No water in CZ sleeper car

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Michigan Mom

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When in graduate school I had a course on methods and behaviors of managers... some tried to make themselves look good by taking control of goods and services under their control. They were referred to as 'empire builders.' Hmmm a little irony!
Petty, bureaucratic empire-building behavior in a manager is a red flag. Managers should seek to empower their employees, not the opposite.
 
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I remember our sleeper water tank being refilled in Albuquerque. The water connection wasn’t a screw on connection, but the water hose was placed in a trough like connection.
 

Seaboard92

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At least Soviet trains had affordable sleeping accommodations and decent tea.
Russian trains are still fairly affordable. For a six day trip across basically all of Asia, and a good chunk of European Russia I can do that for $206. If I wanted to have the whole room it would be $848 which is still cheaper than every Amtrak reservation I've tried lately.
 

toddinde

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How does a maintenance crew "forget" to do such an important job? Aren't there checklists that a Foreman has to oversee that the tasks are completed?
People make mistakes. I can easily see how it would happen. I agree that someone should follow up and check.
 

me_little_me

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No. I don't remember her name. All I know is that there was no water in the FIRST CLASS car when there should have been. I could give a s#$t what her seniority was...all I know is that I paid for water and had none!
When it comes to treatment, sleepers are not first class IMHO. You get a few benefits such as lounges but you pay for the food and the service onboard even when you don't get it. Only if you get an SCA that wants to do a good job do you get such things as assistance with luggage when boarding (and even coach passengers get that albeit not as often).
 

Rasputin

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People make mistakes. I can easily see how it would happen. I agree that someone should follow up and check.
I am glad that philosophy is not the rule with airline maintenance. I have yet to be on an airplane that ran out of fuel or water.

Why is it that these types of mistakes seem to happen regularly on Amtrak despite the modest number of long distance trains being operated? It obviously seems to be a management problem or a poor work culture or both.
 

toddinde

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I am glad that philosophy is not the rule with airline maintenance. I have yet to be on an airplane that ran out of fuel or water.

Why is it that these types of mistakes seem to happen regularly on Amtrak despite the modest number of long distance trains being operated? It obviously seems to be a management problem or a poor work culture or both.
A train is not a plane, and a sleeping car running out of water is hardly a life threatening issue. But there are plenty of maintenance issues on airplanes all the time. I was delayed last weekend. As for the problems you cite on Amtrak, it’s never happened to me in 100,000 miles of Amtrak riding. But I realize a lot of people here like to whine.
 

Seaboard92

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I am glad that philosophy is not the rule with airline maintenance. I have yet to be on an airplane that ran out of fuel or water.

Why is it that these types of mistakes seem to happen regularly on Amtrak despite the modest number of long distance trains being operated? It obviously seems to be a management problem or a poor work culture or both.

How many planes have you flown on. If we don't explicitly tell the captain the water truck will not come to our gate. Our water tank for the CRJ for the lavs is only about 5 or 6 gallons so it doesn't really take a lot to get it to go down. Depending on the hub you have to ask them two and three times to come because they are that slow.
 

Ziv

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I don't know about any Russian trains other than the Trans-Sib and the Red Arrow, but they didn't have very good tea in the cafe car. BUT, they both had excellent samovars in every car (if memory serves) so you could brew your own excellent tea. I only encountered an empty samovar one time. That task was taken seriously by the Provodniks, they made sure it got taken care of.
At least Soviet trains had affordable sleeping accommodations and decent tea.
 

Ziv

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I still have my Trans-Siberian Train catalog/schedule/travel book from my 2002 trip when an entire non-stop trip in Second Class (2/4) was $345US, and they threw in a night at the AST Hof Hotel in Moscow for just $90US more. I also added in a trip on the Red Star for $78US and accommodations in St. Pete cost me a whopping $84. I stopped in Irkutsk for a couple days on a different trip and it was a reasonable $135US for two days.
Different era.
Same trip is now €1,050 with a night in Moscow and a night in Beijing included.


Russian trains are still fairly affordable. For a six day trip across basically all of Asia, and a good chunk of European Russia I can do that for $206. If I wanted to have the whole room it would be $848 which is still cheaper than every Amtrak reservation I've tried lately.
 

