Pennsylvanian (coach vs business)?

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Amtrak25

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It's not obvious to me that the boarding process they're facilitating is even necessary in the first place - what purpose does lining up serve? I've never seen anything like it abroad, including at far busier stations than 30th Street, and SEPTA doesn't seem to have found it to be necessary at 30th street either. I'm also not aware of its ever having been used back in the Pennsylvania Railroad days, although that was well before my time.

To this naive observer it just looks like an unnecessary hassle at best, even when the people running it are in a good mood.

The contrast between Amtrak against NJT and LIRR in NYPS is so obvious. Amtrak's Kindergarten lines to the one stairway down in the legacy Penn concourse, (though have stopped looking at people's tickets) and now another in Moynihan Concourse (which of course deliberately lacks any nearby seating - like lining us up in the school yard, hence the term), but commuter rail passengers can load 1,000 people through all available stairways to a particular track from any concourse (Moynihan, NJT 7th Ave, LIRR , upper level Penn main, lower level central, west) once they see the track number.
 
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Bob Dylan

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Tomorrow is the big day for me. I want to see the Horseshoe Curve. What side of the car should I sit on going out of Pittsburgh?
On the right hand side.

Since you're in Biz Class you should get Priority Boarding, but don't hold back boarding so you get a Window Seat!
 
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Oreius

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Well, I’m home from my experience. It was amazing to see the Horseshoe Curve and Gallitzin Tunnels; I took videos as the train passed through. The Pennsylvanian is a very scenic route from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, and definitely would be beautiful in the fall. However, having experienced Business Class, I’m not sure if it is really worth the extra cost. The train had 4 Amfleet II Coaches, 1 Lounge, and 1 Business Class car. It did not have an Amfleet 1.

The Conductor even said the only difference between Coach and Business is the free nonalcoholic beverages. The Business Class car does not have the leg rests the Amfleet II Coach has, and both provide the same legroom. I had 4 sodas onboard during my trip, but paid $28 extra for Business over Coach. In that regard, unless you have the AGR Credit Card, I really don’t see the benefit of riding business class. Also the business class car got pretty full by Harrisburg; I can’t say the same about the rest of the train.
 

Amtrak25

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One of the 4 coaches is normally an Am-1, and used east of Harrisburgh for the commuters.

$28 is a lot of money for 4 sodas. I'd rather take the leg rests and buy a diet snapple and a couple of bottled waters from a 7-Eleven before boarding. But bathroom hygiene might be better in the Biz class car. All too many people need toilet training or think they can throw anything down the toilet like it's their kitchen's garbage disposal.
 

Sidney

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Best deal on BC is on the Surfliners. Wine and snacks in the afternoon. Coffee,juice and pastries in the morning. BC on the Pennsylvanian is no big deal. Only overnight train now with BC is the Coast Starlight. Biggest advantage is there is a good chance to get both seats to yourself. Too bad BC is gone on ths Lake Shore. There should be a designated Business Class car on every overnight train. It would be a nice compromise between Coach and a sleeper. You would pay more but if you are solo you would be guranteed both seats. That alone would be worth the price.
 

Amtrak25

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I am not really a Disney movie fan, but I wanted to see this character--and I did so last night. I think she has one or two--if not several--sisters or stepsisters working at some and other locations in the Amtrak system. I apologize for the distraction.

I ran into a "sister" playing conductor on the Capitol Ltd out of Chicago to Toledo in 2013. She abused a handicapped person and yelled at me for not both of us sitting precisely where she told us to in the SL lower level due to the other person's leg handicap and needed much legroom.

Another "sister" playing coach attendant on the WB Lake Shore Ltd in 2012 nearly threw a passenger off the train at Waterloo at 5am (he had poked him out of a sound sleep and started moving his things without permission) until passengers intervened about the SOB she was for the whole trip. Local police were on board the car. The "trial" in the aisle took 45 minutes with a CP freight right behind us as to whether to throw the passenger off the train or not. The conductor judge eventually sent her packing, out of service, to the Boston coaches and the matter was turned over to Amtrak police in Chicago. I was rattled for the whole day with a front row seat of this.

