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pcdoctor

Amtrak in the news once again!

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On wzzm13's page this morning, there was a news article stating that the pere marquette train from Chicago to Grand Rapids was almost 5 hours late arriving back to Grand Rapids. Amtrak is claiming that brake problems this time caused the delay. Before the engines were switched back in Chicago, the train left almost three hours late. How could it get any worse with amtrak? They've been in the news a lot lately. Soon people will find other ways to travel to and from chicago and this could then cause amtrak to no longer have train service from Chicago to Grand Rapids or other places too.

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/news_story.aspx...86&catid=14

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On wzzm13's page this morning, there was a news article stating that the pere marquette train from Chicago to Grand Rapids was almost 5 hours late arriving back to Grand Rapids. Amtrak is claiming that brake problems this time caused the delay. Before the engines were switched back in Chicago, the train left almost three hours late. How could it get any worse with amtrak? They've been in the news a lot lately. Soon people will find other ways to travel to and from chicago and this could then cause amtrak to no longer have train service from Chicago to Grand Rapids or other places too.

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/news_story.aspx...86&catid=14

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Seems like a "chicken or the egg" type of problem to me. If Amtrak had a lot of riders I'm sure they'd have the budget to make the service very reliable. But without reliable service they'll probably have a hard time growing ridership.

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Seems like a "chicken or the egg" type of problem to me. If Amtrak had a lot of riders I'm sure they'd have the budget to make the service very reliable. But without reliable service they'll probably have a hard time growing ridership.

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Amtrak has been having problems at least since I was in high school. I used to take the train back and forth to chicago frequently in the early 90's. it was on time maybe half the time. usually not more than a couple of hours late. This is a real problem for them in terms of gaining wider acceptance. If you can not be at least close, most of the time people are not going to want to take the chance especially if someone will be waiting for them and especially when the trip by car is only 3-4 hours. taking 7 hours by train is not an acceptable substitute because at a certain point your time becomes more valuable than the miles you would save on your car.

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I've taken the Amtrack to Chicago and back about five or six times in the past few years and the biggest delay I've had was probably only about an hour although I know other people that have had much longer delays. Most times the trains are usually full. I definitely try to get towards the front of the boarding line to ensure a window seat! Regardless, I tend to agree with the chicken and the egg scenario mentioned above. I've become pretty familiar with Chicago and I'd love to be abel to get there faster. Thus far it is the fastest alternativeto driving, that is unless you stop at the Four Winds Casino on the way there....

As for alternatives to the Amtrak, I've taken the Greyhound from Chicago and I've gone to and from Chicago by driving to Michigan City, IN and taking the South Shore Line. The Greyhound costs about the same as the Amtrak an d takes six hours instead of four. Plus I think there are a few more stops. The greyhound, to me, is really an alternative when the Amtrak is full. When I took the South Shore Line, the train was about 30 to 45 minutes late and I got to Chicago about an hour or more later than expected. I don't know if that is normal since thats the only time I've taken it. It was cheap though, only six or seven bucks. Granted, its not much more than a city bus on tracks but we didn't have to take the car into the city. Plus Millenium Station was two blocks from the theatre my fiance and I were going to, one block from the Red Line that we take to my friends place, and two blocks from the H&M that I go to every time I'm in Chicago. Anyway, the fastest anc cheapest way to get to and from Chicago is still driving, unfortunately, but I still prefer Amtrak over the alternatives. The bus takes to long, and the commuter train is ok but after riding it for an hour and change and then having to drive is kind of a drag. