Timetables returning in September?

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drdumont

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Got this response yesterday (my 2nd inquiry, different email address) on 06-20-2021
Dear DrDuMont,
Thank you for contacting us.

We are in the process of automating timetables and have discontinued traditional PDF timetables. Timetable automation is expected to be completed sometime in September. We apologize for any inconvenience while the new solution is being implemented.

In the meantime, you can view our schedules on Amtrak.com through the “Schedules” tab. Simply enter in your Origin and Destination and click the “Find Schedules” button. Please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245), 24/7, should you need assistance. Press '0' to speak with an Amtrak reservations agent.

We look forward to serving you aboard Amtrak.

Sincerely,
Alicia M.
 

mitako

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It is mind boggling to me that a transportation company with only around 20 routes, the vast majority of which only run once per day, cannot provide a complete schedule of each route showing all stops along the way. Why on earth would they not maintain the PDF, printable schedules? It costs them nothing to do so; the schedules already exist. Their automated schedules are useless while actually on the LD trains in the vast stretches without wifi, and also useless if I don't already know exactly what station I want to board and what station I want to detrain. I swear Amtrak intentionally makes it difficult to plan trips using their service.
 

mitako

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Another thought: The only place I've ever seen the many Amtrak thruway routes indicated is on the individual schedules. If not for looking at an individual schedule for a specific route, I wouldn't even know the thruway options existed. How will those be handled in an "automated system" if the customer doesn't specifically know to look for them? Is Amtrak still running those thruway buses?
 

jis

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It is mind boggling to me that a transportation company with only around 20 routes, the vast majority of which only run once per day, cannot provide a complete schedule of each route showing all stops along the way. Why on earth would they not maintain the PDF, printable schedules? It costs them nothing to do so; the schedules already exist. Their automated schedules are useless while actually on the LD trains in the vast stretches without wifi, and also useless if I don't already know exactly what station I want to board and what station I want to detrain. I swear Amtrak intentionally makes it difficult to plan trips using their service.
At least so far AFAICT, the "Schedule" tab in the Smartphone App does not lead you to any Schedule at all, so there is that too.

Only on the web interface does the Schedule tab lead to any schedule.

This entire things seems to be an exercise in the customers receiving outputs of each sprint from the development project with random pieces of functionality showing up every so often, instead of the release of a nicely packaged consistently usable App both on the web and in Smartphone Apps.

It is an exercise at showcasing how not to present software projects outcome to customers and how not to treat your customers.
 

mitako

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Only on the web interface does the Schedule tab lead to any schedule.
When I go to the Amtrak website and click on "schedules," I just get the option to look up a station-to-station trip. I do not get actual schedules anywhere. It is so frustrating, because I use those schedules to plan multi-leg trips, and I don't always know what stations are options on which routes.
 

jis

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When I go to the Amtrak website and click on "schedules," I just get the option to look up a station-to-station trip. I do not get actual schedules anywhere. It is so frustrating, because I use those schedules to plan multi-leg trips, and I don't always know what stations are options on which routes.
Click on the "Details" that shows up at each choice. It will show you the schedule for that choice. It is no substitute for getting a full time table, but at least the times at each station on the way is available.
 

Eric in East County

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Somebody might already have pointed this out, but if not . . .

We just looked over the timetables/schedules from previous years for the two long-distance trains that we will be taking in a few weeks: Southwest Chief (the one effective July 31, 2018), and Capitol Limited (the one effective March 4, 2019). The arrival and departure times are identical those that these trains are currently using.

If you’re like us and must have a printed copy of the timetable/schedule of the train you’re riding on to see if it is running on schedule, check your old timetables. There just might be something there you can use until the new printed timetables are available.

Eric & Pat
 

joelkfla

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For most of my life I used the words "timetable" and "schedule" interchangeably, but I think that the use of "schedule" on the Amtrak web site means a selection of the alternatives available that travel between the original and destination point selected on the date selected. Thus, if I ask for a schedule between Baltimore to Chicago on a date that the Cardinal runs, I will get 3 possibilities: the usual NER/Capitol Limited, NER/Lakeshore Limited, and the Through train Cardinal. The "schedule" includes information and calling times for the connections, but no other information about the routes and the available accommodations for each leg of the journey. However, it gives no information about the route traveled, and someone making reservations might wonder why travel times range from 17 hours to 24 hours.

On the other hand, a "timetable" provides information about all of the stations along the route and allows one to compare trains and possible connections without having to constantly be pinging into the Amtrak reservation system. Aside from railfangeekiness, this is certainly helpful to people who are planning trips that involve connections between services that have multiple daily departures. It also helps potential passengers plan the dates of their trips by quickly showing differences in service on different days of the week, and such.

Sometimes I think that web pages are designed by people who have been taught that the ideal web page should force a user to stay connected and maximize the number of times a user accesses the web site. While I understand why someone might do this for content that sells ads based on the number of views, it's very frustrating for customers who just want to do their business giving their money to a company as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, most websites I've dealt with seem to operate on that design principle. I think someone needs to teach programmers that all the "bells and whistles" aren't necessarily a good thing.
I sent a reply to the Center of Excellence asking what if someone onboard a train with no wifi or cell service wants to know what time the train is scheduled to arrive at a station further down the line, or if someone wants to compare different routes and amenities. No answer yet.

As to what an "automated timetable" is, who knows? It could be anything from limited info on the website, to a pdf similar to what we're used to but generated by a computer instead of a staffer.
 

jis

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I sent a reply to the Center of Excellence asking what if someone onboard a train with no wifi or cell service wants to know what time the train is scheduled to arrive at a station further down the line, or if someone wants to compare different routes and amenities. No answer yet.
You just might have crashed the Center of Excellence equivalent of the "WOPR (War Operations Plan Response supercomputer pronounced "whopper"") if you remember the movie "War Games" :D
 

Brian Battuello

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Just another plug for Dixieland Software's real time handy dandy schedules in several convenient formats....


Lake Shore Limited (PDF Schedule)
StationScheduledActual
New York, NY (NYP)Dp 340PDp 340P On time.
Croton Harmon, NY (CRT)Dp 426PDp 427P 1 minute late.
Poughkeepsie, NY (POU)Dp 510PDp 525P 15 minutes late.
Rhinecliff, NY (RHI)Dp 527PDp 544P 17 minutes late.
Albany Rensselaer, NY (ALB)Ar 620P
Dp 705P
Ar 627P 7 minutes late.
Dp 730P 25 minutes late.
Schenectady, NY (SDY)Dp 733PDp 817P 44 minutes late.
Utica, NY (UCA)Dp 849PDp 942P 53 minutes late.
Syracuse, NY (SYR)Dp 952PDp 1045P 53 minutes late.
Rochester, NY (ROC)Dp 1112PDp
Buffalo Depew, NY (BUF)Ar 1212A
Dp 1220A
Ar
Dp
Erie, PA (ERI)Dp 154ADp
Cleveland, OH (CLE)Ar 333A
Dp 345A
Ar
Dp
Elyria, OH (ELY)Dp 418ADp
Sandusky, OH (SKY)Dp 455ADp
Toledo, OH (TOL)Ar 555A
Dp 615A
Ar
Dp
Bryan, OH (BYN)Dp 705ADp
Waterloo, IN (WTI)Dp 733ADp
Elkhart, IN (EKH)Dp 825ADp
South Bend, IN (SOB)Dp 849ADp
Chicago, IL (CHI)Ar 950AAr
 

west point

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IMO. There are too many persons who want to know where they are. It is not like an airplane flight that makes at most 2 intermediate stops that are announced. The printed schedules really help. If someone wakes in the middle of the night and looks out but cannot see the station sign that can be alarming to near first time riders. There are many persons who want to know.
When traveling in a car how many of you have had your children ask where a are we now. ?
 

Palmland

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A National timetable might have limited value for many passengers (unlike the individual route ones) but I believe there is marketing value in one - assuming Amtrak cares about marketing. Combine the old vacation guides with the timetable for each route discussed (so would be primarily for LD trains). Include advertising to defray costs or charge a modest fee and offer them in the SSL or cafe as well as stations. An on line one version would be free.
 

Brian Battuello

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A National timetable might have limited value for many passengers (unlike the individual route ones) but I believe there is marketing value in one - assuming Amtrak cares about marketing. Combine the old vacation guides with the timetable for each route discussed (so would be primarily for LD trains). Include advertising to defray costs or charge a modest fee and offer them in the SSL or cafe as well as stations. An on line one version would be free.
Great idea! I would happily pay eight dollars for a nicely done national schedule sold in stations or in the café car. Especially if they threw in some tourist info.
 

jis

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Maybe there is an opportunity for some enterprising person to pick up many of the free flow of ideas from here and put together a business of doing timetables and selling them for a profit ;) All the necessary data is apparently available via JSON interfaces, and if not, there is always the well tried and tested screen scraping 🤷‍♂️
 

Seaboard92

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I wonder how much trouble we would get in if we started making our own timetable and distributing it. I mean if Amtrak doesn't want to do it themselves and there is a need for it to be done why not let others do it. It wouldn't cost Amtrak anything, but it would provide them a good marketing tool for free. And the sad thing is most of us know the system better than the employees in Philly and DC.
 

enviro5609

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I wonder how much trouble we would get in if we started making our own timetable and distributing it. I mean if Amtrak doesn't want to do it themselves and there is a need for it to be done why not let others do it. It wouldn't cost Amtrak anything, but it would provide them a good marketing tool for free. And the sad thing is most of us know the system better than the employees in Philly and DC.
The Rail Passengers Association essentially does this already. Looks like they updated the Crescent timetable.

 

Brian Battuello

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Interesting. I didn't know RPA did that. However some of the timetables are *way* out of date, for example Northeast Corridor is January 2nd, 2020. I would sure double check that with the Amtrak app before making any plans.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Interesting. I didn't know RPA did that. However some of the timetables are *way* out of date, for example Northeast Corridor is January 2nd, 2020. I would sure double check that with the Amtrak app before making any plans.
They’re using pre-Covid timetables from Amtrak’s website. They’re not creating their own timetables
 

jis

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The Rail Passengers Association essentially does this already. Looks like they updated the Crescent timetable.

Not really. All that they do is place all the timetables Amtrak has published in PDF and place them in a single easily accessible place. If Amtrak does not pulish a timetable in PDF form RPA won;t have it in their collection either. What @Seaboard92 is talking about is creating the most recent timetables in PDF and distributing them, and that I what I was alluding to too.

The Crescent is a one off so far. As a counter example, look at Northeast Corridor mor any LD train other than the Crescent! RPA does not really have the resources needed to update all timetables by hand. That can realistically be done only by automating the process using a bunch of scripts and web interfaces.
 

Seaboard92

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Well in theory as often as the schedules changes in the national network which really is not that frequent one person probably could do it with little issue. The bigger part is making the initial graphic. Then the corridors are a bit harder.
 

jis

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Well in theory as often as the schedules changes in the national network which really is not that frequent one person probably could do it with little issue. The bigger part is making the initial graphic. Then the corridors are a bit harder.
Yeah for 14 LD trains it could be handcrafted. The PDF template is already there to edit using a PDF Editor for all the 14 or so LD trains. But those are also the least interesting since you can print those off of the Schdule tab on amtrak.com. The really interesting ones are the hardest ones to keep updated.
 

chrsjrcj

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The Rail Passengers Association essentially does this already. Looks like they updated the Crescent timetable.

They are using the Crescent timetable I edited, and was shared by acelafan on juckins.net

 
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