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I booked a trip on the California Zephyr from Davis to Glenwood Springs, CO for a short trip. At the time, I was only 17. I planned to board train #6 on 3/29/2019, arrive GSC the next day at noon, then board train #5 the same day at 2pm going back to Davis arriving there on 3/31. This trip was just for fun because I love Amtrak. Unfortunately, during the time period I was scheduled to travel, there was lots of flooding in Nebraska causing the westbound train to be delayed by up to 12 hours.
On 3/27, I was looking at the train location map and saw that train #5 was 12 hrs late because of the flooding. Not good because if it got to Emeryville so late, then train #6 wouldn't depart at 9am like it usually does therefore it would get me to Glenwood Springs late. I was concerned that I could miss the train in GSC and be stranded there overnight. Because of that, I moved the departure date a day early because train #5 arriving into EMY on 3/27 was less late than the other train #5.
The next day, because train #5 apparently didn't arrive EMY until nearly 4am, instead of 4pm like is usually does, train #6 didn't leave EMY until 11:30, reaching Davis at 1:10pm, already 2 1/2 hrs late. I got onboard in my sleeping car. My attendant, Janel, was incredibly sweet, and took care of EVERYTHING during the trip, including making up the beds and keeping the sleeper clean. As I slept that night, the train unfortunately got later due to a freight train causing our train to be stopped. I woke up at 4am to find out that we were running even later than we were before. I was concerned that I would not reach Glenwood Springs in time to catch train #5 back to Davis. That day, it was originating in Denver due to the flooding, which meant it would get to GSC on time, and train #6 would be late, therefore I would miss train #5 and be stranded.
I alerted Janel about the situation. I explained that I was under 18, and that I was worried about missing the westbound train. I asked if Amtrak could pay for me to stay in a hotel if I missed train #5. She told me that this couldn't be done because Amtrak is "poor" right now (due to the Trump administration). Janel also suggested that I could stay on the train until Denver where I could get off, get a refund on my return ticket to Davis, then go to Denver Airport and fly home. Problem is, the coach ticket from GSC-DAV was $135 which wouldn't be enough to fly home, plus I have never been to Denver before so I would have to fend for myself in a weird city and figure out my way to the airport. Not believing that was a good idea, I walked to the front of the train to talk to someone higher up, the conductor or a manager. I found the Onboard Services Manager in the Coach section and quietly explained my concern to him.
The OBS Manager (David) advised me to exit the train in Grand Junction, the stop before Glenwood Springs so that I could still catch train #5. I felt that would be a better idea than continuing to Denver. I went back to my roomette and 5 minutes later, the conductor (Paula) showed up to my sleeper to talk to me. I once again explained what was up to her. She told me this would be fine to exit at Grand Junction. She was going to Salt Lake City and that when we get there, a new conductor was coming on and he would take care of this situation.
We reached Salt Lake City at 5:40am, still over 2.5 hours late. I stepped off to get some fresh air. The conductor coming on (Mike) saw me on the platform at my sleeper with Janel and told us both he was made aware of my situation with needing to get off the train early. He said it was no problem really and told me all he had to do was go into the baggage car and move my bag to the pile of bags going to Grand Junction. My father did once tell me it wasn't incredibly safe to hang out in Grand Junction, so before I officially decided to get off early, I called my parents from SLC to make them aware of this situation.
They were fine with me exiting early, but they said they were surprised and disappointed that my sleeping car attendant would tell me Amtrak is poor and suggest that I fend for myself in Denver to the Airport. Everything went well from there. I got to Grand Junction at around 12:30pm and I got off as arranged. I was glad to get off there instead of at Glenwood Springs because according to train status, train #5 arrived there on time at 1:45pm and train #6 got there at 2:30. I would DEFINITELY have missed train #6 if I stayed on any longer.
I took a train from Washington, DC to New York City in 1991 that was supposed to get in a 8:30 pm. It arrived at 2:30 in the morning to a deserted Penn Station and passengers were abandoned in our efforts to continue our travels. I stayed away from trains for 25 years, but booked an AMTRAK train from Washington, DC to Savannah, GA in 2016. This disaster of a ride got us in 5 hours late, the toilets were full, the dining car ran out of food and we were stuck on the tracks in the middle of nowhere for hours on end. At least AMTRAK gave me a full refund of my fare. I swore then that I would never, ever, Never, Ever, NEVER, EVER take AMTRAK again.
