Last week was probably our last LD trip on Amtrak

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niemi24s

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This thread reminds me of the old retort to a young GI's complaint - "Go tell the Chaplain and get your TS card punched!"
If riding an Amtrak sleeper compartment with fares in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars reminds you of being paid to work as a grunt in the armed forces then maybe that says more about Amtrak than it does about the passengers.
Maybe it does to you, but not to me.
 

jis

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This thread reminds me of the old retort to a young GI's complaint - "Go tell the Chaplain and get your TS card punched!"
If riding an Amtrak sleeper compartment with fares in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars reminds you of being paid to work as a grunt in the armed forces then maybe that says more about Amtrak than it does about the passengers.
Maybe it does to you, but not to me.
I thought DA's characterization was a good and valid one, and I did get a chuckle out of it.
 

MnMotherMary

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We just got back from a Great trip on the Zephyr & the staff going out was superb and the staff on our return trip were sub par. Especially when we just had the best possible crew on the trip out.

Anyways, yes the mattresses are rock hard compared to our sleep number bed set at 25. We just deal with it for the 2 sleeps on our trip compared to the fantastic views and relaxation of the train instead of driving.

I solve the food problem of feeling lethargic with all the food you CAN order & make it work for me. I had pancakes for breakfast right before last call. Just a salad for lunch & the steak dinner at 1st seating with no steak. Just baked potato & vegetables with the side salad to start.
 

the_traveler

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Here's an idea as far as the meals:

If you don't want to eat until 9 am, why not ask your SCA (the night before) to bring your breakfast to your room about 9 am? :huh: And you can get your coffee when you want in your car. Problem solved.

If you only want a salad, drink and desert for dinner, why not order a salad, the smallest meal, a drink and then desert in the DiningCar? :huh: Then when it comes, do not eat much (or any) of the main meal? Or does the server stand next to you with a gun to your head and refuse to bring you anything more until you clean your plate?

Most times, I leave much of my burger and chips at lunch, but they still give me my drink and desert!

I am 6' and never had a problem in a roomettes.
 

glomor

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I know it would be a bit pricey, but have you considered getting two roomettes? The one trip I took sharing a roomette with my husband was a nightmare. I could not sleep in the top bunk--felt like I was in a coffin. And it was difficult getting up and down! If we ever travel together again, it will definitely be two roomettes! I often travel alone and I am intrigued by the idea of doubling up the mattress. I never thought of asking. Thanks for the suggestion! :)
 

HARHBG

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Perhaps it's time to get rid of the dining car as it exists today and go to a buffet/cafeteria style food service. No arguments/fussing with LSA/SCA's about what comes with what. Take what you want. Find a table, sit down.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Perhaps it's time to get rid of the dining car as it exists today and go to a buffet/cafeteria style food service. No arguments/fussing with LSA/SCA's about what comes with what. Take what you want. Find a table, sit down.
Amtrak has tried that... for what it's worth Amtrak has actually tried alot of things. It's a little bit harder than some of us pretend it is to please everyone. (including congress). That's not me saying that amtrak is perfect of course.

It was many many years ago when I saw the Amtrak Cafeteria car in operation... I don't remember being particularly impressed with it.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Many of the complaints the OP had are actually complaints about train train in general and not specific to Amtrak.

He would have the same complaints on VIA Rail's Canadian -

Size of Beds - The Roomette and Bedroom Beds are the same dimensions as Superliner Beds . (More comfortable, with better quality bedding and a real mattress yes, but the size is the same.).

Meal Times - Same as Amtrak... Come to Breakfast during Breakfast hours, come to Lunch and Dinner at your reservation time. You can't go to the cafe for free snacks, those will cost extra. Yes even if you skip a meal in the dining car, the snacks will still cost money.

Size of Meals - Pretty much the same. Actually meals are larger, I remember Lunch and DInner both starting with a choice of salad or soup. (Of course the food is much better so perhaps you'll actually WANT to eat that much at a time?).

