Most Interesting Encounter (s) on a Train

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Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Austin Texas
Diana Ross is a people person. My life partner lived a block or so from the Motown Studios on West Grand Ave next to Henry Ford Hospital as a kid. He was coming home from the store and ran into Tammy Tyrell and her on the sidewalk. He knew who Tammy Tyrell was but not Diana Ross. Well he was the spitting image of little Opie Taylor (Ron Howard) with red hair and all. Diana Ross and Tammy Tyrell both bent over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson were sitting on the porch.
People are still amazed by the Magic that was Motown and how really small the Famous the Studio, " The Hit Factory", really is! Definitely worth a visit when in Detroit.


I was in Houston one time when The Motown Review was playing there, and the above named people plus Stevie Wonder ( then known as Little Stevie Wonder)were staying in the Hotel I was at, a rare occurrence considering they were Black and it was still the 60s!

I was having Breakfast in the Hotel Cafe and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson were @ the next table, very nice folks, posed for pictures ( remember Brownie Cameras?), signed autographs and talked with customers and staff.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
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Seattle, WA
I was on the Coast Starlight in 1978 or 1979 enroute from Tacoma to Portland, I think,. I had just arrived at the dining car in anticipation of lunch when a gentleman came up behind me. We waited for the dining car steward who clearly recognized the gentleman. The steward escorted us to our table and was, I thought, unusually deferential to my tablemate. After the steward walked away, I asked my new companion why he was receiving such special attention. He smiled and said he was the passenger service manager for the BNSF. I commented that the BNSF had ceased passenger train operations years ago. I asked why his position still existed? He replied to the effect, “we are interested in any activities that might affect people’s perception of our company.” I don’t recall the rest of our conversation, but suffice it to say that our lunch service that day was superior to any that I have had on AMTRAK since.
 

Cal

Foamer
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Socal
I was on the Coast Starlight in 1978 or 1979 enroute from Tacoma to Portland, I think,. I had just arrived at the dining car in anticipation of lunch when a gentleman came up behind me. We waited for the dining car steward who clearly recognized the gentleman. The steward escorted us to our table and was, I thought, unusually deferential to my tablemate. After the steward walked away, I asked my new companion why he was receiving such special attention. He smiled and said he was the passenger service manager for the BNSF. I commented that the BNSF had ceased passenger train operations years ago. I asked why his position still existed? He replied to the effect, “we are interested in any activities that might affect people’s perception of our company.” I don’t recall the rest of our conversation, but suffice it to say that our lunch service that day was superior to any that I have had on AMTRAK since.
Can you imagine UP doing something like that? Now, I don't think BNSF would do it nowadays, but still!
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
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Bloomfield NJ
I was a young man traveling home to Providence after spending several weeks in Seattle. I had a few bucks in my pocket from a good short term job as well as decent clothes. The Salvation Army Store also had a loose leaf Bible for a few bucks; it seemed a good idea. It was; in a dumpster at Kind Street Station I found a bunch of Playboy and similar magazines. My zip up loose leaf Bible was a perfect place for them.
Reading them on the Empire Builder I dozed off. Suddenly I was awake; a train man needed to check my ticket. The smile on his face told me he saw what I have been reading. Red faced with embarrassment I showed him my ticket; he told me he understood and it was OK. I would up loaning him a couple of magazines. Later off duty he stopped by. We went to the snack bar car for a drink and he told me about one of his train adventures meeting another passenger. He also told me he slept in a dormitory car for 2 but there was an empty bed and if I wanted to I could sleep there. After a couple of beers we were both just a little drunk. We went back to his dorm and I didn't have to sit up in the coach all night.
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Washington State
Can you imagine UP doing something like that? Now, I don't think BNSF would do it nowadays, but still!
Most if not all railroads hosting Amtrak have an executive in charge of Amtrak liaison and passenger service including those contracted by commuter authorities. I imagine BNSF still does, hosting significant Amtrak services and operating commuter services for Chicago's Metra and Seattle's Sound Transit. UP is in the same general position, so I imagine they do as well. Although UP's may not be as image conscious.
 
