Texas Eagle Trip Report

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  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Texas Eagle Trip Report
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:49 AM

I arrived at Dallas Union Station to find it locked with a note posted on the window that the powers that be in DART Transit and Amtrak decided to lock the station and only permit ticketed Amtrak passengers in (completely stupid and C'mon this is Texas not Chicago).   Pounded on the door and a security guard let me in.    Everyone was wearing masks inside.    Only 6-7 passengers boarding out of a normal 15-20.

The mask policy as clarified on the train is this.    Wear of a mask when traveling on the train in cars.    Wear of mask optional while seated in Coach, while in an enclosed sleeping car compartment.    No need to wear mask while eating in Dining Car or other designated eating area.    Wear of mask in the stations and platforms while boarding train.

The sleeping car was about 40% full.   Only one sleeping car that was also used by crew so hard to tell with the 40% figure as it was overall compartments occupied.    Dining Car is down to a staff of one.    He runs downstairs and microwaves whatever meal you request and brings them to your table OR you can have the sleeping car attendent bring it to your compartment.     The food was questionably edible.    Red Wine braised beef was fair but not good.    The Chicken Fetticini was terrible.     The breakfest egg and sausage muffin was OK.     Rolls were ok but in some circumstances looked like someone sat on them in two cases.    Don't expect good food in the Dining Car anymore while they have this microwave crap.   I complained to the sleeping car attendent and amazingly she said the microwave food was only temporary until the pandemic was behind us.    Not sure if that was true or not.

All Amtrak crew members were wearing masks onboard but I saw some take them off at rest breaks while on the platform.    The dining car attendant took his mask off and was seated......unless he was serving someone.     I was the only guy eating in the dining car and had it all to myself.     Lounge car was largely empty but had someone downstairs selling the usual menu.

Train arrived ahead of schedule in all stations except Chicago Union Station where it arrived on time as CN had to squeeze in a intermodal to cross in front of us at a interlocking.    So we sat in Chicago City limits for 15 min waiting on that slow moving intermodal.

Chicago to Milwaukee trains suspended and only bus service remains so I paid for a stretch limo from CUS to the NW Milwaukee Suburb I was headed to.    Remarkably only $225 which I thought it would at least be $400.

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, May 28, 2020 5:36 PM

CMStPnP

Interesting and informative report on your Texas Eagle trip.  

To what extent did the crew emphasize and/or enforce social distancing in the coaches, lounge car, passing between cars, or along the passage way in the sleeper?

Here is another question.  Did you see any enhanced cleaning of the train while enroute, i.e. wipping down your room, lounge car, dinning car, etc.?

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, May 28, 2020 10:03 PM

Such a sad situation. 

In a way this all reminds me of the movie On The Beach where a submarine crew were the only surviviors of a nuclear holocaust. 

  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 10:45 AM

JPS1
CMStPnP Interesting and informative report on your Texas Eagle trip.   To what extent did the crew emphasize and/or enforce social distancing in the coaches, lounge car, passing between cars, or along the passage way in the sleeper? Here is another question.  Did you see any enhanced cleaning of the train while enroute, i.e. wipping down your room, lounge car, dinning car, etc.?

My responses are kind of slow as there is still something wrong with my account and ability to respond immediately but here are the answers:

1.  I never have seen the restrooms so clean and tidy, they were spotless.   Obviously with not a lot of passengers on board it was easy to keep them that way.

2. Dining car wipe downs of tables was spotty.    Not sure what the issue was here but just one dining car attendent with an apprentice and basically he was just sitting at a table reading most of the time.    Noticed though he did not wipe down the tables immediately after every use with sanitizer which is what the restaurants do now for dine in.   However as far as service and customer service he was excellent, repeatedly asking if he could get me anything else.

3.  Not enough people on the train to see how they enforced social distancing but they repeatedly went over the rules on the intercom (at least three times during the trip).    Sleeping car attendent wore her mask all the time except at rest breaks on platform when nobody was around she took it off (saw from my window).    Conductor wore mask and gloves at all times.    Lead Service attendent never wore a mask but then I only saw her twice and again train was mostly empty, however she was in violation of Amtraks own rules.....in my opinion it was OK and a judgement call on her part.

