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Worst Passenger Rail Experience Ever?

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John Santos

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
122
Not Amtrak, but on the NEC, heading home on the last Saturday afternoon commuter train (about 6PM) in the summer of 1974, the train slowed to a stop a few hundred yards north of Canton Junction and the (very historic) Neponset Viaduct*. The engineer and conductors were standing around looking puzzled and scratching their heads. Eventually most of the passengers got off too, wanting to know what was going on. Picture about 50 of us standing on the tracks. Fortunately, this was the last commuter train until Monday, and NYC trains were few and far between. I think the next and only scheduled train until Monday morning was the same train returning from Providence later in the evening, but they might have parked it there instead of dead-heading it back to Boston.
Eventually one of the conductors removed the cap from the diesel tank and was peering in side, and trying to poke a long thin stick in to check the fuel level. He eventually convinced the engineer they must have run out. Apparently the engine didn't have a fuel gauge, or if it did, it had been broken for years. In about an hour, another engine arrived from Boston and pushed us the rest of the way.

It could have been much worse... it was a beautiful warm but not hot, quiet sunny summer afternoon. But I was late for dinner and getting hungry.

[*] The viaduct was designed and built in 1834-5 by William Gibbs McNeil and his assistant George Whistler. Whistler married McNeil's sister, who is the 3rd most famous woman in a Paris museum, after Lisa Gherardini and Aphrodite. Their son James McNeil Whistler painted a well-known portrait of her.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
I used to believe that some of my personal Amtrak experiences were pretty bad. Rude staff, late arrivals, bad food, and obnoxious passengers have peppered many of my travels. However, over the course of reading trip reports and talking with other riders it's clear I've had relatively minor problems compared to everything else that can possibly go wrong. I often wonder who has the worst story of them all and what happened.

So let's hear it, what was your worst ever passenger rail experience and what happened?
Suicide of a track worker on the Empire Service line. That wasn't the worst part; Amtrak's complete and utter incompetent mismanagement of communications with the passengers was the worst part. I've described it elsewhere, but after making us sit for hours, then transferring us to another train at a LOW PLATFORM station, they dumped us at Penn and then told us that someone would follow up with us about our connecting reservations.... which they didn't. After several hours and repeatedly demanding help from Amtrak employees who kept claiming that someone would show up to help us (which did not happen), I had to walk out, get food and a hotel myself, and call in the morning. Customer Relations was actually shocked at how badly we'd been mistreated, and paid for the hotel I'd had to book myself, paid for my meals, refunded my original ticket price, and got us free tickets back home. That's how badly Penn Station mishandled the passengers off that train.

People should have been sacked for that.
 

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
912
Location
Carolinas
It was the early 2000's when the Silver Palm was running so the Silver Star's schedule was earlier than it is now. I was scheduled to leave Jacksonville at about 7:40pm and arrive my SC station at 1:20am. I thought, ' I can save a few bucks and ride coach, have a nice dinner, then enjoy the ride and be home later than I like but still in time for a good nights sleep'. Wrong!

The coach was packed, not an empty seat and included the usual howling babies and a few loud mouths, plus a radio or two. I could have dealt with that but shortly after Savannah, the train stopped, lights went out, and the storm raged outside. You guessed it. We had hit a tree, and derailed the lead trucks on the engine. We sat forever with sleep impossible and passengers grumbling. Eventually I saw some workers with flashlights moving outside. After a while we started. And stopped, and started and stopped. The storm had taken out the ancient signal system on the old Seaboard line and we moved at restricted speed throughout the night and into the next day.

The train pulled into my station at 2:30PM, about 13 hours late. Never again will I ride coach at night.
 

Saddleshoes

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
49
My worst experience was by choice!

My sister and I attended the same university in down state Illinois. Our family was in Pennsylvania. To get home one year meant flying out of Chicago. A winter blizzard rolled in and the only option was the train which was running 2-3 hours late. BUT IT WAS RUNNING! We bought tickets but were told no seats where available. OK fine BUT IT WAS RUNNING. We got on board with 100 others and no seats. BUT IT WAS RUNNING. We sat on our suit cases for the whole trip. BUT WE WERE MOVING. We arrived at the station 6 hours late at 1:00 AM. BUT WE MADE IT.
 

