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Why did Amtrak stop publishing timetables?

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Why did Amtrak stop publishing timetables?
Posted by trainrider1 on Saturday, January 8, 2022 10:20 AM

What ever happened to Amtrak timetables, and why? Amtrak used to publish a system timetable and a series of route-specific ones. As I recall, the system timetable disappeared first. Then Amtrak stopped “printing” the other timetables, although they continued to “publish” them to the Internet. And now the timetables appear to be gone entirely. In my judgment, the reasons for timetables are manifest. If I were to enumerate the reasons, it would be a long list. But I still don’t know why they were discontinued. Can anyone tell me why Amtrak did this?

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 8:47 PM

Could it be just one way to decrease  LD passenger demand?  others are bad meals, poor customer service, long wait on telephone,stranding passengers with no effort to mitigate strandees,  etc????

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 7:37 AM

trainrider1
What ever happened to Amtrak timetables, and why? Amtrak used to publish a system timetable and a series of route-specific ones. As I recall, the system timetable disappeared first. Then Amtrak stopped “printing” the other timetables, although they continued to “publish” them to the Internet. And now the timetables appear to be gone entirely. In my judgment, the reasons for timetables are manifest. If I were to enumerate the reasons, it would be a long list. But I still don’t know why they were discontinued. Can anyone tell me why Amtrak did this?

Do airlines print timetables?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 9:56 AM

BaltACD
Do airlines print timetables?

No, but they don't have to.  For long distance travel they're effectively the only game in town.

Remember those old Avis car rental ads?  "When you're Number Two, you have to try harder!"  Well, if Amtrak wants the business they have to try harder, and if you're Number Zero you have to try harder still.  

If nothing else those printed timetables are reading material for people coming to an Amtrak station to pick up arrivals.  They'll look at the schedules and might just possibly think "Hmmm, maybe.  Just maybe."  Printed schedules are a way of attracting business, not foolproof of course but another tool in the bag. 

Making the trains WORTH traveling is another subject.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 9:57 AM

I haven't seen an airline timetable in years, not even on foreign carriers such as Mexicana or Aeromexico.  I don't even think that you can find them on their websites.

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 daveklepper on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 10:02 AM

Miost commuter railroads do, as does Israel Railways.

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 5:28 PM

Why print a timetable when you're never going to abide by it?  Passengers might start thinking that they're going to get somewhere at a certain time!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 6:31 PM

They stopped with the timetables because thanks to most our Class I freight lines, Amtrak trains are notoriously late and they are probably tired of the public complaining about it.    So adopting the frieght railroad philosophy of the train will get there when it gets there, I suspect Amtrak hopes to reduce complaints.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 7:28 PM

Amtrak's interface assumes that you already know where you want to go and approximately when. But a timetable lets you see all the options. Some folks want to know what's available, then plan a trip. Amtrak's website is like a catalog in which you can see only one product at a time; you cannot compare. It's stupid.

If I see a timetable I can decide where I might wish to make a stopover before continuing on to my final destination. This decision will be influenced by what time trains stop where, and what times trains may leave when it's time to move on; it will also tell me if there is any train the next day or whenever I wish to move on.

There is simply no excuse for not having timetables, at least online. A passenger railroad without timetables??? It's utterly ridiculous.

(Also, not that Amtrak cares, timetables are very valuable to us railfans and photographers ...)

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 7:47 PM

Most people know where they are going and don't want a timetable. It's unnecessary with modern technology.  The airlines got rid of them long ago. Ditto with foreign rails though on some you can check the route if you must.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 9:26 PM

It seems the main reason they discontinued timetables was because they were constantly changing with the pandemic.  We will see if they bring them back.  I think most younger people don't know what a timetable is, and they are used to buying tickets as is done with airlines.  If you want to see intermediate stations, you can look at the system map.

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Posted by Enzoamps on Thursday, January 13, 2022 1:45 AM

40 plus years ago I travelled for business a lot, and I made my own travel arrangements.  I subscribed to the OAG (Official Airline Guide).  It was a phone book sized thing that came out often.    Amtrak used to publish its own system table, but most of us don't take the train because we HAVE to for work.  I read the Amtrak guide just out of idle curiosity.

Today, if I want to travel I head for the internet.  Most Americans have the internet in their pocket wherever they are.  Where would they get a paper schedule anyway?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, January 16, 2022 2:06 PM

Enzoamps
Where would they get a paper schedule anyway?

Doesn't METRA still have staffed stations and ticketing windows with people in them with large racks and racks of timetables as far as the eye can see?

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, January 16, 2022 3:09 PM

I'm not necessarily lobbying for printed timetables. Mainly I just want timetables on Amtrak's website. I thought I had read that they are bringing them back, but AFAIK nothing has happened on that front yet.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, January 20, 2022 8:13 AM

This: https://www.railpassengers.org/resources/amtrak-timetables/

is a good website for timetables. However, as it is not an official AMTK site, I'm not sure how quickly it gets edited to reflect changes. For example, I see nothing on there at the moment about the suspension of the Silver Meteor currently in effect.

Still in training.


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Posted by Fred M Cain on Monday, July 18, 2022 12:17 PM

CMStPnP

They stopped with the timetables because thanks to most our Class I freight lines, Amtrak trains are notoriously late and they are probably tired of the public complaining about it.    So adopting the frieght railroad philosophy of the train will get there when it gets there, I suspect Amtrak hopes to reduce complaints.

