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#761351 Name-Calling of Amtrak Leadership is Prohibited

Posted by PRR 60 on 28 June 2018 - 08:52 AM

I understand that recent changes at Amtrak are upsetting to some, and that rightly or wrongly, Richard Anderson and other Amtrak leadership are being singled out as the source of those changes. Emotional discussion of those changes is the result, and that is entirely understandable and proper. What is not proper is the increasing volume of name-calling directed at Richard Anderson and some other senior Amtrak executives.  That will not be tolerated here. Strong points can be made without resorting to juvenile language - language that often diminishes the very point that is being made.


Any posts that include name-calling toward Richard Anderson or other Amtrak executives, including using a common nickname for "Richard," will be removed.

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#743315 "Like" System Enabled

Posted by PRR 60 on 01 March 2018 - 01:11 PM

We have enabled the often requested "Like" system of the board software.  At the bottom of each post is a button that says "Like This."  Click it, and your "Like" will be recorded. For each post, you will see a list of those who have liked that post, either as a direct list or a click to show the full list in a popup.


With this change, it is now possible to show your agreement with a post without have to make a post that only says that.  Of course, if you have something to add to the discussion, please do.


Let us know if things do not seem to be working correctly.  The controls for the board software can be a bit challenging.  We think we have everything configured correctly, but we'll see.

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#763630 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by Anthony on 12 July 2018 - 09:48 PM

I was very saddened to hear about Alan this evening, and it's an understatement to say I'm still shocked.  Alan was the lifeblood of the Amtrak Unlimited community since its inception; a good friend; a true advocate for Amtrak and for all those who loved Amtrak.  This was far too early for him.  Some quick thoughts come to mind and I want to share:


As PRR 60 said, I first met Alan here on AU roughly 18 years ago, when the site was an early version of what you see here today.  Although the site began in 1997, I only added a discussion forum later - around 2000 - after we had decent traffic coming from search engines like Yahoo.  Mind you, this was coming out of a time when listservs/mailing lists (and also, newsgroups and subscription services like Prodigy) had been the main method of railfan dialogue online, so it was a relatively new medium.  The forum got maybe one or two new threads a day at the beginning, and then, very happily, Alan found it, joined - and stayed.


Alan quickly proved to be extremely knowledgeable, generous with his time, friendly, and helpful to both newcomers and experienced train riders alike.  He could talk in simple terms to a first-timer, and yet also in great detail about everything under the sun (from Amtrak politics, to operations, to the travel experience itself) with the pros.  When the volume of users steadily increased, and with several upgrades to the forum software, Alan was the clear and logical first choice to help me manage the community.  He wholly dedicated himself to this as well as several other online communities, doing what he loved the most - bringing people together (virtually and in person) in the common pursuit of the passion of trains.


I have many fond memories of Alan's friendship and leadership, whether in person, on here, on IRC chat, over the phone, or otherwise.  Behind the scenes, for years, we would discuss in great detail what to do about specific forum issues and controversies, and he always brought a thorough and considerate perspective.  This only continued after we added more forum staff, and saw a significant growth in the membership over time.  After I moved to the Northeast for college, I began seeing Alan in person several times a year - whether in Boston on his AGR points runs, or in NYC while I was passing through, or at any one of the Gatherings which he so much enjoyed planning and organizing.  I remember the very first one in Chicago and what a fun success that was, and what an annual tradition it became.  In fact, it seems like it was yesterday.  


I would continue seeing and speaking with Alan frequently in DC over the years I spent at Amtrak, whether just to catch up or to arrange things for the community.  Sometimes they were visits in the ClubAcela or even on the train, or at a station along the NEC.  A fun memory was on an impromptu HQ tour one afternoon, he and I went into the elevator alone from the top floor, and who gets in next but Mr. Boardman.  That was a long ride down for me - who had failed to sign Alan in as a visitor - LOL!   The best part: Alan didn't realize who it was until we got out of the elevator.  (Boardman was just wearing a shirt and slacks, and perhaps didn't look the part!)


Ultimately, I'm comforted by the fact that Alan was doing what he loved most, surrounded by his railfan friends, today.  My life would have been much different without Alan - during an extended and very formative period - and I remain grateful to him for all of his contributions and commitment.  Alan, if you can see this - Thank you.

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#763797 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by saxman on 13 July 2018 - 08:01 PM

Now that it's been about a day, I can type my thoughts better. 


