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Amtrak : Best Kept Secrets


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#21 AlanB

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 09:08 AM

Again, I don't think it was necessarily a manufacturing problem, as when the cars were built, the need wasn't there. In fact, considering that people didn't have a need for the plugs during their trip back in the day, "hiding" the plugs behind the seats was probably done intentionally for safety reasons.


Actually I strongly suspect that the hidden outlets simply has more to do with some employee being told to install the seats X inches apart from one another, and simply not paying any attention or caring to pay attention to the fact that they were blocking the outlets.

I've seen construction workers build new offices and place the support leg for a countertop directly in front of an outlet effectively blocking it. Ask them why, "well that's where the blueprint told me to put it." Doesn't matter that they can clearly see that they've rendered the outlet useless, that's someone else's problem. Let them deal with it. And sadly all too often, if they are consientious enough to report the issue to a supervisor, the supervisor will either not care or worse may yell at them for wasting time, such is the way our society has gone. :(
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#22 AmtrakWPK

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 10:43 AM

Yep. And the construction worker is probably sure that if he moved the leg to uncover the outlet, a supervisor would fire him for ignoring what the blueprint told him to do. And the supervisor would think that if he allowed it, then further along in the construction, an inspector would red-tag it and require tearing down and rebuilding to put it where the blueprint required it, because the inspector doesn't care about usability, just about whether the blueprints, which were approved by the Building Department, were followed. It's no longer just "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing" now the left hand doesn't even CARE what the right hand is doing. When my previous church did a building project, the city required a complete re-do of the parking lots. They didn't have enough parking to start with (a common problem at churches in urban and suburban environments) but the city's requirements for landscaping and trees and shrubs and curbing reduced actual parking space availability by about 40% in the main lot. And now it has so many curves in and out that it's almost impossible to get a bus or a semi into or out of the lot. It's beautiful, but there's no room to park. Apparently the city bureaucrat involved hadn't ever quite gotten the concept that a parking lot IS FOR PARKING CARS so that people could go to church.
And we wonder why the Country's in such a mess.........

#23 George Harris

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 11:06 PM

Because if you blindly follow the rules, no one can fault you for breaking them. Good common sense is actively discouraged in a lot of circumstances. I could fill a book with these things. Suffice to say that some of us have a saying that decisions are made in a logic free zone.

#24 AlanB

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 11:21 PM


It's no longer just "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing" now the left hand doesn't even CARE what the right hand is doing. When my previous church did a building project, the city required a complete re-do of the parking lots. They didn't have enough parking to start with (a common problem at churches in urban and suburban environments) but the city's requirements for landscaping and trees and shrubs and curbing reduced actual parking space availability by about 40% in the main lot. And now it has so many curves in and out that it's almost impossible to get a bus or a semi into or out of the lot. It's beautiful, but there's no room to park. Apparently the city bureaucrat involved hadn't ever quite gotten the concept that a parking lot IS FOR PARKING CARS so that people could go to church.
And we wonder why the Country's in such a mess.........


Because if you blindly follow the rules, no one can fault you for breaking them. Good common sense is actively discouraged in a lot of circumstances. I could fill a book with these things. Suffice to say that some of us have a saying that decisions are made in a logic free zone.


That's precisely why some of these odd, stupid, and often wasteful things occur. Here's one such example from my neck of the woods. Not far from my office, which is located in Rockland county, is a JP Morgan/Chase branch. The main office is about 1/4 of a mile away from a drive through facility. This facility is free standing, not connected in any way to the main branch. The only way to bank here is by driving up in a car to one of the pneumatic machines and sending your stuff via the tube.

