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roadman3313

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About roadman3313

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    Conductor

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    SF Bay Area
  1. roadman3313

    San Joaquin: which trains have the comet cars?

    The Comet Cars generally run southbound towards Bakersfield on Trains 710 and 716 and northbound towards Oakland on Trains 711 and 717. With that said there isn’t a 100% assurance they will be on those trains due to unforeseen equipment issues or delays. It is possible they swap a California set to run on those runs and use the Comet set to replace it on a California Car run. I’d say at least 95% of the time the Comet Cars stick to those trains though. From personal experience, I have taken 712 southbound from the Bay Area and 715 northbound to attend meetings in Fresno about four times in the past few months and have always had California Cars. Hope you enjoy your trip!
  2. roadman3313

    Amtrak California Equipment on the Move South

    Here is that message from Capitol Corridor Managing Director David Kutrosky: Message to Riders To sum it up he authorized the transfer of Three locomotives and Eight Train Cars from the Northern California Intercity Passenger Rail Fleet (CCJPA controls assignment of those cars - majority state owned, some leased from Amtrak) to the Pacific Surfliner on an Emergency basis to assist while Highway 101 remains closed in the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Area. As a result he states that two of the train sets used in the regular weekday Capitol Corridor rotation will be one car shorter. He concludes by asking for patience and stating that in times like these communities need to come together to help each other out. I thought the message itself was fairly well written, sincere, and he was very straight forward about the potential affect it may have for the regular Capitol Corridor riders. I'm glad the cars were delivered and able to be pressed into service so quickly. Thanks chakk for originally bringing this message up. Seeing those photos they certainly will be put to good use!
  3. Tracks are now reported back open for passenger traffic by the Pacific Surfliner folks. 768 anticipated to be the first train through delayed approximately 2.5 hours to allow for final preparation, repositioning, and restoration. On time section of 768 will depart LA. Delays expected through the affected area but service is anticipated to operate through. As always this is subject to changes as conditions change. Starlight should be back to normal today. 11 departed Oakland on time at 850am. Tickets are available for both 11 and 14 at low bucket rates (on 14 at least) as I presume most folks were already re-accomodated. Seems like a similar situation to what I experienced last month. Last minute operational change. We shall see how it goes.
  4. From my experience on 14(Dec16) BUR-EMY booked in a Roomette last month, Amtrak both emailed and called me (automated message) on December 14th (as I was riding the San Joaquin south) to contact the re-accommodation desk by phone as they would need to re-accommodate me on alternate transportation due to a service disruption. I called and was given three options. 1) Change to the Bus/Train San Joaquin trip and receive the fare difference between my Roomette rate and the current San Joaquin Fare back 2) Re-book for another date in the future and maintain my same low bucket Roomette Rate 3) Cancel and receive a full refund back to my form of payment I was told I needed to make the decision and it would be binding (no changes later). I could wait and call back, however the San Joaquin fare would most likely go up due to all the re-accommodations so it would be to my advantage to change sooner rather than later. Beyond that there would be no consideration or compensation for the lost meals (due to sleeper accommodations) or reduction of class of service. I made the change and moved around some of my other lodging and logistical reservations to reflect the travel change. Fast Forward to the 15th... around 8pm as I was milling around Disneyland I noticed that 14(16) was now projected to run again. I called Amtrak to check on my reservation and I was told that train 14 would be running again on the 16th. I asked if I could change my reservation back and due to the train basically being empty as the majority of the passengers were re-booked they changed my reservation back to mirror my original reservation. We were the first Starlight northbound since service was suspended due to the fires. While it was a personal decision, I had to change some of my logistical and transportation reservations back (at an increased cost) to reflect my change in travel plans back to what they originally were. The passengers who were on the train were A) Thankful the train was going through and B) Frustrated by the back and forth from Amtrak. Moral of the story: Amtrak was trying to be proactive about a fluid situation by notifying us 36 hours in advance and it didn't work out as planned. I don't know if they are being more cautious this go around by not calling it as early so they don't have to go back on the decision but if there is a glimmer of hope that UP may let the train through they may be holding on to that instead this time instead of repeating what happened last month. Moving to the current situation... I was told at the station and I believe to be true that the train has been turning in the Oakland yard similar as before with the crew using the San Joaquin/Bus combination to get to/from LA. From what I gather Passenger service may resume at some point tomorrow. This most likely won't be the first trains of the morning to allow some additional time for clean up. The Starlight may be a good candidate as it comes along late-morning, early-afternoon. In either regard it should hopefully be back up and running by Sunday pending any further issues. Should have a break in the major rain until Monday again. Can't predict the future but it looks to be in your favor And as a side note... when we rode the train we could see all the traffic and cars getting turned back as 101 Northbound was still closed at Sea Cliff. Once again it looks like the rail line will be open before the highway. If you see the photos it's quite a mess out there. Just can't catch a break.
  5. California State Supported routes (Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner, and San Joaquin) will still maintain some of the discounts under the "California Everyday Discounts" policy. To summarize: 1. Senior Discount: Senior discount will remain at age 62 and at 15%. Select "Adult" when booking and use promo code V282. 2. Disabled Discount: Disabled discount will remain at 15%. Select "Adult" when booking and use promo code V577. 3. Student Discount: Student discount will be set at 15%. Select "Adult" when booking and use promo code V353. For the Capitol Corridor they strongly advise booking tickets on capitolcorridor.org to be sure the discounts are applied correctly, however the promo codes are available to use on any of the California State Supported routes by booking on Amtrak.com, via 1-800-USA-RAIL, at a Quik-Trak kiosk, or at a Staffed Station. They currently are NOT available for booking on the Amtrak App at this time. Full details on the Capitol Corridor web page: California Everyday Discounts
  6. roadman3313