Everydaymatters

Conductor
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
3,229
Location
Just North of Normal, Illinois
In 1987 I hadn't been on a train in ages, so it was almost like my first trip. An unruly passenger started threatening people in the seat in front of him. I mean, he was talking killing them! After the police removed him, the TA came walking up the aisle from the car ahead wondering out loud if anyone had noticed that he got out of our car. He "wasn't gonna get" himself hurt. That made me realize how vulnerable we are when there's danger on an Amtrak trip.
 

IndyLions

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
462
Location
Brownsburg IN
My worst was 2019. It was really just disappointing - nothing I couldn’t deal with.

In October of 2019 I caught the Cardinal for the first leg of a trip to Oakland CA on the California Zephyr. I had my bike with me, and was planning not only a cycling trip around the SF Bay area, but I had purchased a ticket to attend the Lions/Raiders game in Oakland.

Despite originating in NY more than 24 hours earlier, the Cardinal left Crawfordsville IN for CHI right on time. Somewhere around Rensselaer the crew made some sort of egregious error - and the host railroad stopped the train and suspended them right on the spot.

By the time the replacement crew arrived - we were 5 hours late and the Zephyr was long gone. Amtrak was fair. They fully refunded my ticket and paid for my return back to Indy on the Cardinal in a sleeper.

Of course, the turnaround on the Cardinal was terribly delayed, and I arrived back home at 3am instead of 10pm.

I probably have taken either the Hoosier State or the Cardinal to Chicago 20 or 30 times, and it has never been more than a couple of hours late. I guess I was overdue.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,879
Location
South Carolina
It was the early 2000's when the Silver Palm was running so the Silver Star's schedule was earlier than it is now. I was scheduled to leave Jacksonville at about 7:40pm and arrive my SC station at 1:20am. I thought, ' I can save a few bucks and ride coach, have a nice dinner, then enjoy the ride and be home later than I like but still in time for a good nights sleep'. Wrong!

The coach was packed, not an empty seat and included the usual howling babies and a few loud mouths, plus a radio or two. I could have dealt with that but shortly after Savannah, the train stopped, lights went out, and the storm raged outside. You guessed it. We had hit a tree, and derailed the lead trucks on the engine. We sat forever with sleep impossible and passengers grumbling. Eventually I saw some workers with flashlights moving outside. After a while we started. And stopped, and started and stopped. The storm had taken out the ancient signal system on the old Seaboard line and we moved at restricted speed throughout the night and into the next day.

The train pulled into my station at 2:30PM, about 13 hours late. Never again will I ride coach at night.
I would be willing to bet to you I waved to your train on that trip. There are very few times Amtrak slips by me that late on the Seaboard line without me out to greet it somewhere in the Greater Columbia area. I remember one time in 2004 on Election Day I saw a mega Amtrak in Columbia. Due to track work they had combined the Silver Meteor and Silver Star into one train. That monster had four P42s, 2 baggage cars, a crew dorm (Pacific or Pine Series), 4 Viewliner Sleepers, 2 Diners, 1 Cafe, and 6 Coaches. That was the longest Amtrak I have ever seen on the Seaboard line. The sad thing is I caught it by accident and had an obstructed view due to development along two notch.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,879
Location
South Carolina
My worst experience as a passenger was very recent.

The station agent at Charlotte called me a terrorist almost at a yell because I was taking photos of the Piedmont under the skyline from the parking lot of the station. I had a ticket on the train anyway and the conductor didn't seam to care one way or the other about taking photos on the platform. When I returned the same deal on the platform from the agent about being a terrorist for taking a photo of the train.

The sad thing is for my entire life I have come to the Charlotte Station from a young age to photograph trains under the skyline or to see trains as a reward for good behavior in the shopping mall. It has never been a problem with the Amtrak agents before, or the Norfolk Southern employees who also park in the same parking lot. There are no "No Trespassing" signs to tell you that you can't watch trains there. I've even taken photos there literally within a year and no one has cared one way or the other about taking photos of trains under the Charlotte skyline.