The OP is of course entitled to their opinion...Train travel is not for everyone! Personally I enjoy taking a road trip across a country as well. I eat quite different than on an Amtrak trip, I try to find Whole Foods, or similar healthy markets with good salad / hot bar to choose from. Then I can walk around the store and grab some snacks for the next part of the drive. I can plan stops to see random sites along the route, and yes I sleep much better in a Hampton Inn Bed than on a train!

But I enjoy train travel alot.... There is a certain feeling about going to sleep in a private room on a moving train that is literally traveling across the country. And to wake up, walk into the next train car and be served a scrambled egg breakfast and coffee while watching the country wake up.... It's a unique experience for sure.
 

the_traveler

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Perhaps it's time to get rid of the dining car as it exists today and go to a buffet/cafeteria style food service. No arguments/fussing with LSA/SCA's about what comes with what. Take what you want. Find a table, sit down.
I didn't like them either! :(
I remember the buffet cars Amtrak had on the Silvers in the 1970's or 1980's. I hated them! You walked along the buffet line to chose your food, luckily employees carried the plates to your table for you.

If you think it's hard to walk on the train, try standing in line and choosing your hot food while holding onto plates of that hot food!
 
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Bob Dylan

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I remember the Buffet Cars also! I agree, they suck!

A Long Distance Train isn't the place for a Cafeteria or an all you can eat joint!

Amtrak needs to upgrade the Cafe Menus, go with a POS System and return to what was happening in the Diners up to a couple of years ago with Chef inspired meals!

Whether or not this means Contracting out the food and drink service is above my pay grade, but is worth a look!
 

boxcarsyix

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Anyways, yes the mattresses are rock hard compared to our sleep number bed set at 25. We just deal with it for the 2 sleeps on our trip compared to the fantastic views and relaxation of the train instead of driving.
Mine is set at 85. I find the lower berth on the superliner to be a little on the soft side.
 

niemi24s

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This thread reminds me of the old retort to a young GI's complaint - "Go tell the Chaplain and get your TS card punched!"
If riding an Amtrak sleeper compartment with fares in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars reminds you of being paid to work as a grunt in the armed forces then maybe that says more about Amtrak than it does about the passengers.
Maybe it does to you, but not to me.
I thought DA's characterization was a good and valid one, and I did get a chuckle out of it.
I'm tickled pink you're pleased with yourself. As for me, all I have to add is...uh...<yawn>
 

zepherdude

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If this post here makes you feel good, so be it. Amtrak will just get others to replace you and you guys will miss out on a cross country train trip. Threats never help anyone or any issues. Write the Railroad and vent your issues to them. Nothing will happen butt, that will make you feel better too!
 
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If this post here makes you feel good, so be it. Amtrak will just get others to replace you and you guys will miss out on a cross country train trip. Threats never help anyone or any issues. Write the Railroad and vent your issues to them. Nothing will happen butt, that will make you feel better too!
Or the original poster will drive cross country one or two times and will be back on the train(s). I am assuming he/she refuses to or is afraid to fly and buses are even worse than trains when it comes to sleeping and eating schedules. Again the problem is Amtrak has a monopoly on intercity train travel. If they had real competition like the airlines or even Greyhound (Megabus) they might worry more about losing passengers.
 

andersone

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I always take the top bunk in a roomette for the comfort of She Who Must Be Obeyed,,,, it is a camped and coffin like for sure but beats trying to sleep in coach,,,,life is full of compromises, this is just one of them
 

tricia

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I know it would be a bit pricey, but have you considered getting two roomettes? The one trip I took sharing a roomette with my husband was a nightmare. I could not sleep in the top bunk--felt like I was in a coffin. And it was difficult getting up and down! If we ever travel together again, it will definitely be two roomettes! I often travel alone and I am intrigued by the idea of doubling up the mattress. I never thought of asking. Thanks for the suggestion! :)
Two roomettes are often less expensive than one bedroom. If you're OK with a toilet down the hall, two roomettes across the hall from each other is a more comfortable arrangement for two people than a bedroom, in my opinion.
 

rrdude

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While not everyone imbibes, I find no problem sleeping on Amtrak's woefully uncomfortable "mattresses", after a cocktail, or three.

Let's not forget that the OP is a fan of rail travel, so saying, "...Train travel is not for everyone! ...." is not, IMHO, a valid excuse.

I for one generally agree with virtually everything the OP wrote. In summary, Amtrak's service and on-board dining options are no longer a reason to take the train. In fact, the only reason, I take an Amtrak LD anymore, is for the scenery and camaraderie. Sure, you'll run into a dynamite crew once in a while, but they are hamstrung on what they can serve in the diner. It's a pure joy to have a kick-ass TA-S, but it should be the norm, not the exception. Equipment age is also becoming an issue. Hard to believe that I worked for Amtrak when the Superliners were being rolled out, and in nearly 40 years, nothing has been done, yet, to replace them.

For me the single biggest loss is the "experience" of pretty-close-to-fine-dining on the rails. The Superliner kitchens were designed to serve a full service menu: Dishwashers, storage for china plates, dry storage, cold storage, toasters, ovens, microzappers, convection, flattop grills, we even had a special place in the reefers upstairs for the bud vases and carnations....I'm not an old fart, (well I am...) just lamenting about "how it used to be". I'm saying, MOSTLY WITH TRAINING, it could be stellar.

I don't really recommend Amtrak LD travel to folks who have , how shall i say this, "higher expectations". Why? I've been burned too many, way too many times, after friends took a trip, and hated it. Been saying it for years, when you have to "Be everything to everybody" you end up pleasing no one. That's Amtrak.

We can ***** about budget cuts all we want, and state that everything would be better if Amtrak had a dedicated source of funding. BS. It's management. It's training. It's Top-Down attitude. More money would be great, but as we all know from our personal lives, it "don't fix stupid".

My last LD was set for this summer, unfortunately, I got "bumped" from the Cali-Chi-Baltimore "Bedrooms-All-The-Way" trip, by my wife, who is no fan of Amtrak. (I made the last two trips X country with my boys, she wants a "girls trip" with our youngest daughter)

But ya know what? I don't care. I just have couple of months to lower their expectations....
 

willem

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Well stated, rrdude! And to answer the question in your "Interests" item, it does seem to be too much to ask (especially clean windows), but it shouldn't be.
 

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Same here. OP, you can drive, I'll take your spot on the train!
How many points based medical surveys does it take to book a cross country trip in a sleeper?

Many of the complaints the OP had are actually complaints about train train in general and not specific to Amtrak.
Most passenger trains don't take several days to reach their final destination. It's much easier to overlook a problem that only lasts a few hours verses one that lasts several days in a row.

He would have the same complaints on VIA Rail's Canadian
In my experience the beds on the Canadian were surprisingly comfy with far better mattresses, sheets, blankets, and pillows than anything I've seen on Amtrak. I slept like a baby on those beds. The meals I ate on the Canadian were fresher, tastier, healthier, and more varied than what I've seen on Amtrak. They also had free snacks in the Park car. I never felt hungry or stuffed. In other words, the Canadian was a completely different experience that bore little resemblance to Amtrak.

If this post here makes you feel good, so be it. Amtrak will just get others to replace you and you guys will miss out on a cross country train trip. Threats never help anyone or any issues. Write the Railroad and vent your issues to them. Nothing will happen butt, that will make you feel better too!
The OP's post didn't look like a threat so much as an explanation and clarification. The OP never said anyone else should follow his lead. We don't normally accuse positive trip reports with "threatening" to ride Amtrak again so why should we harp on folks who've decided they've simply had enough?
 
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C855B

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Or the original poster will drive cross country one or two times and will be back on the train(s). I am assuming he/she refuses to or is afraid to fly and buses are even worse than trains when it comes to sleeping and eating schedules. Again the problem is Amtrak has a monopoly on intercity train travel. If they had real competition like the airlines or even Greyhound (Megabus) they might worry more about losing passengers.
Your conclusion is doubtful. We know how to drive cross-country and have done so many times, including coast-to-coast. The #1 rule is to avoid the dense, truck-laden Interstates whenever possible or reasonable, a/k/a "shun-piking". We have several efficient non-interstate routings to get us between, say, Ohio and Colorado. Granted, it always takes longer since we make our own adventure out of it and limit driving to no more than 9-10 hours a day, but we honestly enjoy it. Plus it takes only two days to "recover" from a driving trip, versus the train, where in both recent experience and past hindsight it can be as much as a week before our bodies and dispositions finally un-kink.