    Breakfast Buffet In PPC

    On 11(31) today and we have the SSL substituting for the PPC. I didn't see breakfast offered in the car unless it was only downstairs. Dinner was offered by reservation though the times were limited. I have a dinner reservation in there so I'll see how it works. Hopefully the scheduled down time later this month there will be something of substance done.
  7. Ah... thanks for that explanation of Fremont. That conductor has always been a very pleasant conductor in my experience. She was helpful in announcing some of the landmarks along the way as well as arranging for passengers to get a stretch break in Bakersfield. I was up in the 1430 car. I think we did luck out with a good crew for the trip. Glad you enjoyed the ride as well!
  8. If I recall correctly: Leave normal route at Burbank Jct. SCAX Valley Sub. to Palmdale Jct. UP Mojave Sub. to Bakersfield UP Fresno Sub. to Hicks (Lathrop) UP Oakland Sub. to Niles Jct. Rejoin normal route Without knowing most of the Sub's by heart that looks correct with one minor addition. At Niles Junction we take the Niles Sub. heading South/West back through Fremont/Centerville (No Stop) and make the right heading back north at North Newark/Carter to the Coast Sub. to rejoin with Niles just south of Coliseum at North Elmhurst. I believe Carter is the point we rejoin the regular route as the Starlight normally uses the Coast Sub. IME. Does the train cross Hicks and then do the Wye maneuver at Lathrop/French Camp? I presume the moves at Lathrop and Niles are due to the fact that the train can't turn "left" from the Fresno Sub. to the Oakland Sub. and it can't turn "right" from the Oakland Sub. to the Niles Sub? Again I'm not sure exactly on the Sub's or the Control Points/Mile Posts. Thanks for your insight.
  9. On 14 we held briefly at two spots for two scheduled Metrolink trains. I'd say no more than 10 minutes total. Got into old Bakersfield Station on the UP line around 245pm give or take and waited for the conductor and engineer crew change. Both parts of the trip had the regular crews so I assume they were driven to/from San Luis Obispo to Bakersfield. Left there around 330pm. (All times are estimates as I wasnt closely watching the time). We were allowed to leave the train and stretch there. Had a few 30 MPH speed restrictions due to construction and other things coming up the valley but no big pauses. Topped out 60 MPH most of the later part of the trip. Had two meets with ACE trains, one after we made the wye maneuver of about 15 minutes, another going up Altamont Pass. Final hold was in Fremont at a grade crossing for about 10 minutes or so. Not sure if that was for the engineer crew change or not. No major delays and it seemed most of the freights were on side tracks waiting for us, especially over Tehachapi (mostly all BNSF ones though). Parlor Car was mostly always full, however the sightseer lounge had plenty of space. Dining car had ample of space for meals as well and we never had a full table of four (though some tables were full). Lots of railfans, retired, and current Amtrak employees (including a uniformed Amtrak Police Officer) on board for the ride. Overall a very relaxing and enjoyable trip for the One Stop we rode (LA to Oakland)!
  10. Yes. On the train 14 now. Typically the detour takes the UP routing in the valley, not the BNSF routing that the San Joaquin takes. Using non-formal terminology the train follows the Metrolink route to Lancaster then heads over Techachapi to the old UP depot in Bakersfield. Crew change takes place there. Train continues up the UP towards the Stockton area where it moves to the ACE train route over the Altamont to Niles Junction. Then it takes the Capitol Corridor route up to Oakland which will be the first passenger stop after leaving LA. The train should wye-back once to change to the ACE train route near Stockton. Again not using technical routing terms, however hopefully that paints somewhat of a picture of the routing. 11 will also use this routing today. Back to normal tomorrow.
  11. roadman3313

    Coast Starlight Track Work LAX-SBA

    The closures mainly have been affecting the midday Pacific Surfliner trains. Those trains are being bustituted between Oxnard and Santa Barbara. Train 14 isn't affected too much northbound as it is scheduled to pass through the closure right around 12 noon when the closure starts. Train 11 could potentially be delayed about 1-1.5 hours southbound if it is on time as it is scheduled through the closure area just before 7pm, however the closure does not end until 8pm. As a result Train 11 will not make the scheduled connections at LAX as the train it is scheduled to connect to (Train 796) will actually be originating in front of the Starlight at Oxnard. There is no bustitution for passengers of trains 11 or 14.
  12. roadman3313

    Sleeping in coach vs room for single overnight trip

    Once I went to a room there was no going back to Coach for an over night trip. Granted it depends on the cost but I'll usually wait until I can afford a room for an entire trip. While the coach seats are much better than Airline economy seats, they can't compare to having a bed where you can lay flat!
  13. roadman3313

    Coast Starlight on Black Friday- how crowded?