I needed to get up to Trenton, NJ on July 22, 2019 but faced weather related flight cancellations, so I HAD NO CHOICE but to try AMTRAK again. Train 94 left Union Station on July 22, 2019 within :30 seconds of its scheduled departure time. We arrived Trenton right on time. On the return, train 129 arrived in Trenton (from Boston?), within one minute of its scheduled arrival time. We arrived in Washington, DC right at 8:13 pm, July 23, 2019, the scheduled arrival time. Way to go AMTRAK. Clean cars, courteous on-board stall, decent grub in the dining car, but most of all, reliable transportation. Thank you.
In the past 4 or 5 years I have traveled on Amtrak from Sacramento to Denver and back, maybe 5 times giving me about 10 experiences of travel with them. Here’s my review. ARRIVAL-DEPARTURE: Nine out of ten times my travel has been pleasant enough with the train arriving and departing on time. Once I recall it arrived early to Sacramento, which made me slightly disappointed only because I was so much enjoying new friends and the views. A more recent travel experience with Amtrak was frustrating. There was flooding in Nebraska so the train was delayed 7 hours. I wish the notifications came sooner as my son dropped us off at Denver Union Station early to check baggage, and other family was not easily able to load up several children to pick us up. So we remained at the Union Station for the day.
Knowing the train wasn’t coming for 7 hours we decided to walk around town. (Amtrak staff allowed us to “store” all our luggage in the baggage room, which made our day much easier.) Our walk ended early as we didn’t have extra money to spend. We headed back to Union Station which is quite a lovely place to be. My girls and I found outside seating at Mercantile Dining and relaxed while enjoyed lemonade, pastries and matcha tea. They were not too busy and very understanding of our situation...to let us linger. I would say the worse part of waiting was the fact that Amtrak corporate offered very limited communication. Even hours later, on Amtrak Alerts via Twitter, there was still only one message; flooding occurred and they were running 7 hours late. For hours we didn’t hear if the train was even on its way! Although, Amtrak’s train status update changed every time we checked.
First the train wouldn’t arrive until 5:30 pm, (8am that morning was departure time), then 20 minutes later it was expected at 6:11pm, it continued throughout the day, though the evening, then through the night until the train was to arrive at 11:54pm. The time 11:54 wasn’t changing on the updated train status, so many of us remaining passengers, who weren’t smart or rich enough to make other travel plans, got excited and went out to the tracks. Up at 5:30am, it’s late and we were all exhausted and just wanted to board the train and sit in our seat to fall asleep. But no train. We wait, still no train.
COMMUNICATION: Finally, out comes an Amtrak worker stating the train is stuck around the corner due to a signal problem. She was more informative than anyone we’d heard from all day, and gave us reassurance while scanning out tickets. But we still waited. Earlier, the (friendly but quiet) staff at DUS counter said they knew nothing as the conductor wasn’t answering calls. Turns out Amtrak was experiencing more than the flooding problems, there were issues with signal changes or lights and they had to stop and manually set them. Most people can understand and sympathize but not being informed and being left in the dark is the worse. That was one of my main frustrations. Amtrak’s extreme lack of communication. I’ll get to the other main frustration towards the end of this review. Finally, at midnight...we board the train. It didn’t leave for an hour, but that was expected, and we didn’t mind... We were boarded!
Many travelers had other connecting travel plans or jobs to get to, so it was extremely frustrating for them. Our group did not have time restraints, only the inconvenience of our pickup person juggling small children possibly in the middle of the night to pick us up. We still had no idea or input of our expected arrival time. Amtrak was initially delayed because of flooding...obviously out of their control and not their fault. They are limited on having staff for only 12 hour shifts so part of the ongoing delays were waiting at other train stations for replacement staff to arrive. Throughout the train ride mechanic issues continued with signal problems, and or waiting for other trains to pass. This is understandable as they’re off schedule. What I feel they could control, and improve, would be to inform the customers!
Earlier at the station we were constantly held at bay expecting the train in about 45 minutes... You can’t plan anything. Had we known at 7am that morning the train would not arrive until midnight... Well, we may have opted to rent a car or have my daughter come back for us. Luckily, that evening in the station a Jazz band came and played. Such an unexpected treat! It made waiting a more pleasant experience.
BATHROOMS: Loading the train at midnight, we found the restroom toilets were filled to the brim with... Well, that image is STILL in my mind. And a bad smell... ugh. We used a nearby train car. No problem, not for me. (60’s) But a lady, we waited in line with, purposely sat down stairs for easy access to the restroom. So more inconvenient for her. That said, I was happy to find the other car had a newer style restroom design. Much nicer and easier to move around in!
