Missed Connections due to late trains

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Gary Behling

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
102
I'd like to get some advice from other experienced Amtrak riders regarding late trains and missed connections. I have a bit of experience myself having been an Amtrak rider since 1978 but, my main concern involves my use of long distance round the country trips in Bedrooms, never coach.
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I try my best to plan my schedule so that whatever train I'm on is scheduled to be at my next connection point 3 to 4 hours before the next train I connect to leaves the station. However, sometimes a train can be maybe 8 hours late and my next train has already left. THAT train that left had my Deluxe bedroom which I paid a bundle for and now I have to find a motel and wait for the next train which may or may not have a bedroom available and I don't know if Amtrak will let me have it since MY bedroom was on the train that left yesterday or the day before.
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How do you people deal with this situation? What I have been doing is scheduling a one or two day layover in a motel at each connection point
 

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
14,215
Location
Delaware
If Amtrak misses a connection, they will put you up in a hotel. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the same accommodation on the next train. Some here will call Amtrak from the late train and try to secure a room on the next days train if they know they’re going to miss their connection.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,360
If Amtrak misses a connection, they will put you up in a hotel. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the same accommodation on the next train. Some here will call Amtrak from the late train and try to secure a room on the next days train if they know they’re going to miss their connection.
Yes it is a real gamble. Amtrak will put you up in a hotel and give you some money for food if you miss a guaranteed connection. They will try to book you on the next day's train but if the accommodations you want on that train are sold out you are out of luck. They will give you a coach seat and a refund for the difference.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,665
Location
South Carolina
I can speak for the Chicago procedure for missed trains since I’ve now done it.

You get off the train and go to passenger services. They give you two taxi vouchers from the station to your hotel and VV. $10 for food in the station. And a hotel for me they put me in the Swissotel. At the same time they give you a new ticket for your destination. My ticket I was lucky and stayed in the sleeper. But there are no guarantees
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
1,054
Location
QB 101
I've only had to deal with near-missed LD-to-LD connections twice in over 40 years of riding Amtrak. The first was a very late #8 from SEA-CHI that blew my connection to the Capitol Ltd. There went my roomette and free meals. I foolishly waited in line for over an hour in the dining car as we traveled through Wisconsin to talk to the agent that boarded at LaCrosse. What a waste of time. He told me I'd have to go to passenger services in Chicago. We arrived about 9:15PM. I knew the Lakeshore Ltd left at 9:30 and waiting in ANY line would let them 'get away' without me. I ran to the ticket window (it was still nearer the tracks than today (in fact, where IS it these days?), told the agent my problem. He quickly changed my paid-for-in-points tickets back east to the Lakeshore Ltd...coach. No sleepers available. I ran down the platform and got on in coach. It wasn't too bad...just not enjoyable.

The 2nd time was 3 years ago aboard a late #6 into Chicago account a rock slide in Colorado that delayed us 4-5 hours. Knowing I was to board the Cardinal to WAS, Amtrak got all Cardinal passengers off at Galesburg and put us on a bus (big airport shuttle van in my opinion) for the ride to Indianapolis to meet the Cardinal at Midnight. Worked out OK, except I left my hat on the big van and had to pay for dinner where we stopped enroute to IND.

Two weeks from tonight, I'll hopefully make my I-made-it-every-time-30-years-ago connection from #11 to #421 at LAX. It used to be a 2 hr connection, but now it's down to 1. I'm surprised that I managed to book it with a conjunctive fare back in October. I'm guessing they'll bus us from SLO or SBA to catch it if they're running too late.
 

tim49424

Engineer
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
5,407
Location
Holland, MI
I’ve missed connections several times, including three which I was put up in hotels in Chicago. First time was at Inn of Chicago, second Swisshotel and third South Chicago Hotel. They were pretty much 4-5 star hotels without amenities. I don’t have to worry about next day availability because I’m connecting to the Pere Marquette on to Holland. The other times I’ve missed, I got bussed, same night.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,875
Location
Austin Texas
Best Amtrak all expenses paid " Missed Connection "Comp" in Chicago for me ( I 've had many through the years)was the Hyatt Regency, Round trip Cab Fare and $74 for Meals after we were on a 12 hour Late Zephyr due to hitting Cattle in the Wilds of Nebraska.

We were rebooked in a Bedroom on the City to New Orleans( when it still had good Food!) in an upgrade to a Bedroom on the next evenings Train since Roomettes were Sold out. :cool:
 

tonijustine

Train Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
84
Location
Indiana
Answering this in a different way, if your accommodations are extremely important to you and without a guarantee of comparable accommodations on the next day’s train, schedule at least one overnight for each connection.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,360
Answering this in a different way, if your accommodations are extremely important to you and without a guarantee of comparable accommodations on the next day’s train, schedule at least one overnight for each connection.
That sounds like a good plan but of course what would happen is that the next day's train would be cancelled due to floods, blizzards, bridge collapse or crew shortage or the sleeping car(s) would be bad ordered with no replacements available and the following day's train would be sold out of the accommodations you wanted.
 

tonijustine

Train Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
84
Location
Indiana
That sounds like a good plan but of course what would happen is that the next day's train would be cancelled due to floods, blizzards, bridge collapse or crew shortage or the sleeping car(s) would be bad ordered with no replacements available and the following day's train would be sold out of the accommodations you wanted.

There is only so much you can control. Mitigate the risk you can’t eliminate.
 

Michigan Mom

Conductor
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
1,114
Location
MI
If you booked a connection, Amtrak will ensure you get to where you were going. If you constructed your own multi city trip, Amtrak is very clear it's on you to allow enough connect time at each connecting point, to cover any delays.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,360
I assume that how the missed connections are handled depends on the number of passengers involved and the availability of Chicago hotels. In our case 5 years ago the Zephyr we were on didn't arrive until after midnight so most of the passengers except those not going beyond Chicago needed to be given accommodations. We went to Customer Service on arrival and then to the ticket window where we were given compensation for food and were re-booked in a roomette on the next day's train (but we were only able to get a roomette for part of our trip and had to switch to coach midway). We also received reimbursement for the missing part of our roomette reservation. We then went outside and waited on a bus for an hour or so until it filled up with other passengers. We were then driven about a half hour or so to a hotel in Indiana arriving about 3 a.m. It was a nice hotel, very clean and modern. The next day the bus returned at the appointed hour (10 or 11 a.m.) and took us back to CUS. The bus driver was very popular with the passengers since he seemed to provide more helpful information than Amtrak personnel.

When I arrived in Chicago on a late Empire Builder years ago in the early Amtrak days, an Amtrak employee was at the gate to provide information as passengers detrained and I was impressed with this service. This wasn't done in the recent trip and I was less impressed. Passengers had to make their way to customer service on their own. I was also disappointed in the recent trip that an Amtrak employee did not board the bus just before it left to provide an explanation of what was going on but left that duty to the bus driver.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
789
Back in the day when Amtrak had ample extra sleepers (and ample OBS staff on call) at busier terminals, it was more likely you could depend on an extra sleeper added in such a predicament. Sadly, there aren't enough sleepers today to depend on that, so it's a bigger gamble.

I might add that during the "heritage" years, and now that Amtrak's own rolling stock is showing its age, be careful what you wish for. Any extra stock sitting in a rail yard may not be what you want either.

During peak travel periods, the odds today are you could be bustituted to "catch" the train you were scheduled to connect to if that timing worked (or all the way to certain destinations), or offered a hotel/meals/taxi plan to be rescheduled on the next train with downgraded accommodations. In off-peak, your odds to keep sleeper accommodations may improve but those are still odds, not guarantees.
 
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