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Greenville, SC (GRV) to be Unstaffed Effective June 15, 2017


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#21 ehbowen

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 10:04 PM

And I'll finish with the fact that train-side baggage checking is not a new concept.  Our neighbors to the north do it on a daily basis, without too much trouble.  And it used to be a very common practice with the railroads pre-Amtrak.  Just my $0.02.

 

And they used to pay a baggageman to ride with the train 24/7 to handle luggage and to keep it sorted by destination throughout the run. Now they dump this task on the conductors and the station agent...who obviously don't have enough to do as is.


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#22 Lonestar648

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 10:52 PM

There has to be a solution that will not extend dwell time.  Amtrak has two separate physical solutions needed, single level and Bi-level SL.  Would it be better to create a luggage storage area in each of the LD Amfleet Coaches, but that reduces possible revenue per car which Amtrak desperately needs.  Another question would be how could checked baggage get aboard the train quickly at short stops?  How many checked bags might be involved? Could the Checked bags be moved to the Baggage Car during a longer stop with a station agent and a cart? The Conductors are already busy at most stops, so how do the Conductors handle the extra demand? Would the Union allow Attendants to assist with the checked baggage?  I would hope Amtrak has a Project Manager investigating a solution for this issue.


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#23 me_little_me

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:29 PM

At some stations, boarding takes too long because people try and load their bags into the car (and have to climb up or down to do it). Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags. We always check bags on Amtrak so as to make it easier to board and to have a place to store them. Now our primary departure point has no service. That sucks.

 

At least the airlines allow checked bags on all their planes even if they mostly charge for them. Amtrak is allowing fewer and fewer people to check bags by eliminating those stations' baggage checking. I suppose next, they'll eliminate stopping at those places too!



#24 PaulM

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:49 PM

...  Another question would be how could checked baggage get aboard the train quickly at short stops?  How many checked bags might be involved? ...

Any one looking for the answer should visit Mount Pleasant or Fort Madison at train time on weekends. Or they could read the instructions at the station telling passengers how to do it.



#25 AmtrakLKL

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 12:55 AM

 

Why does Amtrak have baggage cars then? Heck, they're just now taking delivery on NEW baggage cars for Viewliners, presumably including this route. If it's impossible to use them, why have them?

 

I'm with Blackwolf on this. It's really NOT unreasonable for customers of any long-distance transportation service to expect to be able to check baggage. At some level, Amtrak realizes this (long history of carrying checked baggage, new baggage cars....) At other levels, they don't seem to get it (more and more stations losing baggage service, and perhaps staff resistance to providing this service). 

 

And the flip side of the injury issue, Amtrak KL, is that in order to save your own back you're expecting roomette customers, regardless of physical condition, to hoist their bags up overhead and into the awkwardly placed cubby above the sleeper hallway. At least the baggage cars have presumably been designed with ergonomics in mind. Those cubbys certainly weren't. I don't remember whether the Viewliner coaches have the same problem, but the Viewliner sleepers certainly don't have any other place to stow baggage.

 

 

Viewliner baggage car deliveries are complete. Amtrak's sole purpose for baggage cars is to create fodder for online discussions such as this. They certainly aren't being used to handled checked baggage and express as all the remaining staffed stations.

 

I should probably back up a bit and be clear that I am all for offering checked baggage service at all stops. It certainly isn't unreasonable for passengers to want this service at all stops. However, being out there every day working single-level trains, I haven't figured out how to do it safely, efficiently and consistently at all unstaffed stations. For all the moaning and groaning on here, maybe some of that effort could be put towards figuring out how Amtrak can safely, efficiently and consistently offer checked baggage service everywhere. I have yet to hear any proposals except, "How hard can it be to just put the bag on the train?" It sounds so easy when you aren't the one actually schlepping bags to and fro, making multiple stops delaying trains.   

 

You're really stretching things on the roomette comment. First, the vast majority of sleeping car passengers bring carry-on baggage of appropriate size and weight. I've hoisted plenty of bags in coaches and sleeping cars when asked. Bags that are too heavy aren't gonna fit in the cubby anyway, so it's sort of a moot point. Second, when my sleeping car passengers have large/heavy bags, I always offer to check them when traveling to a staffed station. I offer this as a courtesy due to the limited room for luggage and because I still consider them First Class passengers deserving of the extra attention. Keep plenty of universal tags in my grip for just such occasions. 

