Sleeping cars returning to WAS-BOS starting 05APR21

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Triley

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A friend who is a long time rail passenger told me about his recent trip on the sleeper on No. 66.

When sleeping car passengers went to board the car in DC, they could not do so and were held on the platform. The conductor subsequently explained that the problem was that when the train arrived in DC from Newport News, it was discovered that the sleeping car had not been "made up." (I do not know where this car is supposed to be serviced and cleaned from the previous trip). Apparently, the attendant was in the process of franticly trying to get the car ready to receive passengers. After some time, the conductor told the sleeping car passengers to board one of the coaches and they could go to the sleeper when the car was ready. My friend reported that this was very inconvenient for some sleeper passengers who were traveling with a child and for some older passengers who had luggage. The family traveling with their child indicated that their earlier trip in sleeper on 67 from Boston to DC had gone smoothly.
The issue is...when this train had the sleepers cut years ago, Boston lost all sleepers attendants. Thus when the train regained the sleeper, the attendants are out of DC. To my understanding, the car runs down to Newport News and back, empty, and with no attendant. The attendant getting off 67 must try to do their best to clean the car before they detrain in DC, which can leave the car in a pretty rough condition for the return trip on 66.

One alternative they have is to have the attendants change out in WAS, and have someone continue on with the equipment to NPN, and make the car a revenue car for that duration. This would require an odd situation where your sleeper attendant may change out mid-trip, which is far from ideal. The other option is to have the sleeper run directly behind the engine (and moving the bag car to the rear), so the car can be cut in/out alongside the engine change. This would have the sleeper in earshot of additional noise (bell/horn), though based on the time of night, would only really be an issue around Southeastern Connecticut and Southwestern Rhode Island.

No announcements should be made on any car on trains 65/66/67 between 10p and 6a period (unless there's an emergency). This pissed me off to no end during one trip I took on 67 in coach before they brought the sleeper back. The BOS based conductors announced there would be no announcements after 10p so set an alarm if you're getting off before 6a. As soon as we got to NYP the new crew got on the PA was just blasting everyone with useless announcements for the rest of the trip (as well as making a racket and yakking when moving through the coaches). I filed a complaint and I'm still waiting for a response.
As someone who use to frequently work this train, I agree with you regarding announcements.

However, in defense of the crews that were making announcements, according to the Service Standards manual, there are NO quiet hours on Regionals, so the BOS crews have always been in the wrong by dimming the lights, and making no announcements.

Just want to make sure your anger is directed at the right party, and it's not the conductors in this case. Traditionally 65/66/67 have seen crews ignore the rules and treat it as a long haul, in the sense that lights get dimmed, and no announcements will be made between 11-6. However, they are technically in violation of the guidelines for a Regional, and get in trouble for doing so.
 

jis

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I shall direct my ire at the Service Standards then. Curse you Service Standards!!! (But seriously they need to change the standards then. It's unacceptable.)
I took the liberty to report this issue to RPA and asked them to put this on the list of things to bring to Amtrak to fix, since fixing it basically costs nothing. We shall see what happens.
 

Rasputin

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The issue is...when this train had the sleepers cut years ago, Boston lost all sleepers attendants. Thus when the train regained the sleeper, the attendants are out of DC. To my understanding, the car runs down to Newport News and back, empty, and with no attendant. The attendant getting off 67 must try to do their best to clean the car before they detrain in DC, which can leave the car in a pretty rough condition for the return trip on 66.

One alternative they have is to have the attendants change out in WAS, and have someone continue on with the equipment to NPN, and make the car a revenue car for that duration. This would require an odd situation where your sleeper attendant may change out mid-trip, which is far from ideal. The other option is to have the sleeper run directly behind the engine (and moving the bag car to the rear), so the car can be cut in/out alongside the engine change. This would have the sleeper in earshot of additional noise (bell/horn), though based on the time of night, would only really be an issue around Southeastern Connecticut and Southwestern Rhode Island.
If my understanding is correct, 67 is scheduled to arrive in Newport News at 11:33 a.m. and departs as 66 at 4:50 p.m. There are no car cleaners at Newport News who could clean this car? Is the rest of the train cleaned or serviced at all at Newport News or is this train service on automatic?
 

jis

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So it is all for the lack of one additional SCA to do the WAS - NPN - WAS turn, just because the additional revenue generated will probably not cover the cost. Would be interesting to see what happens if Virginia offers to cover the shortfall out of its overall surplus.
 

Dakota 400

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according to the Service Standards manual, there are NO quiet hours on Regionals
This surprises me. I do remember that 10:00 P. M. to 6:00 A. M. were quiet hours on the LD trains. What is the rationalization for any overnight train not having such quiet hours?
 

OBS

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If my understanding is correct, 67 is scheduled to arrive in Newport News at 11:33 a.m. and departs as 66 at 4:50 p.m. There are no car cleaners at Newport News who could clean this car? Is the rest of the train cleaned or serviced at all at Newport News or is this train service on automatic?
The primary issue is getting beds made and rooms set up for the return trip...something the car cleaners don't handle.
 

OBS

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This surprises me. I do remember that 10:00 P. M. to 6:00 A. M. were quiet hours on the LD trains. What is the rationalization for any overnight train not having such quiet hours?
I have not opened my SS manual since long before I retired, but, years ago, there was instructions to shut off the PA box in the sleepers during the overnight hours, so as not to disturb passengers.
 

OBS

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So it is all for the lack of one additional SCA to do the WAS - NPN - WAS turn, just because the additional revenue generated will probably not cover the cost. Would be interesting to see what happens if Virginia offers to cover the shortfall out of its overall surplus.
I am not sure, but may also impact the number of revenue cars in operation South of DC, which impacts The number of Conductors required for the train and/or the related penalties for not staffing correctly.
 