    When I booked a few days ago from OXN to EMY the Roomette Tickets were still at the low bucket prices. Looking at Boarding numbers historically the Friday after Thanksgiving tends to have much lower ridership than the Tuesday/Wednesday before and the Saturday/Sunday after. I know Capitol Corridor will be running a weekend/holiday schedule the day after Thanksgiving. From my observations at the station it is generally quieter on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I think the larger concern will be what the weather will be like!
  14. I'd say my process was a few months from the initial application and offer. The Culture Fit assessment is just looking to see if you will be a good fit within the Amtrak culture (of safety). This test is relatively new as it is part of a new initial online assessment. As long as you have a mind for safety and a bit of common sense you should pass that just fine. After that there generally is a written testing session. Details and some sample questions along with a Realistic Job Preview will be sent to you. For mine, it was in a small group session at the crew base I applied to. They explain a bit about the position, pay, benefits, and expectations (basically extra board hours, nights away from home, the assigned day off isn't always guaranteed, etc...) Once you pass the test a "fit test" will be ordered at a local contracted facility. This basically tests your arm and leg strength. There is an example of the test on the Amtrak Careers website. Assuming a good result on that, next step generally will be an interview where you are asked a series of standardized questions. If you make it to that step you will also receive some sample things to look for to prepare. If you are selected they will then do a more detailed physical and drug screen. Assuming you make it pass all that you will receive your ticket to Wilmington for the 8 week (average) training course. This is a lot of classroom and practical application of that classroom training to familiarize you with working on the railroad. This will be your first experience of some of the actual physical and mental demands of the job. After that you will be sent back to your crew base for on the job training. You will be on probation working with another experienced conductor so this is really the time to perform and demonstrate what you have learned as well as clarify any concerns you have in terms of doing the job well. This is the real test as you will be assisting real passengers on a real revenue train. After a few months (generally 6+), if you do well and pass everything you will "mark up" and start the job as an Assistant Passenger Conductor at the regular starting rate of pay (up to this point you will still be at training wages). You will work the extra board and be required to report in within 2 hours of getting called in. You will have one day off a week but it is not guaranteed (all depends on if you work an outbound trip on the day before your day off... if so you are working your day off back although you still will receive some time off after that). Most likely you will not be home every night depending on what trips you are assigned. Many are outbound one day and return the next day. You will be expected to take the Passenger Conductor test to "promote" to a Passenger Conductor within a year or so of hire. If you are unable to pass the training and tests to become a full fledged conductor within the acceptable amount of time and tries you will no longer be employed by Amtrak. As was said in my hiring class... "Amtrak no longer hires Assistant Passenger Conductors... we hire Passenger Conductor Trainees." It is the expectation (and requirement) that you promote to Conductor. Once you promote you are back to the bottom of the extra board. With that said, you still may work Assistant Conductor Assignments... you will just be qualified to work as a Passenger Conductor as well and sign as being responsible for the train. There are some exceptions to what is listed above but it is mainly to illustrate that it is not an easy process. There will be lots of training, many days away from home, some nights with little sleep (just the mandatory rest period), long working days, among other situations with passengers and operations as well as emergency situations. It isn't a job for just anyone, however those who I know find it very fulfilling and they enjoy what they do. If you are working on the Northeast Corridor some elements are slightly different and the seniority can be a bit different as well so most likely you'd stay on routes near the Corridor area. I'm from the west though so I can't fully comment on that aspect of it. Full Disclosure: The above is the process as I went through it and as it was explained to me as well. It may have changed and there may be parts that are not necessarily accurate anymore. I ultimately went through the hiring process, however having worked in the transportation industry before and now with a young one growing up I didn't want to miss more of those "moments" per say. In the end I chose a different position elsewhere that worked better for my personal situation at the time, however I was still glad I went through the process of the hiring as it made me really think if the position were for me. Maybe a few years back before family ties and settling down it would have been perfect... but it is something to think about as you mention you have pets. Just think about how the demands of the job would fit with your personal situation and go from there. As stated above, the hours and days will be irregular for your first few years. You will hear the expression you are "owned" by the railway... that was a common expression at the crew base I was looking at. But again, it can be a very rewarding position as well. Whatever you decide... best of luck!
  15. I know they do fly people over from the West Coast the Saturday (or Sunday) prior to the start of the class. That is a good point though as I'm not sure how they do it in the East.
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