train. Not hearing any announcement I took my boys in tow and joined the other line. Then I hear it's for Raleigh and Durham passengers only. As I am only going to Kannapolis, I told the conductor we would sit in the cafe; cloths we board there and walk up? NO! You board at the next car!

Sheesh.
 
E

Eurotraveller

Guest
This is why we need the European boarding system where all doors open and passengers board as they please. It's a lot faster, too.
 

VentureForth

Conductor
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Jan 23, 2007
Messages
5,852
I completely agree. The conductors also have the front two tables loaded with their crap. They, however, are sitting in the rear of the car, taking up a third table.
 
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neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
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7,778
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
 
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TVRM610

Conductor
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
1,664
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.

VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
 

Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.
VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
So don't man the doors. Nobody mans the doors on the Surfliners and thousands of people successfully board them everyday without any issues.
 

MattW

Conductor
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
1,729
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.
VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
So don't man the doors. Nobody mans the doors on the Surfliners and thousands of people successfully board them everyday without any issues.
Playing devil's advocate (sorry DA) the Surfliners are low-level boarding while the Piedmonts are high-level equipment so there's traps, and 4 feet worth of stairs. But I agree otherwise, these silly boarding policies can't be good for ridership, in many cases people ride the train to escape the madness of the airport, not be thrust right back into it.
 
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dengor

Guest
Charlotte seems to have a history of other procedures that are hard to understand. In December 2000 I arrived in the Charlotte station about a half hour before the Piedmont departed. A good sign was that the train was already at the platform. The station was crowded, people were milling about, and then a station attendant shouted “unless all you people stand against the side, no one will board the train.” I could not believe an employee threatened all of the paid ticket holders with not boarding – can you imagine that happening at an airport, football game or concert? Of course the threat was meaningless, but it did make people even more nervous and uncomfortable. Then it got worse:

- Instead of defusing the situation by letting passengers go outside and get out of the crowded station, we had to wait inside until 10 or 12 minutes before departure.

- It was below freezing, but after letting passengers outside, Amtrak did not let them get on the train. Instead, we had to wait in the freezing air.

- Instead of opening all doors, the crew opened only a quarter of the doors. This slowed the boarding process.

- Instead of assisting passengers board the train, the crew stood around and did nothing. They did not assist passengers with their luggage, but did holler at people, particularly an elderly lady by saying “hurry up and put your bags away.”

[SIZE=12pt]This fiasco was summarized by a gentleman standing next to me who said “You would think they never boarded a train before.”[/SIZE]
 

TVRM610

Conductor
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
1,664
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.
VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
So don't man the doors. Nobody mans the doors on the Surfliners and thousands of people successfully board them everyday without any issues.
Well these cars don't have automatic doors either... if it's not against rules I suppose at the big stations like Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh the Conductors could each open multiple traps..
 

surfgeek

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 19, 2010
Messages
85
"- Instead of defusing the situation by letting passengers go outside and get out of the crowded station, we had to wait inside until 10 or 12 minutes before departure.

- It was below freezing, but after letting passengers outside, Amtrak did not let them get on the train. Instead, we had to wait in the freezing air."

You can't win for losing sometimes...we get this "let us out, now! it's cold out there, why did you let us outside?" thing a lot in SJC. We try to keep the Starlight passengers inside (or at least off the platform for track 1) until about 10 minutes before train arrival -- not on a whim, not out of spite, and really not because of anything to do with the passengers for 11, but to keep Caltrain and Capitol Corridor passengers off of the platform where they'll be tempted to cross active tracks to get to their correct boarding platform. We (station hosts) try to explain this, but there's always someone who does the "i want out, i want in" routine. Must've been cats in a previous life.
 

MikefromCrete

Conductor
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
2,616
Charlotte seems to have a history of other procedures that are hard to understand. In December 2000 I arrived in the Charlotte station about a half hour before the Piedmont departed. A good sign was that the train was already at the platform. The station was crowded, people were milling about, and then a station attendant shouted “unless all you people stand against the side, no one will board the train.” I could not believe an employee threatened all of the paid ticket holders with not boarding – can you imagine that happening at an airport, football game or concert? Of course the threat was meaningless, but it did make people even more nervous and uncomfortable. Then it got worse:

- Instead of defusing the situation by letting passengers go outside and get out of the crowded station, we had to wait inside until 10 or 12 minutes before departure.

