PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA -- Amtrak arrived about 40 minutes late. It was the night-train, going from Palm Springs, CA to downtown Los Angeles. Many seats were occupied by people who appeared half-rotten already due to a long trip from Texas, either trying to sleep, or perhaps comatose due to smells from the bathrooms. I seated myself, and the trip through the twilight route to L. Angeles began. To my detriment, the a/c was blowing freezing air into the compartment, mixed with smells of perfume and feces. Thank goodness I was prepared for catastrophic circumstances and had my artic-weather jacket with me.
Despite the jacket, the freezing air activated my bladder soon, and I had to go to the (infamous) Amtrak-toilet. Apart from the fact that it requires acrobatic skills to pee while the train moves at high speed and one is thrown around and has to grab something so one does not bang at the walls or sink, the smells and dirt are so gross that the Amtrak-horror finds its ultimate crescendo. To be repeated fairly soon, thanks to arctic climate control settings.
By the time the train arrived in Los Angeles, I looked and felt like old, wrinkled newspaper dunk in a used toilet. Amtrak is not for the faint-hearted. If you can tolerate "train-abuse", Amtrak is for you. Though, by all fairness, I have seen worse. So, be prepared for a rough ride and be grateful for arriving at your destination in one piece. Military personnel may love Amtrak, especially those who served in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Would I do it again? ONLY if I had absolutely no other alternatives, and I'd have a disinfectant spray with me for the bathrooms. One more thing, sleeping (well) on a rolling train is pretty much impossible. Count on arriving at your destination as a zombie in desperate need for sleep.
VIRGINIA -- My recent experience shows that Amtrak provides unreliable service, the trains are out of repair, and the customer service response is terrible. I bought two round-trip tickets so that my son and I could travel to Philadelphia to meet an important appointment of my son. For that reason, I bought tickets for an Amtrak train due to arrive at 12:15 pm. On Saturday, Nov 15th, after we arrived at the Alexandria station, however, we were informed that the 9 am train would not arrive which required us to take a train arriving at 10:45 am if we paid an additional $25.
If Amtrak had sent me an email notice prior to 9 am -- as I had requested when buying the tickets -- disclosing the problem with the first train we would have avoided the needless wait. Then we got on the second train (for which I paid an additional $25) and went to Union Station DC. That train, however, also had mechanical difficulties which created significant additional delay.
The train then proceeded on and I bought a Panini from the Amtrak food service. It has very soggy and hardly edible. At 2 pm (one hour and forty-five minutes after the scheduled arrival time), we arrived in Philadelphia on the second train. As a result of Amtrak's poor service, my son was agitated and a half hour late for his appointment.
I went on the Amtrak website and filed a complaint requesting a refund of one-half the price of my Amtrak tickets plus $25.00. Five days later I was contacted by an Amtrak representative that Amtrak would refund the $25 additional charge but none of the cost of one-half the tickets. No discussion about it and no apologies -- the representative refused to discuss why I would get no refund on the tickets. I then went to the Amtrak website to get the telephone number or email of Amtrak management to discuss the matter, but there is no way to contact them. Amtrak has very little concern about its customers.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- We paid for 2 business class tickets from L.A. To San Diego Aug. 30 to Sept. Nothing but disappointment. On the trip out we did not receive lunch. Were told drinks only after 12. We arrived 12:30 and never got a beverage. It gets worse. On the way home we called AmTrak before departing our hotel to inquire if we could take the 3 o'clock instead of the 4 o'clock train without any penalties. We were told by an employee of Amtrak it would be fine and no there would not be a problem to change times.
Anyhow, we boarded and got comfortable in our seats, when this very rude women named **, I think, she would not allow me to see her badge, told us to leave and go to coach. We explained we talked with AmTrak and they assured us there would be no conflict. Well ** would not listen to us. She insisted we vacate or seats, which costs far more than coach, because the train was expecting to be full and someone else would be in our seats.