 

Finally, this is my job and how I support my family. You may not care about my back or any other part of my body, but I and my family certainly do. No work, no pay. This isn't my first career, but I expect to retire from it and hope most of my body still works then. It's amazing just how much the railroad pounds the crap out of you on an easy day.



#26 Thirdrail7

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 12:55 AM

 

Why does Amtrak have baggage cars then? Heck, they're just now taking delivery on NEW baggage cars for Viewliners, presumably including this route. If it's impossible to use them, why have them?


 

 

 

There are plenty of stations that are staffed and are likely to remain staffed that can make use of these cars. There are unstaffed stations that can make use of them.  No one said they are impossible to use.

 

 

I'm with Blackwolf on this. It's really NOT unreasonable for customers of any long-distance transportation service to expect to be able to check baggage. At some level, Amtrak realizes this (long history of carrying checked baggage, new baggage cars....) At other levels, they don't seem to get it (more and more stations losing baggage service, and perhaps staff resistance to providing this service).

 

I'd bet real money the staff is not likely resisting service. The bottom line is staffing costs money and money is not necessarily forthcoming. So, you will  likely see more cuts in services and amenities.

 

 

And the flip side of the injury issue, Amtrak KL, is that in order to save your own back you're expecting roomette customers, regardless of physical condition, to hoist their bags up overhead and into the awkwardly placed cubby above the sleeper hallway. At least the baggage cars have presumably been designed with ergonomics in mind. Those cubbys certainly weren't. I don't remember whether the Viewliner coaches have the same problem, but the Viewliner sleepers certainly don't have any other place to stow baggage.

 

I remember being on a train and watching a young lady having trouble putting her bag in the luggage rack. So, I assisted her. When we gave it the heave ho, I could only assume she was transporting a pallet of cinder blocks...without the pallet.  I asked her how she got this to the train station and she said her boyfriend helped her. I replied, perhaps you should have brought him with you.

 

My point is you I would largely not expect someone to pack stuff that they can't handle, but I know I'm unreasonable. After all, if you can't dead lift it from the ground to the roomette, what makes you think you're going to hoist it to a baggage car that is 5 off the ground? Equally important is what's your plan when someone is handing a fifty pound bag down to you?

 

BTW, have any of you written Amtrak to express your feeling about this or are you just commenting here? 


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#27 AmtrakLKL

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 01:03 AM

At some stations, boarding takes too long because people try and load their bags into the car (and have to climb up or down to do it). Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags. We always check bags on Amtrak so as to make it easier to board and to have a place to store them. Now our primary departure point has no service. That sucks.

 

At least the airlines allow checked bags on all their planes even if they mostly charge for them. Amtrak is allowing fewer and fewer people to check bags by eliminating those stations' baggage checking. I suppose next, they'll eliminate stopping at those places too!

 

Wait, when did Amtrak start charging for checked baggage service? Every passenger boarding at a staffed station or one of the few limited-service stops is entitled to two checked bags up to 50lbs each at no charge. There have been charges added for excess carry-on baggage to force passengers to check their bags for free.

 

 

...  Another question would be how could checked baggage get aboard the train quickly at short stops?  How many checked bags might be involved? ...

Any one looking for the answer should visit Mount Pleasant or Fort Madison at train time on weekends. Or they could read the instructions at the station telling passengers how to do it.

 

 

I've not seen or heard how the limited train-side checked baggage service works in practice. However, I highly suspect and hope someone can confirm, that they're using a Superliner Coach-Baggage car. That puts both the baggage door at platform level immediately adjacent to a door where the passenger can board and detrain. No multiple stops or walking back and forth boarding baggage and passengers in different locations that might be a couple hundred feet apart. 



