Most problem plagued trip

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denmarks

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What is your most problem plagued trip. Mine is as follows.
This was in 1990. I was traveling Sacramento, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and Sacramento. There was about a day layover in each city. Outbound to Washington went smoothly. There were many stops on the trip from Washington to Chicago causing the train to be very late causing me to miss my connection. Amtrak flew me to Omaha to catch the train. It turned out that the train could not cross the Mississippi due to flooding. I was put up in a motel overnight to catch a train the next day that would originate in Omaha, It seems like multiple trains were combined and my room only went as far a Denver. In the middle of the night I had to change rooms. I ended up home a day late.
 

Eric in East County

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Our most frustrating long distance Amtrak trip occurred June 14-16, 2004, when we traveled from Emeryville to Chicago on board the California Zephyr. We had specifically booked passage on the CZ to see the Colorado scenery. Then, even before we left Emeryville, we were informed that, due to track work, our train had been rerouted through southern Wyoming which has some of the more boring scenery imaginable.

When we departed Denver the next day at 8:08 p.m., we were about 30 minutes behind schedule. Almost immediately, we came to a halt and had to wait 45 minutes because a semi-truck and a freight train had tangled somewhere up ahead.

We were about 2 hours behind schedule when we left Burlington, Iowa the next day.

Just as we were departing Galesburg, an announcement was made to stop the train because of a medical emergency in one of the coaches. (From our scanner, we learned that a coach passenger had suffered a seizure.) Our departure from Galesburg was delayed about 40 minutes while local emergency personnel arrived on the scene and the stricken passenger was removed from the train. We were now running about 2 hours and 40 minutes behind schedule.

After arriving at Chicago Union Station almost three hours late, we headed for the South Waiting Room. (Back then, we were unaware that, as arriving sleeping car passengers, we could have waited for our Capitol Limited train in the Metropolitan Lounge.)

The waiting room was jammed to capacity. In addition to those waiting to depart on the Capitol Limited, there were also passengers still waiting to board the No. 3 Southwest Chief, which had already been delayed two hours because of "equipment problems." An announcement was made that the departure of the Capitol Limited would also be delayed because of "equipment problems.”

The Capitol Limited eventually left Chicago Union Station at 7:39 p.m., a little over two hours late.

All during the trip to Toledo, there were frequent stops to allow freight traffic to pass. This included a 20-minute wait only 6 miles from the Toledo station.

We arrived in Toledo in the wee hours of the morning and considerably behind schedule. The only lucky break we got on this trip was that there was one lone cab driver waiting at the station, hoping to pick up a fare. Thanks to him, we were soon on our way to our hotel.

As a result of this experience, we will never again book a passage on the CZ.

Eric & Pat
 

Devil's Advocate

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A couple decades ago I had a nonstop flight to Las Vegas on Delta that had technical problems and they signed us (but not our luggage) over to a connecting itinerary on America West. An HP aircraft also went tech and we got stuck in Phoenix for ages. At first I thought it was just bad luck but eventually I noticed that several other HP flights were suffering similar problems and hardly anybody was moving. In the end our luggage flew on the original DL flight and arrived on time while we arrived eight hours later after everything had closed and we couldn't even pickup our car because the travel agent had screwed up the rental agreement.

While returning a car with Hertz in Orlando there were no staff available to accept the cars. It was literally just a bunch of renters looking around for someone wondering what to do. Eventually someone showed up but when I reached the airport an American Airlines clerk insisted I would never make it to the gate in time but she would "help" me by moving my ticket to the next flight. Little did I know (and she never mentioned) that all the flights that day were severely overbooked. I was able to reach the gate of my original flight before boarding started but there was nothing they could/would do to help and it went downhill from there. Flight after flight was booked beyond capacity and I ended up having to stay overnight. I was really annoyed at the time but since I was on business it did not cost me anything. I've been stranded at other airports by other airlines and always received credits, upgrades, and/or a better routing in exchange for the delay while AA staff in MCO simply shrugged me off like yesterday's news.

Although the first trip had a bad start and the second trip had a bad ending they both taught me a lot about who to trust and when to push back.
 
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Maglev

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I have been fairly lucky to have no travel disasters (knock on wood). Getting into LA by myself at 2 am on a delayed Coast Starlight wasn't as bad as getting into New Orleans at 1 am on the Sunset Limited with my wife, mother, and sister. We got a cab to our B & B, but when we walked up to the door, there was a note for us saying our rooms were ten blocks away. This was well before cell phones; fortunately, we had seen a bar a block away with a police officer outside, and eventually got another cab to our (beautiful) accommodations.