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zephyr17

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I was on the Coast Starlight in 1978 or 1979 enroute from Tacoma to Portland, I think,. I had just arrived at the dining car in anticipation of lunch when a gentleman came up behind me. We waited for the dining car steward who clearly recognized the gentleman. The steward escorted us to our table and was, I thought, unusually deferential to my tablemate. After the steward walked away, I asked my new companion why he was receiving such special attention. He smiled and said he was the passenger service manager for the BNSF. I commented that the BNSF had ceased passenger train operations years ago. I asked why his position still existed? He replied to the effect, “we are interested in any activities that might affect people’s perception of our company.” I don’t recall the rest of our conversation, but suffice it to say that our lunch service that day was superior to any that I have had on AMTRAK since.
Doubt he worked for BNSF in 1978 or 1979, since BNSF didn't exist until 1996. Worked for BN, perhaps?
 

Oreius

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 5, 2012
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557
Here’s a good one. I was riding the Silver Star from Philadelphia to Kissimmee back on 9/28. At Washington DC, we’re given a smoke/fresh air break because they have to swap out the ACS-64 for two P42DCs (diesel). I was watching this family with about four kids board Coach. They brought along one of those big box fans, which they actually took aboard the coach as carryon luggage!! I thought they must want to keep cool since there are plugs at each seat pair in Coach. Of course, they’d not only cool themselves, but also give the whole car a nice cool breeze!! Then again, they may have stuck it in the overhead rack. I thought that was weird!

Then again, the HVAC systems on Amfleets vary. The Amfleet I coach I rode on the Keystone that morning was hot 🥵 . When I rode the Adirondack back in 2012 from Montreal to NYP, The Amfleet 2 was freezing!! Also my Viewliner 1 car on the Star was freezing as well!
 

daybeers

Conductor
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Jan 6, 2016
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1,118
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HFD/POU
Here’s a good one. I was riding the Silver Star from Philadelphia to Kissimmee back on 9/28. At Washington DC, we’re given a smoke/fresh air break because they have to swap out the ACS-64 for two P42DCs (diesel). I was watching this family with about four kids board Coach. They brought along one of those big box fans, which they actually took aboard the coach as carryon luggage!! I thought they must want to keep cool since there are plugs at each seat pair in Coach. Of course, they’d not only cool themselves, but also give the whole car a nice cool breeze!! Then again, they may have stuck it in the overhead rack. I thought that was weird!

Then again, the HVAC systems on Amfleets vary. The Amfleet I coach I rode on the Keystone that morning was hot 🥵 . When I rode the Adirondack back in 2012 from Montreal to NYP, The Amfleet 2 was freezing!! Also my Viewliner 1 car on the Star was freezing as well!
Yeah, all the equipment is really getting old; it's bad.
 

MainerTrainer

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
31
We were on the Acela a few years ago, from Boston to New York. My wife and I are at a table for two. After a short while on the train, she says the guy at the four-top table a few rows back and across the aisle…who do you think that is? I turned for a quick look. An older gentleman with his wife (I assumed) and two teenage-ish grandkids (again, assumed). I didn’t recognize him but she said, that’s Alan Alda! I said I’d walk by the table on the way to the bathroom. I walked by, and went to the bathroom. Right then, I get a text from my wife. I knew what it would say—Alan Alda is right outside the bathroom! Sure enough, there he was. I was going to say “Hello, Mr. Alda” but there was someone else waiting too and I didn’t want to “out him” with his family. So I just said “Hello, the room is all yours now.” He replied with a “Thank you very much” with his distinctive voice that was right out of MASH and Hawkeye Pierce!
 

MainerTrainer

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
31
Also got the Acela in Boston one other time. Our flight from Portland, ME to DC was cancelled so we took the bus to South Station and just made the Acela. There was an older couple at the table next to us that *everyone* seemed to know; everyone but us. They had their flight cancelled, too. We had a short conversation and they were both pleasant. They talked with others on the train about their wedding plans in the Caribbean, etc. A few other clues dropped and we were intrigued and started using Google. We figured out it was Leonard Lauder, son of Estée Lauder, who was worth about $6 billion, yes with a B, and his then-fiancée. One story called him New York’s most eligible bachelor!
 