No answer of course on either incident from "Customer Service", and I did it on NARP's own Trip Form to boot. So much for that clerical nonsense.

So when dealing with anyone on Amtrak, be it coach attendant, conductor, or Gate Dragon, be on the look-out and on the defensive from the getgo, just in case, because they are there only because McDonalds would fire them.
 
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I thought this was a nice touch in the Lounge Car…
This is the handiwork of Matt. One of the *best* conductors on Amtrak. He's great at that 'job' part and also at the customer service part. He commonly announces arrival in Altoona with a cheery "Any volunteers for Altoona?" Also a former Marine, he has great stories to tell.
 
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Best deal on BC is on the Surfliners. Wine and snacks in the afternoon. Coffee,juice and pastries in the morning. BC on the Pennsylvanian is no big deal. Only overnight train now with BC is the Coast Starlight. Biggest advantage is there is a good chance to get both seats to yourself. Too bad BC is gone on ths Lake Shore. There should be a designated Business Class car on every overnight train. It would be a nice compromise between Coach and a sleeper. You would pay more but if you are solo you would be guranteed both seats. That alone would be worth the price.
BC on the Downeaster is pretty good also. 2+1 seating, free nonalcoholic drinks, first crack at the Café before the hordes from coach descend on it. If things aren't too busy some café attendants will even bring you your food.
 

toddinde

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My last experience with a Gate Dragon in Philly is that they line people up on the opposite side of the seats alongside of the train gate. God forbid anyone at all sits down. The line went back to the men's room. In my hour wait there, I sat in a seat adjacent to the top of the stairs.

When I got up when they let us down, I was not going to head to the back of the line. One of them snapped at me "Were you in line ?" I said "I was sitting right there for an hour". She snapped back "Next time wait in line". I yelled back at her, "I'll sit right there". She came back with "Whatever".

Never submit to a bully.
That's not Amtrak or 30th Street Station; that's typical East Coast. I am always amazed when I travel back east. My experience though is that Philadelphia and BWI are the worst. I just flew through Philly on my way back from Europe. The yelling and rudeness was just incredible. It wasn't directed to me because I keep a low profile, but some other unfortunate travelers were just screamed at. A Chinese lady got it really bad, and her English was not good. Kind of sad really. I remember a couple years ago flying into BWI. The lady driving the rental car shuttle literally yelled at the people on the shuttle for no reason. It just seems like it's a different world out there. Yelling is the accepted form of communication. A smile or friendliness is viewed as weakness and something to pray on. You have to be a hard target like you were and they back off.
 
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That's not Amtrak or 30th Street Station; that's typical East Coast. I am always amazed when I travel back east. My experience though is that Philadelphia and BWI are the worst. I just flew through Philly on my way back from Europe. The yelling and rudeness was just incredible. It wasn't directed to me because I keep a low profile, but some other unfortunate travelers were just screamed at. A Chinese lady got it really bad, and her English was not good. Kind of sad really. I remember a couple years ago flying into BWI. The lady driving the rental car shuttle literally yelled at the people on the shuttle for no reason. It just seems like it's a different world out there. Yelling is the accepted form of communication. A smile or friendliness is viewed as weakness and something to pray on. You have to be a hard target like you were and they back off.
As someone who lives on the East Coast and traveled a bit all over the country, I have to disagree. I generally find people on our side of the continent to be no ruder than people in other parts of the country. In fact, I've been the recipient of much courtesy when traveling in New York City, which has a reputation for rudeness. Yes, sometimes people are rude, but there is usually a good explanation, mostly related to crowding and insufficient staff.

