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Amtrak website & timetables

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Amtrak website & timetables
Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 2:00 PM

   Amtrak's last printed system timetable dates from January, 2016 and I find it far more helpful in planning an autumn trip to Vermont than the current Amtrak website.  

   Over the years I have found Amtrak's website to be very difficult to use and not at all friendly.  If there is a way to see a timetable for each route I have yet to find it; if I want to change dates, I have to start all over again, etc.  

   I can't help but think of the ease with which I was able to navigate the websites of the passenger rail services for the UK, France, Germany and Poland.  I'll wager many foreign tourists are put off of using Amtrak because it's so frustrating and time consuming to use their website.

   Again, I'm glad I saved my printed schedules.  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 2:41 PM

You can find a timetable for an entire route, usually by train name.  But generally the Amtrak website is much less useful and easy than the sites for German or Italian rail. 

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 3:53 PM

   Ok.  So once again I go to the site and look for and click on the schedule for the Vermonter.  But a page about service adjustments due to Covid comes up and there is no obvious way to get to the desired schedule.  

   Try it.  Or am I meshugana on this?

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Posted by ghCBNS on Thursday, February 11, 2021 8:41 AM

The majority of travellers know the date and time they are travelling to a destination. They enter this on the web page and get the results. They do not need a timetable. Even in this day of tri-weekly trains if the train is not running on the preferred date....the next available date will be given.

Timetables are a 'railfan thing' for their collections and for those planning out the most stops and convoluted route to reach a destination. They're just no longer needed by the general public and most don't even know what they are. I spoke with a ticket agent one time and he said when the the new ones came out and once the railfans had picked the latest for their collection....there was usually little demand for one after that!

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 9:03 AM

Schedules for the long-distance trains, including the Lake Shore Limited, can be viewed online and downloaded if desired.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 11, 2021 9:05 AM

It is all a part of Amtrak's attempt to discourage use of their services.

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Posted by NKP guy on Thursday, February 11, 2021 10:03 AM

   I agree with all three of you.

   ghCBNS:  Timetables are a railfan thing, but one may be closer to the truth to say that anything on paper, as opposed to the Web is as out of date as brown furniture on Antiques Road Show.  In my post I meant that I'd like to see a timetable for each train because I'd like to see all intermediate points the train calls at, as well as what time...at a glance.  With the Amtrak station-to-station set up on the website I have to know beforehand what station I want to go to, and each time enter all the information.  That's a big drag.

   JPS1:  It would have been even more helpful if you had provided a link to where these can be found.  My earlier point is that this timetable should be readily available on the website, and it isn't.  Is it good business practice to make people have to go to Google to find out what other stations the Vermonter calls at, or what might be a better station for my purposes?

   BaltACD:  As usual, you're spot on.

   I know it's a digital world, of course, but Amtrak's website could be better and more helpful.

   As the guy in Ravenna, O. said, "That's a hell of a way to run a railroad."

(pardon my hyperbole)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, February 11, 2021 10:07 AM

The airlines discontinued printed timetables (such as they were) quite a few years ago.  Outside of urban and suburban transit services, printed timetables are a thing of the past.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 10:52 AM

NKP guy
 JPS1:  It would have been even more helpful if you had provided a link to where these can be found.  (pardon my hyperbole) 

I assumed that you have used Amtrak.com.  Schedules is the fourth tab from the left at the top of the page.  Click on it.  Then click on Get downloadable schedules for all routes.  Then click on a long-distance route, i.e., Lake Shore Limited, Texas Eagle, etc.  

The only state supported train schedule that appears to be online is the Pacific Surfliner.  

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Posted by NKP guy on Thursday, February 11, 2021 11:40 AM

 With all respect, I have done exactly as you outline.

   Now you try it...and tell me what results you get.

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 11:55 AM

This is what I get for the Lake Shore Limited when I follow the steps outlined above:

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/temporary-timetables/Lake-Shore-Limited-Schedule-101220.pdf

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, February 11, 2021 12:40 PM

There is no schedule for the Vermonter simply because until further notice,  it does not run north of New York,  according to the redirect page. 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 11, 2021 12:46 PM

Something I recall Amtrak's misdesigned IxD doing the last time I looked at it was being 'trip-centric' -- it assumed you wanted to go 'somewhere' from 'where you were' and gave you only the UI to put that in for their computers.   There was no ordered list of stops in order on a route - just a list of Amtrak cities you could go.

