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Sleeper Car has been removed from train #11 (6/17)

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I have a trip coming up in one week on Coast Starlight from OKJ to LAX. I had booked a roomette since I did not want to sit in coach for 12 hours. Today I got this email from Amtrak-

 

We wanted to let you know that the Sleeper Car has been removed from train #11, the Coast Starlight, from Oakland - Jack London Square on Sunday, June 17th. We've changed your reservation to standard Coach seating.

 

Does anyone know what is happening? Coast Starlight usually runs with at least 3 sleeper cars, so did they remove all of them? Did they remove one and I got the short end of the stick?

 

I am trying to find out from Amtrak what's happening but I have been on hold on 1-800-USA-RAIL since eternity. Does anyone on this forum know better what are my options? Will Amtrak offer compensation beyond the difference in sleeper and coach fare? They screwed me over just one week before travel date so now I have to spend a fortune to book a last minute flight or rental car :(

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It almost sounds as if they are doing you a favour, I don't detect any note of sorrow in their email. The inconvenience should at least be deeply regretted. ;-)

 

I don't think they would offer anything more than a refund of the difference in fares, but I may be wrong.

 

I know you wanted a sleeper compartment, so no excuses, but as it is a daytime ride, maybe it would not be too painful to travel in coach?

 

Good luck anyway,

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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When you eventually get through to an agent I would either try for a sleeper on another day, or endure the ride in coach (at least it's not an overnight) and ask for a full refund. I guarantee that you'll be able to get the difference refunded, but it's definitely possible that you can get the full amount back. Good luck!

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Business class is available, too.

It is, but I'm pretty sure the hard product is identical to coach. BC pax get a $6 voucher for the diner or cafe, and two water bottles, but it seems like everything else is identical to coach. I personally believe that the best thing would be to try for a sleeper on another day, or try for a refund.

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Hasn't travel on the Coast Starlight been disrupted because of the tunnel collapse in Northern California? Perhaps the sleepers have been removed because the overnight portion of the trip has been displaced with buses. Ridership probably has dropped because of the bus detour and one or more of the sleepers have been temporarily canceled.

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To everyone suggesting I should try sleeper on another day- please do not assume everyone on this forum is a retiree and taking the train just for fun! I cannot do another day, I have places to reach and work to do. It is a commentary on how bad/unreliable Amtrak is when multiple people's first reaction is "just go another day" as if schedules mean nothing!

 

I am going to have to look for a flight (which are all pretty expensive since it is only a week from travel date) or do a one-way rental car.

 

I have done LAX-OKJ in coach before, it's not that I cannot endure it, rather I booked this trip specifically to do it in a sleeper roomette to travel relaxed enjoying the beautiful views so it's a bummer that Amtrak randomly decided to remove all sleeper accommodation.

 

Now the question is, how to get Amtrak to issue me at least a full refund if nothing more, when I am finally able to reach them on phone. Currently on my 4th attempt with a total of 1+ hour of "hold" time and still listening to hold music. Does anyone know an alternate phone number to reach Customer Relations or some such? I reached out to their Twitter account too but no response.

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Call 'em around midnight Pacific, I kid you not :ph34r:

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Call 'em around midnight Pacific, I kid you not :ph34r:

What makes a midnight Pacific stand out, anyways?

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Hasn't travel on the Coast Starlight been disrupted because of the tunnel collapse in Northern California? Perhaps the sleepers have been removed because the overnight portion of the trip has been displaced with buses. Ridership probably has dropped because of the bus detour and one or more of the sleepers have been temporarily canceled.

I believe that the collapse is actually in Oregon. Tunnel 11 by Odell Lake, near Oakridge Oregon.

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It is, but I'm pretty sure the hard product is identical to coach. BC pax get a $6 voucher for the diner or cafe, and two water bottles, but it seems like everything else is identical to coach. I personally believe that the best thing would be to try for a sleeper on another day, or try for a refund.

 

Five other differences: 1. fellow passengers are quieter (although you can still go to the lounge if that's not your thing), 2. the BC car is usually cleaner, 3. better chance of having two seats to yourself, 4. WiFi, 5. 50/50 chance of having an attendant who actually attends.

 

It used to be that Starlight BC passengers would also have sporadic access to the Pacific Parlour Car bar (seemed to correlate to the quality of the attendant). That's gone for now, but if the diner/sleeper lounge concept makes it out west, we might get that back too.

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Call 'em around midnight Pacific, I kid you not :ph34r:

What makes a midnight Pacific stand out, anyways?