Anyhow, my husband, who needs more leg room as he is over 6 ft. tall was forced to sit in coach with his legs up to his elbows. This is so unfair, as no one came into those seats at all. We could see since we were in the next car and had a clear view of business class seating. I am a reasonable person and feel we were treated unfairly. What can you do to make this right? Clearly, ** has a power thing going on and made us feel helpless. We are seniors who use the train often, but now worry this could happen to us again. I expect an apology from you, and at best a refund!
NEW YORK TO CINCINNATI TRAIN, KENTUCKY -- AmTrak passenger train Cardinal train 51 from New York to Cincinnati was dirty. Several sittings of roaches in Coach class, had to ride train for 18 hours worried about roaches. Bathrooms were also stinky and dirty, no toilet paper for a while and urine on the floor. When conductor told about sittings of roaches, she replied "just stomp on them."
Food service, sub-par, freezer froze up, so only one choice in seated/waited on dining, on other side of Cafe car, only few choices of food due to running low on choices, everything from microwave, poor planning when train was completely full. Poor customer services. Unless these problem are rectified, I will never ride the AmTrak train again.
19 June 2007. I am currently a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley and regularly use your Capitol Corridor service from Davis to Richmond. I generally depart on the 6:35 a.m. Train and return on the 5:57 p.m. Or 7:17 p.m. Trains. The trains have always been clean and comfortable.
While I am aware that my commuting circumstances are extreme in terms of time and distance, I am appalled by the lack of punctuality of your train service. After 12 months of monthly $282.00 passes, I have found it a very rare circumstance for trains to arrive or depart at their scheduled times, especially in the evening. And, even after the train is en route, substantial delays are likely. In my opinion, this is dishonest business practice and an important safety issue.
I understand that the track is shared and hence prone to some delay but little attempt is made to keep trains on schedule. In fact, the only thing that is timely on the Capitol Corridor is the collection of tickets and the obnoxious advertisements from the car. No earnest attempt is made to compensate customers for the significant delays (my combined delay today was 1:45 minutes, and no, vouchers for the car won't do) nor are there any announced plans to improve the service.
Among the goals of Amtrak should be to make public transportation a viable option for commuters in an effort to reduce the environmental and social impacts of daily driving yet, how can one choose a service that has such a poor reputation for reliability? Even with my very flexible work schedule, the Capitol Corridor has become an untenable option. It is easy to criticize without making suggestions, so here are three that I was able to think of during my wait on the 6:35 train this morning (1:15 delay) and at Richmond Station this evening (:30 delay).
1) Airlines make publicly available their on-time statistics. You should make these available monthly and annually to riders so they can make an informed purchase. I seriously doubt this will improve your ridership, but it will at least be honest.
2) Safety should be a primary goal, and in urban areas with high crime rates (Richmond, for example) punctuality is a safety issue and not a courtesy. If the train is going to be significantly delayed, security should be provided. During one of my more memorable delays, several passengers were left in Richmond at night for more than 2 hours while we were harassed by beggars and potential criminals. One individual told me to "be cool and not get shot."
3) Compensate passengers for their time. This could work on a sliding scale where refunds are provided depending on the duration of the delay, and after a specified amount of time the ride should be free. For monthly passes, a reduction in the following month's fare should be provided.
My most memorable delay occurred a few years ago when after a 5 hour delay well past midnight, the train blew through Davis station without stopping. When I finally reached the conductor, he was busy tucking his shirt in as if waking from a nap. Customers then had to wait more than 30 minutes for cab rides back to Davis. When I complained about the service at Davis station, I was offered a $5 voucher for the car, as if a cold soda and a bag of chips would make everything better.
I presume that this is not the first letter to cross your desk regarding the tardiness issue, and it certainly will not be the last. I feel it is my duty, however, to try to make suggestions and raise awareness to ease the life of several of my fellow commuters whom I see stressed by this issue daily. You should consider that every minute of delay caused by the poor train service is time that these individuals could be spending at home with their families. You should, at the very least, make a concerted effort to help them get home safely and on time.