STAFF: On all my trips the staff is pleasant enough. I will agree with others though, there are a couple who treat you as cattle, shine lights in your eyes in the middle of the night and not ask, but tell you to move. On our recent trip, we were sitting separately but were told to move together as the train would fill up in Grand Junction. Haha. I think one or two people boarded at that stop. On our severely delayed trip, one female conductor was very informative and apologetic, another gentleman conductor not as much. As far as attendants go, we are paying customers, not getting a ride for free. It would be nice to be greeted with a smile by attendants. Some DO go out of their way to be friendly. So appreciated! Makes the trip fun!
BUS: At times of traveling around mountain highways, I see buses going high speeds around curves and never wanted to be on one. Ever! Much to my dismay, and my other main frustration, Amtrak decided to unload its passengers in Reno, short of their destinations, and put us on a bus. The interior of the bus was nice enough, and they gladly loaded up our luggage that we hauled over from the train stop. But once we were on the highway, I had to distract myself not to be in a panic... The driver drove super fast, like her life depended on it! I was VERY, VERY uncomfortable with her speeding in the mountain areas.
COMPENSATION: Upon asking... Amtrak was gracious enough to offer a partial refund or a better savings with a voucher, for the more than 24 hour delayed ride home. I already had another trip planned and will be experiencing a sleeper car for the first time. To date, I’ve only purchased coach seating. Afterwards, I will give my review if it’s worth the extra cost or not.
Pretty great. I get in, I sit down in a big comfy seat, and I stretch my legs all the way out in a really roomy area. I watch the landscape speed past and I do work on my laptop. If I'm hungry I grab food from the cafe car. It's amazing. There are delays, and the conductors are often overworked and rushing all around. Don't get in their way, and don't complain to them - they don't control whether the train breaks down or not. I've always been polite and done what they asked immediately, and I've never had a problem with them.
I've always heard mixed reviews about the Amtrak experience. I decided to give the 'slow way' a try and see how the experience is. I can pleasantly say that it was delightfully enjoyable! Below is a short summary of my recent trip from Kalamazoo to Detroit. First of all, the mobile app is super easy to search and book. It's right on par with other transportation mobile booking apps that I've used, like FlyDelta, Uber, Transit, and others. When I got to the station, I fully expected the train to be late. However, it was (literally) right on time. Boarding was fast too. Within 7 or 8 minutes we were pulling out of the station, still on time. Also, an amazing factor was no hassling security or check-in procedures. I literally arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled time and it was perfect.
Boarding is seamless. Just step on and take a seat anywhere. The train is comfortable and spacious - much larger than a bus or plane. Every seat has an outlet and lots of leg room. Luggage seems to be no issue since there are large shelves in each car for suitcases, as well as large overhead racks. The seats are large and relatively comfortable - plenty of room to lay back and stretch out. I was able to snag a row to myself so it was very comfortable being by myself. After that, the ride was pleasantly event-free. It was awesome to sit back and relax while looking out the huge windows. During my trip, I got the chance to get up and explore. The restrooms were clean and large too. I made way to the rear of the train and got a coffee, a personal pizza, and bag of pretzels which came out to $9.75. Coffee was great and the pizza was just average.
De-boarding was just a simple. Just gather your bags and step off. Both the station in Kalamazoo and Detroit were simple and clean. Every staff member I encountered seemed friendly and helpful. All in all, the trip was super pleasant. I never considered the train because I thought it would be complicated, but it's just the opposite. I found one of the nicest factors being simply the FREEDOM when you're aboard. You're just able to do so much more than you can on planes and buses. You can get up and walk around, use the restroom whenever you want (there are numerous restrooms in each car so no lines or waiting like in a plane), go grab a quick snack, stretch your legs, read, use your phone whenever, make calls, get actual work done since the tray tables are large, use the free and mildly fast WIFI, look out the window, and simply relax. I find relaxing hard on other transportation but easy on this train.
The train is definitely not overly luxurious by any means, but meets all the expectations of travel. The trip does take a bit longer than driving, especially if you have to drive to and wait at the station. But quite frankly, I think the convenience factors outweigh the timeliness factor. I will definitely be doing this route again and I will be considering traveling by train for future trips.
