What To Do If Your Amtrak Train Is Late

Adam Lee
Adam Lee
Jul 9, 2019 · 5 min read

I’m writing this as I sit on yet another late Amtrak train. First it was supposed to be a 10:40am departure. I arived at the station and was told the train was late and it was now looking like a 12:05pm departure. We pulled out of the station at 12:50pm. In my experience Amtrak is late every 9/10 times. Half of those where they’re extremely late. Like 2+ hours.

I travel a lot and I don’t expect transportation to be 100% on time. I understand that there are unforeseen circumstances. Inclimate weather, unruly passengers to equipment failures. It happens.

But aside from being late, the whole experience was just awful. The station had nothing but rock hard, wooden benches with no wifi. I should have been alerted that my train was late as I signed up for their mobile alerts however I never received any warning. In fact I’ve had many late trains and I only recall getting an alert once.

My guess is if they actually told passengers ahead of time how late the trains were running, a lot of passengers would just cancel. Seems like Amtrak probably waits until passengers show up at the station so they’re stuck waiting with no alternative transportation.

As for my ride:

It was nasty. The whole cabin smelled like dirty socks. If you’re wondering if I’m exaggerating because I’m just sensitive to smells, I can assure you I’m not. I’ve lived in rural parts of China and stayed in some not-so-nice areas of the Philippines. This ranks near the top of my all-time gross travel experiences. Seemed as if Amtrak knew their cars smelled god awful because they had a deodorizer on board.

Now again, I’ve travel a lot. I understand this is a cross country ride and things aren’t going to be spotless but this train looked (and smelled) like it hadn’t been cleaned for years.

The floor of my seating area.
The aisle.
Lovely stain on my curtain.
Stained ceilings up and down the cabin.
Is that blood?

You ever have one of those experiences where you’re somewhere so filthy, you just feel itchy and want to take a shower? The thought crossed my mind so often that I actually had rashes forming.

I don’t think I have to mention the bathrooms so on to the good stuff.

Why is Amtrak always late?

Once I had a train that was running 12 hours late (yes you read that correctly) so they put us all on a bus. The bus driver said he’s had to rescue Amtrak passengers many times because they often get stuck behind freight trains who own the routes and therefore get first priority to the tracks.

So what can you do if your train is late and you have an awful travel experience?

Let them know directly. Don’t post on a random “angry consumer” website as your complaint will fall on deaf years. Instead email the offices of Amtrak and tell them about your inconvenience. Be honest but let them know how their service failed to meet your expectations and make them aware of any inconveniences.

The last time I went home, I was having my 70+ year old parent’s picking me up. They drove a few hours to the station to wait for my arrival. Too far to just drive back and forth. They ended up having to cancel a doctors appointment and wait around all day for my arrival. I emailed Amtrak and told them what had happened and they replied with:

I ended up with a $100 one-time-use voucher which was a nice gesture of customer service but still, the situation shouldn’t have happened in the first place if Amtrak was more transparent about delays.

There should be a company policy that if your ride is more than X amount of hours late, the trip should be free or your next ride should be free. That would show a true commitment to customers.

I can’t guarantee you’ll get a voucher or a response but I used the following contact info and have had some luck. I suggest if you’ve had a truly awful experience, to do the same.


For international passengers, try INTLHELP@amtrak.com

Main: (202) 906–3000
Customer Service: (800) 872–7245
International: (215) 856–7924

Social media accounts:


The higher-ups:

Waves Mowatt-Kane
Director, Customer Experience
60 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002–4285

Al Frankey
Senior Director Customer Service
60 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002–4285

Stephen Gardner
Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer
60 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002–4285

Chief Executive
Richard H. Anderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
60 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002–4285

Adam Lee

Written by

Adam Lee

I like writing about travel and technology. https://adamlee.com

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