14 November 2007. I have attached a copy of my previous letter for your review as I have not yet received a response. After 5 months of commuting via alternative methods, today I decided to give your train service another try in the hopes that it had improved. The morning commute (6:35a) went well, and your train was only a few minutes late. The evening train (5:57) surprised me as it left perfectly on time! In fact, I was a few minutes late and had to watch the train roll off back towards Davis and wait until 7:17.
In my previous letter, I mentioned that I felt that Richmond station was unsafe, and I have to report that it has not improved. Some improvements to the BART area have been made, however, and I hope to see this trend continue. As I was awaiting the 7:17 pm train, a Bakersfield bound train made a brief stop.
In the past, I have used this train in order to get to Martinez station as a waypoint in order to use its indoor space to get ahead on work. This has never been a problem with your staff in the past, and indeed when I asked if I could use the train to get to Martinez on my route home, the ticket checker gave me his approval. However, he then punched my 10-ride ticket and informed me that another punch would be deducted once en route to Davis. When I responded in disbelief, the checker told me that I was wrong and this is the normal procedure. He then told me that other trains had been giving me "free rides" and that I was a non-paying rider.
To be clear, I have always paid for your services, usually with a monthly ride pass or a 10-ride ticket. He then demanded an alternative form of payment for the ride to Martinez. When I responded "no," the disagreement escalated to an argument and I then asked to see the boss or conductor. I must honestly confess that I was frustrated and angry at this point and was not as cordial as I should have been. The ticket checker then told me that I would not see the boss, and I would just have to accept the situation. At this point I decided to let the argument go, and, if necessary, contact customer service.
But... The ticket checker soon returned and proceeded to tell me that he had talked to his conductor and the situation was decided; I was clearly wrong, and never had a chance to win the argument anyway. Essentially, he wanted to let me know that I had lost, and he had won. I told him fine, and that I would handle the problem through normal service channels. I thought that the situation was surely resolved.
But… Instead of letting it go, he continued to argue telling me repeatedly that I was "in the wrong, didn't understand," and he needed to point that out for me. He continued to make snide remarks, spelling out his name for my "little letter" (I was working on my laptop at the time, but not on this letter) and made several disrespectful smirks until finally walking away. His parting comment was "it's tough to get a little dose of reality, isn't it?"
Even if the standard practice is to punch the fare card twice in these situations, I hope that you will agree that I should have never been treated so disrespectfully. I was accused of being a freeloader and then harassed by a person who just needed to feel good about winning a petty argument with a paying customer. He intentionally sought to escalate the argument to achieve some sense of personal satisfaction. I am amazed by this person's attitude towards me, and shocked by his confrontational demeanor.
I wonder if he feels that the argument was worth $10.80? He says that "it's tough to get a little dose of reality," well, how about never getting the business of an honest, reliable customer again? And, as you can probably tell from my letter, I will not remain quiet about my experiences on Amtrak. Most importantly, I am disappointed that Amtrak still cannot fulfill my needs as a Bay Area commuter. I will be returning my 10- ride pass for a refund this evening.
On May 29, 2010 I boarded an Amtrak train leaving from Detroit @ 6:48 am. After boarding this train appox 3 hours into our train ride the conductor indicates to the passengers, "There is a trespasser". After sitting there scared because of the word used, the conductor returns appox 30 minutes later to state "Did you hear what happened?"
We stared waiting for him to continue. So, he states "there has been a suicide, someone jumped in front of the train right outside of Battle Creek MI". After waiting for several hours, the train runs out of cold water. And this was horrible because the air conditioning was not working either and to top this off the train smelled like urine. About 4 hours after this "suicide" we start moving, then appox within the hour the engine stops because the train ran out of gas; which delayed the train appox another hour.
After all this we finally made it to Chicago, entering in on the 351 Wolverine train @ 5 pm when we were supposed to be there @ 11:30 am. Customer Service changes our tickets to leave the next day @ the same time. No compensation for our time or accommodations. We left upset and angry.