The teller area is barely big enough for two people, and I've never seen more than 3 inside at any given time. There are 4 parking spots for the staff. Yet the bank had to spend extra money on painting, signs, and other stuff for a handicapped parking spot. :blink:

It's a frigin drive through branch! You can't park there, ever! And I'm sure that if there ever was a handicapped person who started working there, that the other worker would certainly give the handicapped person the closer spot. But the law say you have to have a handicapped spot if you install a parking lot, so even though it makes absolutely no sense, they have a handicapped spot and wasted money to install it.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#25 battalion51

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 12:11 AM

How do you think I feel about my apartment complex. Not a single Handicap spot is used in this whole place, and there's 924 residents. If one happens to be Disabled, throw up a sign in front of their building when they move in. Jeez.

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#26 GG-1

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 02:38 AM

[ But the law say you have to have a handicapped spot if you install a parking lot, so even though it makes absolutely no sense, they have a handicapped spot and wasted money to install it.

Aloha

Just as big a shocker, the flight registration office had only stairs to the office. the ADA required an elevator be installed. Note if an Individual is disabled they cannot have a pilot license, but the office must have access, a supper waste.

Eric aka GG-1, Aloha, Mahalo = Thanks

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#27 rmgreenesq

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 07:30 AM

Just as big a shocker, the flight registration office had only stairs to the office. the ADA required an elevator be installed. Note if an Individual is disabled they cannot have a pilot license, but the office must have access, a supper waste.


I don't mean to be contrary here, but disabled people can become pilots. Just like cars, conventional aircraft can be modified to be flown without the use of the feet. There are some aircraft flying today like the Ercoupe that by design, do not have rudder petals and therefore do not require use of the legs to operate.

As to the elevator in the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), I would be very surprised if the building is owned by the FAA and is purpose built to be the FSDO. What is more likely is that the FAA is renting the building, and who is to say the next tenant is not going to need the elevator.

Finally, the federal government is the largest employer of the disabled. An employee's productivity level will plummet if they cant get in the office.

Rick
The railway approach to New York is not one to lift the spirits. We disembark in subterranean gloom and trudge along the platform sustained only by an act of faith that New York really is up there above us, and that we haven't all died.

-Michael Palin

#28 cnyrider

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 01:27 PM

I've been reading messages on this board the past week or so getting ideas for what a passenger would need to know about taking the train. Can anyone offer other ideas for what a "new" rider would like or need to know? (I'm not totally new to Amtrak; I've taken it before, but it was in the 80's).

I'm planning on a Syracuse-Baltimore (changing trains in New York City) round trip in March, but haven't purchased a ticket yet. I have, however, looked at the Amtrak schedule and have a rough idea of what the schedule is.

Any suggestions that haven't been mentioned in this thread already are welcome.

A couple of questions that might get things started (my apologies if these are have been answered in this thread or elsewhere on this site).

1. Is buying a business class ticket worth the extra expense? I'll probably have a laptop computer with me, for whatever that's worth.

2. I know there all kinds of variables associated with this next question, but in general how concerned should I be about missing my Baltimore connection in New York, either because the train I board in Syracuse arrives late or because I get lost trying to find my way around the station in New York City? I think there's a 90 minute difference between the time I'd be scheduled to arrive in New York and the time the second train leaves for Baltimore. There might, however, be another train going from NYC to Baltimore later that day (I'd have to double-check that).

Undoubtedly I'll come up with other questions at some point. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

#29 battalion51

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 03:21 PM

Business class is really a judgement call. I personally feel like with the extra legroom, electrical outlets at every seat, non-alcoholic beverages, etc. make it a worthwhile investment (not sure about the beverages on the Regional trains you'll be riding).



New York for transferring is, well, interesting. I somehow manage to always exit through the wrong stairwell, don't ask me how I manage to do it. I believe when you arrive you will want to walk towards the rear of your train to be put in to the Amtrak waiting area, Alan please correct me if I'm wrong. 90 minutes is more than ample time to change trains. Just keep your eyes on the departure board and your ears open and you'll have no trouble. This would also be a good opportunity to grab a bite to eat if you feel it's necessary. You can access a large number of eateries by heading towards the LIRR concourse. To get there walk towards the high numbered tracks and just to the right of the Amtrak ticket windows there will be a small hallway. Walk through this hallway and you'll be on the LIRR concourse with a plethora of quick dining options, always a good opportunity to pick up a slice of New York's finest.



