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We took the Starlight Express from Portland to LA. First time in a long time on a long distance train. The experience was mixed. We had a the smaller of the two available sleeper cabins so it was a little tight. Not terrible, but still smaller than we expected. The food was surprisingly good (also included in the cost of the sleeper ticket) so that was fine. The path through Portland and then Oakland carries you right by numerous homeless encampments that are filthy and very third world feeling. Not Amtrak's fault but sure is a bummer. The staff was friendly for the most part, though the dining room waiter was very impatient and obviously fed up with his job. There were several delays and we arrived a couple hours late but that's standard for Amtrak, I'm told! It is NOT inexpensive but it is very relaxing compared to TSA, traffic, and airline food.
I've traveled the NYC-Montreal route many times over many years. The route is truly so very well worth the journey; astonishing, particularly as it follows the Hudson River & traverses NYC Adirondack wilderness. Sadly, Amtrak has caused itself to suffer in many ways because of inconvenience of scheduled services (system-wide, as I've seen), too often round-trips are impossible, amenities (food & beverage) aren't nearly as available as in years past, "smoking cars" have been completely removed, alienating a particular ridership, the cleanliness/condition of the wagons/cars has deteriorated, the cost has increased as the services & amenities have decreased/vanished.
With regard to "safety", I can't say that I've ever felt unsafe whilst aboard. Surely, their tracks require up-dating along routes. But over-all, I'd say I trust Amtrak to get me to my destination safely. "Value"? Over-all, for the price, if one has the time (some trips can be quite long) & an interest in seeing the world pass by, in being fascinated by some of the most wondrous scenery this planet has to offer, oh, by all means, it's great value!
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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.
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The train from New York to Montreal was cancelled on February 17th and Amtrak refused to issue a refund for a train that they canceled. Also, the customer service on the phone was so rude. They said I did not call within 24 hours of the train that THEY canceled. I tried to explain to the customer service on the phone that we were busy trying to get another means of transportation and that when I tried to call, their phone lines were busy and I just called half an hour after the 24 hours... but still no refund.
On the 6 of Jan. I was to the train, as I do often, head from Philadelphia to New London CT, train 66 at 11:44pm. There is a layover in NY for about an hour and a half. The car I was on was empty. About an hour into the stop, I man get on with his pants down, and no underwear on. OMG. I got off car, went onto the platform and no one was there either. Now I'm scared to death. I had to leave my bags. He started to approach me. I got off, he disappeared. I stood at the door, waiting to see anybody. Finally, I did. I yelled for this person, told him he went away, calling someone.
By this time the train was about to leave. A lady worker, came, showed me a man going up the stairs, thinking it was him. It was Not, that was another freak. She put off the train. To this day I have not heard from you people, Even after contacting you By phone. This is not my first bad experience. A month before I was traveling with a disabled person and service dog, as I have many times before and this time, was told I didn't have a ticket for the dog, and was asked to get off the train. Once I got to NY, Security was called. OMG. I asked what could I do! A nice conductor, got on and said She would not kick me off because of a dog. I had a panic attack! I'm tired of this truly. I travel about 10 times a year by train. I want to find another way,
We understood and accepted the time needed to travel by rail. We took Sunset limited from LA to San Antonio and then San Antonio to New Orleans after a couple days stay in San Antonio. We had a multi city ticket. For the most part the trip was as expected. The scenery through Arizona and New Mexico was excellent. The Lounge car was very comfortable and offered good views. Food in the dining car was better than expected. So far so good!
Here is the bad part of train travel. The coach car of the Superliner we were assigned to suffered from a foul odor that seemed to be related to the toilet systems and its associated vents. At one point it was so bad we had to just stay in the lounge car. It was never noticeable in the dining car or the lounge car. The rail cars seem somewhat old and worn. Carpet in the Coach car needed cleaning.
The staff didn’t give straight answers. On the first let when asked to change seats I was told to ask the conductor. On the second let when I asked the conductor if I could change seats I was told to ask the coach attendant. There was a lot of confusion in San Antonio with the boarding process. No announcements were made and the staff was rude when approached with questions. At this point I am uncertain if I would choose train travel on AMTRAK again. Maybe would give a sleeper room or roommette a chance.
We were very disappointed on our most recent trip to Hammond, LA. Amtrak is obviously trying to either save money or stop the route altogether. We were told we could get dinner when we boarded. We went to the dining car and there was only one person caring for 40 sleeping car passengers. The employee was to heat 40 meals for 40 people and serve them. This was an impossible task. We went to bed without eating. We were able to get breakfast as it is only a tasteless microwaved biscuit and packaged food you serve yourself. We were barely able to have some lunch before we got off the train. For our return trip we packed our own food. One of my ancestors was actually a railroad builder in the beginning of railroad when you brought your own food. It is amazing that in 2019 and 2020 we have returned to the beginning or railroad. Seniors are the major sleeping car users. Why would they pay so much for such poor service. Wake up AMTRAK!
As a blind veteran with a seeing eye dog - Amtrak threatened to throw me off the train if my dog barked. As a September 11, 2001 first responder and blinded veteran, ** amtrak for violating ADA. ** amtrak's union, ** amtrak's customer service..
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