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The OBS Chief reports to the Conductor, but..

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EB_OBS

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The OBS Chief position was renamed to Customer Service Quality Supervisor and they do not report to the conductor.
 

railiner

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Is that the exact same position that the 'Chief' used to be? And do they have one on every LD train, or just some at random?

Back when they did have 'Chief's', they supervised all On Board Services employee's, but did indeed answer to the Train Conductor, who is in charge of everyone on the train.

To answer the OP's question....yes, back then, they also answered to the Assistant Conductor's. The operating crew is always in charge of 'on board services' crew.
 

Amfleeter

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The OBS Chief position was renamed to Customer Service Quality Supervisor and they do not report to the conductor.
Out east the OBS Chiefs weren't replaced by the CSQS guys, the Conductors themselves now fill the role - as far as my experience goes. On all my LD (Capitol Limited, Crescent) trips out East, and all the NEC trains I've been on, the Conductor ran the on board staff.

When traveling to Seattle I have seen the CQCS guys, though. Probably a West Coast thing.
 
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FormerOBS

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I don't know about the West. In the East, the Auto Train is the only LD train that normally has a Chief. That's mostly because of the size of the crew & the size of the operation. The Conductor supervises the operation of the train over the railroad, with the AC supporting. The Chief supervises onboard service, and has no official role in train operation. In my experience, the separation of responsibilities has generally been amicable.

Tom
 

railiner

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The OBS Chief position was renamed to Customer Service Quality Supervisor and they do not report to the conductor.
Out east the OBS Chiefs weren't replaced by the CSQS guys, the Conductors themselves now fill the role - as far as my experience goes. On all my LD (Capitol Limited, Crescent) trips out East, and all the NEC trains I've been on, the Conductor ran the on board staff.

When traveling to Seattle I have seen the CQCS guys, though. Probably a West Coast thing.
The original purpose of the 'Chief' was to put 'Amtrak Supervision' on large-crewed, long distance trains, at the time the operating crew worked for the freight railroads, not Amtrak. While at first, freight crews had recent passenger experience, as Amtrak matured, more and more freight crews lacked that experience.

That all changed when Amtrak directly took over the operating crews, and trained them to fulfill the supervision of on board services, Hence the 'Chief' position became somewhat redundant....
 

railiner

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"Up North", "Down South", "Out West", and "Back East" are the descriptions that are most common. "Way Down East" is common for the northeastern part of Maine..... :)
 

TheTuck

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I've come to believe that Chiefs should return to the ldt's.. especially during the busy seasons where trains are close to sold out. The Conductor and AC have operating responsibilities that will inevitably interfere with customer service. The Dining car LSA is currently the one "in charge" of the OBS crew. However, this doesn't work well either since they're responsible for all the dining car revenue. They can't be expected to resolve a ticketing issue in the Coaches in the middle of lunch. A believe a healthy dose of modern technology, more flexible staffing levels and bringing back some basic emenities would go a long way.
 

railiner

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I've come to believe that Chiefs should return to the ldt's.. especially during the busy seasons where trains are close to sold out. The Conductor and AC have operating responsibilities that will inevitably interfere with customer service. The Dining car LSA is currently the one "in charge" of the OBS crew. However, this doesn't work well either since they're responsible for all the dining car revenue. They can't be expected to resolve a ticketing issue in the Coaches in the middle of lunch. A believe a healthy dose of modern technology, more flexible staffing levels and bringing back some basic emenities would go a long way.
I would disagree with this. On long distance trains, the operating crew, especially in the middle portion where the major 'lift' of tickets has already been accomplished, often seems to be little more than "along for the ride, in case something happens"....

Resolving ticketing issues is the majority of their responsibility, along with station stops, which are sometimes hours apart, and perhaps an occasional upsale. There is no reason why they cannot monitor proper performance of on board services crew.

If there is budget for additional crew on a train, I would rather see it spent on an additional cook or waiter in the diner to improve service....
 

FormerOBS

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When it comes to the operation of the train over the railroad, the Conductor, as I said earlier, is the highest ranking employee on board. That means being in charge of compliance with all orders that have (or potentially might have) anything to do with the operation of the train over the railroad. From that standpoint, lifting tickets, dealing with drunks, arranging for upgrades, monitoring the performance of O.B.S. crew, and all the other functions, must take second place. The Chief can perform all of these functions, with the possible exception of lifting tickets. In the past, some Chiefs performed their function with less zeal than we would have wished (I'm trying to be diplomatic here). With the right person in the position, the Chief can be a very valuable employee. If the wrong person gets in there, it's a different story.