 

Anytime late at night when call volumes are markedly less. You get through much quicker.

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Now the question is, how to get Amtrak to issue me at least a full refund if nothing more, when I am finally able to reach them on phone. Currently on my 4th attempt with a total of 1+ hour of "hold" time and still listening to hold music. Does anyone know an alternate phone number to reach Customer Relations or some such? I reached out to their Twitter account too but no response.

The Customer Service number is 1 (800) 872-7245, but I think that's different from Customer Relations. If you keep calling, I think you'll eventually get through, and I would just emphasize why it's so problematic for them to bump you to coach, as well as how hard it will be to change travel plans. As I've said many times before, Amtrak has usually been pretty helpful and accommodating for me when this kind of stuff comes up.

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So I finally managed to get to an Amtrak agent on the phone. He confirmed that due to "some problems" the Coast Starlight is only running between Sacramento and Los Angeles and there are no sleeper cars available to use (where did they leave all the sleeper cars? In the Oakland yard?).

 

He did not know for how long it is going to continue like this, and surprisingly, in true incompetent Amtrak style, there is ZERO mention of this major disruption on Amtrak's Service Disruption webpage- https://www.amtrak.com/service-alerts-and-notices. The only CS related advisory is related to trackwork in Oregon which is a different problem than this curtailed sleeper-less service.

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Call 'em around midnight Pacific, I kid you not :ph34r:

What makes a midnight Pacific stand out, anyways?

 

Anytime late at night when call volumes are markedly less. You get through much quicker.

 

I think that has been true in most of my late night calls. Sometimes I would get through right away after being transfered by JulieBOT, and sometimes less than 5 minutes. My daylight hold times average about 45 minutes. 30 minutes at a minimum, and easily goes over 1 hour at times.

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It is, but I'm pretty sure the hard product is identical to coach. BC pax get a $6 voucher for the diner or cafe, and two water bottles, but it seems like everything else is identical to coach. I personally believe that the best thing would be to try for a sleeper on another day, or try for a refund.

 

Five other differences: 1. fellow passengers are quieter (although you can still go to the lounge if that's not your thing), 2. the BC car is usually cleaner, 3. better chance of having two seats to yourself, 4. WiFi, 5. 50/50 chance of having an attendant who actually attends.

Differences 1), 3), and 5) all rely on there being only a few people in BC. If many people decide to travel business class, you lose all those benefits. I've never liked a service that relies on it not selling well for there to be any advantage of it.

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Now the question is, how to get Amtrak to issue me at least a full refund if nothing more, when I am finally able to reach them on phone. Currently on my 4th attempt with a total of 1+ hour of "hold" time and still listening to hold music. Does anyone know an alternate phone number to reach Customer Relations or some such? I reached out to their Twitter account too but no response.

The Customer Service number is 1 (800) 872-7245, but I think that's different from Customer Relations. If you keep calling, I think you'll eventually get through, and I would just emphasize why it's so problematic for them to bump you to coach, as well as how hard it will be to change travel plans. As I've said many times before, Amtrak has usually been pretty helpful and accommodating for me when this kind of stuff comes up.

 

To get to customer relations, ask the agent on line for Customer Relations. Tried it and it worked for me. But be warned that the CR only operates on a standard Business Hours.

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So I finally managed to get to an Amtrak agent on the phone. He confirmed that due to "some problems" the Coast Starlight is only running between Sacramento and Los Angeles and there are no sleeper cars available to use (where did they leave all the sleeper cars? In the Oakland yard?).

 

He did not know for how long it is going to continue like this, and surprisingly, in true incompetent Amtrak style, there is ZERO mention of this major disruption on Amtrak's Service Disruption webpage- https://www.amtrak.com/service-alerts-and-notices. The only CS related advisory is related to trackwork in Oregon which is a different problem than this curtailed sleeper-less service.

This is mainly due to extended embargo on the SP/UP Cascade Sub related to the Tunnel 11 issues. They can't just shuttle crews forever, and there are only so many charter buses. During the bridge damage issue last year, they did the same, but back then they had a single sleeper.

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No, the only benefit that depends on fewer people is #3, having two seats to yourself.

 

 

 

It is, but I'm pretty sure the hard product is identical to coach. BC pax get a $6 voucher for the diner or cafe, and two water bottles, but it seems like everything else is identical to coach. I personally believe that the best thing would be to try for a sleeper on another day, or try for a refund.

 

Five other differences: 1. fellow passengers are quieter (although you can still go to the lounge if that's not your thing), 2. the BC car is usually cleaner, 3. better chance of having two seats to yourself, 4. WiFi, 5. 50/50 chance of having an attendant who actually attends.

