To Gathering Sacramento to Chicago by #6 California Zephyr

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Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
We left on time in good weather, got stuck leaving Roseville (freight), just met a 1 hr late #5 west of Colfax. We are leaving Colfax now, down 40 min.

Well, we are backing out of Colfax.

2 engines, baggage, 2 sleepers, diner, lounge (Cafe down), coaches. My SCA Gregory very attentive although I didn't like the tipping speech. He takes PayPal, venmo, etc.

Lunch ok. How do you melt cheese so it doesn't stick to the bread? The bread looks toasted or grilled but isn't.

Photos need more bandwidth than I've got.
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Lots of track work between Roseville and Reno, new ties. Arrived Reno 5:40, scheduled 3:56, for 10 minute stop. Many people on and off both here and Truckee. Freight was in the hole last siding!

Gregory giving many highlights, both usual scenery like Donner Lake and RR history like old rail routes.

Photo Truckee River. Pretty much every spot accessible by car had someone with a line in the water.
 

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joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
3,610
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Is that why it tasted like not very good French toast? (Not a joke, seriously). Think I'll have a different breakfast.
Yep, I've heard they use the same stuff for the French Toast & the Monte Cristo. I've given up on the French Toast, too. I can't understand why people rave about it. Maybe it takes a very skilled chef to bring it back to life, and I haven't run into one yet.
 

LauraPX

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 7, 2013
Messages
18
Location
The Golden State
We left on time in good weather, got stuck leaving Roseville (freight), just met a 1 hr late #5 west of Colfax. We are leaving Colfax now, down 40 min.

Well, we are backing out of Colfax.

2 engines, baggage, 2 sleepers, diner, lounge (Cafe down), coaches. My SCA Gregory very attentive although I didn't like the tipping speech. He takes PayPal, venmo, etc.

Lunch ok. How do you melt cheese so it doesn't stick to the bread? The bread looks toasted or grilled but isn't.

Photos need more bandwidth than I've got.

Re your car attendant's tipping speech -- Amtrak's Service Standards Manual does prohibit employees from soliciting tips. That is spelled out on page 6-11, in chapter 6 ("Crew Functions & Responsibilities"), section 5 ("Employees – General Guidelines"), subsection (n) "Tips/Gratuity Handling"). Telling your passengers that you take PayPal, venmo, etc. for tips does meet my definition of soliciting, anyway; your interpretation may vary.

For those interested, back on Feb 20, 2022, "joelkfla" was kind enough to post the link to Amtrak's Service Standards Manual in the Amtrak Rail Discussion's Family Bedroom discussion thread (Family Bedroom discussion): "...updated every couple of months and is available in PDF format on this page: Amtrak Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), under the "Other Materials" heading." (Amtrak Freedom of Information Act (FOIA))

(Sorry for the awkward posting of links in parentheses; I tried highlighting the text and right-clicking to add a hyperlink but there was no option to do so.)

I see "joelkfla" also chimed in on the French toast discussion in this thread. I don't believe I want to think about what they are doing to the bread in the commissary. Fortunately I'm not a fan of French toast anyway.

And thanks, Alice, for this travelogue about your ride to Chicago. I am still too COVID-averse to do any train riding, but I do miss it and appreciate this opportunity to enjoy your trip vicariously!
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
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4,921
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
Re your car attendant's tipping speech -- Amtrak's Service Standards Manual does prohibit employees from soliciting tips. That is spelled out on page 6-11, in chapter 6 ("Crew Functions & Responsibilities"), section 5 ("Employees – General Guidelines"), subsection (n) "Tips/Gratuity Handling"). Telling your passengers that you take PayPal, venmo, etc. for tips does meet my definition of soliciting, anyway; your interpretation may vary.

While I agree with the spirit of the rule, so long as tipping is an expected part of American culture, I would like ways to do it digitally. It's kind of annoying to have to go to a bank (or ATM that has different bills) and get a bunch of small bills before a trip just to make sure that I have the bill selection I need to tip appropriately. IMO, having a card with the info/QR code in the room/on the table would be fine, but having the staff member mention it as part of a speech is a bit too far.
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
The way he did the speech was basically: some people tip us, it is totally voluntary and I give same service to everyone tip or no tip. Since covid and cashless, some of us take non-cash, I take (list). Others don't.

I don't mind the idea of such a speech but it was too long. Perhaps I'm ok with it in this case because he's terrific. Toilets cleaned every couple of hours, dusting or wiping continuously, cheerfully gets my meals and a cup of ice with every meal plus extras, teaching us how to get service (use buzzer), let's everyone know when he will and won't do things. For instance, he'll make up your bed whenever you want but not when he's serving takeout meals. If he had been ignoring us except for a raised palm when leaving, well, many have discussed that.
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Today has been an interesting day, you can look at train tracking and see how we were on time then started slipping. Track work and freight from around Roseville to the Nevada border.

That said, California tracks are smooth and quiet. There is a bottleneck over the Sierras because much of the double tracks aren't because crews were on one of them. Some stretches are going to concrete ties and some are getting new individual wood ties.

Last night we stopped at a grade crossing with three police cars, fancy lights on. We set there maybe an hour. I asked this morning and it was misbehaving adult male in coach: loud after 10pm quiet time, emptied trash container outside at an earlier stop.

He had street drugs on him so went to jail. Wife and kids were put onto a bus home.

Anyway now we are about 3-1/2 hours late.

Photos very good steak dinner, too salty macaroni and cheese kid's meal, famous gas station.20231023_121720.jpg 20231023_095607.jpg 20231022_175150.jpg
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Just leaving Denver. Pull in and people get off for smoke or fresh air. Pull into yard and wait. Back to station and more people off for another break, and boarding new passengers. Service train in depot. Pull out and wait for who knows why.

I overheard some chatter about hooking up another car, don't know if true or just a passenger bragging he knew why we were there so long.

We are parked at the distant end of the platforms. I guess technically we left as predicted, but ...! 10:09 moving again.

It is easier to type when the train is stopped. All of the tracks we've been on are rough except for that California stretch.

Photos are depots and scenery.
20231023_095527.jpg 20231023_133024.jpg 20231023_160230.jpg
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Yep, I've heard they use the same stuff for the French Toast & the Monte Cristo. I've given up on the French Toast, too. I can't understand why people rave about it. Maybe it takes a very skilled chef to bring it back to life, and I haven't run into one yet.
I don't think it is a chef problem, I think it is not having whatever heating method is recommended by manufacturer. I think you also need to cook from frozen instead of letting them thaw. At least that is how frozen pancakes work. And why do I buy frozen pancakes when they are so easy to make? I take them camping and grill them in a basket over a wood fire.
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Photos dinner menu and scenery. I had the shrimp appetizer, very good breaded and toasted with a side of sauce. Note word toasted. Same meal child Mac and cheese, lemon cake plated with raspberry sauce. The plated desserts are good, sealed in plastic not so good, just overly sweet and you have to work real hard to find the flavor it is supposed to have.
 

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Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
Re your car attendant's tipping speech -- Amtrak's Service Standards Manual does prohibit employees from soliciting tips. That is spelled out on page 6-11, in chapter 6 ("Crew Functions & Responsibilities"), section 5 ("Employees – General Guidelines"), subsection (n) "Tips/Gratuity Handling"). Telling your passengers that you take PayPal, venmo, etc. for tips does meet my definition of soliciting, anyway; your interpretation may vary.

For those interested, back on Feb 20, 2022, "joelkfla" was kind enough to post the link to Amtrak's Service Standards Manual in the Amtrak Rail Discussion's Family Bedroom discussion thread (Family Bedroom discussion): "...updated every couple of months and is available in PDF format on this page: Amtrak Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), under the "Other Materials" heading." (Amtrak Freedom of Information Act (FOIA))

(Sorry for the awkward posting of links in parentheses; I tried highlighting the text and right-clicking to add a hyperlink but there was no option to do so.)

I see "joelkfla" also chimed in on the French toast discussion in this thread. I don't believe I want to think about what they are doing to the bread in the commissary. Fortunately I'm not a fan of French toast anyway.

And thanks, Alice, for this travelogue about your ride to Chicago. I am still too COVID-averse to do any train riding, but I do miss it and appreciate this opportunity to enjoy your trip vicariously!
Laura, I'm concerned about covid, too, one of the few people I know who hasn't caught it yet. We'll see how this trip goes. My tax guy caught it a second time (1st was before vaccines, and it was hospital acquired). Even fully vaccinated and with one of those new treatments, he was miserable. I don't want to experiment getting sick. So I'll be masked around others.

Still waiting to leave Denver!
 

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,757
Location
Nottingham, England.
It's been a few years now since I visited America, my September 2023 planned visit was derailed at the last moment due to covid.
Looking at the menu card you posted, I don't see any individual prices shown? Is it just for sleeper passengers with included meals, or is the diner still open to coach passengers?

Bon Voyage!
 

Alice

Conductor
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
1,159
Location
California
It's been a few years now since I visited America, my September 2023 planned visit was derailed at the last moment due to covid.
Looking at the menu card you posted, I don't see any individual prices shown? Is it just for sleeper passengers with included meals, or is the diner still open to coach passengers?

Bon Voyage!
Coach has diner access breakfast and lunch, both FCFS. For dinner, she made reservations in sleepers first then invited coach to reserve. She also chastised people who had reservations but didn't show up when called. She called on the intercom, "Mr Miller, you reserved at 6;15 and are not here." Then said he wouldn't get dinner if he didn't show up now. I think some no shows went to bed hungry and additional coach passengers were invited up. Coach gets a menu with prices and she announces what kinds of money they accept.

This crew is very definite about their rules. You show up for reservations when called, not before or after. Headphones for videos.Phone calls in the lounge during quiet hours. Do not try to open the doors pulling into a station, police will be called. Trash containers are all over, put trash in the trash. Etc. The conductor announces where she'll be and please come see her if you need her.

The dining room boss uses a fabulous tone of voice so you know you are in trouble for ignoring your reservation. There were several "you are late!" speeches the first night, none the 2nd night. My impression of her is she could herd cats if she wanted.
 

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
15,322
Location
Delaware
It's been a few years now since I visited America, my September 2023 planned visit was derailed at the last moment due to covid.
Looking at the menu card you posted, I don't see any individual prices shown? Is it just for sleeper passengers with included meals, or is the diner still open to coach passengers?

Bon Voyage!
There are set prices for each meal now (for coach). $20 for breakfast, $25 for lunch & $45 for dinner.
 

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Traveller

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 1, 2023
Messages
26
Location
Rochford
Coach has diner access breakfast and lunch, both FCFS. For dinner, she made reservations in sleepers first then invited coach to reserve. She also chastised people who had reservations but didn't show up when called. She called on the intercom, "Mr Miller, you reserved at 6;15 and are not here." Then said he wouldn't get dinner if he didn't show up now. I think some no shows went to bed hungry and additional coach passengers were invited up. Coach gets a menu with prices and she announces what kinds of money they accept.

This crew is very definite about their rules. You show up for reservations when called, not before or after. Headphones for videos.Phone calls in the lounge during quiet hours. Do not try to open the doors pulling into a station, police will be called. Trash containers are all over, put trash in the trash. Etc. The conductor announces where she'll be and please come see her if you need her.

The dining room boss uses a fabulous tone of voice so you know you are in trouble for ignoring your reservation. There were several "you are late!" speeches the first night, none the 2nd night. My impression of her is she could herd cats if she wanted.

Great piece of writing.
 
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