I honestly don't care one way or another about the incident because I have several other photos of the Piedmont, Crescent, Carolinian, and Norfolk Southern from that location that it doesn't really matter to me. What does matter to me is say another family is coming to take their little boy to see the train depart because of good behavior and he yells at them for it. Or if a first time rider wants to take a cool photo of their train under the skyline before getting on gets yelled at for it. It could make a horrible first impression for Amtrak and that is what worries me about the behavior. The agent needs to remember he is representing the Amtrak Brand whenever he opens his mouth in uniform to the public and not everyone is going to be as nice about being called a terrorist for nothing. Amtrak in the south is a weird brand somehow the North Carolina services do really well but it's still not so entrenched that there is a high potential for a first time rider in the area.

For instance here are a few file photos of mine from the spot I got called a terrorist for when I took a first time rider friend to try the train.

Sammie and I .jpg
The faded sign at one point said Amtrak customer parking if I remember right. That's me and my friend Sammie from France in 2014

66 at CLT.jpg
Here is a photo from the same location in 2010

80 at CLT.jpg
And here is a better overview of the whole area from 2013.

My point being it's long been an acceptable area to photograph the train, and its in a publicly accessible place there shouldn't be an issue. I can understand some curiosity on his part but not full out yelling at a person about terrorism.
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
3,983
Location
Holland, MI
My worst was the winter of 2019 when I took the Zephyr to California. It had nothing to do with the service itself as on board it was great but weather put us behind 12 hours in Colorado. I wanted to get off at Colorado Junction to stop by Dave’s Depot but unfortunately we got there in the middle of the night due to the delay. It would be my last chance as it’s now closed permanently. I’m glad I took the opportunity back in 2014 to visit and got a really cool t-shirt, my very first one, there. I actually wore that shirt today.
 

jebr

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,019
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
My worst experience was on the Capitol Limited back in October 2018. When we got into our room, the AC was not working well at all - and with a 90 degree day throughout, it was blisteringly hot in our room. We went through a storm overnight which cooled off the outside, and thus our room, but also led to a mudslide which gave our train a pretty long delay. With some additional delays the next day, we pull into Chicago Union Station at around 2:12 PM - and our car attendant decides to make everyone wait in their room while he puts luggage on the platform! We were connecting to the Empire Builder, which leaves at 2:15 PM, and when we finally got off there was still someone with a sign on the platform that said "Connections to Train 7/27" and said that we should get down the platform to our train. However, by the time we got there (I think it was 2:18 or 2:20 - no more than 5 minutes late) the train had already left.

On the plus side, Greyhound was willing to cross-honor our ticket to MSP and let us get on at the Chicago Greyhound station at the 3:40 PM bus - but that bus took much longer than the train would've, and also only stopped in Minneapolis, not St. Paul. Thus, instead of getting into St. Paul around 10 PM, we weren't home until after 3 AM. We could've stayed the night, but that would've set us back 24 hours and we were wanting to get back into our own bed.

The whole experience soured me on doing connections Amtrak-to-Amtrak, which usually results in me either just not worrying about doing the train, or being absolutely sure we're okay with missing our connection and getting stuck in Chicago for a day if something goes wrong. Eastbound connections can be a bit easier if I want to do Amtrak part of the way (at least pre-COVID): I can always take an overnight Megabus trip to Chicago, and that has more than enough buffer to connect to any of the Amtrak trains without concern. Two Megabus tickets (again, pre-COVID) are usually around $30 if booked decently well in advance, and that includes the cost to reserve two seats next to each other so I can spread out across them. On a westbound trip, it's probably safer to simply fly home on the last flight of the night versus connecting to a 2:15 train, or at minimum have that in my back pocket in case of a long delay (maybe a Southwest points booking that is fully cancellable with points redeposited in my account.) At least then I can have Amtrak refund my Empire Builder segment if I can still make the plane, or fall back on the Amtrak ticket and connection if I'm so late that both the Builder and the plane are busts in terms of connections. Of course, if I'm having to do all of this additional connecting and transferring anyways, I might as well just take the plane the whole way instead...
 

greatwestern

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
59
Location
Bristol England
My worse experience was in June 2018 on a Toronto – Vancouver (BC) – Seattle – Chicago – Washington DC rail trip.