Differences 1), 3), and 5) all rely on there being only a few people in BC. If many people decide to travel business class, you lose all those benefits. I've never liked a service that relies on it not selling well for there to be any advantage of it.

 

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I am traveling the next two months, and maybe later this month. Here are the dates per my docket:

June 20: KFS to PDX (maybe)

June 23: EUG to SAC (maybe)

June 24: SAC to KFS (maybe)

July 21: KFS to PDX

July 23: PDX to KFS

July 26: KFS to PDX

July 30: PDX to KFS

August 7: KFS to SAC

August 12: SAC to KFS

August 31: KFS to SAC

September 18: SAC to LAX

 

 

Edit: It looks like my June dates may not work. Looks like I have to push it back by at least a week.

Edited by bmjhagen9426

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Hasn't travel on the Coast Starlight been disrupted because of the tunnel collapse in Northern California? Perhaps the sleepers have been removed because the overnight portion of the trip has been displaced with buses. Ridership probably has dropped because of the bus detour and one or more of the sleepers have been temporarily canceled.

I believe that the collapse is actually in Oregon. Tunnel 11 by Odell Lake, near Oakridge Oregon.

 

That tunnel is normally passed late morning on #14 and early evening on #11.

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“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” - John Lyndgate

Stated in modern terms - **** Happens !

Edited by KmH

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No, the only benefit that depends on fewer people is #3, having two seats to yourself.

 

 

 

It is, but I'm pretty sure the hard product is identical to coach. BC pax get a $6 voucher for the diner or cafe, and two water bottles, but it seems like everything else is identical to coach. I personally believe that the best thing would be to try for a sleeper on another day, or try for a refund.

Five other differences: 1. fellow passengers are quieter (although you can still go to the lounge if that's not your thing), 2. the BC car is usually cleaner, 3. better chance of having two seats to yourself, 4. WiFi, 5. 50/50 chance of having an attendant who actually attends.

 

Differences 1), 3), and 5) all rely on there being only a few people in BC. If many people decide to travel business class, you lose all those benefits. I've never liked a service that relies on it not selling well for there to be any advantage of it.

 

 

What tells you that passengers are automatically quieter in business class? If the car is full then why would it be any quieter than coach? And what tells you that the attendants in business class are any more attentive than in coach? Unless the car is pretty empty, in which case the attendant would have more time for each passenger, I don't see why you'd get any better service in BC.

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Have you ever ridden business class on the Starlight? It's usually quieter because the people who pay the extra money are quieter. That might be an elitist observation, but it is no less true for it.

 

Some BC attendants do the job as if they were in coach: largely in absentia. You'll see them once when you get on the train and they tell you "take any seat you want upstairs". If you want anything else, you have track them down.

 

Other BC attendants put considerable effort into looking after passengers (and earn tips accordingly). They're the ones who make sure you have water, a pillow, a voucher and a wifi password (not written on the voucher). They're also the ones who smoothed your way into the PPC, assuming their colleagues were amenable. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to make passengers feel welcome and well looked after. My experience is that about half the BC attendants are willing to put in that time and effort.

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To everyone suggesting I should try sleeper on another day- please do not assume everyone on this forum is a retiree and taking the train just for fun! I cannot do another day, I have places to reach and work to do. It is a commentary on how bad/unreliable Amtrak is when multiple people's first reaction is "just go another day" as if schedules mean nothing!

 

I am going to have to look for a flight (which are all pretty expensive since it is only a week from travel date) or do a one-way rental car.

 

I have done LAX-OKJ in coach before, it's not that I cannot endure it, rather I booked this trip specifically to do it in a sleeper roomette to travel relaxed enjoying the beautiful views so it's a bummer that Amtrak randomly decided to remove all sleeper accommodation.

 

Now the question is, how to get Amtrak to issue me at least a full refund if nothing more, when I am finally able to reach them on phone. Currently on my 4th attempt with a total of 1+ hour of "hold" time and still listening to hold music. Does anyone know an alternate phone number to reach Customer Relations or some such? I reached out to their Twitter account too but no response.

I completely stopped taking Amtrak for anything related to business/work. For over a year and a half I used to take the Surfliner for work but over the last year and a half, the trains have really become unreliable. If its not mechanical, its a little rain or something or someone unauthorized on the tracks. Unfortunately unless you got couple of days free before or after the day you want to travel, and got nothing better to do, Amtrak is becoming less of a travel option.

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