I was on the 2017 Gathering train from Portland to Seattle that went into service disruption, and we all waited at the Olympia-Lacey station for a few hours before returning to Portland on the same train. But we were just out for the train ride, and so it really didn't disrupt a vacation or anything.

I wish safe and happy travels to all!
 

Qapla

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In 2019 my wife and I planned to take the Silver Star to Raleigh from Jacksonville. This was to be the first real trip to get away for a week in 40 years of marriage. Prior to this, finances and family obligations made it impossible for us to take any vacations. We were really looking forward to it.

I searched for some time to find the best room deal and car rental for a week's stay. We made our plans and Amtrak even cooperated by offering a BOGO on tickets. We booked everything.

Then, hurricane Dorian decided to visit the Atlantic coast right at the time of our trip. We had to cancel our plans. Since the cancellation was due to the hurricane, Amtrak gave us a full refund and the room and car rental were able to be cancelled without penalty.

We decided to schedule again the following year.

Early enough in 2020 Amtrak again was kind enough to offer the BOGO fares so we rebooked our trip and bought the tickets. I was still working on the room and car rental when C-19 decided to disrupt everything ... including our rebooked trip. We had to cancel once again :( When I called Amtrak to cancel the agent was perfectly willing to issue a full refund saying it was very common that people were cancelling due to the pandemic.

At this point, we still do not feel safe rebooking this trip.

I guess you could say this has been the most "problem plagued trip" we never got to take.
 
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Dakota 400

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1990, my Mother and I booked an Alaskan cruise sailing from Vancouver, but with a pre-cruise trip from Seattle to Vancouver visiting Victoria en route. We decided to get to Seattle via Amtrak on The Pioneer with a stopover in Chicago, staying at The Palmer House.

Train from Toledo in Coach went well as did our arrangements for The Palmer House. The next day, we went to Union Station a couple of hours before train time. We had a Bedroom on The Pioneer. The Conductor came into the Lounge to check in the sleeping car passengers. He informed me that we were not on his list and the person's name on his manifest was not mine, but started with the same first letter! Sent me to Customer Service in the station where I nervously had to wait for a free agent. Nothing they could do to get us on The Pioneer, but there was a Bedroom available on the Empire Builder that was to depart within a few minutes. However, that Bedroom was booked from Havre to Seattle; there was a Bedroom in the Portland bound sleeper available from Havre to Portland. Then, we could connect to a Bedroom on the Coast Starlight to Seattle.

But, we first had to make the EB! I grabbed a Red Cap, told him we needed a wheelchair for my Mother, went back to the Lounge and got her. (What's going on, she asked. I told her: I'll explain when we get on the train. No time for that now.) We raced for the platform, boarding the EB, with the train beginning to move within a couple of minutes of getting to our Bedroom.

From that point, the trip went well. The SCAs helped when we had to change sleepers in Havre. Our checked luggage went to Seattle on The Pioneer. The irony of the situation was that while we arrived in Seattle via the EB and CS on the same day as the The Pioneer, the CS was only slightly late while The Pioneer was very late (it was supposed to arrive before the CS).

Why did this happen? I made my reservations via an agent at my local AAA. I made a visit to her when I got home and told her what happened and asked why it happened? She blamed Amtrak. Amtrak's Customer Service blamed the agent saying that either she or I was to have confirmed the reservation. Since that didn't happen, the Bedroom was sold to a Mr. A, whose name was similar to mine. That explanation has never satisfied me. I have thought--and even told the Conductor when he refused our boarding--that someone misspelled my name on his manifest. I have wondered if the "mystery Mr. A" did exist or did that Bedroom go to Seattle empty?

I lost confidence in that particular travel agent and never used her services (or AAA's services again for several years).
 

Nick Farr

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If we're talking about Amtrak: There was one time in the Automat Era of the Pere Marquette where the train had a hotbox condition and was stuck in a long and isolated stretch between Holland and St. Joseph for 3-4 hours. It was during the summer, the A/C wasn't working and the conductors went into prison guard mode. They yelled at me to go back to my seat after trying to cool off in the Automat car.

If we're talking about train travel: Once in Krakow, the sleeper car train I had my crew on arrived early while they were upstairs on a smoke break. I approached a conductor asking which car we were supposed to be in, as the numbers on our German railway ticket didn't match up with the numbers on the cars in the consist. As I was trying to ask a question, the conductor lifted me off the platform and threw me onto the train, locking the door behind me. The ironic part is that my crew was able to find a cab, which got them to a van, which then ran out of gas and despite the push to get more petrol--the crew still managed to beat the train I was on to Katowice.