Finally, here at On Track On Line they have a great set of tips for first time travelers like yourself that are very helpful. If you have any other questions feel free to ask! Have a fabulous trip! B)

The Chief
Rail Miles Travelled: 112,496


#30 cnyrider

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 07:29 AM

Thanks for the suggestions and the link.

Business class is really a judgement call. I personally feel like with the extra legroom, electrical outlets at every seat, non-alcoholic beverages, etc. make it a worthwhile investment (not sure about the beverages on the Regional trains you'll be riding).



New York for transferring is, well, interesting. I somehow manage to always exit through the wrong stairwell, don't ask me how I manage to do it. I believe when you arrive you will want to walk towards the rear of your train to be put in to the Amtrak waiting area, Alan please correct me if I'm wrong. 90 minutes is more than ample time to change trains. Just keep your eyes on the departure board and your ears open and you'll have no trouble. This would also be a good opportunity to grab a bite to eat if you feel it's necessary. You can access a large number of eateries by heading towards the LIRR concourse. To get there walk towards the high numbered tracks and just to the right of the Amtrak ticket windows there will be a small hallway. Walk through this hallway and you'll be on the LIRR concourse with a plethora of quick dining options, always a good opportunity to pick up a slice of New York's finest.



Finally, here at On Track On Line they have a great set of tips for first time travelers like yourself that are very helpful. If you have any other questions feel free to ask! Have a fabulous trip! B)



#31 jim55

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 09:58 AM

I was told that superliner coach seats swival, as a pair, 180 degrees. That the pivot point is between the window and isle seats. For whatever reason a coach might be added to the train with the seats faceing backwards. They must then press a lever and rotate each seat pair to face forward. That is why the stairwell might be on the right side in one coach and on the left in the coach ahead. I don't remember how it goes, but that is why the Electric AC plug might be blocked by the vertical seat portion of the seat ahead of you and if rotated that AC plug would be next to that seats passengers left knee(out in the open). Seat 19 may have the plug or seat 15 may have it. Confused? I am. Jim55

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

I was told that superliner coach seats swival, as a pair, 180 degrees. That the pivot point is between the window and isle seats. For whatever reason a coach might be added to the train with the seats faceing backwards. They must then press a lever and rotate each seat pair to face forward. That is why the stairwell might be on the right side in one coach and on the left in the coach ahead. I don't remember how it goes, but that is why the Electric AC plug might be blocked by the vertical seat portion of the seat ahead of you and if rotated that AC plug would be next to that seats passengers left knee(out in the open). Seat 19 may have the plug or seat 15 may have it. Confused? I am. Jim55


Swiveling the seats are how they 'turn' the cars (rather than physically turning the car around) to change the cars orientation from one direction to the other. Only locomotives (on a turntable) are actually turned for a particular run. Coaches have their seats swiveled, while sleepers, lounges, diners, etc. aren't really dependent on front-rear orientation.

And yes, not all the AC outlets are in the 'center' of the seating aisle. So when the rows are 'turned', the orientation of the backrests changes as well.

#33 racer1735

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 02:25 PM


I was told that superliner coach seats swival, as a pair, 180 degrees. That the pivot point is between the window and isle seats. For whatever reason a coach might be added to the train with the seats faceing backwards. They must then press a lever and rotate each seat pair to face forward. That is why the stairwell might be on the right side in one coach and on the left in the coach ahead. I don't remember how it goes, but that is why the Electric AC plug might be blocked by the vertical seat portion of the seat ahead of you and if rotated that AC plug would be next to that seats passengers left knee(out in the open). Seat 19 may have the plug or seat 15 may have it. Confused? I am. Jim55


Swiveling the seats are how they 'turn' the cars (rather than physically turning the car around) to change the cars orientation from one direction to the other. Only locomotives (on a turntable) are actually turned for a particular run. Coaches have their seats swiveled, while sleepers, lounges, diners, etc. aren't really dependent on front-rear orientation.