I've been on this forum since 2004 and remember how knowledgeable this "AlanB" was at Amtrak. I then met him in person in New York when I was living there for work and also met up with Mr. FSS at a restaurant in 2007. The 1st annual gathering was in the planning stages then so it was nice to meet in person. I must have eaten something that didn't agree because I got sick that meal and had to rush to my place in Queens and hug the toilet. Since then I enjoyed sitting near Alan at gatherings and OTOL fests just to listen to his vast knowledge of Amtrak operations and anything rail related in New York and the Northeast. He always had his signature scanner tucked away in his bag with an ear bud in his ear and always knew why the train stopped, slowed down or anything. He was also very good at debating about public transit issues and had a way of presenting data to a keyboard worrier that was "anti-transit." As a rail advocate, I would bring him into the argument sometimes. 


Right now, I am with the OTOL group on it's summer rail fest and yesterday was a stressful day. I still can't stop thinking about it. I boarded the Crescent at New York Penn with Alan and Grace. They had the room kitty-corner from me. The rest of the group of 4 boarded at Washington to continue our journey to New Orleans. The following day, I ended up eating lunch with Alan and Grace, where he seemed in good spirits while we talked the usual Amtrak politics and I even helped them with directions to their hotel in NOL. Thinking back to that moment still hasn't settled in for me. It was his last meal. I saw him a couple more times during the after as most of us stayed in our rooms for the afternoon, but that was probably my last conversation with him as well. During dinner he was taken off and we soon found out his fate about a half hour after dinner. During the rest of the trip to NOL, I couldn't stop looking at the empty room across from me. The defibrillator was still sitting in another empty room until the end of the trip. I thought about moving it but somehow I just wanted to keep it there. I still wanted to look up and see him and his mom sitting there and ask why we were slowing, but I couldn't. 


Today we rode the streetcars in New Orleans, just as Alan would have wanted us to do. When I look at our normal group, I still want to look for Alan as he has been part of every single gathering and fest that I’ve been on for the last 11 years. The fests, gatherings, and AU just won’t be the same without you Alan.


In the pilot world we would say tailwinds and blue skies. For train world, I’ll say ride west my friend. May the rails take you into the sunset.

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#762822 Has Amtrak ever looked at doors on the stairs?

Posted by bratkinson on 08 July 2018 - 09:23 PM

Call me a hard nosed <whatever>, but to my way of thinking, letting kids 'run loose' in any environment is asking for problems.  Whether it's falling down steps, running into the street, or slipping on a wet floor somewhere, there WILL be consequences.

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#758128 Richard Anderson replacing Wick Moorman as Amtrak CEO

Posted by Thirdrail7 on 09 June 2018 - 10:59 AM

At this point, I'd like to tip my hat to Mr. Anderson.


While Mr. Boardman was the first CEO during my tenure to make sure that various departments realized they worked for a passenger railroad, which means we should work together to support customer services, Mr. Anderson is the first CEO during my tenure to notify the mechanical department that they are FRONT LINE EMPLOYEES!  :)


That's right and all though it will take time, this is more than words...I've seen the action.


He informed mechanical that the customer experience begins with them. If the train is dirty, looks neglected and has burnt out light bulbs, the rest of the employees are already on the defense.  While he is aware that some of the equipment is just old, rundown and neglected, he wants the things that can be controlled...controlled...and is not taking no for an answer...regardless of the consequences (and there are definitely going to be consequences particularly when it comes to washing the trains.)


To that end, he is investing in the mechanical departments. He is investing in training and upgrades in facilities. Granted, he could do a lot more, but we'll have to cut loose some more chefs to make it happen.....(too soon?)


Additionally, there is a contractor that was hired to check the conditions of the trains prior to departure. In other words, the group is traveling around the various terminals, inspecting the work of the mechanical facilities. We've been told to assist when we seen them (give them access to the trains , escort them across tracks ,etc).  They are also on the look out for items that haven't been repaired in a timely fashion. It has been made clear that facilities with too many exceptions will experience "changes" :ph34r:


It is a start.



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#763687 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by pennyk on 13 July 2018 - 08:33 AM

I am still in shock.  I cannot count the number of ways Alan has assisted me.  I considered him a true friend.  Fairly recently, we made a trip on the Staten Island Ferry and SIRR - just because I had not previously done it.  


I am in contact with Craig, Alan's brother and Grace.  Craig is on his way to pick up Grace and take her home.  Craig will try to get Grace on AU so she can read these wonderful tributes.  Thank you all. 


Amtrak is doing a great job dealing with reservations that will not be used and shipping Alan's luggage to Craig's house.  Thank you Amtrak.

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#766586 Where's Julie?

Posted by Thirdrail7 on 04 August 2018 - 10:35 AM

They wanted a more contemporary experience. So, instead of being disconnected after Julie misdirects your call several times because she can't hear you, a man just hangs up on you immediately after barking that you should call back.


it is quite the time saver.

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#763852 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by jis on 14 July 2018 - 07:44 AM

Jis was on the train with him, right? He hasn't responded on this thread yet. Does anyone know how he's doing?

