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Old 12-31-05, 09:13 AM   #1
al_bundy
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This is why you shouldn't take trains

I still don't get why these people would choose Amtrak over flying when the prices are similar. And this is some crappy service thanks to government regulations.


http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/31/national/31train.html

Quote:
Thousands Aboard Six Amtrak Trains Endure a Long Ordeal
By BRENDA GOODMAN

Amtrak passengers along the busy corridor between Florida and New York were delayed for up to 20 hours after eight freight cars derailed on Thursday near Savannah, Ga., blocking the tracks in either direction.

The cars were finally cleared from the rails, but about 2,000 passengers on six trains - three headed north, three south - were still traveling yesterday more than 30 hours after embarking on their trips, said R. Clifford Black, an Amtrak spokesman.

Mr. Black said that the freight train's derailment had occurred at a "choke point" and that the Amtrak trains had therefore been unable to pass around it.

The tracks are maintained by CSX, which said it was investigating to determine the cause of the derailment.

By last night, passengers aboard at least one of the trains, Amtrak 98 from Miami to New York, were broke, hungry, exhausted and, barely having reached South Carolina, still many miles from home. They were also incensed, all the more so since they had been required to pay for whatever amenities were available throughout the ordeal.

"One woman had to pay $15 for a blanket," said Eleanor Meyer, 53, who was headed home to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after a vacation at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with her 19-year-old triplets.

"I can't believe in this day and age, for this amount of time, to go this short a distance, people are treated this way," Ms. Meyer said by cellphone.

Ms. Meyer said the first indication that anything was wrong occurred at a station in Jacksonville, Fla.

"They told us there had been an accident on the tracks ahead of us and that we were in for an extended wait," Ms. Meyer said. They had no idea.

The train sat in Jacksonville for 12 hours before it finally started moving again early yesterday morning. But only two hours later, at 6 a.m. in the middle of a forest south of Savannah, it stopped again because of the heavy traffic resulting from the derailment. The second delay was about eight hours.

During the wait, the toilets became clogged. The crew offered no food or water, passengers said, except what was available in the dining car, for a price. Those who could not pay were told they could charge their food, but only if they presented ticket stubs with their credit cards, said one passenger, Nancy Johnson of Washington.

An angered Ms. Johnson called her sister and enlisted her help in contacting The Associated Press. Ms. Meyer and other passengers joined in the effort, and soon news organizations were reporting accounts of the distress.

But despite those reports, Amtrak 98 passengers said at 6 o'clock last night that they still had not been offered meals or a rest stop of more than five minutes to stretch their legs.

Tracy Connell, a spokeswoman for Amtrak, said the company was working to provide free meals at the next stop, in South Carolina.

And Mr. Black said of the ordeal, "We regret it deeply."
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Old 12-31-05, 09:30 AM   #2
mosquitobite
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Your tax dollars hard at work!!!
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Old 12-31-05, 09:46 AM   #3
Jason
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How is this the government's fault?
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Old 12-31-05, 10:09 AM   #4
Charlie Goose
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Goddamn that George W. Bush! First he intentionally flooded the streets of New Orleans, and now this!

I once had the urge to take a train when I was going on vacation. I had thought i might be fun to see the sights as we ride by. Then I realized it was pretty expensive for an uncomfortable and unreliable transportation.
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Old 12-31-05, 10:29 AM   #5
ChiTownAbs, Inc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason
How is this the government's fault?
Yeah, no kidding. I don't know if you fly very often but if there is a closed airport somewhere with stranded passengers, the airport will pull out the cots for overnight people. You have to pay for your own food.

In another story, I was just reading yesterday that the Amtrak between Chicago and Milwaukee is one of the most travelled (and I think profitable) trains in the system. Funny things happen when you're reliable.
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Old 12-31-05, 10:36 AM   #6
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So, if a tractor-trailer crashes, blocks I-95, and closes it in both directions for several hours... that's also somehow the government's fault, because they own the highway.

All right.
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Old 12-31-05, 10:43 AM   #7
mosquitobite
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TracerBullet
So, if a tractor-trailer crashes, blocks I-95, and closes it in both directions for several hours... that's also somehow the government's fault, because they own the highway.