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Rasputin

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How many planes have you flown on. If we don't explicitly tell the captain the water truck will not come to our gate. Our water tank for the CRJ for the lavs is only about 5 or 6 gallons so it doesn't really take a lot to get it to go down. Depending on the hub you have to ask them two and three times to come because they are that slow.
A train is not a plane, and a sleeping car running out of water is hardly a life threatening issue. But there are plenty of maintenance issues on airplanes all the time. I was delayed last weekend. As for the problems you cite on Amtrak, it’s never happened to me in 100,000 miles of Amtrak riding. But I realize a lot of people here like to whine.
That is correct. Aside from derailments and collisions, nothing on Amtrak is life-threatening. The problem is that as far as management and some employees are concerned, nothing on Amtrak is important either.

I am not a frequent traveler but I have flown on a reasonable number of planes. Some have been delayed for a couple hours. Some have been very uncomfortable. The plane on one leg of my trip to Great Falls was canceled once and I had to spend the night in Minneapolis. I have encountered many more misadventures on Amtrak than I ever have flying. Unless I am planning to spend the night in Boston anyway, I have given up taking the Lake Shore (448) eastbound and will fly back on any return trip.
 
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Seaboard92

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I still have my Trans-Siberian Train catalog/schedule/travel book from my 2002 trip when an entire non-stop trip in Second Class (2/4) was $345US, and they threw in a night at the AST Hof Hotel in Moscow for just $90US more. I also added in a trip on the Red Star for $78US and accommodations in St. Pete cost me a whopping $84. I stopped in Irkutsk for a couple days on a different trip and it was a reasonable $135US for two days.
Different era.
Same trip is now €1,050 with a night in Moscow and a night in Beijing included.
If you book it on your own it actually isn't that bad even now. Like here is a fun itinerary I have planned.

-Vladivostok (VVO)-Khaborvorsk on the Ocean 12,000 Rubbles in Luxury Class.
-Khaborvorsk-Irkutsk on Train No. 7 in 1st Class 16,000 Rubbles.
-Steam Trip on Lake Baikal 5,000 Rubbles
-Irkutsk-Novosibirsk on Train No. 57 4,000 Rubbles
-Novosibirsk-Yekaterinburg on Train No. 61 10,000 Rubbles in First Class
-Yekaterinburg-St. Petersburg on Train No. 145 12,000 Rubbles in First Class.

So for my transit including one steam train is 59,000 Rubbles but that is $806. Which isn't really that bad when you think the Empire Builder is like 1,200 for a sleeper for two days.

Now if I ran all the way thru without stopping to see friends and couch surf my way across the country (yes I have a friend in every city listed. We have a lot of Russian J1s in my area that I've befriended over the years) it would only be 44,000 Rubbles in First Class or $601. Now if you went second class its only 13,134 or $179.

Not a bad price
 

Seaboard92

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I don't know about any Russian trains other than the Trans-Sib and the Red Arrow, but they didn't have very good tea in the cafe car. BUT, they both had excellent samovars in every car (if memory serves) so you could brew your own excellent tea. I only encountered an empty samovar one time. That task was taken seriously by the Provodniks, they made sure it got taken care of.
There are a few reasons for this which really could make for an interesting discussion between us.

For starters in Russia the trains are all independently managed by their various railway directives. Meaning the Ocean No. 6 and 7 I believe are based in Vladivostok out of the Far Eastern Railway Directive. Just like the Red Arrow is based out of St. Petersburg. We've all seen what local management did for the Coast Starlight in the 1990s with the Pacific Parlor Car and the Arcades. Things that are locally managed generally have more in touch managers.

Second: All of the branded trains need to be re-certified every so many years which basically means the standards haven't slumped.

Some of these requirements are

-Cars can't be over ten years old.
-New Bed Linens that have a short service life.
-Consistent uniform appearance of the train staff
-All cars must have the same interior/exterior design throughout.

Third: Every year the Branded trains compete for the title of best branded train. Here are the various items they are competing in.

-Best Branded Train
-Best Restaurant Car
-Best Passenger Service in Luxury Cars

To get to their awarding they bring in a few cars from each train to the city the competition is in this year St. Petersburg and they grade the design of cars, level of service, and services available to passengers. They inspect the cars, as well as watch videos prepared by the individual train management of the trains operation. The reason for the competition is to improve the quality of service on the branded trains, and to improve the professional skills of the restaurant car's staff.