- It was below freezing, but after letting passengers outside, Amtrak did not let them get on the train. Instead, we had to wait in the freezing air.

- Instead of opening all doors, the crew opened only a quarter of the doors. This slowed the boarding process.

- Instead of assisting passengers board the train, the crew stood around and did nothing. They did not assist passengers with their luggage, but did holler at people, particularly an elderly lady by saying “hurry up and put your bags away.”

[SIZE=12pt]This fiasco was summarized by a gentleman standing next to me who said “You would think they never boarded a train before.”[/SIZE]
so, did you want to go outside or did you want to stay warm in the station?
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Just a few things: There's usually a potential safety hazard if passengers are permitted to board or detrain at an unattended door. When I used to board & detrain passengers, my eyes were usually on their feet, to ensure no tripping. There are exceptions, but in general, any train door that has steps should have somebody there to supervise the boarding and detraining process, and this is true even if it's a very small half step. If there are only enough staff to safely monitor one or two doors, then one or two doors are all that should be used. Most of the situations described involve trains/stations/equipment with which I am not familiar. However, it's very likely that these specific procedures have been adopted because of past near misses or (hopefully not) accidents. Remember the old adage, "the rulebook was written in blood."

Tom
 

VentureForth

Conductor
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
5,852
Oh, and I forgot to mention the kindergarten walk. 30 minutes before departure, there were about 50 pax in line, standing, rather than enjoying the nice historic pew benches. Totally unnecessary as just about everyone got to sit where they wanted.
 
W

World Traveller

Guest
Just a few things: There's usually a potential safety hazard if passengers are permitted to board or detrain at an unattended door.

Tom
Then why can millions of people do it every day in Europe without incident? This includes (often) opening the car door and climbing steps into the train. Sorry, your statement doesn't compute.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,009
Just a few things: There's usually a potential safety hazard if passengers are permitted to board or detrain at an unattended door.

Tom
Then why can millions of people do it every day in Europe without incident? This includes (often) opening the car door and climbing steps into the train. Sorry, your statement doesn't compute.
Tom was a longtime excellent OBS Employee for Amtrak concerned with the safety and comfort of his passengers! All railroads stress safety as job one!
Unfortunately this society has an excess of hungry lawyers ( aka ambulance chasers) who file lawsuits @ the drop of a hat whenever anything out of the ordinary happens!

And European Stations generally have level, smooth platforms and equipment that is kept in better shape than the run to death Amtrak rolling stock! I'm not sure if you've ever had to climb up or down the steps into an Amfleet or Viewliner car that has frozen steps and vestibules, or a Superliner where the yellow footstools are sometimes uneven due to having to be placed on ballast!

They're accidents waiting to happen!

Other factors are lack of staff, as mentioned ( NEC Trains and lots of others have no Attendants, just the Conductor and possibly an AC) and in some stations the thundering herd stampedes to board/de-train and literally runs over other passengers!

There is no excuse for being made to stand in line for 30 minutes in or outside a Station,especially in extreme weather conditions, and "Chicago Attitudes" on the part of Rail Staff, whether Paid or Volunteer, is Unacceptable!
 
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AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
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May 6, 2011
Messages
11,734
Is the US more litigation happy than other countries? Just wondering if that might be part of the problem. I'm tired of seeing so many "use common sense, people" signs because so many people sue and win for their own stupid actions.
 

Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
There's usually a potential safety hazard if passengers are permitted to board or detrain at an unattended door.
So many other services don't seem to have a problem with this. Why is Amtrak alone tasked with such concerns?
The interesting thing is that individual lines seem to do their own thing (Heartland Flyer checking all tickets on the platform for instance).
 

Karl1459

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
461
It seems to me this is a communication issue as to which car passenger are to board, rather than a arbitary rule.

There are likely very real operational reasons for doing what they did.

I know on the CS with a full consist for the last coach (southbound 11) conductors attempt to fill with LAX passengers so they do not have to open the car except at smoke stops, in similar fashion the (nortbound 14) the last coach gets PDX and SEA people. VAN passengers DO NOT go into the last coach as the platform is not long enough to open the last car without a double stop.
 
W

World Traveller

Guest
And European Stations generally have level, smooth platforms and equipment that is kept in better shape than the run to death Amtrak rolling stock! I'm not sure if you've ever had to climb up or down the steps into an Amfleet or Viewliner car that has frozen steps and vestibules, or a Superliner where the yellow footstools are sometimes uneven due to having to be placed on ballast!