As itemised in a different thread, the whole trip seemed to be jinxed but it was the experience on the Lake Shore in point 5 that really "hurt".

1. Left Toronto 12 hours late having been put up overnight in a hotel near Pearson airport at Via's expense.

2. Arrived Edmonton 17 hours late where, anticipating more serious delays, I decided to bail out and (at my expense) just managed to catch the Friday 11:45 pm Greyhound bus to Vancouver (with change at Kamloops). Arrived Vancouver at 5 pm Saturday - I later ascertained that Via got in about 10 pm so I would have been ok staying on board.

3. Caught the 6:35 am Cascades service to Seattle the next morning which was delayed for an hour at Bellingham due to freight blocking the line because a coupling had failed. Despite this arrived in Seattle in plenty of time.

4. Left Seattle for Chicago on the Empire Builder on time but arrived Spokane over 3 hours late due to sanders failing on our loco with us then needing to "borrow" a freight loco to ensure we got up the grades.

5. No time made up on the journey towards Chicago resulting in my connection to the Capitol Ltd (in a bedroom) being missed. At Chicago I was offered hotel accommodation and coach booking on the next day's Capitol to Washington DC (due pm of the day of my flight home meaning I would then risk missing my flight back to Dublin). I was then offered a seat in coach on the just about to depart Lake Shore Ltd. changing at Albany to New York Central, then from New York Penn to Washington DC.

I took this option and on the Lake Shore Ltd I encountered an elderly gentlemen (even older than me) occupying seats opposite who was obviously not competent enough (both mentally and physically) to be travelling unaided. He spent the whole night and next day stumbling in and out of his seat. He wandered aimlessly and very unsteadily through the coach talking to himself asking anyone he could what was happening and where was he going (his final destination was apparently Boston).

My concern over his situation together with my being totally unprepared for coach travel (and therefore being both very uncomfortable and cold) ended up with me getting virtually no sleep. To add to my discomfort during the night, when it was raining heavily, I had to go to the bathroom in the adjoining coach and ended up getting totally soaked from the waterfall that gushed into the vestibule between the coaches. I eventually got to my hotel and a bed in DC at 11:30pm – 26 hours after leaving Chicago having had very little to eat or drink.

6. Next afternoon took off from Dulles about 45 minutes behind schedule towards Dublin but with very strong tail winds we were due in ahead of schedule.

7. Nearly half way across the pond a medical emergency resulted in us turning round and landing at St Johns Newfoundland (I have nothing but praise for the aircrew and the passenger doctor). We refuelled and continued onto Dublin where I had now missed my connection to the UK, but I did get put on the next available flight.

8. Arrived at my home airport only to find my checked bag had not arrived. My bag was traced and returned to me 3 days later - it was damaged !!!!

All in all a pretty eventful (but not stress free) vacation, but I had gained a few new experiences such as over-night in coach on the train and on a Greyhound bus and a nightmare walk getting from NY Central to NY Penn station (even the police managed to give me wrong information).
 

lonewolfette9847

Train Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
33
Location
Massachusetts
Two experiences come to mind, though they pale in comparison to others:

1. Late 1990s-ish we took a trip from NY to TX. I don’t recall what train but it had gone through Little Rock, AR. My parents & I were split up on the full train. A woman sitting by my dad kept insisting someone was hanging outside the train in her window. We couldn’t wait for her to get off. We figured it was probably my dad’s reflection that she saw.