Thanks for thinking of me. I happen to have been assigned to the Roomette across from Alan and Grace, but at the time of the event I was in the Diner.

Alan introduced me to AU. I remember in the early days of this young man who always used to lug around a tripod, which curiously, I never saw him actually use. Even back then he was, if anything, even more passionate about trains and Amtrak. He mellowed a lot over the years.

We spent many hours together discussing and prognosticating about the future of Amtrak and passenger rail over the years. He was an eternal spring of deep knowledge about Amtrak and rails around New York. All of that will be sorely missed, in addition to the wonderful, kind and gracious gentleman that he was.

We had lunch together a few hours earlier. Chris, Alan, Grace and I shared a table. Absolutely nothing seemed out of the ordinary at that time. And suddenly out of the blue, a few hours later, he took ill, and after a very brief illness he was no more. It is taking us quite a while to digest all that.

A special appreciation of Penny is in order. She is the one who by chance texted Alan and upon discovering that he was in distress, notified the train crew to get the ball rolling to get the EMTs to take him to the hospital. Continuously since then she is the one that worked diligently to get the relevant people connected together, and kept tabs on Grace and how she was doing. We just helped her here and there whenever we could.

It is a huge, unimaginable and untimely loss of a good friend and a great person. There is nothing that can replace the loss. It will take a while to get used to the changed world.

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#763681 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by Everydaymatters on 13 July 2018 - 06:55 AM

I'm stunned. Still processing this.

Back in 2007 six of us started the "Get Together", as it was called then, with Alan at the helm. After one of the original Committee Members resigned, Alan brought in Penny and I was no longer the only female committee member. Then came Joe. Then the "other Betty". Patrick passed away, Tom retired three or four years ago, Eric passed, I resigned two years ago, Joe passed and Alan resigned last year and while the committee is now smaller, the Mods are now included in the gathering decisions. That's the history of the Gathering Committee in a nutshell. I've probably left out some of the details, but others can fill it in.

Thanks to Alan, all of you now have the opportunity to gather together and get to know each other. Hopefully this will continue for many years to come.

What most of you did not know was the many acts of kindness Alan did for you and others. Jerry (RR Dude) wrote about the food situation in KCY when he and Alan gave up their food so others could experience the Kansas BBQ. He made sure that those of us who have disabilities were watched over. If a member was short of points for a trip, he gave them some of his. Anyone who was going to NYC could contact him and chances were pretty good that he would meet you there and maybe take you on a city tour. Questions and concerns were always addressed.

Alan was the most important member of the Amtrak Unlimited community. He was an amazing person and he will be sorely missed. He was the best.
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#762827 Has Amtrak ever looked at doors on the stairs?

Posted by SarahZ on 08 July 2018 - 09:56 PM

The conductors and car attendants make frequent announcements to hold onto something as you walk through the train (the back of a seat, a table, the door frame, etc.) They also say that children MUST be supervised at ALL times. I've seen conductors chastise parents for letting their kids run loose.


Baby gates and the like could get in the way during an emergency. Installing them would prevent a swift egress.

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#760453 SSL seating etiquette?

Posted by Ryan on 22 June 2018 - 09:55 AM

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#759432 Fire Richard Anderson Campaign?

Posted by tricia on 16 June 2018 - 12:40 PM


Either way what has senator Casey or Senator Tooney done for Your pet train? Point of the matter in this new environment all trains matter be it private cars, be it charters, be it the cardinal, and to some extent the Acela. And if we as advocates can't fight for all aspects of the trains we love. Then we won't have any train to love. Hence New River fought hard to save the Charleston Station agent, and they are fighting hard on other national network issues. We're in this fight with you but are you in it with us?


I hardly believe the Charleston Station agent nor other station agents in most stations in places I've never heard of are "national network issues". I forget the actual statistic but most tickets are handled online these days and a lot of stops don't have agents already. Cutting agents is a cost cutting move just like the AAA discount. I don't like it but I get it.  Spending money on a ticket agent takes money away which could be used elsewhere. Amtrak is only given a certain amount of money a year. I want it used to better benefit the country, not just West Virginia. Does it have to be Philadelphia? Not necessarily. But I think it should be proportionally based on population and right now it does seem to be IMO disproportionally given to benefit rural population more and Amtrak were to truly benefit that needs to change. 


I'm not sure if Anderson's delivery is the best but he might get the idea of Amtrak being a taxpayer burden and is trying to reduce the burden on the American taxpayer.



US citizens are citizens of the entire United States, not just their local municipality. Why shouldn't our national government maintain infrastructure that enables us to travel throughout our entire country? Likewise, all of us have an interest in maintaining infrastructure that supports a functioning economy across the entire nation. Amtrak routes through sparsely populated areas benefit ALL of us, just as the national highway system does. 