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Train was clean and on time mostly. The ticket staff were great. Dining experience: the Hamburger meat was dry and rubbery. Morning breakfast staff was rude in an mostly quiet empty restaurant... Every 5 minutes I was asked, "Are you done?" I mean it's breakfast. I want to eat well at 8am in an fairly empty restaurant. Get another job you frowning, ill-mannered lady and learn your manners as well as English as you work in the service industry. It was bad restaurant service on both of my trips. The pantry man down stairs on both my trips was the same tall, well built very hospitable man, it was a real joy to have his hospitable service. Nice to have the huge viewing windows besides the restaurant too. It would certainly put me off from dining again on my next trip. Perhaps, the bus journey would be better.
1st time in USA and not familiar with train system. Today we purchased Amtrak two tickets for $160 from New York to Philadelphia for 9.30 am (we didn’t know that last destination is Harrisburg), saleswoman advised to take train to Washington, which was scheduled for 9.35am, which stops at Philadelphia. Consequently we ended up on the wrong train due to Amtrak personnel by deliberate misleading!!!. To compound matters, the ticket inspector on the train forced us to pay extra $80 fine or force us to leave the train. Ticket inspector said there are another 85 passengers like us on the wrong train!!! They are clearly taking advantage from tourists by fining us!!! Don’t trust Amtrak personnel, as it make cost you a lot of stress and extra dollars!!!
We were on an anniversary trip touring National Parks. What a nightmare. Trains were late every time. We were told someone would be there to pick us up because we were on a tour. Never happen. Train was dirty. Toilets broke and trash was full all the time. It was a nightmare. We paid 8500. For this trip and all we got was apologies. We were drop off in a parking lot in the rain and told our bus would be there in five minutes and thirty minutes late it showed up. If you are over 70 and not in good health don’t do this trip. You will never be able to handle it. Never a day to rest. Never saw San Francisco in the day. Never got to even eat there because of late trains. We are lucky we will see another anniversary after this trip. I could go on but I think you get the message. It was a nightmare and all we got was we’re sorry. Thanks Amtrak for a nightmare.
Left Milwaukee on Amtrak's Empire Builder on July 13th. Not even the beauty of Glacier National Park could save this experience. Everything about Amtrak is 1960's. The cars and their systems are old and completely unreliable. The sleeping compartments are tiny beyond belief. The in-room toilet/shower facility is built for a contortionist. The air conditioning in our compartment stopped working at 10:00 am and we were told no one on the train could repair it. Fortunately we were due to leave the train that night for our stop at Glacier. Our toilet would not flush for over 24-hours prior to our arrival in Chicago. Again no one could fix it, we should just use the bathroom down the hall - no wait that was also out of order - use the one down the hall and down the steps. The train was late - 2-4 hours late at every stop. The whole experience was HORRIBLE. Do yourself a favor and NEVER TRAVEL OVERNIGHT ON AMTRAK!
Ok, I really don't like to fly, so if there is an opportunity to take the train, I will explore it. Keep in mind that Amtrak is full of problems - terrible to great stations dependant on your origin and destination. I know this and I know a lot about the low funding. But like any other service industry, you try to do your best. So I took the Carolinian from Charlotte business class on 9/18. new to the Charlotte area, I had only experienced the Acella and other Crescents. Coming back this morning on the 20th on the Carolinian 79 from Union station, I saw some pitiful service that could have been avoided with a little staff training.
1). Priority boarding was called and passengers who were in line, got on while an overhead station announcement was being heard. Afterwards, 1 other person got in the priority line and the attendant just held him up without asking him if he was priority. He was soon joined by 3 elderly people. The attendant never looked at the line. 5 or 6 minutes later, they called for general boarding and sure enough the old folks were consumed by general boarding.
2) Getting on the train. Not a pleasant young woman directed us to a car that had numerous reserved seat signs and became forceful With her voice when a passenger who couldn't find a seat passed by me to go to another car as I was heading into the seemingly full car. "Sir, sir, where are you going?" Answer, "There are no seats!" Attend, "You can find a seat. I'm gonna make an announcement". Passenger grumbling, "That's why I don't like to take the ** train for ** like this. Attendant getting on the train to other passengers, "Please don't remove the reserve seat signs.". Attendant over speaker, "All passengers please remove your belongings so that others may sit down." Then she comes through and helps people find a seat. She wasn't rude but seemed agitated. I found a seat that had a trash bag in it and a cracker rapper crumbs in the seat. Brushed it off and sat down.
3) I booked business class for another 40 dollars coming down and was treated like royalty. You would have thought I was Frodo in the kingdom of the Elves. In regular class, it's as if you are lower than life. Such a difference than flying. So, the 3 stars is for the great trip down and the crazy trip back. Did I mention that they come down the aisle with refreshments in business class??! They can do much better.
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