We are formulating a compromise plan for future excursions - an overnight train ride to get out of our "local" area, then rent a car and do mid-level to high-end hotels for the remainder of the trip, reversing the pattern when we're done. This limits the on-train meal situation to a dinner and a breakfast, and two isolated single nights of RV-quality bedding. It's also cheaper.

It's all about managing stressors. All travel has stress, our objective is to manage the degree and aggregate total. By addressing the cumulative stressors of LD train travel, we can still enjoy the train when we're in the mood, get to where we're going... and not have to take a recovery vacation after the vacation.
 

crescent-zephyr

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He would have the same complaints on VIA Rail's Canadian
In my experience the beds on the Canadian were surprisingly comfy with far better mattresses, sheets, blankets, and pillows than anything I've seen on Amtrak. I slept like a baby on those beds. The meals I ate on the Canadian were fresher, tastier, healthier, and more varied than what I've seen on Amtrak. They also had free snacks in the Park car. I never felt hungry or stuffed. In other words, the Canadian was a completely different experience that bore little resemblance to Amtrak.
DA... I actually like your posts, and usually agree with them MORE than the posts that praise amtrak constantly. But I do wonder did you read all of my post? Or did you just find a sentence that you could argue with and go from there. In my post I clearly state that VIA beds are more comfortable and the food is better. The snacks offered in the Park Car are hardly worth mentioning, but yes their is fruit and pre-packaged cookies and crackers in the Park Car, and at times the attendant will put out some fancy hors d'oeuvres. If anyone wants to have that in place of a meal.... ok. (The OP made the point that they can not purchase items in the lounge, instead of eating in the dining car on amtrak. I was stating this is the same on VIA rail.)
 

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He would have the same complaints on VIA Rail's Canadian
In my experience the beds on the Canadian were surprisingly comfy with far better mattresses, sheets, blankets, and pillows than anything I've seen on Amtrak. I slept like a baby on those beds. The meals I ate on the Canadian were fresher, tastier, healthier, and more varied than what I've seen on Amtrak. They also had free snacks in the Park car. I never felt hungry or stuffed. In other words, the Canadian was a completely different experience that bore little resemblance to Amtrak.
DA... I actually like your posts, and usually agree with them MORE than the posts that praise amtrak constantly. But I do wonder did you read all of my post? Or did you just find a sentence that you could argue with and go from there. In my post I clearly state that VIA beds are more comfortable and the food is better. The snacks offered in the Park Car are hardly worth mentioning, but yes their is fruit and pre-packaged cookies and crackers in the Park Car, and at times the attendant will put out some fancy hors d'oeuvres. If anyone wants to have that in place of a meal.... ok. (The OP made the point that they can not purchase items in the lounge, instead of eating in the dining car on amtrak. I was stating this is the same on VIA rail.)
I read your whole post but to be perfectly honest it was rather confusing to me. I'm still not entirely sure what you were actually trying to say. Your opening premise seemed clear and concise but was also repeatedly undermined by several parenthetical asides that seemed to openly contradict your primary position. Back when Amtrak still had "chef inspired" meals and "premium service" routes the distinction wasn't quite as obvious, but today there is really no comparison in my opinion. That's not to say the Canadian is perfect. I certainly didn't find VIA rail staff to be nearly as helpful or polished as the cost would indicate. If Amtrak ever gets around to taking staff training and service expectations seriously they could potentially compete with VIA. Unfortunately at this moment they're just too far behind the curve to see this as a reasonable comparison. At least in my view.
 
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jis

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As far as cross country train trips go, when after dozens of trips one comes to a situation where one can almost qualify for the route, at least for me it starts getting boring. That together with the fact there is so much more to explore in the rest of the world even in terms of rail routes elsewhere, and of course the numerous non rail reachable places even stateside, life being short, and funds limited, one has to de-emphasize Amtrak travel and redirect the funds to other adventures. That is the situation I am finding myself in more and more these days.
 
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