On, May 30, 2010 we returned to try to speak to someone again about this huge interruption. It was very hard as a (Manager in Chicago Union train station @ 5 pm on May 30, 2010) told us it was not Amtrak's fault someone committed suicide and delayed the train. Well, with this information I was really upset as ** is wrong. Amtrak should be and will be taking responsibility for this unexpected event which changed the lives of there over 300 passengers. But, I guess the uneducated manager, Amtrak decided to hire does not understanding, business 101. This event altered me and over 300 other passengers' lives and Amtrak should be held responsible.
Amtrak is a company who relies on people to making their business a success. I have learned the old philosophy, meaning successful businesses still count on customer's word of mouth to bring in business. Well, with this being my first experience with Amtrak, I will say this will be my last. I will continue to use the old philosophy at all cost to indicate to people and Amtrak's future customers to "not" use this company for their transportation needs. I believe with this being said Amtrak should have reimbursed at the least half of our train ticket and/or paid for our hotel. Amtrak did nothing; because Ms. ** stated it's not Amtrak's fault for altering our whole trip.
With this being said, most people will stop here at commenting on review pages, contacting customer service, telling friends and family or even continuing to write letters. Well, not me I am an advocate of customer service and every customer should be treated with respect. The way ** spoke to me and my family was downgrading and disrespectful and I guess because Amtrak is not to blame, myself and my family should take the blame for not only our travel plans being altered but the disrespectfulness of ** as well.
I would hope to think, Amtrak takes this very seriously as I am going to continue to use my voice and contact channel 2 in Michigan; reporting this incident. I also, would hope Amtrak does not take lightly to their "Managers" being disrespectful to c.
I paid for a trip for my parents to come visit me in California. Although, the actual trip was good, it was not the trip that they had problems with. When I went to the LA Station to see them off, I immediately went to the Concierge to find out about getting my parents wheel chairs and they said they did not have any but for them to sit in the assisted waiting area. We were the first ones there, we sat down and waited. As we waited I had spoken to several Red Caps trying to find out when their train was going to be there considering it was so loud we could barely hear the announcer.
Everyone that I spoke to said not to worry we will come get your parents when it is time for them to board. Every time I saw them come over on the Tram I stopped them and asked them if it were time for them to board. Every time I asked they replied not yet but we will come and get them when it was time. When the time finally came no one came to get them I just kept asking until the redcap told me it was their train. Everyone started loading on the trams people that were not ever in assisted waiting were loading on. These trams were for people whom could not walk all the way down on their own.
I watched many people get on that were not even waiting they just walked up and got on. When I finally started walking up to the tram to help my parents get on they shooed us back in a line. At that point I was really upset. My parents' carry-on luggage was in the line where they were standing my mom stepped back away from her briefcase and one of the assisted helpers bent over picked up the bag and tossed it approx 5 ft to the tram. It had a (brand new laptop in it that I gave them for Christmas in it) I placed a claim against the gentleman that threw it on the tram and that was 01/04/09 it is now 06/26/09 and I am still battling with the Customer Relations.
(**) she has been adamant about me sending my original claim and repair estimate to her. The original was sent to the LA Station as I was instructed. I keep telling her I do not have the original. Then they told they needed me to have the laptop repaired and send them the receipt.
Once again I did this and yet they are still telling the documents are not sufficient for the claim. I can't believe that I am having so much trouble over $350.00 dollars. That was the total amount to have the laptop repaired. Not only that they are trying to tell me that it was our fault because this should have not been carry on. I'm curious why they advertise they have internet connection if you can't bring your laptop on the train. Please give me any suggestions of whom I can contact at Amtrak. **.
I recently emailed Amtrak Customer Service the following complaint regarding my train travel experience:
I'd like to share with you my recent experience traveling from NY to LA on Amtrak. When traveling coach, I do expect a certain amount of discomfort and I plan accordingly. However, there are a number of things Amtrak might consider to create a more pleasant trip for coach passengers.