They're accidents waiting to happen!
-----True, but 90% of the time these conditions do not exist. And European platforms in remote areas, such as Sicily or the Balkans, can be pretty awful, but people still seem to board the train without difficulty and assistance. Last time I was in Croatia there was a lot of boarding and deboarding at remote crossings with no platforms at all, but it was no problem.
 
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MikefromCrete

Conductor
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
2,616
And European Stations generally have level, smooth platforms and equipment that is kept in better shape than the run to death Amtrak rolling stock! I'm not sure if you've ever had to climb up or down the steps into an Amfleet or Viewliner car that has frozen steps and vestibules, or a Superliner where the yellow footstools are sometimes uneven due to having to be placed on ballast!

They're accidents waiting to happen!

-----True, but 90% of the time these conditions do not exist. And European platforms in remote areas, such as Sicily or the Balkans, can be pretty awful, but people still seem to board the train without difficulty and assistance. Last time I was in Croatia there was a lot of boarding and deboarding at remote crossings with no platforms at all, but it was no problem.
Apparently, Croatians don't have as many lawyers as Americans do.
 

TVRM610

Conductor
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
1,664
In case anyone is unfamiliar with the Piedmont Train... this is usually a 4 car train set. This is a "local" train, not a standard Amtrak train. The 1st car is a Combine Baggage / Lounge. The following 3 cars are coaches. So having 2 doors open for 3 coaches is not a crazy unrealistically low number.

Since there are only 2 Conductors, at the intermediate stops with baggage service, 1 Conductor is in the Baggage car, leaving 1 conductor to open 1 door for passengers.. that's why they keep the back car for End Point passengers only and open the door in between the 2 forward coaches.

I've ridden this service a few times and really haven't seen anything to complain about, the trains leave on time and everyone gets a seat.

Now on the flip side...

You don't have to go all the way over to Europe, New Jersey Transit has automatic doors for low level platforms... The traps are still manually set by the Conductors for low level or high level platforms but at low level stops all doors automatically open.

Chicago Metra has bi-level cars but they still open up to 3 or 4 steps up into the car.

Of course these trains are set up with automatic doors, the Piedmont equipment does not have that.
 
D

dengor

Guest
RE: "did you want to go outside or did you want to stay warm in the station?"

I wanted to go outside and get right on the train. Remember, the train was already at the station.

Instead, we got the worst of both worlds - first, had to wait inside in a crowded space and second, when we finally went outside, we had to wait around some more in the cold..
 

seat38a

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.
VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
So don't man the doors. Nobody mans the doors on the Surfliners and thousands of people successfully board them everyday without any issues.
The Surfliner has automatic doors that can be opened and closed from 1 single panel. Same with the California cars used on the San Joaquin. If the doors are automatic, they don't seem to have an issue with boarding at any open door, its just the manual ones that needs a conductor or an attendant to man.
 

BCL

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
3,795
I don't know how such behavior developed or why Amtrak tolerates it. This is not the kind of behavior the private railroads tolerated. And it *really slows down boarding*, which means it has to be abolished.
Well in the Case of the Piedmont there are only 2 crew (Conductor and Assistant Conductor) so they can only open up 2 doors if each door is going to be manned.
VentureForth... just be glad you got on at Charlotte and avoided the NCDOT gate police (AKA "Station Hosts) at some of the smaller stations.

I've ridden the Piedmont a few times and will agree the Conductors are very adamant about the boarding system... however they do have a system and they seem to follow it consistently.
So don't man the doors. Nobody mans the doors on the Surfliners and thousands of people successfully board them everyday without any issues.
The Surfliner has automatic doors that can be opened and closed from 1 single panel. Same with the California cars used on the San Joaquin. If the doors are automatic, they don't seem to have an issue with boarding at any open door, its just the manual ones that needs a conductor or an attendant to man.
Doors can be locked out - typically the cafe car doors. The sequence can be weird too, with the conductor manually opening a one side of one door, looking out that door, and then opening the remainder once stopped. I've also seen it where the conductor does this from a cafe car door (where the lower level is the conductors' "office". I accidentally got on from one of these doors and had to change cars at the next stop.

It's also kind of strange when some passengers stand in front of the cafe car doors and they don't open. I know how to spot them, but even some experienced Amtrak passengers don't seem to be able to tell.
 
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