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

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The trend continues, but where does it end? The Megabus service model has some positive attributes, but I'm not sure very many of them translate to passenger rail.

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What is the business model to keep a station staffed? It would be good to know so we know what the future Amtrak will look like.

 

Probably generate enough revenue to justify keeping someone on the payroll for a couple of hour window every day.

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GRV, despite awful calling times and only one train, is actually a pretty busy station. And when I've been there, I've seen quite a few folks checking baggage. Any word on whether baggage will be checked trainside at GRV?

 

I rarely check baggage, but when I do it's really needed--so little space for bags on Viewliners. And why the heck do they run baggage cars, if Amtrak's "trend" is to elminate checked baggage at more and more stations?

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Amtrak must look only at the number of tickets sold and the revenue generated, without regard to number of passengers boarding and the number of bags checked. They know how many passengers, but there is no way to track the baggage traffic by the bean counters.

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Aren't all checked bags tagged with a computer barcode like the airlines? If so, it's all trackable.

Edited by VentureForth

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Aren't all checked bags tagged with a computer barcode like the airlines? If so, it's all trackable.

Nope, just a tag with the station code of the destination of the bag.

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Train-side baggage check needs to be implemented, and without delay, on every train with a baggage car. There is no reason this cannot be done at virtually every station. And to better streamline this, having the ability to declare the number of bags being checked when making a reservation so as to expect the number of bags to be taken aboard as well as their intended destinations seems a no-brainer.

 

And yet, here we are. :rolleyes:

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How about 24 hour on line check in for trains, especially those from un staffed stations, with a baggage to be checked section. This would give the Conductors a bag on/off count on their manifest and the bean counters true information of the number of checked bags passengers are traveling with.

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Train-side baggage check needs to be implemented, and without delay, on every train with a baggage car. There is no reason this cannot be done at virtually every station. And to better streamline this, having the ability to declare the number of bags being checked when making a reservation so as to expect the number of bags to be taken aboard as well as their intended destinations seems a no-brainer.

 

And yet, here we are. :rolleyes:

 

There are plenty of reasons, #1 being my back.

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Train-side baggage check needs to be implemented, and without delay, on every train with a baggage car. There is no reason this cannot be done at virtually every station. And to better streamline this, having the ability to declare the number of bags being checked when making a reservation so as to expect the number of bags to be taken aboard as well as their intended destinations seems a no-brainer.

 

And yet, here we are. :rolleyes:

 

There are plenty of reasons, #1 being my back.

 

There are plenty of ways to address that concern. You would advocate the elimination of checked baggage completely, then? Saving oneself from injury is absolutely not what I am against, but in realistic terms, is moving baggage/heavy items not part of the job in the first place? In my line of work I routinely wear 50+ pounds of gear, then carry awkward and very heavy things like ladders (80-100+ lbs) and charged fire hoses hoses, all while moving through uneven terrain and/or tight areas as well as stairs. I expect someone to point out "That is your job, you signed up for it." Which would be my point.

 

Amtrak, and its employees, exists to move people -and- their belongings. Safely, efficiently, and in comfort. Providing a means, at every opportunity, includes the ability to check larger pieces of luggage. Unstaffing stations appears to be the new normal, but service like checked luggage must remain or else whats the point?

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Train-side baggage check needs to be implemented, and without delay, on every train with a baggage car. There is no reason this cannot be done at virtually every station. And to better streamline this, having the ability to declare the number of bags being checked when making a reservation so as to expect the number of bags to be taken aboard as well as their intended destinations seems a no-brainer.

 

And yet, here we are. :rolleyes:

 

There are plenty of reasons, #1 being my back.

 

There are plenty of ways to address that concern. You would advocate the elimination of checked baggage completely, then? Saving oneself from injury is absolutely not what I am against, but in realistic terms, is moving baggage/heavy items not part of the job in the first place? In my line of work I routinely wear 50+ pounds of gear, then carry awkward and very heavy things like ladders (80-100+ lbs) and charged fire hoses hoses, all while moving through uneven terrain and/or tight areas as well as stairs. I expect someone to point out "That is your job, you signed up for it." Which would be my point.

 

Amtrak, and its employees, exists to move people -and- their belongings. Safely, efficiently, and in comfort. Providing a means, at every opportunity, includes the ability to check larger pieces of luggage. Unstaffing stations appears to be the new normal, but service like checked luggage must remain or else whats the point?

 

 

It sounds so simple to "just put the bag on the train". Well, exactly where do you want to put those bags? We could certainly add checked baggage service at every unstaffed station by lengthening dwell times an extra 5-10 minutes. It'll "only" add an hour running time between MIA-NYP.

 

I assume you want the bags in the baggage car so they aren't taking up your valuable carry-on space, but the baggage car is usually not conveniently located to the coach boarding locations. How do you get passengers to be in the correct place for self-checked baggage? If you put signs up, 80% of the passengers will not comply with the signage. So now you have passengers being sent from the coaches to the baggage car, sometimes 4, 5, 6 cars away. Now they get down there but can't lift the bags up to the conductor, the bag weighs more than 50lbs, they didn't tag the bags, don't have identification on the bags, etc.

 

Once the baggage is tagged and in the baggage car, the passengers now have to walk all the way back down the platform to board. This is taking up lots and lots of time.

