Timetables returning in September?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
Those original timetables can be found here... Amtrak Timetable Archives - Home ...but the most current one is, IIRC, the last paper one put out by Amtrak, is about 3 years old and is a bit outdated. Outdated ones can also be found here: Amtrak Routes & Stations


Convoluted current timetables can be found on the Amtrak website, but this dummy has never figured out how access them.
 

Eric S

Engineer
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,605
Location
Milwaukee
The latest issue of TRAINS magazine (December 2021) has a short blurb about Amtrak timetables. In it, Amtrak Marketing Vice President Kerry McKelvey says that the "timetable automation project" will have some sort of results before the end of the 2021. So does that mean that September has been pushed back to, perhaps, December? I'm certainly not holding breath waiting to see what happens.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
The "timetable automation project" is a piece of incompetent overpromising by overeager young CS graduates which isn't doing its job. We have to keep advocating for normal timetables, because Amtrak is buying into gee-whiz nonsense.
 

enviro5609

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
45
Location
New York
The "timetable automation project" is a piece of incompetent overpromising by overeager young CS graduates which isn't doing its job. We have to keep advocating for normal timetables, because Amtrak is buying into gee-whiz nonsense.
Or… its just that the timetables used to be manually updated by a single employee who used to do them by hand (and now has left). And the CS majors you are condescending about are trying to design a system where the timetables can just be automatically generated as a report instead of needing to be redone in Adobe Illustrater manually every time there is a schedule change.

Seriously, the negativity around here (mixed in with the ageism) is a little much.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,056
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Or… its just that the timetables used to be manually updated by a single employee who used to do them by hand (and now has left). And the CS majors you are condescending about are trying to design a system where the timetables can just be automatically generated as a report instead of needing to be redone in Adobe Illustrater manually every time there is a schedule change.

Seriously, the negativity around here (mixed in with the ageism) is a little much.
Ageism?! Why, you young whippersnapper ... :p
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,845
Location
Baltimore. MD
Or… its just that the timetables used to be manually updated by a single employee who used to do them by hand (and now has left). And the CS majors you are condescending about are trying to design a system where the timetables can just be automatically generated as a report instead of needing to be redone in Adobe Illustrater manually every time there is a schedule change.

Seriously, the negativity around here (mixed in with the ageism) is a little much.
It might help the credibility of the "timetable automation project" if they could do a push on timetables for one route and show the public what the new system will look like.

That said, it's a management failure that they were relying on one person to manually update timetables with apparently no plan to deal with what would happen if that person left. The other thing is that people who are tasked with automating or upgrading a system really should have a good idea about how the existing system worked, as this will help them build the new system more quickly. The other thing you need to do is when you upgrade a system is to keep the old system running in parallel for a while until the bugs in the new system are worked out. It drove me nuts in my job when they switched systems and didn't keep the old one working as backup.
 

dwebarts

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2021
Messages
104
Location
Bethesda MD
In theory, it should be reasonable to have auto-generated PDF files from timetable data. There have been server-side libraries to do this for at least ten years.

In practice, there are likely other considerations. It would require the visual designers to work with the back-end programmers to ensure the result is visually pleasing.

In some respects, that was easier when the two were always separate roles. The emphasis on full-stack development can often result in noticeable compromises in the resulting product.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,056
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
In theory, it should be reasonable to have auto-generated PDF files from timetable data. There have been server-side libraries to do this for at least ten years.

In practice, there are likely other considerations. It would require the visual designers to work with the back-end programmers to ensure the result is visually pleasing.

In some respects, that was easier when the two were always separate roles. The emphasis on full-stack development can often result in noticeable compromises in the resulting product.
Don't forget all the other info that was on traditional timetables: Thruway connections, Receive or Discharge passengers only notations, checked baggage, handicap accessibility, bicycle check availability, etc.

IMHO, it would be a lot easier to just build a schedule for each route in something like Word and manually update as needed, rather than attempt to fully automate it. The initial setup would be a chore, but changes to times and station services don't happen that often, and it would probably take less than an hour to update a route once the timetable has been built.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,845
Location
Baltimore. MD
Don't forget all the other info that was on traditional timetables: Thruway connections, Receive or Discharge passengers only notations, checked baggage, handicap accessibility, bicycle check availability, etc.

IMHO, it would be a lot easier to just build a schedule for each route in something like Word and manually update as needed, rather than attempt to fully automate it. The initial setup would be a chore, but changes to times and station services don't happen that often, and it would probably take less than an hour to update a route once the timetable has been built.
Oh no, no! This is the 21st century! We can't have some lowly, but experienced clerical administrative human do something manually when we can have futuristic automated systems do it. So what if the automated result is of lower quality and requires twice as many person-hours of overpaid IT programmers who are ignorant of the actual process as the lowly clerk who used to do it manually? This is the Future. This is Progress.
 

fixj

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 18, 2014
Messages
193
Location
Panama City, FL
In the December issue of Trains Magazine, there is mention of a location on the web for copies of archived Amtrak schedules, many of which are still accurate. Called Juckins.net they have a huge number of schedules. Just in case you missed it.
 