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#749950 Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

Posted by Ryan on 19 April 2018 - 03:31 PM

Nor does it excuse the fact that I can get better out of Delta on a three-hour flight on a regular basis.

Hades take whomever designed this.

No one has tried the food yet. It has the potential to be quite good.

Don't confuse the issue with facts and logic. It's the end of the world as we know it.
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#777348 Hurricane Michael

Posted by fairviewroad on 09 October 2018 - 11:08 AM

Sunset Limited to remain suspended east of New Orleans out of an abundance of caution.  ;)

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#765553 Amtrak to passengers: Keep Out!!

Posted by keelhauled on 27 July 2018 - 12:01 PM

"I’m in no position to say if morale is declining as a result of Amtrak President Richard Anderson’s or deputy Stephen Gardner’s apparent interest in killing some or all of Amtrak’s long-distance trains, but I can tell you authoritatively that morale among this crew, on this night, was decidedly bad."


If anyone thinks that stories like this didn't exist before Anderson became CEO, I have a bridge to sell you.

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#764220 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by jis on 16 July 2018 - 09:52 AM

Memories ....

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#764145 Alan Burden (AlanB)

Posted by diesteldorf on 15 July 2018 - 04:34 PM

I also wanted to offer my condolences to Grace, Crystal, and the rest of Alan's family.  I first met Alan back in 2007 when we had the original Gathering back in Chicago.  I definitely had some trepidation about going to Chicago to meet a bunch of people that I knew only from online postings, but I had a great time and have continued to come ever since.


As someone with mobility issues, Alan went out of his way to always allow plenty of time between connections when planning the itineraries.  He always made a point to let me know not to feel like I was slowing the group down and he made me feel genuinely appreciated.


When I met him at the Chicago Gathering, I commented that I had always wanted to ride the Acela in First.  He looked at me casually and said, next time you're in New York, let me know and we'll plan a trip.  Granted, I didn't feel like I had to twist his arm too hard, when I told him I was planning a trip a few months later.


He helped me make all the necessary arrangements and we boarded Train 2252 December 9, 2007 en route from New York to Boston.  When we boarded the train he ordered his usual glass of white wine and chatted with Wilson, the First Class attendant whom Alan knew from previous trips.


Apart from chatting with me and pointing out all the interesting scenery, he was also listening to his scanner to check for any upcoming delays.  About an hour later, the train stopped for a few minutes and Alan told me we were going to be delayed, while we waited for another train to pass, but that we should be moving shortly.


A few minutes later, Wilson came came strolling by to ask if we would like any additional drinks or refreshments, turned to Alan, smiled, and said, "How are we doing for time boss?"  Alan told him the delay would be minimal and we would be rolling shortly. 


You have to know that Alan was truly knowledgeable about riding the rails when even veteran Amtrak employees would look to him as their primary source of information.


We had a nice dinner in Boston that night and I took a train back to Wisconsin the next day, while Alan headed back to New York.  


A few year later, when I was in New York again, he planned a mini Gathering and we spent the afternoon just riding in and around Penn Station.  He was always willing to give of himself and share his unending knowledge and enthusiasm for trains.


I sent him a quick text on June 23 and we chatted about family, life and the upcoming OTOL fest.  I had also mentioned that I wanted to get together before or after the upcoming AU Gathering.  Sadly, I won't have that chance.




Your son was a wonderful human being that had a personal impact on my life, and he will be truly missed.

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#761589 Southwest Chief News & Future Operations

Posted by cpotisch on 29 June 2018 - 03:31 PM

If only Pennsylvania and Ohio showed this much support, we may still have............ :ph34r:

Don't you say it! Don't you summon him!

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#750171 Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

Posted by John Bredin on 20 April 2018 - 09:35 AM

If every experiment is going to be slapped down and chicken-littled to death before it even begins, the message sent to Amtrak is that anything other than preserving the exact status quo in a specimen jar or amber is unacceptable.

The message announcing this makes it clear that this plan is not set in stone. We all know of experiments that Amtrak has tried and then withdrawn when they didn't work. Feeding back that an experiment once tried is a failure for particular reasons is right and proper. Feeding back that experiments should never be tried and have failed before they even begin is easily and rightly discounted as unhelpful.

IMHO, Amtrak leadership is not sitting Simon Legree-like cackling at the prospect of making the passenger experience as uncomfortable as possible, as if that's their goal. They are trying to balance what attracts passengers to ride and keep riding against very real financial and political constraints. Exploring where that balance lies by putting an ounce weight on one side, always able to pick it up again OR add another depending on what happens, is good management. But some people seem to equate it with blunderingly and maliciously tipping over the scale altogether.

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