Amtrak going east

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Amtrak going east
Posted by Atchee on Thursday, October 26, 2017 3:25 PM

I've always wanted to see the Vermont colors.  This year we were able to get there on Amtrak from Albuquerque.

As far as the quality of ride and seats, the Southwest Chief was far and above the Lake Shore LTD or the Ethan Allen - with an issue on the return trip.

The breakfast aboard the Chief was great.  Meal service for lunch and dinner was disappointing as I was expecting the great type of meal I had 8 years ago on the CZ from Denver to Chicago.

Meals on the Lake Shore was prepackaged stuff heated in the bag as the train doesn't have a cafe, apparently as an Amtrak cafe requires a double deck car and the Lake Shore's only tall equipment was sleepers.  I really suspect if the trains ran closer to schedule more often a food vendor could do a land office business at the infrequent "fresh air" stops.

Overall though, a good trip and train delays didn't cause any missed connections.  The Southwest Chief had an issue with a wheel on the return trip that caused a noise that should have been noticed by crews when the train was brought the platform in Chicago as you could hear the banging across the platform area.  In motion this caused a nasty "thump" every wheel revolution that made sleeping tough and using the facilities on the lower level exposed us to a noise akin to someone trying to jackahmmer the metal floor.  The car was pulled after we got to Albuquerque much to the annoyance of folks who got bumped off a full train.

Bit of a mystery why attentive and helpful crew seemed surprised when I complained about the noise and I find it difficult to believe I was first to complain and that the crew didn't know about it earlier as the seem to get to all parts of the cars fairly often.  At any rate the removal of the car stranded folks and caused those that did get to stay on at least a 2 hour delay.  The car should never have been on the train.

As we left the station an Amtrak official was trying desparately to get the stranded folks to their destination - not particularly easy as this was all going on after the fully booked next day's train had left Chicago and it was too late to add a car there and there didn't seem to be any others available.  I found it annoying that the horror stories that some relatives had on an Amtrak trip a while back seemed like an isolated issue, then as I returned from a mostly great trip found the entire passenger car full of people bumped and wrestling to do what they could with a very helpful but overwhelmed Amtrak representative.  Some of those folks were not going through this the first time.

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Friday, October 27, 2017 5:20 PM

Most likely the crew didn't notice it because it had been in the consist like that for a while and you get used to those things.  As for it being annoying, I've ridden in a sleeper car with a flat wheel before and I just ignored it, didn't bother me in the least

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Posted by Atchee on Saturday, October 28, 2017 9:45 AM

The train was made up, or at least turned and serviced in Chicago.  The car made a racket you could hear across the platform when we started out and got worse during the trip.  While muted somewhat in the upper level, it was loud enough to hurt ears when down in the lower level.  As the crew was new to the train the racket should have been obvious as this car sounded decidedly different than any of the others you walked through.  Many of the folks in the car wound up sleeping in the lounge car


I think my point is that the crew that made up the train, or checked it out, missed a significant problem and the car had to be pulled off the train later because of it - at that point due to the bearing failing.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, October 29, 2017 1:02 AM

I believe that it is the Train Conductors call to bad order a passenger car from the consist if I am not mistaken.   I would not blame the whole Amtrak crew as I am sure the Sleeping Car Attendant would have reported it as soon as it was noticeable that it would be an issue.    Sad state of affairs it was not taken car of after probably being reported on the previous incomming train.

You should definitely write in and ask how that could have happened that a flat spot on a wheel was ignored long enough (make sure you include the distance in miles it was ignored and the passengers relocating to other cars.....just so they understand the scope of negligence) to cause further equipment damage.

If you were a sleeping car passenger on that sleeper, you should also ask for a partial refund to your ticket for that portion of the journey.

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Posted by PJS1 on Monday, October 30, 2017 5:32 PM


......I've ridden in a sleeper car with a flat wheel before and I just ignored it, didn't bother me in the least 

At what point in its deterioration would a flat wheel increase the risk of a derailment if at all?

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by Sunnyland on Monday, November 06, 2017 4:30 PM

I would certainly complain about it and I'm sure it was the conductor's decision to set up a "bad order" for the car.  Someone dropped the ball in Chicago in letting it be part of the consist.  Amtrak is short of equipment but this is not very good at all, especially having passengers stranded and straighten out that mess.  I would ask for a refund too. I did get a partial refund for portion of the Starlight that ran a bus from Eugene to Klamath Falls, OR when I had booked a sleeper.  They did leave dining car open for us to eat and gave everyone a free glass of wine since we had missed the wine and cheese party But that was a few years ago, not sure what they would do now. They do the best they can with what they have to work with, but a car that noisy should never have been allowed on a train. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, November 06, 2017 8:08 PM


......I've ridden in a sleeper car with a flat wheel before and I just ignored it, didn't bother me in the least  

At what point in its deterioration would a flat wheel increase the risk of a derailment if at all?

Condemnable flat spot is 2.5 inches - PEOPLE feel flat spots that are much smaller than what is condemnable.


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