2. ALB to NYP in 2013 which is generally 2.5 hours took over 4 hours because the breaks got stuck on outside Rhinecliff (1h 45m delay). I missed my original connection with 173, barely. I had to scramble to the ticket counter & get a new connection. After this experience, I try to get a 3 hour layover in NYP just so I don’t have that headache again. Plus it was my second time traveling alone down to PHL. It was freaky.
 

tgstubbs1

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
382
Does anyone have any experience with travel insurance? The type that's supposed to help with sanfus.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
565
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
I use travel insurance mainly for the cost of my summer rental house. 2-3 months. I dont include cost of air, train or car rental cost. If for some reason I got sick and couldnt travel my car rental could be cancelled with 24 hr notice, plane and train could be rescheduled ( at a cost). Im still covered if bags get lost, I get sick and need medical attention on the trip or have car issue and much more. So I insure some and self insure the rest.
 

Sidney

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
141
I never minded late trains or missed connections at Amtrak's expense. My worst experience was riding Coach from Chicago to Pittsburgh several years ago. A grossly overweight person was seated next to me. He got off the second stop in Indiana. One stop later another grossly overweight person was placed next to me. Unfortunately he was going all the way to DC. He also had extreme body odor and appeared inebriated. It was a sold out train and I couldn't move. I haven't done Coach overnight until Covid hit where you are guaranteed the seat next to you will be vacant.

Nothing is more uncomfortable than sharing a seat with a stranger in very close proximity. I'll do Coach overnight until the both seats to yourself guarantee is gone. I only wish the sleeper prices weren't so steep.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,059
Location
Oregon Coast
Oh my! To this day I remember an attendant on the EB... we all must respect those who may be a bit smelly and who have very very long girlish hair that they're supposed to wear up... but don't. This guy had a real attitude problem as well... and rolled his eyes when I asked to be served in my room H. He frequently yelled at me... complaining that if I was well enough to travel then I should get the meals myself. I remember the yelling... and don't know what about my communication with him caused such an uproar. But with his physical presentation and personalty mannerisms I was clearly in a very uncomfortable place.

So when the train finally arrived in Seattle 3 hours late the conductor announced a further delay to allow a local Cascades train to pull in ahead of us. As I was waiting at the door I remarked... "It sure would have been nice if they could let us in first as I have a long drive ahead of me."

Boom! He started yelling at me that I was being selfish and inconsiderate... bla bla bla... He was just yelling on and on. There was actually no actual reason for this behavior other than he must have personal problems. So as the train pulled in he gave me a smirk. My had was in my pocked with a $20 tip for the trip. As he started to yell at me again my hand remained in my pocket as i walked away and didn't look back.

Obviously this guy had some deep seeded problems. My only regret was that I didn't make a point of launching a formal complaint after the trip... or at least tell the conductor
I've missed several connections, but back in 2002, I was coming back from Grand Forks to Fort Worth from college. I overnighted in Chicago with a friend because the lack of same day connection. The second day I went down to the station only to find that the Texas Eagle had been cancelled past St. Louis due to flooding in Arkansas. I had a sleeper booked and really wanted to take my sleeper. So they offered to either let me stay until the next day or fly home. I also really wanted to get home as I hadn't been home in month. But I had all summer to stay home, so I decided to stay another night in Chicago. They put me in a hotel and then I caught the next days Eagle in my sleeper. Life was good.

Well I awoke in Arkansas about 40 miles outside Little Rock and we were stopped. Due to all the flooding, freight trains were backed up everywhere. Crews for those trains had timed out and many could not move. We sat for hours. Finally we arrived into Little Rock at about 4 PM, twelve hours late. By this time I was so ready to get home, so I decided to buy a ticket on Southwest and just fly to Dallas. It was about $99. My dad was glad I took the flight to get me home at a decent hour. When I checked the arrival time into FTW the next day, it didn't lose any time after leaving LRK. It arrived FTW still 12 hours late at about 2 AM.

I'm pretty laid back, and really don't care how attendants treat me, as long as they're not mean. I usually have just made my own bed if they don't offer.

