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Mystic River Dragon

Can Amtrak skip a routine, major station if no one is scheduled to get on or off

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I was on 173 today, and I'm nearly sure we did not stop at Trenton, which is a regular stop. It was possible I was daydreaming and missed it, but another lady getting off at Philly didn't think we stopped at TRE either. Now that the conductors have a computer listing of passengers, is it possible that a major station can be passed if there will be no passengers boarding or detraining for sure?

(Not that I'm complaining--the less time anywhere near TRE, the better.):P

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According to the “Northeast Corridor 1” timetable, 173 doesn’t stop at Trenton.

By the way though, what you are talking about–a station that a train only stops at if someone is ticketed to or from it–is called a “flag stop”. Certain stations are designated as flag stops on timetables, and may be such due to low ridership at the station or in some cases inconvenient timing. But Trenton is not one. :)

Edited by cpotisch

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Perhaps the train was behind schedule and just slowed down, but did not fully stop.

Unless it is behind schedule, an A stop, a D stop or an L stop, all trains can not depart prior to the scheduled departure time. Even at flag stops, they slow down to verify n9body is waiting there.

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1 minute ago, the_traveler said:

Perhaps the train was behind schedule and just slowed down, but did not fully stop.

Unless it is behind schedule, an A stop, a D stop or an L stop, all trains can not depart prior to the scheduled departure time. Even at flag stops, they slow down to verify n9body is waiting there.

Unless there is a rule requiring notification 24 hours ahead of arrival, as is the case in some places with Flag Stops. For example I don't believe the Canadian slows down at each of its zillion Flag Stops.

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I have not paid attention to what Amtrak does at flag stops. But I thought that Amtrak also in general required " flagstop - with sufficient notice being given to the agent or conductor". Frankly, when trains are mostly reserved and the Conductor has the manifest handy, it would be kind of silly to keep slowing down at every flagstop. It would be better to stop accepting reservations from flagstops a certain time ahead of scheduled arrival allowing notification to the Conductor.

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11 minutes ago, Mystic River Dragon said:

Thanks, Thirdrail7--

I never looked at a schedule for it, just booked to Philly.

Which leads to another question--I assumed all Regionals stopped at TRE as a matter of course. Why did they decide to have this one skip it?

There are a couple of regionals in each direction that skip TRE. 173 started doing this when a large number of track projects began and they expressed it NWK-PHL to keep it ahead of the Acela.

 

9 minutes ago, the_traveler said:

Perhaps the train was behind schedule and just slowed down, but did not fully stop.

Unless it is behind schedule, an A stop, a D stop or an L stop, all trains can not depart prior to the scheduled departure time. Even at flag stops, they slow down to verify n9body is waiting there.

You can also be authorized by bulletin, dispatcher and other forms of paperwork to skip a stop or depart early.

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2 minutes ago, Thirdrail7 said:

There are a couple of regionals in each direction that skip TRE. 173 started doing this when a large number of track projects began and they expressed it NWK-PHL to keep it ahead of the Acela.

Thanks to all of you--all very interesting information:)--but Thirdrail7's answer is the specific information I was looking for here.

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27 minutes ago, Thirdrail7 said:

173 hasn’t made TRE in years.   That being said, the answer is yes depending on certain criteria .

Does 89 stop at NRK or just whiz on by?  ;)

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Once back in the early 1990s I was riding on the PENNSYLVANIAN when the conductor advised the engineer that he had no passengers to discharge at Tyrone, PA, which was a scheduled stop (not flag stop).  At that time the train did not have reserved seating.  Running a bit behind schedule, we approached the platform at reduced speed.  Seeing that there were no passengers to board, the conductor highballed the train and we resumed speed.  The train never came to a complete stop in Tyrone.

Andy

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2 hours ago, jis said:

I have not paid attention to what Amtrak does at flag stops. But I thought that Amtrak also in general required " flagstop - with sufficient notice being given to the agent or conductor". Frankly, when trains are mostly reserved and the Conductor has the manifest handy, it would be kind of silly to keep slowing down at every flagstop. It would be better to stop accepting reservations from flagstops a certain time ahead of scheduled arrival allowing notification to the Conductor.

This is VIA's policy on its "rural service" trains, for the most part (the Canadian included): Reservations need to be made by X amount of time (I think 45 minutes) before the train is scheduled to a given station (for example, Winnipeg and I think Capreol for rural Ontario) so a manifest update can be handed to the crew.

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Returning to LA on the Coast Starlight, we "skipped" Van Nuys and Burbank Airport which are "discharge only" stations. The manifest indicated no departing passengers...numerous announcements were made by the conductor to ensure there was indeed no one onboard needing to stop there at these two stations.

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About 35 years ago, I was on Trans Michigan Airlines (I think that's what they were called) on a plane that originated at Sault Ste Marie, with stops at Petosky, Traverse City, Midland, and terminated at Detroit.  About 10 minutes after leaving Traverse City, the pilot got on the speaker to confirm there was nobody getting off at Midland.  Nobody of the 8-10 aboard the 12-seater was getting off there.  He then radioed Midland to see if anybody was getting on.  Nope.  So we went straight to Detroit without stopping. 

