Very minor annoyance (re platform access)

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by VentureForth, Sep 14, 2019.

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  1. Sep 14, 2019 #1

    VentureForth

    VentureForth

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    In the grand scheme of things, this isn't much to complain about. I'm sure in some ways it's a good thing.

    But this morning in Savannah, I walked out to the platform to catch 97 come through like I've done on many occasions in the past without issue.

    I was promptly called out by the station agent (lady I'm never seen before) and told to wait inside until the dreaded kindergarten walk. Not being a passenger, I just stopped to the side. When the automated announcement told passengers to make their way to platform 2, the kindergarteners walked to the gate and about to pass through when agent yelled for them to stop.

    Train entered station, conductor got out, came all the way to the gate and scanned everyone before even the first passenger got off.

    Savannah is a service stop, so no matter how late the train is, there is almost always at least a 10 minute dwell. Regardless, I find this to be hugely inefficient.

    Anyway, just a little odd I couldn't just hang out on the platform anymore. I know many stations are like this, so no biggie. Just another reason for me to meh over Amtrak.
     
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  2. Sep 14, 2019 #2

    Bob Dylan

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    Another case of Power Tripping/Make up your own rules by Amtrak Employees!( maybe they used to work in Chicago?!!)
     
  3. Sep 14, 2019 #3

    jis

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    Maybe Amtrak employee training should have one rule hammered into the heads of the trainees - "Though shall not make your own rules on the fly and try to enforce them". Unless you can quote chapter and verse of the rule from the rule book, there is no rule. So cease and desist from enforcing non-existent rules.

    But in general there is bound to be a lot of leeway in safety regulations where individuals have to make judgement calls, since everything cannot be made into written rules.

    OTOH, explicitly written rules and guidance about e.g. where tickets should be checked and lifted, is routinely flouted by everyone all over the Amtrak system. It is almost a norm for hapless passengers to get yelled and barked at for the fault of not being able to mind read the mood of the employee at hand. Somehow even the much maligned airlines are mostly able to be more disciplined than that.
     
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  4. Sep 14, 2019 #4

    Dakota 400

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    I find it irritating that a railfan observer is discouraged to being prevented from being on a platform to watch the arrival/departure of an Amtrak train. Once, I went up the platform at the New Carrollton station before seeing a sign that said something like "passengers only". There was an Amtrak policeman on the platform nearby and I noticed that he kept a very close watch on me until I left the platform. (It was then that I saw the sign.)

    I understand that the reason for this is due to security concerns. But still, what might I do? Hijack a train?
     
  5. Sep 14, 2019 #5

    Qapla

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    What's funny about this ... in Palatka, Fl anyone can watch the train arrive and depart - you can even stand on the tracks and take pictures of the approaching train and no one will say a word to you.
     
  6. Sep 14, 2019 #6

    Palmland

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    This irritates me as well. As usual Amtrak is inconsistent about when passengers can be on the platform. But my biggest gripe is the inefficiencies of the boarding process, as Venturforth mentions.

    Passengers should be told where to stand before the train arrives and be able to board as soon as all deboarding passengers get off. The train crew should get tickets after departure as is done on the NEC (and many decades before Amtrak on all trains). The only exception might be at an originating terminal where many passengers board and there is time to do it well before departure.

    Perhaps Anderson should take a trip on Delta to Europe to observe the boarding process on trains there.
     
  7. Sep 14, 2019 #7

    MARC Rider

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    At least for now..... :)

    In Baltimore, the signs clearly say "passengers only" on the platform, but it's really not enforced. I suppose if you go down and hang out before they announce the train, someone might say something to you, but after the train is announced (a good 5-10 minutes before it arrives) nobody checks for tickets on the way to the platform. In fact, for the Regionals (and even the Acelas) you could board without a ticket. I think for the long distance trains, they might check tickets before boarding, mainly so that they can tell you where your seat or room is.
     
  8. Sep 14, 2019 #8

    pennyk

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    Similar in Orlando, Winter Park and Kissimmee. Anyone can watch the train arrive and depart. The SunRail platforms are pretty much the same platforms as Amtrak at those stations. However, you cannot stand on the tracks (and should not) in any of those stations. They are all staffed stations.
     
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  9. Sep 15, 2019 #9

    Seaboard92

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    In Germany they do one better. They have multiple posters on every platform denoting which cars on each long distance train (and select regionals) stops. And on the schedule posters each platform the track assignments are posted.

    Whereas in this country we can’t perfect this at all. Deutsche Bahn has Haltestelle signs for the crews to count their distance. Works like a charm. It’s low tech and we could do it.
     
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  10. Sep 15, 2019 #10

    Qapla

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    I have been on the ground at Orlando during the stop - I was able to take pictures "up close" and no one questioned me. Now, I was a passenger on the Star - but, I'm not sure if anyone would have known that since people were wandering all around and not all of them were passengers.

    I have been on the Kissimmee SunRail platform and it would be easy to take pictures without anyone from AMtrak being able to say anything. However, I was not on the ground when Amtrak arrived (I have been on the Star when it stopped there) so I do not know how fast the train is travelling when it is approaching the station - besides, since other trains also use those tracks and the freights do not go slow, I'm not sure I would want to be on those tracks - although, there is a grade crossing at that location for people - making it very easy to be "on the tracks" if you want to take pictures.