#28 Anderson

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 04:02 AM

On the one hand, I'll agree that adding an unstaffed baggage service to every station would cause issues from the persepctive of travel time; on the other hand, I do think there needs to be a threshold at which point a station will keep baggage service.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but on my last trip to Florida, had baggage service not been available we would have been stuck doing the F-word because there wasn't room in the sleeper for two of us and all of our luggage.  Now, I don't expect to see baggage service cut to ORL anytime soon...but I mention this to draw a line under the fact that if checked baggage is not an option, period, then Amtrak becomes disadvantaged vis-a-vis air travel and some trips don't happen.


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#29 me_little_me

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 03:31 PM

 

At some stations, boarding takes too long because people try and load their bags into the car (and have to climb up or down to do it). Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags. We always check bags on Amtrak so as to make it easier to board and to have a place to store them. Now our primary departure point has no service. That sucks.

 

At least the airlines allow checked bags on all their planes even if they mostly charge for them. Amtrak is allowing fewer and fewer people to check bags by eliminating those stations' baggage checking. I suppose next, they'll eliminate stopping at those places too!

 

Wait, when did Amtrak start charging for checked baggage service? Every passenger boarding at a staffed station or one of the few limited-service stops is entitled to two checked bags up to 50lbs each at no charge. There have been charges added for excess carry-on baggage to force passengers to check their bags for free.

 

Reread my post.  I never said Amtrak charged:

 

"Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags." Like the AIRLINES when THEY CHARGED, Amtrak is FORCING passengers to carry on more bags.

 

The airlines did it by charging for bags. Amtrak is doing the same by getting rid of baggage check at more cities. The result is the same. More people with carry-on, slowing down the boarding and people fighting for space.



#30 AmtrakLKL

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 10:47 PM

 

 

At some stations, boarding takes too long because people try and load their bags into the car (and have to climb up or down to do it). Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags. We always check bags on Amtrak so as to make it easier to board and to have a place to store them. Now our primary departure point has no service. That sucks.

 

At least the airlines allow checked bags on all their planes even if they mostly charge for them. Amtrak is allowing fewer and fewer people to check bags by eliminating those stations' baggage checking. I suppose next, they'll eliminate stopping at those places too!

 

Wait, when did Amtrak start charging for checked baggage service? Every passenger boarding at a staffed station or one of the few limited-service stops is entitled to two checked bags up to 50lbs each at no charge. There have been charges added for excess carry-on baggage to force passengers to check their bags for free.

 

Reread my post.  I never said Amtrak charged:

 

"Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags." Like the AIRLINES when THEY CHARGED, Amtrak is FORCING passengers to carry on more bags.

 

The airlines did it by charging for bags. Amtrak is doing the same by getting rid of baggage check at more cities. The result is the same. More people with carry-on, slowing down the boarding and people fighting for space.

 

 

Ah, ok. The airlines forced people by charging for checked baggage while Amtrak is forcing people by not offering checked baggage. Got it now, sorry! That's what happens when responding to posts at 2am after a delayed filled day. 



#31 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 11:12 PM

The lounge car will look pretty much like the ones you have been in. There are no "true lounges" normally on Amtrak single level trains.

 
It's sad to think that much of what made passenger trains so amazing in the past (fancy dining cars, full view dome cars, trailing view park cars) has been removed from nearly every Amtrak route at this point. As amazing as riding the Canadian was, it was also a bittersweet experience to see how much the passenger rail experience has been diluted and sanitized over the years.

 

There has to be a solution that will not extend dwell time.


Why? Outside of a few commuter corridors Amtrak is just about the slowest way to get anywhere if you're in a hurry. Seems to me that passengers on Amtrak would probably care a lot more about having additional luggage options than having to wait a few more minutes for additional dwell time. They might even get a few more smoke stops out of it.

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#32 dogbert617

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 02:55 AM

Greenville, SC seems like a really bizarre choice of a station, to eliminate staffing and checked baggage service from. Are they doing to do something like what was done at Winona, MN(and a few other stops after unstaffing), where the train employees onboard the train assist with those who want to check a bag at Greenville? If more stations are becoming unstaffed(and I don't see that trend stopping anytime soon), like another poster said Amtrak should seriously consider rolling out on-board train employee checked baggage service(a la Winona, MN, and other stations) at more stops.