But there was one coach car attendant I had back in October that irked me. Actually I laugh about now, and wish I had pushed his buttons more. :) It was on the way to Seattle on the Empire Builder for the AU gathering. About 30 to 40 minutes prior to arrival, the coach attendant made the usual announcement to make sure we have everything and start cleaning up. Like a good passenger, I'm always willing to throw away my trash, and leave everything neat with my seat back and tray table up. He asked everyone to bring their seats up and stow the tray tables. Again no big deal to me still. I still am doing a few things on the table, and have a timetable or two out on it. Since we're still 30 mins out, I figure there is no point in sitting straight up. Well a few mins later, he comes by and tells me I need to put my stuff away. I say sure, I will. But then about 5 mins later, I still haven't done any of that, he comes and physically moves my papers off the table and folds it up for me, and also helps me move up my seat. Well just as he walks off, I move my seat back again, and then he get really agitated. In order not to create anymore conflict, I just sit up. I don't know why. I should have done it anyway just to see what he would do, and now wish I had! He was really being a &$%. What was going to do. Kick me off at the next stop?! :D Tell the conductor on me?
Wonder if it's the same basket case Amtrak employee I had.
. Abuse by an Amtrak employee... or anyone else... whether it be for a personal problem... etc. is just not acceptable. To this day I regret not making a formal complaint.


unnamed.png
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,059
Location
Oregon Coast
I've missed several connections, but back in 2002, I was coming back from Grand Forks to Fort Worth from college. I overnighted in Chicago with a friend because the lack of same day connection. The second day I went down to the station only to find that the Texas Eagle had been cancelled past St. Louis due to flooding in Arkansas. I had a sleeper booked and really wanted to take my sleeper. So they offered to either let me stay until the next day or fly home. I also really wanted to get home as I hadn't been home in month. But I had all summer to stay home, so I decided to stay another night in Chicago. They put me in a hotel and then I caught the next days Eagle in my sleeper. Life was good.

Well I awoke in Arkansas about 40 miles outside Little Rock and we were stopped. Due to all the flooding, freight trains were backed up everywhere. Crews for those trains had timed out and many could not move. We sat for hours. Finally we arrived into Little Rock at about 4 PM, twelve hours late. By this time I was so ready to get home, so I decided to buy a ticket on Southwest and just fly to Dallas. It was about $99. My dad was glad I took the flight to get me home at a decent hour. When I checked the arrival time into FTW the next day, it didn't lose any time after leaving LRK. It arrived FTW still 12 hours late at about 2 AM.

I'm pretty laid back, and really don't care how attendants treat me, as long as they're not mean. I usually have just made my own bed if they don't offer.

But there was one coach car attendant I had back in October that irked me. Actually I laugh about now, and wish I had pushed his buttons more. :) It was on the way to Seattle on the Empire Builder for the AU gathering. About 30 to 40 minutes prior to arrival, the coach attendant made the usual announcement to make sure we have everything and start cleaning up. Like a good passenger, I'm always willing to throw away my trash, and leave everything neat with my seat back and tray table up. He asked everyone to bring their seats up and stow the tray tables. Again no big deal to me still. I still am doing a few things on the table, and have a timetable or two out on it. Since we're still 30 mins out, I figure there is no point in sitting straight up. Well a few mins later, he comes by and tells me I need to put my stuff away. I say sure, I will. But then about 5 mins later, I still haven't done any of that, he comes and physically moves my papers off the table and folds it up for me, and also helps me move up my seat. Well just as he walks off, I move my seat back again, and then he get really agitated. In order not to create anymore conflict, I just sit up. I don't know why. I should have done it anyway just to see what he would do, and now wish I had! He was really being a &$%. What was going to do. Kick me off at the next stop?! :D Tell the conductor on me?
Wonder if he was the same attendant I had on the EB that was 'over the top' really obnoxious and downright bad... just posted that account. The EB sure has some of the worst but it also has some of the best.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,434
Location
Baltimore. MD
The latest Amtrak train was a Capitol Limited from Chicago that arrived in Washington 10 hours late due to weather and all sorts of freight trains being stranded on the NS main line because they had no legal crew. They had to reroute us through Detroit. But that wasn't really a bad trip because the train was working fine, so I was in a nice snug roomette, and all meals were served, plus an extra lunch and an emergency Amstew dinner. Plus I got to see the scenery all through Ohio into Pittsburgh that's usually done in the dark.

