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Jacob Goes By Jack

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 9, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Charlotte
Hi all - last weekend I took the Lake Shore Limited (49 and 48) from New York to/from Chicago for a holiday visit to the family, and I'm curious about a couple odd statements from the onboard staff.

First, when we were pulling out of NYP on Thursday (July 2), somebody complained to the ticket taker that there was no wi-fi. The employee apologetically explained that this was an old Heritage coach built in the 60s, and that those old cars don't have any wifi. But I didn't think we were in a Heritage car?? It looked a lot newer than that and tubular shaped, I was assuming it was an Amfleet II. But I'm no expert on these things. Picture of our coach attached (taken at Albany) ... you can see it's car # 25118.

If this is an Amfleet and not a Heritage, then how should she have correctly explained to the customer? Is there just no wi-fi on long distance trains in general?

Second and more exciting, on the trip back to New York, we were between Albany and Rhinecliff on Monday afternoon (July 6) when we started seeing a lot of smoke outside the window, and smelling it pretty strongly inside the train. We stopped and the power was shut off for a while while an employee on the PA gave vague assurances. He eventually explained that leaves building up underneath one of the sleeper cars (several cars ahead of us) had caught fire! We ended up rolling into Hudson, NY and stopping for the local Fire department to deal with it, delayed us more than an hour. Everyone applauded when the power was finally turned back on, which allowed the blowers to start again and the smoke inside the train to clear.

During the incident the PA person kept talking about how this was "normal", posed no threat and we had nothing to worry about. But none of the passengers ever remembered something like this... how routine is it? Is there a reasonable way to prevent leaf fires underneath the cars? Seems like a strange hazard... and one that railroaders should have figured out how to avoid after 150+ years...

Anyway, I figured this board would be able to explain things to me!

2015-07-02 18.28.31.jpg
 

MikefromCrete

Conductor
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
2,629
Location
Crete, IL
That's an Amfleet coach. I don't think leaves catching fire under a car is a common occurrence, I've never heard of it before. Sounds like the conductor was making up stuff on the fly.
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
In the minds of some of the younger employees, "old" and "heritage" are synonyms. Fortunately, the shop personnel who have to maintain them do know the difference.

Leaves catching fire under the train: Yes, it is rare but it does happen. It occurs more often in the fall. The cause is probably high heat generated by the brakes. I've experienced it a few times, but never with any serious consequences.

Tom
 

TylerP42

Conductor
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
1,202
Location
Speedway, Indiana

amtrakwolverine

Conductor
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
4,002
Location
Warren MI
I was on the LSL back in 2009 coming back from Boston in October and the coach car I was in had leaves catch fire causing the car to fill with smoke.
 

Jacob Goes By Jack

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 9, 2012
Messages
32
Location
Charlotte
OK, so leaf fires do happen... still curious though, how does the wi-fi actually work? Is there just zero wifi on long distance trains (except in the cafe car)? Or do some of them actually have it?
 

printman2000

Conductor
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
3,753
Location
Amarillo, Texas
I cannot think of any LD trains that have wifi. Not even in the cafe cars. The Coast Starlight has had it, but I have never seen it working.

As far as I know, only Northeast Corridor trains have wifi.
 

SarahZ

Conductor
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,088
Location
KAL
OK, so leaf fires do happen... still curious though, how does the wi-fi actually work? Is there just zero wifi on long distance trains (except in the cafe car)? Or do some of them actually have it?
The LSL is getting wi-fi (or has it already... I can't remember).

It's basically a hotspot, which is dependent upon phone coverage in the area. Then you have to factor in the number of people using it and your proximity to the hotspot. I very rarely use Amtrak's wi-fi, unless I absolutely HAVE to use my laptop for something. More often than not, I get faster internet using my phone.

In the case of the Coast Starlight, you have to be within the Pacific Parlor Car or quite close to it to pick up the signal. If the LSL was set up the same way, that would explain the employee's comment (about being near/in the cafe).
 

zephyr17

Conductor
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,050
Location
Washington State
The leaves on fire was in fact the case. http://m.registerstar.com/news/article_e2dccb68-2465-11e5-9c17-bbd12f162553.html

It is likely the employee was confused about the equipment. Food service cars (Amfleets) are used as the base stations for the wifi system on short distance trains. On the LSL the dining car is actually from the 1960s.
Make that from the 1950s. Last big passenger car orders were in the middle 50s. Only LD equipment purchased in the 1960's that I can recall is the second order by Santa Fe for Hi-Level coaches in 1964, I think, and that did not include feature cars, diners and lounges. Besides, those were bi-levels. KCS bought some single level some coaches at about the same time.

Dining cars are not the base stations, the Amcafes are.
 
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Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
888
Location
Carolinas
I had a leaf fire on the Paletto last fall. The Palmetto is technically a LD train and does have wifi in BC. Usually works ok.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,878
Location
Delaware
I had a leaf fire on the Paletto last fall. The Palmetto is technically a LD train and does have wifi in BC. Usually works ok.
I think the Palmetto is considered a MD, not LD, train. Longer distance than a regional, but is not an overnight train.Yes, nitpicking. ;)
 

Everydaymatters

Conductor
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
3,224
Location
Just North of Normal, Illinois
Amtrak Wolverine and I were on the same train, along with JoeH and a few others when the leaves caught fire. We were told to go to the next car back and then after an hour or so, we were allowed back in to get our belongings. That was on the way back from the Boston Gathering in 2009.
 

The Chief

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2003
Messages
330
Location
Fort Worth Texas Wherethe WestBegins
Wonder if the LSL July flaming leaves were as pretty

as the Adirondack or Cardinal Great Dome Fall Foliage runs each Autumn?

One time on the Lake Shore my Sleeper "attendant" was so scarce entire trip I called him Jimmy Hoffa.
 
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