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Advance Notification of Delays

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#1 MiniMax


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Posted 22 January 2018 - 01:34 PM

Long distance trains are always an adventure. We know that. We expect that. We plan for that. It's always best for our peace of mind to move away from disgruntled-looking people who keep looking at their watches.  But, seriously, can't the information of expected delays be given to us in advance? No one can predict "acts of God" or accidents, but aren't most delays caused by sharing the tracks with freight trains? Someone, somewhere the train god knows when all trains will actually depart and which ones of them will be given priority to right-of-way along their routes. It's a mystery. I guess we'll never know.

It's unlikely that American trains will ever catch up with the technology enjoyed by the rest of the world. We can give up on that dream. I actually enjoy the serendipity of our "old west" train travel. Bring a book, listen to music, sleep, eat, enjoy the amazing scenery. Just a thought. 

#2 ParanoidAndroid



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Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:03 PM

VIA alerts passengers of it for its Canadian, but that train is delayed hours and hours every run. Amtrak is not. But if they emphasize that delays *sometimes* happen, on the website, a notification of it when booking LD trains would be nice.

I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), Coast Starlight #11 (SLO-LAX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have observed, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (lucky), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), Empire Builder #28 at PDX, and Sunset Limited #2/Texas Eagle #422 at LAX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).

#3 PVD



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Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:14 PM

text or e-mail notification for up to 6 trains is available is available, booked or not, with additional information (cancellation or service disruption) for booked passengers...

#4 Trogdor



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Posted 22 January 2018 - 05:50 PM

If you're asking for info about freight train interference delays before the train has even left the terminal, that's never going to happen.  Train dispatchers generally won't know hours in advance which freight train is going to delay an Amtrak train, or exactly where, or exactly how long.  Also, the railroad dispatching systems aren't connected to Arrow to provide train status updates.  When trains are delayed, Amtrak's internal NTAMS (National Train Activity Monitoring System) is capable of estimating delays (based on present position and estimated running time) and posting updates to Arrow.  Of course, these are more or less after the fact of a delay, but that system can't predict delays anyway.


If a train is late, Arrow uses running time and dwell times programmed into the system to provide downline status updates automatically (which can be overridden by user entries, if someone knows about an expected delay and is thinking to enter it into the system).  In cases where trains are expected to be significantly delayed due to extreme conditions (major slow orders, major ongoing freight congestion, trackwork, severe weather disruptions, etc.), Amtrak can put notices alerting passengers, but these often just give general estimates of potential delays, not an actual prediction.

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#5 ainamkartma


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Posted 22 January 2018 - 06:32 PM

John Mcphee's essay about operation of a modern coal train (a summary is available free at the New Yorker Magazine's web site) depicts dispatching on US freight railroads as fundamentally chaotic and unpredictable.  He describes crews being called to trains just to routinely sit for hours in the cab waiting to be sent out of the yard.  I have no idea how accurate this depiction is, but if the freight railroads are willing to leave good money sitting on the table like this, I can't imagine they are able to tell Amtrak when its trains will move. I think we all have this mental picture of the freight railroads adhering to a schedule like other forms of transportation with which we are familiar, but according to McPhee this is largely just not the way the railroads work, in practice.



Edited by ainamkartma, 22 January 2018 - 06:34 PM.

#6 KmH



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Posted 22 January 2018 - 11:31 PM

It's unlikely that American trains will ever catch up with the technology enjoyed by the rest of the world.

Passenger trains, freight trains, or both.

Few other countries are as big as the US.
I wonder. How many countries own their entire rail system, both freight and rail.

What other countries have a national freight rail system as good, or better, than what the US has?


I don't think the high speed passenger rail systems in countries that have such, share their high speed tracks with freight trains.

I also wonder how the length of those high speed routes in other countries compares lengthwise to Amtrak's LD routes west of Chicago?


How do the rail systems in India and Russia compare to the US as far as technology?

Edited by KmH, 22 January 2018 - 11:34 PM.

California Zephyr • Coast Starlight  • Southwest Chief • Sunset Limited • Texas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr • Capitol Corridor

. . . . Amtrak miles - 23,703, so far.

#7 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 07:02 AM

Russian railroads are a world better than ours. The Russians are far better about basic infrastructure than we are.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#8 neroden



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Posted 27 January 2018 - 04:19 PM

Pretty much every country in the world which has railroads at *all* has better railroads than the US. Cuba is ahead of us. India's and Russia's are *way* ahead of us, and of course China ia even further ahead of us.


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