And yes, not all the AC outlets are in the 'center' of the seating aisle. So when the rows are 'turned', the orientation of the backrests changes as well.


Sorry....I replied to the previous comment and failed to notice that I was not logged in...thus replied as a 'guest'.

#34 AlanB

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 02:34 PM


I was told that superliner coach seats swival, as a pair, 180 degrees. That the pivot point is between the window and isle seats. For whatever reason a coach might be added to the train with the seats faceing backwards. They must then press a lever and rotate each seat pair to face forward. That is why the stairwell might be on the right side in one coach and on the left in the coach ahead. I don't remember how it goes, but that is why the Electric AC plug might be blocked by the vertical seat portion of the seat ahead of you and if rotated that AC plug would be next to that seats passengers left knee(out in the open). Seat 19 may have the plug or seat 15 may have it. Confused? I am. Jim55


Swiveling the seats are how they 'turn' the cars (rather than physically turning the car around) to change the cars orientation from one direction to the other. Only locomotives (on a turntable) are actually turned for a particular run. Coaches have their seats swiveled, while sleepers, lounges, diners, etc. aren't really dependent on front-rear orientation.


Actually it depends on just where the train is terminated as to what method of "turning" the train is used. For example the Auto Train is turned using the seat method. But many other trains are turned by wying the train, rather than using the more man power intensive method of turning the seats. For example the Capitol Limited is almost always turned via the wye as it arrives into Chicago. This way it's already setup to run out as the SW Chief later that afternoon. All the station crews have to do now is clean, water, and reprovision the train.

And all long distance trains arriving into NY are turned using the loop track at Sunnyside yard.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#35 denmarks

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 05:34 PM

When switching from a first class on one train to coach on another you can still use the first class lounge. There is only one problem and I had it happen to me in Portland. They assign the coach seats in the main waiting room. The first class lounge allows all passengers to go to the platform ahead of everyone else. When I arrived on the platform they were not ready to board coach and I did not have a seat assignment.

If you are switching to coach be sure to leave the first class lounge and join the coach passengers in the main waiting room to get a seat assignment.

Dennis M. Marks
28,286 miles on Amtrak

 


#36 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 11:13 PM

A partially inflated beach ball under your pillows makes a great roomette bed support for sitting up and looking out the window or watching a DVD

#37 benale

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 03:33 PM

If you really want to save money on food, and you are on the second day of a long coach trip and those sandwiches from home are getting stale you can eat for under $10 for the whole day from the snack car.
Breakfast Bagel and coffee $4
Lunch: Cup of noodles $1.75
Dinner:Pizza $3.50
Of course bring your own soft drinks on board. You can always get a cup of ice, and bring along snacks that will last the entire trip. I ve done this many times and as long as you have snacks you bought before you left,,this should be sufficient.

#38 Railbender

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 11:22 PM

What is the official rule about bringing your own alcohol in coach? And are you permitted to bring your beer back to your seat from the lounge car? I began bringing my own couple of bottles of Sam Adams along or buying them in the CHI or NYP station to take along for on the train. I would never take them with me to the lounge car... But I would consume one or two at my seat before going to sleep.