Now of course if your corporate concern is 'transportation' of passengers this is OK.  It would be easier for most non-railfans to use to get 'transportation' accomplished.  But by the same token, putting up a page with system and corridor maps, and a timetable showing all the stops in order with times for those who care to peruse the overall information that way, represents very little cost to produce, to keep updated, to host, or to serve... even at a kiosk intended to facilitate purchase of transportation.

Whennthe paper system timetable was 'deprecated' one of the arguments was that anyone who wanted a printed reference could run one off on a suitable printer -- B&W, color, or photo resolution, on paper of choice -- and that was the meat of the Amtrak production saving.  Now the argument goes into not bothering with the systemwide resources at all.

Frankly, considering the percentage of wasted non-transportation expense Amtrak shows in recent years, the cost to desktop-publish a system timetable on the Web is trivial, and keeping it updated and any special information or offers current scarcely more.  Canning one lawyer's assistant's paralegal intern would probably do for the entire budget... Mischief

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Posted by NKP guy on Thursday, February 11, 2021 12:55 PM

   JPS1:  Your suggestion works for the Lake Shore and some other trains, but not for the Vermonter, apparently for the reason mentioned by charlie hebdo.  

   So we're both right, if you like.

   No wonder I found this frustrating.  

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 1:11 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
 The airlines discontinued printed timetables (such as they were) quite a few years ago.  Outside of urban and suburban transit services, printed timetables are a thing of the past. 

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 85% of American households have a smart phone.  That leaves a relatively small percentage of the population that needs or wants printed schedules  

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 11, 2021 1:49 PM

JPS1
 
CSSHEGEWISCH
 The airlines discontinued printed timetables (such as they were) quite a few years ago.  Outside of urban and suburban transit services, printed timetables are a thing of the past.  

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 85% of American households have a smart phone.  That leaves a relatively small percentage of the population that needs or wants printed schedules  

From observations, while 85% may have a smart phone, a large number of the phones are smarter than those attempting to use them.

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 7:39 PM

I would never think of going to a printed timetable for schedule information.  Some bus lines still print timetables but they are outdated almost a soon as they are printed.  Plus, going online may give you information that you wouldn't get from a printed timetable ie, "on the dates specified the Crescent is bustituted from Atlanta to New Orleans".  So, the roomette trip you planned with meals in the diner is now no longer and replaced by a bus seat and a stop at a local McD.'s.  FWIW, I have never had a problem pulling up individual timetables and printing them off.  I don't know what the problem is with railfans.

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Posted by ghCBNS on Friday, February 12, 2021 7:37 AM

BaltACD

It is all a part of Amtrak's attempt to discourage use of their services.

Perhaps by Railfans who want that paper timetable copy in their hands before they'll book. But for everyone else the web page works just fine!

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Posted by NKP guy on Friday, February 12, 2021 8:15 AM

  Apparently there's a misunderstanding...this railfan does not want a printed paper schedule, nor does he plan any trips without using his computer for everything.  Ever.  Full stop.

   My point was simply this:  an at-a-glance timetable should be available on the website for all Amtrak trains.  As JPS1 pointed out, they are.  As Dr. hebdo pointed out, not for the trains that aren't operating.

   So, Capisci?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

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Posted by JPS1 on Friday, February 12, 2021 8:54 AM

NKP guy
  My point was simply this:  an at-a-glance timetable should be available on the website for all Amtrak trains.  As JPS1 pointed out, they are.  As Dr. hebdo pointed out, not for the trains that aren't operating. 

Detailed schedules are available for viewing and downloading for the long-distance trains and the Pacific Surfliners.  Only high-level information is available for the state supported trains and the NEC.

The Heartland Flyer, which gets a substantial amount of traffic for or off of the Texas Eagle, is running five days a week.  But the Eagle is on a three day a week schedule.  The Heartland Flyer is a state supported train.  No detailed schedule is available for the Flyer, but a detailed schedule is available for the Eagle.   

The prior verison of the Texas Eagle schedule had the schedule for the Heartland Flyer embedded in it.  The current three day a week schedule does not have a schedule for the Flyer, although it shows the connecting route on the accompanying map.  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, February 12, 2021 9:22 AM

OM:  Rather than wasting money on developing something new from scratch,  just pay DB to adapt their website for the Amtrak system . ALL the information is available,  at whatever level the passenger wants,  including ticketing into your smartphone via the app. 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 12, 2021 12:23 PM

charlie hebdo
OM:  Rather than wasting money on developing something new from scratch,  just pay DB to adapt their website for the Amtrak system.