 

There are stations where the platform condition is marginal at best. Sebring, FL is the perfect example. The platform is low and uneven and the baggage car doors are at the height of my head. I didn't sign up for that, our job description says nothing about lifting 50lbs over our head. What if the bag is 54 lbs and I get hurt? Them I'm at fault because I picked up a bag over 50lbs even though accurate and reliable scales won't be available at unstaffed stations.

 

The platform also floods at Sebring, but we'll still do self-checked baggage and make passengers walk through the long/deep puddle to get to/from the baggage car during driving rain storms.

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Train-side baggage check needs to be implemented, and without delay, on every train with a baggage car. There is no reason this cannot be done at virtually every station. And to better streamline this, having the ability to declare the number of bags being checked when making a reservation so as to expect the number of bags to be taken aboard as well as their intended destinations seems a no-brainer.

 

And yet, here we are. :rolleyes:

 

There are plenty of reasons, #1 being my back.

 

There are plenty of ways to address that concern. You would advocate the elimination of checked baggage completely, then? Saving oneself from injury is absolutely not what I am against, but in realistic terms, is moving baggage/heavy items not part of the job in the first place? In my line of work I routinely wear 50+ pounds of gear, then carry awkward and very heavy things like ladders (80-100+ lbs) and charged fire hoses hoses, all while moving through uneven terrain and/or tight areas as well as stairs. I expect someone to point out "That is your job, you signed up for it." Which would be my point.

 

Amtrak, and its employees, exists to move people -and- their belongings. Safely, efficiently, and in comfort. Providing a means, at every opportunity, includes the ability to check larger pieces of luggage. Unstaffing stations appears to be the new normal, but service like checked luggage must remain or else whats the point?

 

 

It sounds so simple to "just put the bag on the train". Well, exactly where do you want to put those bags? We could certainly add checked baggage service at every unstaffed station by lengthening dwell times an extra 5-10 minutes. It'll "only" add an hour running time between MIA-NYP.

 

I assume you want the bags in the baggage car so they aren't taking up your valuable carry-on space, but the baggage car is usually not conveniently located to the coach boarding locations. How do you get passengers to be in the correct place for self-checked baggage? If you put signs up, 80% of the passengers will not comply with the signage. So now you have passengers being sent from the coaches to the baggage car, sometimes 4, 5, 6 cars away. Now they get down there but can't lift the bags up to the conductor, the bag weighs more than 50lbs, they didn't tag the bags, don't have identification on the bags, etc.

 

Once the baggage is tagged and in the baggage car, the passengers now have to walk all the way back down the platform to board. This is taking up lots and lots of time.

 

There are stations where the platform condition is marginal at best. Sebring, FL is the perfect example. The platform is low and uneven and the baggage car doors are at the height of my head. I didn't sign up for that, our job description says nothing about lifting 50lbs over our head. What if the bag is 54 lbs and I get hurt? Them I'm at fault because I picked up a bag over 50lbs even though accurate and reliable scales won't be available at unstaffed stations.

 

The platform also floods at Sebring, but we'll still do self-checked baggage and make passengers walk through the long/deep puddle to get to/from the baggage car during driving rain storms.

 

 

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.

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Eliminating checked baggage entirely might make sense if all stations had platforms at the same level as the car doors. But most stations for LD trains do not. Europeans and Asians seem to get along without checked baggage.

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Understanding the complexities and the hurdles when it comes to the things mentioned: poorly designed/maintained platforms, weather woes, placement of passenger coaches in relation to baggage cars, and of course the common intelligence factor of most people when it comes to instructions. Trust me, I know all too well how that last one plays out. I still do not believe providing train-side checked baggage service is asking too much. Comparing Asian or European systems with the Long Distance network of Amtrak is not even remotely applicable, either. The clientele are two totally different groups, and generally overnight/multi-day journeys are the exception in those places where they're more often the rule here. People in the US have baggage (often in more ways than one) and they're going to factor the availability of taking said belongings along with them. The single-level trains are woefully under-equipped for luggage bigger than carry-on, sometimes causing revenue passenger seats to be pushed into the role of a luggage rack. And the Viewliner roomette, with its cubby hole, is absurd for taking a full-sized suitcase. Talk about lifting weight above one's head...

 

At least the Superliner trains have better options. The luggage racks are bigger (though often are filled up as well) and then there's the bag-coach. Too bad Amtrak lost much interest in them some time back; their use would be exceptional in this role since they're so much lower to the ground. Self-checked luggage in the bag-coach; staffed-station-checked luggage in the traditional baggage car. Its possible, even if there's a million reasons people could figure to say it won't work.

 

Something must be addressed here. My closest station, CIC, is unstaffed. Going north, the next staffed station is some 300 miles away in Klammath Falls. Going south, its Sacramento at 100 miles. The answer cannot be to fold one's arms and shrug, then state that it can't be helped that you spent $1200+ on that cross-country sleeper ticket but that the bags have no place to go. That's how you loose customers, not exactly the direction an organization like Amtrak can afford to do in any circumstance. There are logistical problems, absolutely. That's why there are well-paid people at company HQ who's job it is to figure these things out. And some stations, maybe like your cited Sebring Florida, just cannot provide the service for safety reasons. In those cases actually telling people why in signage that points out the problem or through professional explanation could both educate those traveling. As well as potentially place some pressure on the owners of the facility to improve its condition so as to allow the service at a future date.

 

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.

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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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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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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!

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... 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.

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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.

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