#33 tricia

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 06:14 AM

 

 

 Seems to me that passengers on Amtrak would probably care a lot more about having additional luggage options than having to wait a few more minutes for additional dwell time. 

 

As me-little-me pointed out above, trainside checked baggage might not actually require more dwell time, since NOT having checked baggage results in passengers taking longer to board, as they need to take time to hoist their own luggage aboard. Sometimes more than one piece of luggage.

 

Not having checked baggage will probably be a tipping point for many passengers who'll decide they need to drive or fly instead. Particularly elderly and disabled passengers, families with small children, and anyone taking the sort of longish trip that makes a slow Amtrak ride more reasonable (i.e., beyond the members of this forum, not everyone wants to spend most of their vacation on a train).



#34 Thirdrail7

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 01:01 PM

 

 

 

 Seems to me that passengers on Amtrak would probably care a lot more about having additional luggage options than having to wait a few more minutes for additional dwell time. 

 

As me-little-me pointed out above, trainside checked baggage might not actually require more dwell time, since NOT having checked baggage results in passengers taking longer to board, as they need to take time to hoist their own luggage aboard. Sometimes more than one piece of luggage.

 

Not having checked baggage will probably be a tipping point for many passengers who'll decide they need to drive or fly instead. Particularly elderly and disabled passengers, families with small children, and anyone taking the sort of longish trip that makes a slow Amtrak ride more reasonable (i.e., beyond the members of this forum, not everyone wants to spend most of their vacation on a train).

 

 

That largely depends on the platform size, the train size and the position of the train in the consist. If you're in the sleeping car and that is 10 cars away from the baggage car, it would likely take more time than just loading your luggage into the door you're entering.  This of course assumes that the baggage car fits on the platform and is passenger accessible to begin with.

 

Additionally, although the passengers might not mind the dwell, the host railroads do. That was a factor in eliminating train side check in at one station in particular and also a factor in why some of the stations don't allow bike check in.  

 

 

 

 
It's sad to think that much of what made passenger trains so amazing in the past (fancy dining cars, full view dome cars, trailing view park cars) has been removed from nearly every Amtrak route at this point. As amazing as riding the Canadian was, it was also a bittersweet experience to see how much the passenger rail experience has been diluted and sanitized over the years.

 

 

Well spoken. It is sad that they drove a service that should be memorable (especially for the what is being charged) into what is basically a bus on steel wheels....if you're lucky. Buses often add another bus if there are additional riders that need accommodating.


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#35 Anderson

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 09:16 PM

 

 

 

At some stations, boarding takes too long because people try and load their bags into the car (and have to climb up or down to do it). Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags. We always check bags on Amtrak so as to make it easier to board and to have a place to store them. Now our primary departure point has no service. That sucks.

 

At least the airlines allow checked bags on all their planes even if they mostly charge for them. Amtrak is allowing fewer and fewer people to check bags by eliminating those stations' baggage checking. I suppose next, they'll eliminate stopping at those places too!

 

Wait, when did Amtrak start charging for checked baggage service? Every passenger boarding at a staffed station or one of the few limited-service stops is entitled to two checked bags up to 50lbs each at no charge. There have been charges added for excess carry-on baggage to force passengers to check their bags for free.

 

Reread my post.  I never said Amtrak charged:

 

"Like the airlines, when they started charging for baggage, Amtrak is forcing passengers to carry on more bags." Like the AIRLINES when THEY CHARGED, Amtrak is FORCING passengers to carry on more bags.

 

The airlines did it by charging for bags. Amtrak is doing the same by getting rid of baggage check at more cities. The result is the same. More people with carry-on, slowing down the boarding and people fighting for space.

 

 

Ah, ok. The airlines forced people by charging for checked baggage while Amtrak is forcing people by not offering checked baggage. Got it now, sorry! That's what happens when responding to posts at 2am after a delayed filled day. 

 

This sounds like a misconnect over the commas.  The first comma makes it read to me that Amtrak "started charging for baggage" a la the airlines (when all Amtrak did in the time I've been riding is drop the checked bag limits from 3 free/3 for $20 each to 2 free/2 for $20 each...though I've long wondered why they didn't just change it to 2 free/4 for $20).