I know you are permitted to bring your own alcohol into the sleepers. But I am pretty sure you are not supposed to do so in coach. If you really want to save $$ ($5.00 per Sam Adams in the lounge) and sleep well though...
Joseph
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#39 AmtrakWPK

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:16 PM

We pretty much beat that topic (alcohol) into submission here:
http://discuss.amtra...?...c=7423&st=0

#40 jeriwho

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:17 AM

My list of tips for sleeper car riding:1. Bring a lot of one dollar bills on an overnight trip.
2. Bring a laptop with wireless. (Don't forget portable headphones or earbuds!) As the train approaches towns, especially train stations, a good wireless system may pick up a connection and you can check your e-mail. I was able to do this with my wireless MAC Power Book (only once, on the Capitol Limited, from Washington to Chicago), but my Sony Vaio was never quick enough. Go figure.
2a. More on laptop: Before you leave, go to www.guba.com and download stuff in IPod format on your laptop. Store these files on your laptop to view with Quicktime. You can get older British Comedies and Mysteries, among other things. These are much handier for viewing than toting around a lot of DVDs, though I think taking a couple DVDs with you is also a good idea. You will need a lot of room on your laptop for 30-60 minute programs. Any way that you can convert DVD shows to avi files and store them is handy, but that's too geeky of a discussion for this venue.
4. Pack a cloth tote bag in your suitcase. Load it with your toiletry items and a change of clothes and keep it on top inside your suitcase. When it is shower time, just go down to the luggage hold area in the sleeper car, and extract the tote bag. Hang it up on the back of the door in the shower room and you are ready for the adventure of trying to get a shower in a moving train.
5. There actually are people who sneak aboard at stops and steal from the sleeper carriages. I'm sure it's not frequent, but it happened on one of my first trips. Buy a money belt or travel pouch and keep your cash and credit cards with you, under your clothes, as close to your skin as possible. I also carry a small strapped "purse" (actually a nike runners pouch) that straps on like a fanny pack except the pouch is forward. I wear this on the outside or carry it like a purse. Every morning I put 10-20 dollars into that and use that for tipping, buying beverages, etc. But the majority of my money is out of sight, on my person.
6. Bring a single film of Pepto Bismal tablets or other stomach soother and a tiny container of Advil or other painkiller. If you get sick on the train, you do want to have some relief until you can get to your destination.
7. Dress in layers, and I mean layers: undershirt, top shirt, and over shirt. On a two-day trip, I just pull off the over and under shirts and sleep in my clothes. I get a shower the next day and change, but why bring pajamas? For longer trips I bring cotton running slacks and a heavy cotton tee for night clothes.
8. Bring an IPod or music player. I have a Columbia Sportswear jacket, and it has a lot of hidden pockets. I keep my IPod in one of those and keep the jacket hung up in the tiny closet in the sleeper, with the inside pocket that has the IPod in it furthest from the closet door.
9. Tip the waiters after each meal and the sleeping car attendant at the end of the journey, and always greet them with a smile and kindness. Everybody appreciates pleasant company when you're all cooped up together. Say Please and Thank You.
10. If you have an unlucky trip that results in you having to board a bus to make your connection, don't blame the "little people" on the train. It's not their fault. Travel is like life; it's uncertain. I hate the busses, but they are a risk of Amtrak travel.
11. Keep your cell phone with you. They are a hot commodity for theft and can be quickly resold.
12. Keep your laptop either in the closet or under the chair of your sleeper. Keep the door closed and curtain drawn both when you're in and out of the room. It may seem unfriendly (but not if you say please and thank you to verybody!), but it's the surest way of keeping your presence an unknown. You can alternate the open and closed states when you're in the room, but I just keep the door closed and curtain drawn all the time.
13. I buy those little mini-bottles of Kalhua, brandy, and Bailey's Irish Creme. They are great when added to the coffee on board the train.
14. I collect those mini-containers of shampoo and creme rinse when I stay in hotels. I use these on the train when I am in a sleeper car. They are so portable and such a small luxury! You can get two or three shampoos from one small bottle.
For non-sleeper travel:

For any trip over two hours, Business is always better than coach. It's worth the extra $ in terms of more room, a better chance to relocate once you are on board (like if you want to go from an aisle seat to window seat or vice versa), a quieter journey (usually), better communication with the attendants, and free non-alcoholic beverages. Laptop/Ipod with ear buds a must! But in a pinch, a good John Grisham novel works well.




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