Trains.com

Why did Amtrak stop publishing timetables?

10119 views
41 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2010
  • 2,515 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, July 22, 2022 8:51 PM

Sears used to publish what was called the WISH BOOK. My wish book was the OFFICIAL GUIDE. 

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 6,374 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, July 22, 2022 9:32 PM

My recollection is that Amtrak quit printing timetables (even on their website) during the pandemic because the schedules were changing so often, that even an electronic version would quickly become an artifact.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 13,437 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, July 23, 2022 9:54 AM

Just about the last timetables left in print are for suburban service (rail and bus) and city transit (usually maps but some timetables for individual routes may be available).

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 21,133 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 24, 2022 9:00 AM

What I remember was that Amtrak first started discussing eliminating expensively-printed paper timetables when 'photo-quality' home printers started to become ubiquitous and "nominally" cheap.  Those who wanted a paper copy could then easily just print one... and then another if or when the information changed... shifting the cost to the end-user where I agree it ought to belong.

My great objection is that Amtrak is not updating its on-screen timetables, probably in part since phones don't have printers and aren't optimized to display timetables legibly.  The great problem is that the current 'user interface' presumes that passengers already know where they want to get on and off and what date and time they want to travel... so you have to enter those things explicitly to get any information.  You could still extract a timetable of sorts, but you have to do an awful lot of work and have no real idea if or when service or schedule changes are made.

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • 2,671 posts
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, July 24, 2022 10:46 PM

It's okay if there are no printed timetables. But no excuse for no online ones.

Many people want general info about where Amtrak goes, and when.

How hard can this be?

Still in training.


  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 11,764 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, July 24, 2022 10:59 PM

Timetables are different for airlines and trains.  It is important for passengers on trains to know that the stop they just had means the next stop is where to get off.  I would like to know how many passengers miss or almost miss their stop.  Most airplane flights stop at just one airport.  Then maybe a connection. Except maybe SW with 3 or 4 stops.

But we have persons on a train that makes multiple stops.  Especially LD with 8 - 14 stops over 2+ days. 

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 1,306 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, July 25, 2022 9:02 AM

Just tell the conductor where you want to get off and ask him or her notify you about when you are about to arrive. Try it, it works like a charm. 

  • Member since
    January 2008
  • 1,243 posts
Posted by Sunnyland on Sunday, August 21, 2022 12:42 PM

I saved a few of them and when I am riding a train, I  cut out the timetable for that one and take it with me.  Stops are usually the same and many times , the schedule is too. Then I put it away when I return in a folder with others. and works quite well.  I have no idea why they did away with them, glad I kept a few. I have looked at website and cannot see any schedules on there any longer and not even trains by name.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 24,758 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 21, 2022 3:09 PM

http://dixielandsoftware.net/Amtrak/status/StatusMaps/

DixielandSoftware site keeps track of the Amtrak network.  By clicking on a geographic area you get a representation of the trains operating in that area.  Trains operating are shown by their train number with the number being displayed in Green, Yellow or Red.  Green is OT to 30 minutes late; Yellow is 30"L to 2'00L,  Red is over 2 hours late.  Clicking on the train ID will give on the functional 'timetable' of the train's scheduled stops and how it performed at stations it has already passed.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • 2,500 posts
Posted by Backshop on Sunday, August 21, 2022 5:56 PM

Most of the people grousing about no timetables are the collectors...Big Smile

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 24,758 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Friday, June 30, 2023 8:00 AM

Talked to my son last night.  Among the conversation he volunteered that his wife and eldest daughter would using Amtrak from Kansas City to St. Louis and return at the end of July for a Girl Scouts field trip.

Thought I would look at Amtrak.com to see what the opportunities were between the locations in each direction.

Amtrak puts you through the wringer to come up with simple schedules and don't tell you much once you do come up with the schedule times.

One anomaly I happened upon when looking at possible St. Louis to Kansas City options was to leave St.L at 6:35 AM and to to Chicago on Lincoln Service and then lay over for more than three hours in Chicago to catch at 'direct' train from Chicago at 2:50 PM (Southwest Chief) and get to Kansas City at 10 PM ... who are they trying to market this to?  The alternatives are Missouri River Runner departing at 8:10 AM and arriving KC at 1:50 PM or a Lincoln/River Runner departing at 3:11 PM and arriving KC at 8:51 PM.

Amtrak is not making it easy.

As info - Driving time on I-70 between the locations is a nominal FOUR hour drive.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • From: Potomac Yard
  • 2,759 posts
Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, June 30, 2023 12:04 PM

Virtually all of this is wrong.

There were two phases to it.  The first, around 2016, was the elimination of the national timetable book.  It was dropped because the demand just wasn't there.  They were producing actual trash.  Demand plunged following the introduction of the smartphone.  Every year, they were reducing the print run size to meet the actual number that they were actually distributing every year, but this was happening at a rate that would have reached a print run size of zero around 2019. They decided to retain the single route cards at this point.

The second was the elimination of the route cards around 2020.  This one has a bit of an odder reason. The route cards were produced as a side task of a single senior employee. This individual maintained the timetable in an Excel spreadsheet, very rudimentary stuff.  There was an understanding that the individual route cards were to be discontinued at the same time as the national timetable and go with a fully digital model.  However, they compromised and retained the route cards until the employee making them retired.  That happened in 2020, in line with the rather useful opportunity of having massive schedule fluctations that precluded print runs anyhow.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy