Washington Union Station Priority Boarding

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Eric S

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This would be moot if all of the doors opened at every stop, but we both know that isn't the case.
That *should* be the case, at least at all but a few minor stations, when bilevels are introduced. Whether Amtrak and the states in question (MI here) adopt that practice, though...
 

Tennessee Traveler

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I think you guys are overlooking the complexity of making seat assignments via computer reservations since passengers board and de-board at every station along the train's route especially the long distance trains and the northeast corridor trains.
 

enoreeman

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Planes mostly fly from point A to point B unlike trains which go to point A,B,C,D,E,F etc. Trying to assign seats when many people might occupy it on a given route would be a real headache, the Conductor knows better how to arrange incoming passengers.
 

jis

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I think you guys are overlooking the complexity of making seat assignments via computer reservations since passengers board and de-board at every station along the train's route especially the long distance trains and the northeast corridor trains.
India manages to do that fine on routes with literally many dozens of stops on a 1500 mile run. They managed to do this even before computerization, so there is no rocket science involved. And what absolutely amazes is me is that they seldom lose a reservation, and they are able to handle last minute equipment change quite gracefully too.

In most cases they do not allow passengers to choose their seats, other than to try to meet preference for window or aisle seat, upper of lower berth and ensuring that ladies are put together in a compartment and gents are not place in the same compartment, unless they belong to the same group. Usually there is a bit of shuffling with mutual agreement that goes on after boarding the train. But when boarding, you know exactly which car of the train you would board and where it will be located on the platform. The location of each car is indicated on above head signs.

Can you imagine what chaos there will be when a 24 car train pulls in and you have no idea where your car is in the train? Amtrak has it easy. They have nice cute short little trains. :)
 

wwchi

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I still think in the case of sleepers or business class this can be done. Business class is typically only one car. And sleepers are limited as well, so in those cases I think it's completely doable.
 

jis

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Whenever there is will, there is a way. OTOH whenever all the energy is spent in coming up with excuses on why something cannot be done, naturally it cannot get done. :)
 

Bob Dylan

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I think you guys are overlooking the complexity of making seat assignments via computer reservations since passengers board and de-board at every station along the train's route especially the long distance trains and the northeast corridor trains.
Can you imagine what chaos there will be when a 24 car train pulls in and you have no idea where your car is in the train? Amtrak has it easy. They have nice cute short little trains. :)
Reminds me of boarding the Canadian in the Summer when there are 20+ Car consists. You basically are on your own when it comes to finding your Car (Sleeper,the 2 Coaches are always on the Front behind the Bag Car) unless you use a Redcap.(Toronto only, Pacific Central in Vancouver doesn't have them)

VIA can learn from India too when it comes to loading it's trains.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I think you guys are overlooking the complexity of making seat assignments via computer reservations since passengers board and de-board at every station along the train's route especially the long distance trains and the northeast corridor trains.
Can you imagine what chaos there will be when a 24 car train pulls in and you have no idea where your car is in the train? Amtrak has it easy. They have nice cute short little trains. :)
Reminds me of boarding the Canadian in the Summer when there are 20+ Car consists. You basically are on your own when it comes to finding your Car (Sleeper,the 2 Coaches are always on the Front behind the Bag Car) unless you use a Redcap.(Toronto only, Pacific Central in Vancouver doesn't have them)
VIA can learn from India too when it comes to loading it's trains.
What is the longest Amtrak has ever had (except the AT)? I think now it is the CS with 12 seasonally (including the baggage). The EB had 12 when they dropped a coach at MSP. The NER may also have 12 or more during holiday weekends.
 

Bob Dylan

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The Lake Shore Limited #49/#449/#48/#448 when running it's regular consist out of Albany can have up to 15 Cars on the Combined Train between CHI and ALB. ( currently the Boston Section is a stub Train due to track work in ALB).
 
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AlanB

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I think you guys are overlooking the complexity of making seat assignments via computer reservations since passengers board and de-board at every station along the train's route especially the long distance trains and the northeast corridor trains.
Amtrak already has the program to deal with it. They wrote it for Acela, and tested it on the First Class car. They discontinued the use of the seat assignments before ever rolling it out to the Business Class section of the Acela's. However, the dropping of seat assignments wasn't because of some failure within the program. There were several other unrelated factors that led to Amtrak turning off seat assignments.
 

Eric S

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VIA can learn from India too when it comes to loading it's trains.
I might expand that to say that North American passenger railroads could stand to learn a lot from Asian and European passenger railroads generally. :p
 

jis

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VIA can learn from India too when it comes to loading it's trains.
I might expand that to say that North American passenger railroads could stand to learn a lot from Asian and European passenger railroads generally. :p
Indeed. But American exceptionalism tends to prevent that. There is always the perennial excuse: "But we are America and we are different. That won;t work here" :D
 

ScouseAndy

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Indeed. But American exceptionalism tends to prevent that. There is always the perennial excuse: "But we are America and we are different. That won;t work here" :D
I'm still waiting for the day one of your politicians announces they have reinvented the wheel and produce a square wheel and give the proud announcement that the introduction of a square wheel will generate 10 Billion Trillion Gazillion American jobs and improve profitability of tyre manufactures 1000 fold.
 
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williamn

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I just find the current (lack of) system creates a stressful and unpleasant experience. First you have to turn up way ahead of time to secure a spot in line (and surely one advantage of train travel is that unlike taking the plane you shouldn't have to turn up very early). Then there is the stress of finding a seat on board, especially if you're in a group. When I took the Maple Leaf I had to struggle with my luggage, and then was herded by the staff into a specific very busy car, where I was lucky to get the last window seat. Other cars were half empty yet lots of people were very upset as they ended up with no window and were told they had to sit in a specific car.

Sure, if I was a reader of this forum I would know I could get a red cap to take my luggage and secure my seat, but how would I know this as a member of Joe public taking the train for the first time?

In a few months I'm traveling with my parents from Toronto to Montreal and Montreal to NYC. Toronto to Montreal is reserved seating. We know we have a bay of 4, and we can turn up just before the train. I'm already dreading Montreal to NYC. Will we get 4 seats together? How early do we have to turn up? Will my parents, in their 70's, be ok with standing in line for 45 minutes or more? The main reason for taking the train over the plane is to see the scenery and relax but Amtrak makes it anything but relaxing.

Introducing seat reservations is quite possible, so many other railways manage it, often reserving the same seat several times during one journey and often even allowing you to pick your seat online.
 

Tennessee Traveler

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Way off the original topic, but don't be so comfortable with Via seat policy from Toronto to Montreal. Just this past June, Via Rail without any notification to passengers, replaced the business class car I was schedule to travel on twice replacing a LRC with a steel Budd car and completely reassigning seats with no regard to the original reservation. It was not a pleasant experience and when I found out the second trip had been similarly changed(only after I inquired), I cancelled the second trip Toronto to Montreal and booked a business class seat on the Maple Leaf for my trip back into the USA. So, for now, I'm not a fan of Via Rail.
 

Eric S

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VIA can learn from India too when it comes to loading it's trains.
I might expand that to say that North American passenger railroads could stand to learn a lot from Asian and European passenger railroads generally. :p
Indeed. But American exceptionalism tends to prevent that. There is always the perennial excuse: "But we are America and we are different. That won;t work here" :D
Good old NIH syndrome - Not Invented Here.
 
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