I took my elderly mother, my wife and my uncle cross country from the SF bay area to New Orleans last year to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday in her childhood hometown. A special, nostalgic cross country trip by train. How magical. How romantic. How NOT! It was easily the most depressing and offensive travel journey that I have ever had.
Your article just scratches the surface of how bad train travel via Amtrak really is. What you neglected to write about, or that you either didn’t experience or didn’t have time for, is how rude and dismissive the train crews are.
From the moment we boarded until the time we reached our destination three days later everything was just as you described it, and then some. The train crew was so bad that it occurred to me that Amtrak’s hiring policy must be to hire anybody who is rejected from low level civil service jobs or who can’t make it at the state’s DMV office.
The large woman in charge of the dining car “kitchen” had the nerve to chew out my uncle who had inadvertently walked down the wrong set of stairs toward some unknown place.
I was so offended that on the first night I had a come to Jesus talk with our waiter, telling him as much. The general attitude of the employees was that they had a captive audience and they had your money so there was really no compelling reason, outside of personal pride, to do anything extra.
You also neglected to mention the fact that freight trains have the right of way, meaning that if there is a freight train on the same track or that needs to change tracks the passenger train has to sit idly by while this happens. We sat on a side track in Louisiana for over two hours while one of these situations occurred. This happened routinely on our trip.
I was going to write an angry letter to Amtrak but decided not to because I didn’t want to use one more minute of my time dealing with such an incompetent agency.
Also, the first leg of our journey was the aforementioned California to Colorado leg. To quote you: “I want to scream and warn them (you) that that they (you) are setting them(your)selves and their (your) friends up for one of the most epic failures of their (your) traveling careers.” The scenery is a little better e.g. the Sierras and the Rockies but that is of little consolation when being held hostage on an antiquated semi-trailer being run by idiots and jerks.”
Please, for the love of god don’t get on another Amtrak train anywhere ever. You’ll be just as disappointed as you were when you were compelled to write this article.