Fourth: You can lose the branded train label. The most noteworthy train to lose it's branding is the Rossiya (Moscow-Vladivostok-Moscow). It is no longer considered a branded train.

So there is a good reason why the staff take their jobs much more seriously than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Also the jobs are competitive as well to obtain because it's a good job with a good pension. Railroading is still a status job in Russia.

There are actually some things we can take from the Russian method. Imagine if we had all of the trains independently managed and actually rewarded the employees with something worthwhile for taking home the top prize. Give them a weeks vacation somewhere expenses paid, or something tangible that is a real reward and watch how fast service would improve. I really do think local management is the answer for Amtrak. I would feel really bad for the Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited though because they are split base trains.
 

20th Century Rider

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If you book it on your own it actually isn't that bad even now. Like here is a fun itinerary I have planned.

-Vladivostok (VVO)-Khaborvorsk on the Ocean 12,000 Rubbles in Luxury Class.
-Khaborvorsk-Irkutsk on Train No. 7 in 1st Class 16,000 Rubbles.
-Steam Trip on Lake Baikal 5,000 Rubbles
-Irkutsk-Novosibirsk on Train No. 57 4,000 Rubbles
-Novosibirsk-Yekaterinburg on Train No. 61 10,000 Rubbles in First Class
-Yekaterinburg-St. Petersburg on Train No. 145 12,000 Rubbles in First Class.

So for my transit including one steam train is 59,000 Rubbles but that is $806. Which isn't really that bad when you think the Empire Builder is like 1,200 for a sleeper for two days.

Now if I ran all the way thru without stopping to see friends and couch surf my way across the country (yes I have a friend in every city listed. We have a lot of Russian J1s in my area that I've befriended over the years) it would only be 44,000 Rubbles in First Class or $601. Now if you went second class its only 13,134 or $179.

Not a bad price
So can we redefine the definition of a 'third world country' as to does it have a RR system that is functional with relative comfort and pricing? And where does that put Amtrak?

BTW I wonder how the Flex meals still being served on eastern trains compares with food fare on other RR's?

How does Amtrak now compare with Russia and other Eastern Block nations?

'I don-no' but sure some AUer in the know can feast on that!
 

Ziv

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Messages
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Wow. I had no idea. The Russian train system seems like the UK's Premier League, where the 3 worst performing teams (out of 20) get relegated down to the English Football League or National League teams while 3 top performing teams in the lower leagues get promoted to the Premier League.
Though I have to admit that I know very little about both Russian trains AND English football. I can only imagine American trains competing for business the way they frequently did in the Pre-Amtrak days. I am a Montana guy so it would be cool to see the Empire Builder competing with the NCH for premier status on the Chicago to Seattle/Portland route. Though it would probably make more sense for there to be two Empire Builders each way/each day instead of having 1 train each way/each day on two routes.
Having outstanding personnel rewarded for their great people skills would be an good start to battling the mediocrity of many Amtrak employees and perhaps even for the poor levels of service in the Chicago team.

There are a few reasons for this which really could make for an interesting discussion between us.

For starters in Russia the trains are all independently managed by their various railway directives. Meaning the Ocean No. 6 and 7 I believe are based in Vladivostok out of the Far Eastern Railway Directive. Just like the Red Arrow is based out of St. Petersburg. We've all seen what local management did for the Coast Starlight in the 1990s with the Pacific Parlor Car and the Arcades. Things that are locally managed generally have more in touch managers.

Second: All of the branded trains need to be re-certified every so many years which basically means the standards haven't slumped.

Some of these requirements are

-Cars can't be over ten years old.
-New Bed Linens that have a short service life.
-Consistent uniform appearance of the train staff
-All cars must have the same interior/exterior design throughout.

Third: Every year the Branded trains compete for the title of best branded train. Here are the various items they are competing in.

-Best Branded Train
-Best Restaurant Car
-Best Passenger Service in Luxury Cars

To get to their awarding they bring in a few cars from each train to the city the competition is in this year St. Petersburg and they grade the design of cars, level of service, and services available to passengers. They inspect the cars, as well as watch videos prepared by the individual train management of the trains operation. The reason for the competition is to improve the quality of service on the branded trains, and to improve the professional skills of the restaurant car's staff.

Fourth: You can lose the branded train label. The most noteworthy train to lose it's branding is the Rossiya (Moscow-Vladivostok-Moscow). It is no longer considered a branded train.