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#36 JoeBas

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 04:15 PM

Why not offer what cruise ships do - print-at-home luggage tags and a central bag drop on a cart at unstaffed stations? Roll the cart over, load the bags, unload the bags, move the cart back, 2 to go?

#37 Ryan

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 04:37 PM

How does that work when the baggage car is off the end of the platform? Who is doing the rolling? How long does it take to roll the cart 850 feet and transfer everything into the baggage car?
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#38 AmtrakLKL

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 04:46 PM

Why not offer what cruise ships do - print-at-home luggage tags and a central bag drop on a cart at unstaffed stations? Roll the cart over, load the bags, unload the bags, move the cart back, 2 to go?

 

Many platforms are not long enough to stop, collect the bags and roll them to the baggage car. Jesup, GA is a scant 40ft long. Can't even get two coach vestibules on at the same time.You'd be double stopping every day. Even if the platform were long enough, you'd still be wasting tons of time walking the cart back and forth. What happens when passengers don't have their baggage tagged and ready at the cart when the train arrives? Even better, after taking all the time to load and unload baggage, what happens when you have a bag left no one is claiming? Now you'll be making a second round trip to/from the baggage car with the cart as I suspect no one wants an unclaimed bag left on the platform.

 

Still waiting for the geniuses on here to realistically solve these problems.


Edited by AmtrakLKL, 10 June 2017 - 04:46 PM.


#39 tricia

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 07:20 AM

... train-side baggage checking is not a new concept.  Our neighbors to the north do it on a daily basis, without too much trouble.  And it used to be a very common practice with the railroads pre-Amtrak. 

 

 

 

 

 

Still waiting for the geniuses on here to realistically solve these problems.

 

 

As Blackwolf pointed out, further up this thread, "the geniuses on here" haven't invented the idea of checked baggage on trains. There's a wide and deep body of railroad experience with this. Amtrak needs to apply that experience to its current situation, and choose a workable way to check baggage at all or nearly all of its stations. Failure to do so risks losing passengers. 



#40 Thirdrail7

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:45 AM

 

... train-side baggage checking is not a new concept.  Our neighbors to the north do it on a daily basis, without too much trouble.  And it used to be a very common practice with the railroads pre-Amtrak. 

 

 

 

 

 

Still waiting for the geniuses on here to realistically solve these problems.

 

 

As Blackwolf pointed out, further up this thread, "the geniuses on here" haven't invented the idea of checked baggage on trains. There's a wide and deep body of railroad experience with this. Amtrak needs to apply that experience to its current situation, and choose a workable way to check baggage at all or nearly all of its stations. Failure to do so risks losing passengers. 

 

 

 

As I mentioned to you in the SEB thread, you can make a lot of things occur if you have enough money to throw at it.  There are 100s of stations that Amtrak services. Each has a different characteristic.  The vast majority of stations didn't have luggage service for years.  At what point do you get a grip on reality and say "cleary we can't afford to do everything. What is the path of least resistance?"

 

Should bringing checked  luggage to  Prince, WV and Jessup, GA become a higher priority than bringing back dining car service on the Star and City of New Orleans? Should checked baggage in Aldershot, VA and Burlingon, NC become a higher priority than ADA compliance at Westerly, Rhode Island? SHould anything listed above be a higher priority than using the funds to restore a wrecked engine and/or car to service? That is basically where a lot of transportation providers have to ask themselves. Now that we've robbed Peter to pay Paul, should we pay Paul or split the money between Paul and Mary?

 

For every project that is undertaken, there is something that lacks funds. With a "skinny budget" being eyed, Amtrak will have to carry on with less.  This is at a time when things are stretched thin to begin with.  It costs money to maintain this service and it costs money to modify stations and operating procedures to make this work at a lot of the stations.  Money is at a premium, which is why they are unstaffing stattions and cutting services.

 

I'll ask it again: How many letters have you written to Amtrak or your representatives about this?


Edited by Thirdrail7, 11 June 2017 - 08:46 AM.

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