PaTrainFan

OBS Chief
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
524
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
In the mid 1980s I was waiting to take VIA-1 from Toronto to Montreal and in the waiting area at the gate, I spy none other than Donald Sutherland who even then was one of my favorite actors. He was with who I presumed was his wife and two young children. They ended up in the same car as I.

Throughout the trip most respected his privacy, but regrettably I wasn't one of them. In my youth I was much more brazen than I am now and I was compelled to approach him for his autograph, which he very kindly provided.

Later, walking cluelessly through Central Station, on separate colliding paths we literally bumped into each other. But he was most gracious and apologized effusively even though it was hardly his fault. Well, I apologized too, of course. 😉
 

alpha3

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 29, 2018
Messages
22
While traveling on the Eastbound Empire Builder from Seattle, a North Dakota oil field worker was returning to work after his vacation. We had dinner together and we talked about his job, its pluses and minuses. The major plus was his paycheck. But, there were lots of minuses: long work days, dirty and sometimes dangerous work, being away from his home and family for a period of time, and when it came time for his vacation, his travel time home and back to work came out of his vacation time, thereby reducing the time.
Dakota, we had almost exactly the same encounter - wonder if it was the same guy?? But anyway, yea, they make BIG bucks but they work like 3months on, 1month off, or something like that, I don't remember exactly. Young guy (kid, really) but he was banking it all for the future. Good for him.

I solo travel frequently and always run into that very same person 😀
I, interestingly, encountered the best friend I ever met - in my room on board. He was articulate, positively brilliant, had a great sense of humor, very courteous, mature, well educated and well read, and had a scientific mind. We had a great conversation that lasted most of the trip before I finally realized he was the guy in the mirror. :)
OK, y'all are a bit TOO weird........ 🤣
 

Dakota 400

Engineer
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
3,158
Young guy (kid, really) but he was banking it all for the future. Good for him.
Pretty sure it was not the same person. The gentleman whom I met was married and had a family as I recall. "Banking it all for the future"? This young man is no dummy! Good for him!
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,319
Location
South Carolina
I met MSNBC's Chris Matthews in the dining car of Train No. 98's dining car out of Orlando once. But I didn't talk to him at all.

But the most interesting person I met was the agent for Paul McCartney. I had lunch with him out of Portland on No. 11 and then we went to the Parlor Car to talk more for the next three hours. It was so incredible. I have his email address and he still remembers me because I sent him my friend Victoria's karaoke video with the caption of this is the best voice I have ever heard. He agreed and asked for her contact. And yes she has an amazing voice.
 

Hytec

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
268
Location
MS Gulf Coast
I had a delightful experience with a volunteer area nature guide on the Sunset years ago. He boarded somewhere in central Texas and got off in El Paso. His lectures and Q&A sessions in the Lounge were fascinating. What was most interesting were our private conversations afterwards. Aside from knowing much about west Texas geography, geology, and land use. He also owned an 80,000 acre sheep ranch bordering the tracks. He admitted rather sheepishly that he had volunteered for the trip for only one reason. He had never seen the thousands of acres near the tracks and felt this was the most convenient and least expensive way to look it over thanks to Amtrak.
 
Joined
Oct 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location
Connecticut
People are still amazed by the Magic that was Motown and how really small the Famous the Studio, " The Hit Factory", really is! Definitely worth a visit when in Detroit.


I was in Houston one time when The Motown Review was playing there, and the above named people plus Stevie Wonder ( then known as Little Stevie Wonder)were staying in the Hotel I was at, a rare occurrence considering they were Black and it was still the 60s!

I was having Breakfast in the Hotel Cafe and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson were @ the next table, very nice folks, posed for pictures ( remember Brownie Cameras?), signed autographs and talked with customers and staff.
I really want to see the Motown Museum, they are closed right now and I can't wait until they open in the spring. I mostly listen to rap or R&B but every famous artist in those styles still owes their legacy to Motown!
 
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