So there is a good reason why the staff take their jobs much more seriously than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Also the jobs are competitive as well to obtain because it's a good job with a good pension. Railroading is still a status job in Russia.

There are actually some things we can take from the Russian method. Imagine if we had all of the trains independently managed and actually rewarded the employees with something worthwhile for taking home the top prize. Give them a weeks vacation somewhere expenses paid, or something tangible that is a real reward and watch how fast service would improve. I really do think local management is the answer for Amtrak. I would feel really bad for the Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited though because they are split base trains.
 

Seaboard92

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Wow. I had no idea. The Russian train system seems like the UK's Premier League, where the 3 worst performing teams (out of 20) get relegated down to the English Football League or National League teams while 3 top performing teams in the lower leagues get promoted to the Premier League.
Though I have to admit that I know very little about both Russian trains AND English football. I can only imagine American trains competing for business the way they frequently did in the Pre-Amtrak days. I am a Montana guy so it would be cool to see the Empire Builder competing with the NCH for premier status on the Chicago to Seattle/Portland route. Though it would probably make more sense for there to be two Empire Builders each way/each day instead of having 1 train each way/each day on two routes.
Having outstanding personnel rewarded for their great people skills would be an good start to battling the mediocrity of many Amtrak employees and perhaps even for the poor levels of service in the Chicago team.
Well another thing to remember about Russian Railways is the most competitive rail network is probably Moscow-St. Petersburg. You have the Grand Express which runs a really posh overnighter complete with luxury classes having a chauffeur waiting on them to take them anywhere in the city limits. The Metropolis which doesn't really seam like it's that special honestly but I think it caters to Tver Region. Then the Russian Railways services of varying types from the top of the line Red Arrow down to the local trains.

It's not that I would say they get relegated down a league if they don't win the competition it's no real loss to the train and it doesn't move down. But if it doesn't meet the standard on the official inspection (outside of the competition) then it will get moved down. I'm actually surprised the Rossiya is still downgraded as it just got new equipment this year. But I think it got new handmedown equipment from one of the trains in European Russia.

I think it would be a great way to reward personal for great service things you could take into account with it being like amount of complaints/compliments, secret shopper riders, Supervisor reviews, and the films they would have to submit. It would definitely help battle the mediocre crews that exist. If you incentivize them to be better by offering a good prize, and get them to take ownership in the betterment of the company things will improve.

That is part of the problem Amtrak has is the workers don't take ownership in Amtrak's future because there is such an antagonistic relationship between management usually in DC/Philly and the boots on the ground. Good local management that could motivate their employees would create a much better atmosphere. You would make it even better with the competitions because you are giving them a tangible goal that they can obtain.

You would need to however strip the Lakeshore Limited (Boston) and Empire Builder (Portland) from Chicago however. I would say both could be small satellite bases of the actual base for both trains as they aren't that far from the real bases. I know the airlines have satellite bases as DL has some crews based in PDX that are technically managed by SEA.

Russian Railways are very interesting to me.
 

Nick Farr

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Also, the dining car dragons at it again. They strictly limit you to 2 pieces of meat.
In my experience, this means as a sleeper passenger for some weird reason, you cannot order and pay for a second portion for yourself.

I usually leave a decent cash tip so on the second day, I can usually convince them to put in a new order for my "imaginary friend Bob" who is joining me for a meal in the dining car from the coaches.

Then COVID came and with the flex dining, that was no longer possible.
 

John Santos

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Jun 24, 2018
Messages
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Unlike on an airplane where I take tiny bits and chew every bite as long as possible to make the tiny portions last as long as I can, I've always found the Amtrak meals more than adequate in size. (Flex meals not so much.) I tend to eat a lot normally (i.e. too much) and don't get a lot of exercise on a train, so maybe I eat less, and I usually carry some snacks, but I don't get really hungry.

As for ordering a second meal and paying for it, if they allowed coach passengers to buy meals in the diner like they used to, I'm sure they would let a sleeper passenger also order an extra meal. But I think the current food micromanagement that produce the Flex meals means they only load exactly as much food as they think they will need for any given trip . 48 Sleeper passengers between A and B means they load 48 breakfasts and 48 lunches, and you hope they don't run out of your choice before you eat. Then in the afternoon 4 passengers get off and only one boards, so 45 dinners for that night.
 
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