1) Smoking: Smokers are addicts and will continue, despite threats to put them off the train, to smoke in the bathrooms and changing rooms. The smell from this permeates the entire train car and does not go away. Please make a real effort to create a solution that meets the needs of your smoking and non-smoking passengers. Smokers are not going away and they don't care about kids, people with allergies, or the general health of anyone else.
2) Air Quality: We had the unfortunate experience of several drunken passengers who had both stomach and bowel problems. For the last 30 hours of our trip, the train car smelled like a port-a-potty. Several passengers had to leave the car as the smell was overwhelming. I'm not sure how to solve this, but ventilation changes or a different cleaning and/or toilet solution might help.
3) Employee Morale: In general I found the train personnel to be on the discourteous side. Perhaps it was a bad journey for everyone, but passengers look to the staff to help make it better. I observed staff giving curt responses, speaking in disrespectful tone of voice, and flat-out ignoring passengers.
I do enjoy riding the train, much more than flying. But after this last trip I am not likely to choose Amtrak. All my friends have now heard about my experience and that kind of word-of-mouth is not the marketing that will bring you new passengers. Thank you for your time."
I received a reply which in itself barely addressed my experience or gave any hint of the company's desire or intention to create better travel experiences. In addition, when I replied with the information requested in their email to me, the Amtrak email server did not process my reply and returned my email as 'undeliverable.' Here is Amtrak's reply to my complaint:
"Thank you for your email. In order for us to document your concerns and suggestions correctly, and to provide the right train manager the information we are asking you to attach your reservation number or travel dates to this email. Once we have that information we will file a report on your behalf to the responsible managers. We do apologize for your trip being less than satisfactory and we appreciate your comments.
Amtrak Customer Relations"
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- Last summer my wife and I rode the Amtrak "California Zephyr" from Chicago to Glenwood Springs, CO. We purchased round trip tickets for a Sleeping Car Bedroom at 1-800-USA-RAIL using a credit card. We had no problems buying the space and our boarding passes were waiting for us at Chicago Union Station. We asked for a room on the 2nd floor in one of 3 Sleeping Cars on the CZ, and that's exactly what we got. Meals in the formal Dining Car were included and the food was great.
We arrived at Glenwood Springs a bit late, we had already ordered lunch. We were shocked when, after we got off the train, our waitress ran out of the Dining Car with our hot lunches and cold drinks, forks, knives, etc., etc. We ate at a picnic table under a big tree at the beautifully restored depot. Our rental car arrived at the Depot and we had a great 4 days in the beautiful town, nestled in the mountains by a creek dotted with rafts and canoes.
Our return trip came all too soon, but the ride back was great, not a hassle, but a fun part of our vacation. The crew in our Sleeping Car and Dining Car were all friendly and helpful! We arrived back in Chicago "on time" (well 8 or 10 minutes early to be exact). We're planning a trip to L.A. this winter, on the Southwest Chief, in another sleeper. Hopefully we'll see some snow...even if it delays us a bit.
NYC, NEW YORK -- Amtrak used to be a great option for getting round trip from upstate to NYC. It is now easier to drive car and park at any of the Metro parking lots that have express into city. Way cheaper option if you consider new pricing schemes for new reservation policies and constant increases in fares. With their new reserved seats policy the ability to have meetings run late or planes not leave on time meant one could just jump on next train to get back. It is cheaper and more convenient to drive to LIRR station or into to NYC now and have to deal with old, rattling, dirty, coaches with the most unhappy reps ever.
They now think themselves airlines which includes bad customer service, pretend penalty fees, and constant policy reminders. Trains are meant to be flexible, as they are in every other country I have traveled, which allows you to overlook the problems. Amtrak we have options, $160+ flexible round trip tickets to Albany! Today my international flight was delayed and Amtrak charged $82 to book the next half empty train going north. Why would anyone prepay for train ticket? Just buy lowest fare before you leave.