If we're talking about air travel, I have two interesting stories:

The first flight out of the small town I live in ended up being delayed two hours because of mechanical issues. I ended up in a dead heat sprint in Detroit and just barely missed the closing boarding door for my original flight to DCA. They had already printed out the tickets rebooking me on the next flight.

It turns out I was speaking at a conference that morning and really had to be there. The gate agent pointed down the terminal and said there was a flight to BWI that was in its final boarding stages. It turned out to be too late to reprint a boarding pass for me, but they said I could probably just walk on and find an empty seat.

I ran down to the BWI gate, began to explain my situation and those gate agents ended up walking onto the flight with me, directing me into an open seat and saying the reticketing would be worked out for me.

You know how when they call you by name and ask you to ring your flight attendant call button that it's never a good thing? I woke up hearing my name and groggily identified myself. After many rounds of "please remain seated", I ended up being the first one escorted off the plane by Air Marshals. After about a half hour of interrogation and a phone call, my story ended up checking out--and they ended up giving me a ride to the Amtrak station on their way to lunch. I ended up making my speech after all.
 

Bob Dylan

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Hands down it has to be the day the Single P-42 on the Texas Eagle #21 crapped out South of Ft Worth during an August Heat Wave with Temps over 100 while I was in Temple on a Day Trip Points run from Austin.

There were about 15 of us waiting on this Train that was due @ 4:45 PM with a 6:31 PM Arrival into Austin.

Since I was in a Low Bucket Roomette, I had planned to eat Dinner in the Diner since @ the time there were Excellent Diner Crews and Chefs on the Eagle Route with really good Regional Specialities.( the Ribs were Outstanding!)

The friendly Agent keep getting updates from the Conductor as the Hours slipped away, 6pm,7pm,8pm,9pm,10pm,11pm, Midnight, 1AM,2AM,and finally the Agent old us that the Train had been ReCrewed, and a Rescue Engine had come from Ft Worth and the Train was on the way with a 3am ETA into Temple.

In the meantime she had ordered in Pizzas on Amtraks dime and everyone was @ least able to eat.

Finally @ 3:22am the Eagle came chugging around the bend and loaded us up and rolled out for Austin @ 3:45am. I was able to sleep about an hour during the trip.

We arrived into Austin @ 5:15AM, I went home and took a shower,ate Breakfast and went to work for my 8am-5PM Shift.

Later I called Customer Relations and received a $250 Good Will Travel Voucher.

To this day I still have a thing about LD Trains that run with Only One Engine!
 

jiml

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A few years ago, northbound Coast Starlight LA - Seattle. Both engines had problems - one with traction, the other with hotel power - resulting in multiple delays enroute and finally culminating in 4 hours in the woods south of Portland with no A/C waiting for UP tow. Made it to Seattle at 2 am in rain and unseasonable cold to find station closed, no taxis, etc. Just a wonderful trip. :rolleyes:
 
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Eric in East County

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I think you should give the CZ another try. Detours through Wyoming are incredibly rare, and I personally would love to do it. And the rest can happen on any train.
To ride on the CZ requires an extra day just to get from San Diego to Emeryville. (This includes a very early morning departure from the downtown Santa Fe Depot in order to connect with the Coast Starlight in LA). We would also have to spend the night in Emeryville. If there was some sort of money back guarantee that our CZ train wouldn’t be rerouted due to track work, mudslides, or whatever, we might consider trying it again.
 

Cal

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A few years ago, northbound Coast Starlight LA - Seattle. Both engines had problems - one with traction, the other with hotel power - resulting in multiple delays enroute and finally culminating in 4 hours in the woods south of Portland with no A/C waiting for UP tow. Made it to Seattle at 2 am in rain and unseasonable cold to find station closed, no taxis, etc. Just a wonderful trip. :rolleyes:
Wow, on my "worst trip" we had a trespasser incident between Martinez and Davis, left Davis four hours down and woke up at the Chico stop. We had missed our window and so UP was doing track work just north of Klamath Falls, so we sat at Klamath Falls for another 4 hours. Ended up nine hours late into Seattle at 5 AM. Apparently Amtrak was intending to bus us from Portland to Seattle, but the OBS had no idea so when we questioned them they were surprised. Gladly we didn't get bussed.
 