    The station in Palatka is not staffed by anything other than a ticket agent - and she does not come outside when the train arrives. The SB train approaches from around a curve that is about ¼ mile before the train gets to the station - and has a grade crossing near that curve - so, at this point, the train is moving quite slowly ... making it ideal for picture taking
     
  11. Sep 15, 2019 #11

    Dakota 400

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    Thanks to the station personnel at Fort Lauderdale, that is exactly what was done when I embarked the Silver Meteor, Northbound. Much appreciated by me since I don't walk as quickly as I did 20 years ago and I know that this is a very short station stop.
     
  12. Sep 15, 2019 #12

    Seaboard92

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    In Savannah the train should be approaching at roughly 10 MPH. The entire station is separate from the main line. And I’m not sure what that turnout is good for. But I can’t imagine the house track switch, or either station tracks being good for anything over twenty.
     
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  13. Sep 15, 2019 #13

    jis

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    Strictly speaking Kissimmee is different platforms. But how the heck do you keep people from standing by a grade crossing anyway? :D

    In those paper postered station it is fun to watch what happens when the train comes in with the consist facing the wrong way. The more modern electronic poster stations handle that much better since they can dispay the actual consist being used that day rather than what was originally planned at the beginning of the month.
     
  14. Sep 15, 2019 #14

    Seaboard92

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    The other fun ones are in development. When I was at Innotrans last year there is a company working on signs that denote the load factor of the various coaches, as well as the coach locations. That’ll be a godsend if Deutsche Bahn chooses to use that. Especially on their busiest segments.
     
  15. Sep 15, 2019 #15

    jiml

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    I spent two weeks last summer riding DB trains and got quite familiar with their system. As pointed out in the previous post though, it occasionally messes up. Even the electronic signs were sometimes reversed. Fortunately there always seemed to be helpful employees on the platform to straighten it out.
     
  16. Sep 15, 2019 #16

    jis

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    It is even better when you can bring it up on your Smartphone, so that you don;t have to frantically look around for one of those displays, static or otherwise. I have used that on Great Western in UK including estimates of numbers of seats available in each car of a Class 8xx. Really neat!
     
  17. Sep 16, 2019 #17

    VentureForth

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    In the Savannah case that I experienced, it must have been coordinated between the conductor and and station staff. Conductor knew to get off and come to the gate. In the past they would announce to passengers to go to a section of the platform depending on sleeper or coach destination.
     
  18. Sep 16, 2019 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    It seems to me that in situations where Amtrak can control access they are increasingly trying to do so. For instance, the platform in San Antonio remains relatively open because there is no practical method to lock it down. Whereas the platform in El Paso has a fence and gate that makes it easy to control access. People without tickets are stuck behind the fence while departing customers with tickets are forced to wait until arrivals have made their way to the station before entering. This is rather inefficient since the gate is located where the first locomotive stops and the last car is relatively far away, often in very hot conditions with no shade or protection from inclement weather at any point in the path. In uncomfortable weather or delayed arrivals it can be stressful to be stuck waiting for the last meandering arrivals to slowly make their way to the station as Amtrak staff stand around blocking the entrance and chatting with each other.

    Is it really? I struggle to come up with a rational answer for how a gate check bottleneck or kindergarten walk is a harder target than an open platform. If the train itself is the target then it would be easier to attack it in a remote location. In my experience "security" has morphed into authoritative shorthand for "don't question our reasons or motives."

    I didn't fully understand just how bad Amtrak actively undermined their own boarding process until I started visiting other countries and saw how easy and efficiently it could be done with some minor planning and signage improvements.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
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  19. Sep 16, 2019 #19

    Steve4031

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    Honestly since the consists for most Amtrak trains does not change that much the same information could be posted also.

    The stations that require 2 stops for longer consists are different.
     
  20. Sep 16, 2019 #20

    me_little_me

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    So idiotic. They waste so much time because some sleeper and coach passengers unfamiliar with the station have no idea where to stand and inevitably go to the wrong area. In Greenville, they have a monitor inside the unmanned station which would be ideal for telling people where to be when the train comes in.
     
  21. Sep 16, 2019 #21

    railiner

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    If y'all wish for unlimited platform access, just come on down to my new 'home station', Okeechobee!
    I promise no one will harass you...;):D
     
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  22. Sep 16, 2019 #22

    railiner

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    Okeechobee IMG_0724.JPG IMG_0725.JPG IMG_0726.JPG
     
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  23. Sep 16, 2019 #23

    Qapla

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    Since I have unlimited platform access in Palatka, I would not need to go to Okeechobee just to get access ... however, I may not mind going there at some point to ride the train and take some pics :)
     
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  24. Sep 17, 2019 #24

    Seaboard92

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    What’s really fun in Germany is to watch Americans used to Amtrak attempting to board. I’ve watched many Americans standing next to a closed door that’s Passenter operated for several minutes. Till a German walks up and gets on there or the train leaves. Whichever occurs first.
     
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  25. Sep 17, 2019 #25

    Pat Harper

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    Lafayette LA (LFT) is one of the unmanned stations that was beefed up a few years ago. The station building houses Greyhound staff, but the platform is open to anyone who wanders in. I've only seen a security guard there when the train is due to arrive and passengers are disembarking. One can sit on a bench on the platform or in the courtyard between the building and the platform. One time I was meeting someone coming through on the train and was able to impart train info to the passengers waiting to board. Train was late arriving and they were really appreciative that someone cared to let them know the status.
     

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