 

 
Well, I think there's more to it than just indicating the times of departure for various stations.  For example, I used to use Amrak's national timetable to plan trips.  You can't do that anymore.  Furthermore, their website (assuming you have a computer) is not really all that helpful.
 
There has been folks at the Rail Passenger Association and the Passenger Train Journal that have been pushing Amtrak to restore the printed schedules.  Will they get anywhere?  Probably not.  But with the $66 BILLION dollars that Amtrak has supposedly gotten access to, why not?  Once again, as I stated on another thread, what are they doing with our money?
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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, July 18, 2022 2:31 PM

Fred M Cain
But with the $66 BILLION dollars that Amtrak has supposedly gotten access to, why not? 

Pollution, recycling, etc - the great bogeymen of our times. How many printed TT's just ended up in the trash when DST began or ended. How many were just left on station benches and tossed on the ground. AMTK wants to be seen as a good, non-polluting neighbor and also doesn't want to pay more than it has to for janitorial services. And where is the great demand from the public for TT's. Fans might love sitting in the den pouring over a TT and dreaming. Everyone else pretty much knows where they want to go and when. It just took me less than 60 seconds to look up a trip Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 18, 2022 8:11 PM

BEAUSABRE
 
Fred M Cain
But with the $66 BILLION dollars that Amtrak has supposedly gotten access to, why not?  

Pollution, recycling, etc - the great bogeymen of our times. How many printed TT's just ended up in the trash when DST began or ended. How many were just left on station benches and tossed on the ground. AMTK wants to be seen as a good, non-polluting neighbor and also doesn't want to pay more than it has to for janitorial services. And where is the great demand from the public for TT's. Fans might love sitting in the den pouring over a TT and dreaming. Everyone else pretty much knows where they want to go and when. It just took me less than 60 seconds to look up a trip Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes

Maybe someone could publish 'The Official Guide to Railway Passenger Schedules'.

Containing all Amtrak schedules as well as all tourist railroad operations as well as all rail commuter operations.

[/sarcasm]

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 9:56 AM

My airline experience when flying puddle jumpers was many persons would pull out the route specific TT to know what next stop(s) would be.  That would be equivalent to today's multi stop trains.

Auto train very few need timetable or would concerned however the Florence service stop might interest some persons.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 9:59 AM

I can remember ordering a copy of the first passenger-only edition of the OG back in 1974.  Basically, it included Amtrak and Canadian intercity schedules plus the names and addresses of the various suburban operators but NOT their schedules.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

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 northeaster on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 11:21 AM

Any type of question about Amtrak's decision making might be answered with the knowledge that the Board and senior management perhaps are in their positions because of the Dunham/Kruger factor. Somewhat similar to the "Peter Principle" whereby those with extreme self confidence, the ability to be absolutely blind to their lack of knowledge, possessing a remarkable ability to bluff others into letting them into positions of power and a truly amazing skill at getting away with awful decisions without skipping a beat.

Plant and seed companies still send out catalogs in the winter, clothing companies still do the same on a regular basis because it pays off as customers and potential customers view products and images and percentage wise, buy. The national system timetables were a real help in planning rail trips by getting first a holistic view of what would be possible connection-wise and then being able to coordinate with the schedules of those the traveler would visit, see if accommodations were possible at various dates and times for layovers, etc. There are 75 million aging "Boomers" who have the time, the interest in travel to visit new places, grandchildren, etc., and they have the money, like 75% of all disposable income which is a market Amtrak just does not even know exists. Having traveled most Amtrak routes via sleeper here and across Canada with VIA many times, the schedules were a great help with flexibility in planning. There is zero entrepreneurship in the halls of Amtrak senior management.

Yes, there is a place for internet based travel planning/ticketing, just as there is for brick and mortar stores, Amazon, and catalog shopping and a company probably should be doing all three thereby giving customers and potential customer the most options. I travel with holdover copies of individual schedules so when I wake up, look out the sleeper window and see Fort Morgan, I know that in about an hour, I will be arriving in Denver on the CZ and should get myself ready to go.

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 7:02 PM

Here we have another case of putting all your eggs in one basket.  Amtrak's lack of TTs   IMO it appears that Amtrak can have every potential passenger to follow into one method of making reservations.  That just is not so.  Certainly the airlines are not  doing that now.  However with the insane loads on airplanes will airlines fall into the same trap?

Load factors in the 60s - early 80s ran from 45 - 60% depending on travel  season.

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 7:27 PM

Timetables are between the phone books and the new car brochures. 

  

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, July 22, 2022 4:40 PM

Airlines haven't had printed schedules for years.  The last one that I had was for Northwest.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, July 22, 2022 5:12 PM

They probably think people are too stupid or too lazy, or a combination of both, to use an actual timetable.  Even one on a website.  That people have been conditioned to just put in locations and dates and let the computer do the work.

Jeff 

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, July 22, 2022 5:13 PM

jeffhergert
That people have been conditioned to just put in locations and dates and let the computer do the work.

And since you can do that, why waste the time with a timetable?  

Not a matter of people being stupid, it's about is it really needed?

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of

my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, July 22, 2022 5:58 PM

zugmann

Timetables are between the phone books and the new car brochures. 

 

Or going to AAA to get a packet of maps for your trip

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, July 22, 2022 6:47 PM

Smile

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, July 22, 2022 7:43 PM

rdamon
zugmann

Timetables are between the phone books and the new car brochures.  

Or going to AAA to get a packet of maps for your trip

And the AAA Trip-tik paged maps following your complete journey. Start to Finish.

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