Cal

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To ride on the CZ requires an extra day just to get from San Diego to Emeryville. (This includes a very early morning departure from the downtown Santa Fe Depot in order to connect with the Coast Starlight in LA). We would also have to spend the night in Emeryville. If there was some sort of money back guarantee that our CZ train wouldn’t be rerouted due to track work, mudslides, or whatever, we might consider trying it again.
There's always the possibility of flying, if you're okay with that. And while I'm unsure of the exact amount of times it's been detoured (anyone know?), it is very rare.
 

Nick Farr

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There's always the possibility of flying, if you're okay with that. And while I'm unsure of the exact amount of times it's been detoured (anyone know?), it is very rare.
I just went through that section both ways and the mudslides along the steepest parts were amazingly intense. Portions of the I-70 trail are still flooded or washed out and it's amazing the amount of work they're doing to clear it all while trains are passing by.

Yes, we made it through single tracking, both ways.

Outside of wildfires, it's not diverted much. When it is, it's usually scheduled late spring/early summer.

I highly recommend seeing that route not just in the summer, but also in the dead of winter. It's the most scenic stretch of rail in the country, possibly the world.
 

Eric in East County

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There's always the possibility of flying, if you're okay with that. And while I'm unsure of the exact amount of times it's been detoured (anyone know?), it is very rare.
Cal,

Thank you for your words of encouragement on not giving up on the CZ. We would welcome the extra day spent riding the train to Emeryville (and the overnight stay there) in order to see the Colorado scenery. Since the odds seem to favor our NOT being rerouted a second time, we’ve revised our thinking and are now open to at least considering taking the CZ on some future trip.

E & P
 
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This past week I was scheduled to take the Lake Shore Limited from NYC to Chicago and the CZ to EMY in two phases with an overnight in Denver, and finish up with Coast Starlight to LA. Two days before I was supposed to leave I got an email from Amtrak saying the LSL was cancelled (due to hurricane damage on the Hudson line). Fine, I flew to Chi. Next day, getting ready to leave in coach on a packed CZ, when we find out the toilets aren't working on one of the sleepers. They unload the sleeper passengers and go to switch out the car. We sat in the coach in Union Station for 4 hours before we rolled out and got into Denver 5 hours late. Next day the CZ was about 1:15 late coming into Denver but they said they would make up the time. Nope, we arrived in EMY after 10PM (6 hours late). Oh, and while on the CZ on my way to Denver, I found out the Coast Starlight was cancelled. I had to move my flights from LAX to SFO. After I changed my flights, Amtrak sent an email saying I can take a train to Bakersfield and a bus to LA.

The views on the CZ from Denver to California made the trip worth it, but the cancellations and delays were really frustrating. Maybe I was too optimistic in planning this. Hopefully Amtrak will give me a refund for the LSL and Coast Starlight.
 

Cal

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This past week I was scheduled to take the Lake Shore Limited from NYC to Chicago and the CZ to EMY in two phases with an overnight in Denver, and finish up with Coast Starlight to LA. Two days before I was supposed to leave I got an email from Amtrak saying the LSL was cancelled (due to hurricane damage on the Hudson line). Fine, I flew to Chi. Next day, getting ready to leave in coach on a packed CZ, when we find out the toilets aren't working on one of the sleepers. They unload the sleeper passengers and go to switch out the car. We sat in the coach in Union Station for 4 hours before we rolled out and got into Denver 5 hours late. Next day the CZ was about 1:15 late coming into Denver but they said they would make up the time. Nope, we arrived in EMY after 10PM (6 hours late). Oh, and while on the CZ on my way to Denver, I found out the Coast Starlight was cancelled. I had to move my flights from LAX to SFO. After I changed my flights, Amtrak sent an email saying I can take a train to Bakersfield and a bus to LA.

The views on the CZ from Denver to California made the trip worth it, but the cancellations and delays were really frustrating. Maybe I was too optimistic in planning this. Hopefully Amtrak will give me a refund for the LSL and Coast Starlight.
The LSL, I don't blame Amtrak that much. For the CZ delay, I do, as the Chicago yards are known for sending out bad equipment. The CS is also completely their fault, they gave a very short notice that it was cancelled south of EMY while the Surfline had a notice more in advance.
 
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The LSL, I don't blame Amtrak that much. For the CZ delay, I do, as the Chicago yards are known for sending out bad equipment. The CS is also completely their fault, they gave a very short notice that it was cancelled south of EMY while the Surfline had a notice more in advance.
Do you know why the CS service was cancelled? I'm assuming wildfires but haven't seen anything definitive.
 

Cal

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Do you know why the CS service was cancelled? I'm assuming wildfires but haven't seen anything definitive.
Track work between LA and Oxnard being done by Metrolink I believe, so there was very little reason as to why they couldn't have notified you earlier.
 
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