Who Deals with Problem Passengers?

Once an Amtrak train starts to move, the conductors are in charge. Through the entire schedule, from departure to arrival at final destination, when “situations” with passengers arise, most conductors are skillful in handling things quietly—moving one passenger seating in front of a noisy toddler or speaking with authority to a 20-somethin having a loud cellphone co  version.

.The sole responsibility rests with the conductor and it’s considered a last resort, but passengers can be put off the train for any reason the conductor feels warrants it, including . . .

.Smoking. Passengers are given ample warning that smoking on board is prohibited. During routine announcements over the train’s P.A.system, conductors often say, “If you get caught smoking anywhere on this train, our very next stop will be yours!

.Drunkenness. Beer and wine are for sale to all passengers—with meals in the dining car and also in the snack bar in the lounge car. Sleeping car passengers may consume alcohol in their own accommodations; coach passengers must imbibe only in the lounge car. Any passenger with a snootful can be removed from the train by the conductors.

.Other issues. Remove a passenger from the train can occur in several different ways. Where and when it happens depends on the location of the train at the time and the conductor’s assessment of the problem passenger’s current behavior and state of mind:

.Chastened, subdued, apologetic? Wait until the next station stop and see that he gets off.

.Still angry and upset? The local police are waiting at the next station and provide accommodations for the sobering up process.

.Potentially violent?  The conductor will have the engineer radio ahead and stop the train at a spot where the highway crosses the tracks and where the state police are waiting to take the individual into custody.

.The passenger is never informed that he’s going to be removed from the train. The moment of enlightenment comes when he notices the train has stopped, and he looks up and sees two burly conductors standing by his seat. Sometimes, if the conductor senses there could be real trouble, the conductor has the engineer call ahead and arrange for a couple of state policemen to meet the train at a grade crossing.

.There is only one lesson to be learned from this: Do not mess with the conductor!