That said, there seems to be no reason to keep people off the platforms at 30th St.; they never did when I was kid. New York Penn I can understand because the platforms are so narrow and everyone's getting off the train, but at 30th street the platforms are wider and maybe only half the train is getting off, not pretty much the whole train, as in New York. At Baltimore, or the BWI train station, there are no "gate dragons" at all. As far as the airports go, I haven't flown into PHL since 1975, and while BWI is a zoo, I always just head for the taxi stand and take the next cab out of the place.
 

jpakala

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Poor hiring decisions and/or poor training can lead to employees who "never had power but do now and am sure going to use it" and/or those who simply lack intelligence and/or those who are oblivious to their "social class" baggage (e.g. the drill sergeant type or would-be dramatist or so on, who are not nasty but performing the way their life-context types do). How Amtrak gets so many such people but airlines, oceanliners, Orient Express, etc. don't is odd.
 

rs9

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Poor hiring decisions and/or poor training can lead to employees who "never had power but do now and am sure going to use it" and/or those who simply lack intelligence and/or those who are oblivious to their "social class" baggage (e.g. the drill sergeant type or would-be dramatist or so on, who are not nasty but performing the way their life-context types do). How Amtrak gets so many such people but airlines, oceanliners, Orient Express, etc. don't is odd.
My observation is that there is a very large gulf between front line employee - OBS, ticket staff, station attendees, etc. - and Amtrak's management. Perhaps a similar situation exists with airlines, but let me offer one observation.

When I fly and inevitably am waiting in line for the bathroom at the rear of the plane, I often overhear flight attendants talking about work stuff. We're flying to this new destination, they changed this protocol, I like the new hours system, whatever. Flight attendants seem to be in tune with what's going on at their company.

With Amtrak, the decisions made by management might as well be made by the great wizard of Oz. Case in point: when Amtrak canceled (at least for now) business class on the Lake Shore Limited, I was in business class on the LSL a few days after the cancellation had been implemented. I asked the OBS what they knew about this; would business class be coming back? After all that's been my only long distance purchase with Amtrak to date. They said, we've only heard about it from passengers, so we don't know what's going on.

If you were to call Amtrak Guest Rewards and ask them why business class was removed and when it might be coming back, you won't get any answer to your question, because the customer service representatives don't know. It's a "management decision until further notice."

Now I'm being somewhat selfish here - I like my business class! But really, if Amtrak can just cancel an entire class of service and essentially not tell anyone who works for the company, I think that illustrates the divide between management and staff. That divide might prove to be a key part in coming up with any sort of initiative to corral poor staff behavior.
 

MikefromCrete

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it doesn't seem unusual to me that front line employees would not know the reason behind a management decision. In large companies, management sends out various decrees without any reasoning behind them. Hearing flight attendants complain (or praise) some management decision directly affecting their employment is one thing, them knowing something about why the company is using a new airplane on a particular route is something else. There's always employee gossip, but that all it is, gossip. The answer to your question lies at Amtrak HQ. Give them a call or send an e-mail. Good luck is getting a reply.
 

choochoodood

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Can anyone tell me about the Business Class on the Pennsylvanian...
Do they use an entire coach or a Cafe/Business Class combo?
Is the car located at the front or rear of the consist?
 

Bob Dylan

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I am pretty sure BC is the front car between Pittsburgh and Philly and rear car from Philly to NYC (because of the change in direction)
It has been every time I've been in BC.

If you want the best view of the Horseshoe Curve, sit on the Right side going East to Philly/New York and the Left going West to Pittsburg.( although it gets Dark too early in the Winter going West, especially if there are Delays)
 

Heading North

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Never rode the Pennsylvanian, but on the (former) Three Rivers years ago, everyone rode backwards NYP-PHL, then forward the rest of the way. On Keystone trains, the seats are usually 50/50 and some through passengers try to switch during the PHL layover.
 

Stremba

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On the Pennsylvanian all passengers ride backwards from Philadelphia to NYC (and vice versa). The train is not turned. There is an engine change at Philadelphia. This is necessary because Diesel engines are not allowed in NYC, but the electrified track ends at Harrisburg. The electric locomotive is removed from one end and a diesel locomotive is attached on the opposite end. (Eastbound, the opposite occurs)
 
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