Tom
 
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Amfleeter

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I've come to believe that Chiefs should return to the ldt's.. especially during the busy seasons where trains are close to sold out. The Conductor and AC have operating responsibilities that will inevitably interfere with customer service. The Dining car LSA is currently the one "in charge" of the OBS crew. However, this doesn't work well either since they're responsible for all the dining car revenue. They can't be expected to resolve a ticketing issue in the Coaches in the middle of lunch. A believe a healthy dose of modern technology, more flexible staffing levels and bringing back some basic emenities would go a long way.
Doesn't anything involving ticketing usually go through the Conductor, since it involves Operation (accountability for passengers and passenger revenue)? Not questioning your idea, just curious if the LSA actually is allowed to handle that.
 
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Rule G

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. On long distance trains, the operating crew, especially in the middle portion where the major 'lift' of tickets has already been accomplished, often seems to be little more than "along for the ride, in case something happens"....


Along for the ride... that's funny right there!
 
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TheTuck

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The ticket collection and revenue protection can still be done by the Conductor, or the AC. A Chief could assist and provide better service with regard to the enroute issues; upgrades, reassignments, connections, reservation changes, minor mechanical issues, passenger complaints, medical issues, unruly passengers, fare evaders, etc... They can also simply assist the OBS crew wherever they are short handed; kitchen staff, dining car, lounge etc..

Currently, a Conductor or AC does all this when necessary. A good one, at least. Yes it may seem that they're just 'along for the ride' but those trips are rare treats for the ones who have any pride in their work. My point is that the T&E crew is responsible for the safe operation of the train (and are all OOS if they violate any of those operating rules). The average passenger doesn't understand this and wont care about the grade crossing to protect, or the manual switches to line or the track warrant to copy. Their only concern is they spent a grip on their sleeper and the faucet is leaking onto the carpet!
 
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railiner

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The ticket collection and revenue protection can still be done by the Conductor, or the AC. A Chief could assist and provide better service with regard to the enroute issues; upgrades, reassignments, connections, reservation changes, minor mechanical issues, passenger complaints, medical issues, unruly passengers, fare evaders, etc... They can also simply assist the OBS crew wherever they are short handed; kitchen staff, dining car, lounge etc..

Currently, a Conductor or AC does all this when necessary. A good one, at least. Yes it may seem that they're just 'along for the ride' but those trips are rare treats for the ones who have any pride in their work. My point is that the T&E crew is responsible for the safe operation of the train (and are all OOS if they violate any of those operating rules). The average passenger doesn't understand this and wont care about the grade crossing to protect, or the manual switches to line or the track warrant to copy. Their only concern is they spent a grip on their sleeper and the faucet is leaking onto the carpet!
You are making some valid points....however, if you ride a long distance train, on many segments, the conductor does have relatively little to do. And if someone wants to purchase an upgrade enroute...that seems to be an annoyance to many of them....just compare their duties to that of a NEC conductor on a regional train during rush hours...say when the ticketing computer's in the station are down...see some real work done. ;)
 

FormerOBS

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Railiner:

I have to disagree with you. The Tuck explained it very well. The process of getting a train over the road in compliance with all rules, orders, special instructions, etc. is far more complex and demanding than most passengers can imagine. It may look easy, especially when the trip is going smoothly; but even then the Conductor has a lot on his mind. Many --- probably most --- Conductors maintain a professional demeanor that insulates the passenger from these things. Just because you don't see the things that make the job demanding, does not mean those demands aren't there.

The Chief can deal with service issues while the Conductor concentrates on the safe and efficient operation of the train. At its most basic, the Chief's work is inside the train; the most important aspects of the Conductor's work has to do with the train's operation over the railroad.

Tom
 

railiner

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Well then, we'll have to 'agree to disagree'....

The way you describe it, it seems that the conductor is doing the work of the engineer. The engineer rarely needs assistance from the conductor, except for throwing an occasional manual switch, backing up a train, or directing a station stop spot. True, it can get a lot hairier at times of irregular operations, but in the grand scheme of things, what percentage of the time does that occur?

I am not saying that the On Board Chief's program does not have some merit...depending on the individual performance, as has been noted here, it can add value to the train.

But I don't think that with the current budget constraints the funds would not be spent better elsewhere....
 