All right.
No, but do clearing up those things normally take 30+ hours?
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Old 12-31-05, 10:50 AM   #8
Jason
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosquitobite
No, but do clearing up those things normally take 30+ hours?
No, but CSX and the other freight railroads (especially Union Pacific) like to screw with Amtrak "because they can".
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Old 12-31-05, 11:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason
No, but CSX and the other freight railroads (especially Union Pacific) like to screw with Amtrak "because they can".
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Old 12-31-05, 12:18 PM   #10
zuffy
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I took Amtrak from NY to Florida once. Never again though. It took 24 hours to get down there. I could have drove down in that same timeframe or less. The only great thing over flying is the better seat and MUCH more leg room.
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Old 12-31-05, 12:35 PM   #11
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I certainly don't blame people for taking the train over a plane -- some people just don't like/are afraid of flying.

But Amtrak handled this very, very badly by charging people for food and stuff.

Amazing.
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Old 12-31-05, 12:39 PM   #12
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Years ago I took Amtrak from Chicago to Boston. Never again.

It cost as much as airfare. It took as much time as driving, without the pleasure of stopping to sleep in a bed. There is no comfortable sleeping position, and I still had to wedge my legs in behind the next seat. Whenever I managed a light sleep, trains going the other way blasted their horns as they passed ten feet away, scaring the bejezus out of me and waking me up.

To balance this, Amtrak promises a view. Have you ever noticed that the railroad runs through the worst part of your town? I got to see the worst part of every town for a thousand miles.
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Old 12-31-05, 12:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
"One woman had to pay $15 for a blanket," said Eleanor Meyer, 53, who was headed home to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after a vacation at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with her 19-year-old triplets.
Pics?
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Old 12-31-05, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zekeburger1979
Pics?
Oh, holy hell, I missed that.
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Old 12-31-05, 01:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosquitobite
No, but do clearing up those things normally take 30+ hours?
Freight trains are possible MILES long.

BTW...CSX is a canadian company
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Old 12-31-05, 01:36 PM   #16
emanon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zekeburger1979
Pics?
?!?!?

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Old 12-31-05, 01:39 PM   #17
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I love Amtrak for NorthEast corridor travel, I can't see taking a train longer distances, though. I don't feel like reliving what its like to be hobo joe riding the rails.
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Old 12-31-05, 01:41 PM   #18
DodgingCars
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Never riden Amtrak, but I like train travel. Especially if it's under a 10 hour trip. Took lots of trains in Europe and enjoyed them.
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Old 12-31-05, 01:43 PM   #19
zuffy
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The train system in the US can only dream of the system they have in Europe and Asia -- no comparison.
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Old 12-31-05, 02:20 PM   #20
ChiTownAbs, Inc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zuffy
The train system in the US can only dream of the system they have in Europe and Asia -- no comparison.
Couldn't have said it better. Our system is a JOKE compared to some other countries. Of course, it took our bombs for them to redo their system.
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Old 12-31-05, 04:57 PM   #21
Jason
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Ceez
Freight trains are possible MILES long.

BTW...CSX is a canadian company
It's rare for a freight train to approach 10,000 feet, although trains over a mile long are common, especially with cars that approach 100 feet each.

CSX is not a canadian company. Yet.
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Old 12-31-05, 04:58 PM   #22
TimeandTide
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My mother refuses to take a 50 minute flight from Sacramento to L.A. and instead opts for the sometimes-12 hour Amtrak train/bus ride. No idea why she'd rather hop on a just-freed convict-filled Amtrak bus with a hellish hours-long train trek through CA's central valley only to have to take ANOTHER bus from scenic Bakersfield to Union Station in downtown L.A rather than fly. Boggles the mind, that.
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Old 12-31-05, 05:27 PM   #23
Ranger
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The train seems fine for short distances, but I'd rather use the bus. When I was in Boston, I took a Peter Pan bus that went right into Manhattan. A four-hour ride one way but it was very comfortable and only about $40 for a round trip.

edit: why are the euro and asian trains so much better?
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Old 12-31-05, 05:45 PM   #24
al_bundy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc
Yeah, no kidding. I don't know if you fly very often but if there is a closed airport somewhere with stranded passengers, the airport will pull out the cots for overnight people. You have to pay for your own food.

In another story, I was just reading yesterday that the Amtrak between Chicago and Milwaukee is one of the most travelled (and I think profitable) trains in the system. Funny things happen when you're reliable.

if you are stuck on a plane the airline usually provides free food, blankets etc. My flight was late into denver a few years ago and I got coupons for a free hotel room to spend the night.

It's not like the people were stuck at a train station. They weren't allowed off the train.
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Old 12-31-05, 07:21 PM   #25
zuffy
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A few years ago and nowaday airlines are very different. Their budget or lack of budget wouldn't provide that many freebies anymore.
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