John819

Train Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 29, 2021
Messages
54
Location
New York
I suspect that Amtrak is going to hold off on timetables until after (a) it reduces train service in December to three trips a week (on some routes) and (b) restores service in the late spring.
 

Rasputin

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,065
I think it must be a miracle of modern life that the supermarket where I shop can produce a printed 10-12 page sale flyer every week and also put that sale flyer online a couple days before it becomes effective so one can plan ahead.

I assume that my supermarket does this because it wishes to sell its products, it wishes to encourage repeat business, and that it wishes to make a profit and to appear as a desirable company for its employees and shareholders.

None of this seems to apply to Amtrak.
 

denmarks

Train Travel Enthusiast
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
626
Location
Chico, CA
There are many sites that show the scheduled and actual arrival times. Does anyone know how they get their scheduled times. If they are able to abstract them from Amtrak you would think they could generate their own full train schedules.
For example: Train 5 of 11/05/2021
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
In theory, it should be reasonable to have auto-generated PDF files from timetable data. There have been server-side libraries to do this for at least ten years.

In practice, there are likely other considerations. It would require the visual designers to work with the back-end programmers to ensure the result is visually pleasing.
There are a lot of other considerations. Figuring out which services should be presented on a single table, and arranging timetables like the Florida services to be most positively comprehensible, and attaching Thruway bus schedules to the right timetables, is not trivial and probably honestly can't be automated.

It can be done by one person in a few hours though.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
Oh no, no! This is the 21st century! We can't have some lowly, but experienced clerical administrative human do something manually when we can have futuristic automated systems do it. So what if the automated result is of lower quality and requires twice as many person-hours of overpaid IT programmers who are ignorant of the actual process as the lowly clerk who used to do it manually? This is the Future. This is Progress.
This. When I insult Amtrak's IT department I do so as someone who's been programming since the age of 4. I also have a math bachelor's. And my father founded the second CS department in the US.

I know what computers are good for and I know what they're *bad at*.

They should be able to pump out raw spreadsheet material which a human can massage into a readable timetable in a few hours.

They will suck at actually producing good complete timetables, which we now know *one employee* was capable of doing. Humans are good at some things.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
Or… its just that the timetables used to be manually updated by a single employee who used to do them by hand (and now has left). And the CS majors you are condescending about are trying to design a system where the timetables can just be automatically generated as a report instead of needing to be redone in Adobe Illustrater manually every time there is a schedule change.
Well, let's put it this way. These incompetents FAILED AT THEIR JOB. Their job was to get good timetables produced by the new system *before* the previous manually produced timetables stopped being made.

Grade: F.

Amtrak could have hired *one person* to replace the person who retired. One employee. Is that cheaper than a large IT project which didn't even work? Almost certainly.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
I suspect that Amtrak is going to hold off on timetables until after (a) it reduces train service in December to three trips a week (on some routes) and (b) restores service in the late spring.
They've said as much.

When they had ONE EMPLOYEE devoted to timetables, that employee conscientiously made timetables for every temporary schedule change. So apparently it only takes one employee. But with zero employees, they're trying to avoid making timetables because it would have to add to the workload of someone whose primary job is something else.

It's asinine and one of the most embarassing pieces of mismanagement I've ever seen, honestly.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,321
Location
Denver
Much the same way that some parks have limits on attendance in order to prevent overcrowding, Amtrak keeps the times of their train services secret as a way of crowd control.

Remember the scene in Dr. Zhivago where there is a crowd of people waiting around a station platform. Then suddenly and without warning a train arrives and pandemonium breaks out. That is Amtrak's train services only the locomotives are now diesel or electric (or diesel-electric, I guess to be correct).
And that scene is in color! I thought they were relying on the script for the black+white last train from Paris in Casablanca!
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,845
Location
Baltimore. MD
Amtrak could have hired *one person* to replace the person who retired. One employee. Is that cheaper than a large IT project which didn't even work? Almost certainly.
Well, I might hire two people, mainly for redundancy, so that if one person leaves, there's still someone who knows what to do. Also, there's going to be a learning curve, so maybe at the beginning 2 people might be helpful. Also, Amtrak might want to re-think it's apparent policy of not hiring railfans, as there are nerdy railfan geeks who are **right now** producing timetables the best they can.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,881
Location
SW ATL airport
Am a big supporter of timetables. Amtrak is anticipating that it may have to reduce frequency of some of its trains due to shortage of train crew. Why not print effective date and say this schedule may change after XXX date.
 
Top