Ryan

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You are making some valid points....however, if you ride a long distance train, on many segments, the conductor does have relatively little to do. And if someone wants to purchase an upgrade enroute...that seems to be an annoyance to many of them....just compare their duties to that of a NEC conductor on a regional train during rush hours...say when the ticketing computer's in the station are down...see some real work done. ;)
Railiner:

I have to disagree with you. The Tuck explained it very well. The process of getting a train over the road in compliance with all rules, orders, special instructions, etc. is far more complex and demanding than most passengers can imagine. It may look easy, especially when the trip is going smoothly; but even then the Conductor has a lot on his mind. Many --- probably most --- Conductors maintain a professional demeanor that insulates the passenger from these things. Just because you don't see the things that make the job demanding, does not mean those demands aren't there.

The Chief can deal with service issues while the Conductor concentrates on the safe and efficient operation of the train. At its most basic, the Chief's work is inside the train; the most important aspects of the Conductor's work has to do with the train's operation over the railroad.

Tom
Well then, we'll have to 'agree to disagree'....

The way you describe it, it seems that the conductor is doing the work of the engineer. The engineer rarely needs assistance from the conductor, except for throwing an occasional manual switch, backing up a train, or directing a station stop spot. True, it can get a lot hairier at times of irregular operations, but in the grand scheme of things, what percentage of the time does that occur?

I am not saying that the On Board Chief's program does not have some merit...depending on the individual performance, as has been noted here, it can add value to the train.

But I don't think that with the current budget constraints the funds would not be spent better elsewhere....
You'd do well to learn what the conductor actually has to do before you talk about how little they have to do.

You've got someone that spent a lifetime working on trains telling you the truth, that's not a matter of opinion you "agree to disagree" on.
 
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railiner

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You are making some valid points....however, if you ride a long distance train, on many segments, the conductor does have relatively little to do. And if someone wants to purchase an upgrade enroute...that seems to be an annoyance to many of them....just compare their duties to that of a NEC conductor on a regional train during rush hours...say when the ticketing computer's in the station are down...see some real work done. ;)
Railiner:

I have to disagree with you. The Tuck explained it very well. The process of getting a train over the road in compliance with all rules, orders, special instructions, etc. is far more complex and demanding than most passengers can imagine. It may look easy, especially when the trip is going smoothly; but even then the Conductor has a lot on his mind. Many --- probably most --- Conductors maintain a professional demeanor that insulates the passenger from these things. Just because you don't see the things that make the job demanding, does not mean those demands aren't there.

The Chief can deal with service issues while the Conductor concentrates on the safe and efficient operation of the train. At its most basic, the Chief's work is inside the train; the most important aspects of the Conductor's work has to do with the train's operation over the railroad.

Tom
Well then, we'll have to 'agree to disagree'....

The way you describe it, it seems that the conductor is doing the work of the engineer. The engineer rarely needs assistance from the conductor, except for throwing an occasional manual switch, backing up a train, or directing a station stop spot. True, it can get a lot hairier at times of irregular operations, but in the grand scheme of things, what percentage of the time does that occur?

I am not saying that the On Board Chief's program does not have some merit...depending on the individual performance, as has been noted here, it can add value to the train.

But I don't think that with the current budget constraints the funds would not be spent better elsewhere....
You'd do well to learn what the conductor actually has to do before you talk about how little they have to do.

You've got someone that spent a lifetime working on trains telling you the truth, that's not a matter of opinion you "agree to disagree" on.
Fair enough....I've never worked on a moving train.

But I have probably spent a couple of thousand hours, all told, riding on them.

I can only say what I have observed.....so if I am off, please excuse me.....
 

Hal

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Railiner:

I have to disagree with you. The Tuck explained it very well. The process of getting a train over the road in compliance with all rules, orders, special instructions, etc. is far more complex and demanding than most passengers can imagine. It may look easy, especially when the trip is going smoothly; but even then the Conductor has a lot on his mind. Many --- probably most --- Conductors maintain a professional demeanor that insulates the passenger from these things. Just because you don't see the things that make the job demanding, does not mean those demands aren't there.

The Chief can deal with service issues while the Conductor concentrates on the safe and efficient operation of the train. At its most basic, the Chief's work is inside the train; the most important aspects of the Conductor's work has to do with the train's operation over the railroad.

Tom
I was sorry to see the OBS Chiefs go. The ones who did their jobs did enhance service on the train. Also continuity. Operating crews are usually not working the whole trip because of hours of service. Having the chief onboard helped the operating crew maintain focus on operating issues.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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When did obs chief get cut
In the early 2000’s I think. My first time on the Empire Builder the OBS Chief was still a thing. That would have been 2001 maybe? We still had a string of express freight cars on the back of the train as well.
 
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