As far as enhanced cleaning, outside of train after it arrived in Dallas was freshly washed.......no dirt I could see which....not sure how they did that in San Antonio or wherever.    Even the P42 was shiny.    Inside, as I said before the restrooms were spotless.    Did not see any of the crew spray or wipe down anything.   Initially the Dining car attendent kept the tables and boths very clean but towards the end of the trip he was missing a few that had crumbs......attribute that to it being the second day and last meal.   Sleeping car attendent was really fast breaking down the beds and returning to seats.     Approx 3-4 min for an Economy room.   Did not watch her on the Deluxe rooms.

Interesting note:  They had two trainees on board for the Texas Eagle on their first LD route that had transferred over from corridor services.    Asked each what they thought about the future of LD or what the employee scuttlebut was and they both said.  Other employees told them not to worry that LD is always under threat but nothing ever happens and they also went over the labor protection coverage if their LD train is cancelled and they get laid off because of it.   They said they were not really worried about Andersen or his successor as they felt it was more of the same..........promises to trim LD but then nothing happens.      Sleeping Car attendent said the horrible microwave meals are only there because of the pandemic, she said they switched because they have a much longer shelf life and Amtrak was having issues trying to predict ridership on each train.......which I thought was interesting and I am very happy to hear they are only temporary if that is correct info.    She told me come back in 8-12 months and try them again, which I never heard an Amtrak employee encourage repeat patronage before so that was a change too.

  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 11:00 AM

BTW, follow up on transit overall.   Gaps everywhere now in what used to be fairly good door to door transit system.   It is now a patchwork in places with gaps.   

Examples:

1. SuperShuttle changed their service areas and no longer will take people to Dallas Union Station or to Love Field from some zip codes.   Unfortunately I was hit by this as well and again had to hire a car service to Dallas (Blacklane.....run via Berlin, Germany).   If your used to using SuperShuttle or a like Shuttle to the airport you need to check if they still handle the routing.

2. Airline non-stop flights constricted.   If you can find one it will be on a very tiny regional jet.    Flight frequencies to secondary cities cut back from Dallas.    Don't believe American Airlines promise they restrict the sale of middle seats.   It is still pack them in like cattle if you can.

3. Bus service several routes suspended or cancelled or very restricted service.    In some cases this includes Amtrak thruway bus connections.    Chicago to Milwaukee bus service is OK still via Wisconsin Coach Lines and Lamers.    I won't travel by bus until there is a vaccine available......same with air.   Thankfully my employer (health insurance provider) agrees.

4. Did Enterprise local rental for 5 weeks and saved $700 over airport rental prices.    VW Atlas SUV, really nice car.   Wunderbar.   Except for the stupid European shut off the motor when you stop at a traffic light feature.......have not found the off switch for that yet.   Enterprise will not let you up to the counter, they did rentals outside using a tablet.........so you did not need a mask.    That was really nice experience.    They have closed a number of Enterprise suburban rental locations as well due to pandemic to consolidate for less folks renting.....another gap.

  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 6:03 AM

One more item, Amtrak is completely cashless now.   Onboard, you have to use a prepaid credit card or actual credit or debit card.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 4, 2020 3:03 AM

Thanks, CM, really apprciate your update.

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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, June 5, 2020 9:12 AM

daveklepper
Thanks, CM, really apprciate your update. Add Quote

BTW, Congress with latest budgest proposal just confirmed the Microwave meals are on their way out and they too say they are unacceptable and stated they will form a committe to find a better cook on board alternative that is affordable........this should be interesting.

I will be on the Eagle again at the end of June with an update.  :)

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Posted by JPS1 on Friday, June 5, 2020 6:45 PM
Amtrak management may believe that the worst is over and passenger loads on the Texas Eagle at least will pick-up. 
 
For the last three days the transition sleeper and third coach having been added back to the consist of the Eagle.
  • Member since
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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 9:21 AM

JPS1
Amtrak management may believe that the worst is over and passenger loads on the Texas Eagle at least will pick-up.    For the last three days the transition sleeper and third coach having been added back to the consist of the Eagle.

It would be really cool if Congress gave the funds for Amtrak to experiment with their "experiential" Long Distance train concept.    Dying of curiousity on seeing that expanded out more to see what they had in mind.

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