My next latest Amtrak trip was a Northeast Regional from Baltimore to New York that got hung up when somebody took down catenary in New Jersey, and, starting in Philadelphia, we spent the evening stopped for a while, then creep up a few miles, then stop again while all the NJT trains passed us, then stopped again, etc. We were about 8 hours late (this is normally a 2:40 ride), got in around 3 AM, but there were lots of cabs about, so we had no problem getting to our hotel, where we got the last room, er, closet available. That was a little more annoying, because it did mess up a short weekend trip a bit. The funniest thing was that there was an off-duty conductor aboard who got enough of a rest break from the delay that they put him back on the job when the original conductor timed out. It was sort of amusing to see this off-duty guy in shorts and a t-shirt running around with a radio on his belt acting all conductorish. The other thing they did was, after a while, give out free stuff from the snack bar.

I would say that my worst train ride experience on Amtrak was a ride on the Carolinian from Raleigh a year and a half ago. It went fine until a storm in northern Virginia dropped a tree on the tracks and gummed up the works for a while. What was annoying was that it seemed that every other train on the East Coast had priority over us. When we got to Washington, Northeast Regional 66 was across the platform from us. You might think that they would let us go out first, because the Carolinian makes no stops between Washington and Baltimore, whereas #66 stops at New Carrolton and BWI. But no, they sent 66 out first, and we crept up the tracks to Baltimore, where we arrived after midnight. (The Carolinian is supposed to discharge in Baltimore at 6 PM or so.) That one was particularly bad because I was coming down with one of those 24 hour viruses and was a little under the weather.

But the absolute worst tale of train travel I ever heard about from anyone I knew was from my sister, who was forced to ride a Penn Central train from Philly to Chicago to get back to college during an air traffic controllers' strike, circa 1970. This was not the Broadway Limited, this was one of the other trains that actually served 30th St. Station. I believe the consist was coaches, sleepers, and a "snack bar coach." Being a poor college student, she went by coach. I was a cold winter night, and, by her account, the heat was marginal, the restrooms froze up, and they ran out of food. I don't now remember her saying whether or not the train was late, but if it were, I wouldn't be surprised.
 

CameraObscura76

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 10, 2014
Messages
27
Location
Mobile, AL
Second remark perhaps lacks empathy.

Mine was a conductor on the Lake Shore Limited in the early 1980s who insisted on putting a large sign "DEAF" above my seat in coach. He would not accept my arguments that such a sign was not only condescending but also might invite rough trade during the night, and also threatened to put me off the train if I took the sign down. Fortunately at the next crew change the new conductor agreed with me and tore up the sign. (The coach attendant apologized for the first conductor's behavior.)
Second remark perhaps lacks empathy
I’m deaf myself and I find that condescending. 😳
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,300
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Does anyone have any experience with travel insurance? The type that's supposed to help with sanfus.
Once a good idea, travel insurance has grown progressively more porous over the years culminating in this past year's debacle where most insurers invoked a force majeure clause with regard to the pandemic. Events such as some of those described so far in this thread, e.g. mudslides, forest fires, have often been excluded under "Act of God" provisions. My one major experience with purchased trip-interruption coverage involved a 3-day weather delay in Chicago, that was actually handled far better by the airline than my insurer. All I managed to get from insurance was a refund of the premium paid.
 

jimmrl

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
59
My worst experience on Amtrak was having to fly Spirt Airlines.......

I was traveling from Williamsburg VA to Houston TX. Regional from WBG to Washington DC, then the Crescent to New Orleans and the Sunset to Houston. When I hit about Atlanta I got the text that the SSL was cancelled so I had to fly Spirit from NO to Houston.
 
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20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,059
Location
Oregon Coast
My worst experience on Amtrak was having to fly Spirt Airlines.......

I was traveling from Williamsburg VA to Houston TX. Regional from WBG to Washington DC, then the Crescent to New Orleans and the Sunset to Houston. When I hit about Atlanta I got the text that the SSL was cancelled so I had to fly Spirit from NO to Houston.
That certainly qualifies!
 
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