That would be too simple.  And probably violate some obscure Buy American provision that companies like Systemhouse AG probably have tricks to get around...

I do think that this might form the nucleus of an excellent suggestion to Amtrak (or to politicians interested in improving perceived QoS while reducing absolute overhead costs) and I think you should take the time to produce it.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, February 15, 2021 10:39 AM

Overmod

 

 
charlie hebdo
OM:  Rather than wasting money on developing something new from scratch,  just pay DB to adapt their website for the Amtrak system.

 

That would be too simple.  And probably violate some obscure Buy American provision that companies like Systemhouse AG probably have tricks to get around...

 

I do think that this might form the nucleus of an excellent suggestion to Amtrak (or to politicians interested in improving perceived QoS while reducing absolute overhead costs) and I think you should take the time to produce it.

 

I have no interest in doing something that well-paid MBAs at Amtrak or McKinsey, etc. should be capable of figuring out on their own. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 15, 2021 7:03 PM

charlie hebdo
I have no interest in doing something that well-paid MBAs at Amtrak or McKinsey, etc. should be capable of figuring out on their own. 

Problem being that they may be capable of figuring it out, but unmotivated or incapable of actually implementing a look at better solutions ... let alone fixing or contracting out an actual built solution.

I have often found in the past that extremely bright people often have no clue how their own best interests can be served.  I was drinking in a bar with an IBM-specific shop programmer and made an off-the-cuff comment about how to improve their sales tracking with one of their own proprietary products.  Imagine my surprise when they forwarded this as a 'suggestion box' thing, it won the suggestion of the month, and they insisted on sharing something like $300 with me because I'd said it to them...

Then there was the government computer show in 1991, when NCR and AT&T shared a table.  Down at one end was a hot discussion between NIH people and salesmen trying to work out a tablet-based patient management system ... 'if only' they could figure out how to send data to and from the devices wirelessly.  I gently interrupted as soon as I could and pointed out there was an evolved system being manufactured for precisely that purpose ... being sold and promoted at the other end of their own table (WaveLAN). 

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Posted by MMLDelete on Sunday, February 21, 2021 11:15 PM

Amtrak's website is a disaster. It's practically unusable.

I was trying to get the price from Pittsburgh to Chicago. It kept telling me Amtrak had no service between those cities. But of course the Capitol connects those cities.

The website is junk. Think of how many flights Delta has, compared to how many trains AMTK has; and Delta's site works fine.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 9:29 AM

Lithonia Operator
Amtrak's website is a disaster. It's practically unusable.

I was trying to get the price from Pittsburgh to Chicago. It kept telling me Amtrak had no service between those cities. But of course the Capitol connects those cities.

The website is junk. Think of how many flights Delta has, compared to how many trains AMTK has; and Delta's site works fine.

Suspect Amtrak's web site is EXACTLY what top management wants.  Unusable to scare away potential passengers.  And it is a 'web site' so top management can say 'we aren't dinosaurs', all the will being technological dinosaurs.

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:27 AM

Lithonia Operator
I was trying to get the price from Pittsburgh to Chicago. It kept telling me Amtrak had no service between those cities. But of course the Capitol connects those cities.

 

I agree that the website is difficult to use.  It seems that it's nearly impossible to look up one trip, and then try to change certain things without backing out of the pages.

I did try the Pittsburgh to Chicago train.  I was able to get the results.  Maybe it was a temporary website issue when you tried.

York1 John       

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Posted by MMLDelete on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:58 PM

York, we've now decided to fly that leg. If you go to the General forum, and look at my thread Fast Freight Trains, in a post I made today you can see what the plan is now.

Thanks.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:31 AM

York1
I did try the Pittsburgh to Chicago train.  I was able to get the results. 

He indicated he was, too.  The results apparently showed arrival at midnight, which he thought would actually translate into 2:00 to 3:00am Surprise

And much of that on mileage he said he'd already ridden, west of Elyria.

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Posted by MMLDelete on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 5:43 PM

Go to this page: https://www.amtrak.com/pennsylvanian-train

In the box at upper left, there are big light-blue buttons for Map and Schedule. Please click on the Schedule button. Tell me where you wind up.

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