Danib62

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I have not opened my SS manual since long before I retired, but, years ago, there was instructions to shut off the PA box in the sleepers during the overnight hours, so as not to disturb passengers.
It was weird. It was almost like they made a point of switching them on just for NYP to make announcements because we didn't have any other announcements during quiet hours.
 

Trogdor

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This surprises me. I do remember that 10:00 P. M. to 6:00 A. M. were quiet hours on the LD trains. What is the rationalization for any overnight train not having such quiet hours?
On 66/67, stops are fairly frequent and the relative passenger turnover is high at some of these stops. You don’t have the luxury of 45-60 minutes in between stops to find the small number of passengers that were probably directed to a specific car to make it easier for the conductors/car attendants to walk up to them personally and let them know their stop is coming up. You leave Wilmington and 15 minutes later you’re in Philadelphia, 20 minutes later you’re in Trenton, 12 minutes after that…etc. And you’ll probably have a hundred people getting off at those stops. Then half the train turns over in New York.

It definitely sucks if you’re trying to get sleep, and there ought to be a way to shut off the PA in the sleeper, but I completely understand why these trains otherwise would not have quiet hours. It’s completely different from finding the three passengers bound for Holdrege, NE in the 11 car with 45 minutes to go before their stop.
 

Triley

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This surprises me. I do remember that 10:00 P. M. to 6:00 A. M. were quiet hours on the LD trains. What is the rationalization for any overnight train not having such quiet hours?
Because 66/67 is not a long distance train, it's a Regional. Regionals "require" the lights on at all times, and all announcements to be made.
 

Palmland

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Perhaps it’s time to change the ’requirements’ or at least have the SCA and/or conductor responsible to insure any intermediate sleeper passengers get off at the right destination and turn off the PA In the sleeper until maybe 6am. No PA worked well for many many years.

Regarding the difficulty in cleaning rooms -
The other option is to have the sleeper run directly behind the engine (and moving the bag car to the rear), so the car can be cut in/out alongside the engine change. This would have the sleeper in earshot of additional noise (bell/horn….
Are there no switch engines in Washington anymore? Leave the sleeper on the rear. Cut away from it when the train leaves and have a switcher take it for servicing.

A better option is to sell rooms to Richmond/Newport News and return the SCA base to Boston. They managed to restore the LSL Boston sleeper.
 

Danib62

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I think the solution is you then group passengers in coaches based on destination. You have a set coach with people going the full overnight and you cut the lights and the PA in that coach. This isn’t rocket science. Treating 65/66/67 as any other regional train is ridiculous because it isn’t.
 

Cal

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So just got back from my trip on 67 from BBY-WAS. Here are my quick impressions:

  • The "soft" product was really good! We had snack boxes waiting for us in our rooms. The SCA was very friendly and helpful and made sure we knew we could go get some adult beverages in the cafe car. He was able to accommodate my wife getting off early at BWI and made sure we knew when our stops were coming. We were able to get breakfast in the cafe car in the morning with no issues. Both cafe car attendants were friendly and courteous.
  • The "hard" product is awful. The V-Is are in desperate need of a refurbishment. They are utterly grungy. I almost felt embarrassed that this was my wife's first overnight Amtrak trip. Every little nook and cranny is just coated in grime. The safety instruction card was literally stuck on the fold out table with who knows what. The shower ran out of hot water within the first 20 seconds of starting it (this happened both before bed when I showered, and in the morning when my wife showered). The sink was pretty terrible to use. The curtains, cushions, and carpeting just all look and feel dirty.
  • Announcements were made over the PA multiple times while approaching, laying over at, and departing NYP. This is inexcusable. The cafe care reopening doesn't need it's own announcement blasted to sleeper passengers at 3am. Thankfully these were the only the announcements during quiet hours in the sleeper car (and yes our speaker was turned all the way down).
Meanwhile other reviews (including some by @Tlcooper93) were almost all positive, again to prove how inconsistent Amtrak is.
 

Triley

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Perhaps it’s time to change the ’requirements’ or at least have the SCA and/or conductor responsible to insure any intermediate sleeper passengers get off at the right destination and turn off the PA In the sleeper until maybe 6am. No PA worked well for many many years.

Regarding the difficulty in cleaning rooms -

Are there no switch engines in Washington anymore? Leave the sleeper on the rear. Cut away from it when the train leaves and have a switcher take it for servicing.

A better option is to sell rooms to Richmond/Newport News and return the SCA base to Boston. They managed to restore the LSL Boston sleeper.
The PA can no be turned off in any car , in case of an emergency.

There are switch engines, but what you suggested (removing the sleeper from the rear) would require a longer dwell time, which is something they're trying to cut back on. That's why I mentioned the unfortunate suggestion of having the sleeper at the front, to be removed. Your suggestion is a blue flag nightmare.

And as Cal mentioned, CHI crews the BOS portion of the LSL, as they have done for quite many years, so there were no changes that needed to be made to make it happen. Now...I'm 100% for bringing back TAs to Boston (the more jobs, the better!), but from a business standpoint, I need to question if it's worth it. I would personally expect them to explore other options that allow passengers to ride the full length of the route.
 

Rasputin

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The bottom line is that this is Amtrak (and not GN, NP, UP, PRR, NYC, CN, CP, etc.) so there is obviously no solution.
 

Rasputin

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Based on my experience with PRR in 1965, I'd say Amtrak is merely carrying on the tradition ;)
Based on my experience on the Broadway in 1968, Amtrak's operation of the Boston - Washington sleeping car service is quite a few notches lower.
 
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