Cut Costs. Save Money. Lose Passengers.
Two interesting comments came in today. The first is in the form of a report on one portion of an extended rail journey: the Boston section of the westbound Lake Shore Limited.
“My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Sacramento via the Lake Shore Limited and the California Zephyr. The Lake Shore Limited has boxed meals. The box itself is lovely and appears to be expensive. In fact, they tell you about the construction of the box in a flyer that comes inside it. The meals themselves, in our opinion, were worse than airline food.
“The steward kept referring to ”the dining car”, which was going to be attached in Albany, so we were initially hopeful that Mr. Anderson had changed his mind. But there was no dining car, just another diner/lounge. On top of the indignity of having to eat a boxed meal, the diner/lounge car was 8 cars back. There was at least one elderly person who couldn’t even think about walking back for her meal. And, in fact, we didn’t want to bother to walk ‘way back there either after the first time.”
And, from a reader in West Virginia, here’s a wonderful example of why draconian cost-cutting is counter-productive.
I am planning a trip with my grandson to the west coast and back, going west on the Zephyr and east on the Empire Builder. I can save a good $400 using a rail pass. However, due to the ticket office closures the closest office is Charlottesville about a four hour drive. They first closed Huntington then Charleston. I just checked and they refuse to email or snail mail the tickets and pass. It seems they have a real case of cranial rectal inversion. Have you heard of any policy change in this area? I can get a BritRail pass sent to me from England but not an Amtrak pass in my own country. I can see closing some offices but Charleston and Huntington were very part time to begin with. I suppose I can go to Charlottesville if we go to Williamsburg by car sometime, but this is absurd.
Yes, it surely is!
I agree with the sentiments of the post. However, I have to point out that the dining car on the Lake Shore from the Boston sleepers has always (at least as long as I can remember) been a long walk through the train given how the train is combined in Albany. This particular frustration isn’t a result of any of the new dumb policies, just a practical operating constraint. The last thing the “Late Shore” would need is additional dwell time and switching in Albany to put all the sleepers together near the lounge (or in the good old days – diner).
You’re quite right about that long walk. I suppose if there’s anything positive to be found in the “contemporary dining”, it’s that the long walk is no longer necessary. Except, of course, if you would like an after-contemporary-dining libation–the kind that comes in one of those wee plastic bottles.
Since The Delta Dick and his cutters have come on board, one of the biggest gripes I hear in the sleeping crass no printed route timetables. I’m on my third sleeping car trip this year this coming weekend an I’m sure I’ll hear the griping again, with me being in the lead. How much money does Delta Dick save anyway by this cheap-ass move? $2 per train?
You are right … timetables are no longer provided and that’s particularly annoying since it’s pretty much the only way an individual passenger actually en route can tell if the train is running in time. Only real solution is to copy and print the schedule from the Amtrak website.
Jim, Do you think members of the Amtrak board or Mr. Anderson read this blog? It would make sense to think that if they were serious about wanting to improve rail travel- particularly long-distance rail travel, this would be a great source of information as to what the paying public thinks about the current state of the Amtrak system.
Hi, John. The truth is, I would be shocked … dumbfounded … flabbergasted … amazed … and incredulous … if Anderson or any of the Amtrak board members are even aware of this effort, let alone read it. There is just too much material for them to absorb in their universes.