These days, the 'device' that all Amtrak conductors carry shows how many people on and off at each stop.  I don't think there would ever be a situation where any town over, say, population 5,000 would NOT have somebody on or off, so they're never shown as flag stops.  The problem, though, would seem to be someone who drives up at the last minute at a flag stop, and then gets on his/her cellphone to purchase their ticket, a minute or two ahead of train arrival.  I don't think Amtraks' computer could update the conductors' device in time to indicate they should stop at Podunkville.  Goes to show what too much dependency on computers can do.

Compare that to the multiple flag stops on the South Shore between Gary and Michigan City.  The signs read "passengers must use light at night" or something similar.  Many years ago, one of the engineers I was riding with said that flaming newspapers were regularly used as a 'light at night'.  Nowadays, they have a simple on/off switch for a light on a pole. 

Edited by bratkinson

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4 hours ago, cpotisch said:

By the way though, what you are talking about–a station that a train only stops at if someone is ticketed to or from it–is called a “flag stop”. Certain stations are designated as flag stops on timetables, and may be such due to low ridership at the station or in some cases inconvenient timing. But Trenton is not one. :)

That's not what she asked and has nothing to do with what she is referring to. The TITLE of her thread is can Amtrak skip a routine, MAJOR stop if no one is scheduled to get on or off.

Keyword: Routine....Major.

She didn't ask anything about a flag stop which you indicated may be due to low ridership or inconvenient timing. How could that be construed as  MAJOR stop, which she listed in the title and the first post?

 

Edited by Thirdrail7

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4 hours ago, jis said:

". Frankly, when trains are mostly reserved and the Conductor has the manifest handy, it would be kind of silly to keep slowing down at every flagstop. It would be better to stop accepting reservations from flagstops a certain time ahead of scheduled arrival allowing notification to the Conductor.

That is not necessary Jis, because of this:

45 minutes ago, bratkinson said:

These days, the 'device' that all Amtrak conductors carry shows how many people on and off at each stop.  I don't think there would ever be a situation where any town over, say, population 5,000 would NOT have somebody on or off, so they're never shown as flag stops.  The problem, though, would seem to be someone who drives up at the last minute at a flag stop, and then gets on his/her cellphone to purchase their ticket, a minute or two ahead of train arrival. I don't think Amtraks' computer could update the conductors' device in time to indicate they should stop at Podunkville.  Goes to show what too much dependency on computers can do.

Yes, it can. It is pretty much real time. As soon as the transaction is completed, it shows on their EMD...as long as there is connectivity.

That being said, none of this has to do with MAJOR stops....and the answer is yes...although Twropr's anecdote sounds more like a rules violation. :help:

 

Edited by Thirdrail7

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My guess is that the only situation it would be allowed would be a late train scenario (where the computer has [idiotically, IMO] cut off sales for several hours and so nobody could have "just bought a ticket").

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My understanding (I tried to find something official to document, but couldn't) is that, even at flag stops, the train is supposed to slow down to a speed at which it can safely stop if a last-minute walk-up passenger "flags it down" from the platform and that it is not to pass that stop until the time point published in the timetable. The exception being, of course, stops which are coded as "D" (Discharge only) or "L" (Limited?). At stops with those codes, the train may leave early if its station work is complete.

While at all regular stops the train is supposed to come to a full and complete stop, it wouldn't surprise me if some crews treat minor stops as a flag stop if running behind schedule. And I've personally seen several smaller station stops where a full and complete stop was made...for about two seconds before continuing on.

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16 minutes ago, ehbowen said:

My understanding (I tried to find something official to document, but couldn't) is that, even at flag stops, the train is supposed to slow down to a speed at which it can safely stop if a last-minute walk-up passenger "flags it down" from the platform and that it is not to pass that stop until the time point published in the timetable. The exception being, of course, stops which are coded as "D" (Discharge only) or "L" (Limited?). At stops with those codes, the train may leave early if its station work is complete.

While at all regular stops the train is supposed to come to a full and complete stop, it wouldn't surprise me if some crews treat minor stops as a flag stop if running behind schedule. And I've personally seen several smaller station stops where a full and complete stop was made...for about two seconds before continuing on.

Likewise, in the latter case.  Quite literally, a whistle stop!

Otoh, there are some great stories from the old North Shore Line, including that of a top executive whose watch was fast and ordered a train to leave early against the conductor's best judgement.   (The motorman managed to slow run in order to get back on regular schedule and the executive called to compliment the conductor after having his watch checked.)

Another favorite was how a motorman and conductor conspired to make an unscheduled stop at the military base late at night to allow a serviceman to get back where he had to be.  They accomplished this by faking train problems, which the conductor decided to jump off and check on/fix at the base stop, announcing his intent loudly to the motorman so passengers would not question the stop.  The serviceman was quickly and quietly allowed to jump off.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Thirdrail7 said:

I suppose it depends on who is on the platform. ^_^

Never if AmtrakBue is on platform? :lol:

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