Albuquerque, New Mexico
2 comments

In October of 2007, my wife and I (65 years old) began a two thousand dollar Amtrak trip in a standard roomette. We were soon subjected to stultifying high temperatures and a lack of ventilation in our 6 and-a-half by 3 and-a-half foot compartment. The unsmiling, condescending and insolent conductors professed helplessness in the face of the oppressive conditions, and when I asked one of the conductors what his name was, he immediately covered his identity badge with his hand!

We continued to object to these conditions, and finally the conductor had the train stopped, called in local marshals, and ejected my wife and I from the train in the middle of the night.

We were forced to quickly pack all of our luggage and drag our bags off the train without any assistance. We had our tickets confiscated, and were left standing in the dark around midnight, after being told that we were forever banned from Amtrak trains. However, we were not the only couple who was profoundly distressed by our Amtrak experience. When the conductor overheard me speaking to one of the marshals about this, he immediately returned our tickets to us and offered my wife and I the option of getting back on the train the following day! What was it that I told the Marshall? That approximately 12 hours before, another couple had been kicked off the train with the accompaniment of the police for complaining about the suffocating conditions!

It's one thing that Amtrak charges high prices for the honor of occupying a tiny bedroom in one of their obsolete railcars. It's another thing if in addition, the service personnel are generally rude, insulting and sadistic. The only exception to this would be in the dining car where a gratuity is expected.

My wife and I sued Amtrak for this abusive service and our abandonment in an unknown town in the middle of the night. We won with little difficulty.

It seems Amtrak has a stable of attorneys on call to take care of litigations of this type. Make sure you are prepared with adequate legal support the next time you travel Amtrak.

Product or Service Mentioned: Amtrak Train Service.

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Anonymous
#643056

I rode amtrak from virginia to florida, and from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am I have no memory as if someone slipped me something. At 4:00 am in Savannah, GA I had a Sheriff and two deputies escort me off the train, very nice officers, almost laughing as if the whole thing was a joke. I have been riding amtrak for years, but rode the bus back to Florida and I will never ride amtrak again, and am even starting a website about my train experiences.

Anonymous
#67891

I have just had one of my most unpleased travel experiences and I have traveled all over the world. I always thought a wonderful way to see the country would be from an Amtrak cross country sleeper car.

On Friday afternoon I set out on a cross country trek from Washington DC to San Diego California, by Amtrak train. The trip from Washington DC to Los Angeles was by Amtrak sleeper car. I was going to spend 3 nights in an Amtrak sleeper car. One night from DC to Chicago, change trains in Chicago for a two night trip to Los Angeles.

Change train in Los Angeles for a 2.5 hour train ride to San Diego.

The trip from DC to Chicago was uneventful. The bulk of the traveling was done at night so I was a little disappointed about not seeing lots of scenery. The upper bunk did NOT have a window so my images of falling asleep while the landscape passed were thwarted. We arrived in Chicago Saturday morning with a 6 hour layover before boarding the Southwest Chief for Los Angeles.

After sightseeing in Chicago, we boarded the Southwest Chief sleeper car. Before we left the station in Chicago a fowl smell overtook the sleeper cabin. It smelled like sewage. It lingered then passed after a few minutes.

Soon the train took off and the adventure was underway. Soon after leaving the station the smell of sewage appeared again, lingered a few minutes then passed. I assumed it had something to do with the area the train was travelling. Unfortunately it soon became a pattern every 15 minutes or so the entire sleeper car would be overcome with the smell of sewage.

The smell would linger and then pass. The smell was coming from the vents. Yes, the vents were emitting the smell of sewage again and again. It soon became unbearable.

We entered the lounge car to get away from the smell. We had paid for an expensive sleeper car, but were unable to use it because the smell of sewage was being vented into the room on a regular basis. Four hours out of Chicago, I saw the conductor passing thought the lounge car and mentioned this problem to him. He said he would get back to me since he had to attend to boarding passengers.

One hour passed and I had not heard from the conductor. However I could see him having a conversation with staff in the dinning car. I asked him about the smell. Again he told me he would get back to me.

Finally someone told me that no other sleeper or coach seats were available, and the lounge car closed at 10:00 PM. The problem was that when the sleeper car in front of my sleeper car flushed their toilets the smell was vented into my sleeper car. For 2 nights and 3 days the customers on my sleeper car were bathed in toilet smells coming through the vents. You can imagine the horror of the experience.

We passed through many large train stations between Chicago & Los Angeles……….nothing was done. We were told they would take care of it in Los Angeles. How would that benefit passengers on the train? The train trip ended in Los Angeles.

We were told to complain to 1 800 USA Rail. The problem started Saturday and did not end until the train arrived in Los Angeles Monday morning. Customer relations for Amtrak is closed on the weekend. When you called 1 800 USA Rail you are told to call back on Monday.

Monday morning 9:00 AM I began calling 1 800 USA RAIL. While I could get through to make a reservation, I could NOT get through to customer relations, I was just forwarded to music. I attempted to find someone to complain to in the Los Angeles & San Diego train stations. In both places I was told to call 1 800 USA RAIL.

I was told that typically there are so many calls on Monday to customer relations that you can not get through. I have now spent 6 days while on vacation in San Diego attempting to get thought to customer relations on the 1 800 USA RAIL number. I have literally spent hours listening to the music on hold and have yet to be able to speak to anyone at Amtrak’s customer relations about my experience. Not being able to get through to complain about Amtrak on the 1 800 USA Rail is either an insidious plan by Amtrak or a grand omission.

Neither is acceptable. However I was able to get through to the Department of Transportation who forwarded me to the Federal Railroad Administration. They told me that while they do not regulate the toilet problem on Amtrak (they get involved in things like derailments) it is the number one Amtrak complaint. Seems my experience is far from unusual.

Unless you are a fan of sewage smells, stay far away from Amtrak especially on long haul trips.

During my week in San Diego every time I heard a train whistle it brought back smells of the sewer. Fortunately, I am flying back to DC.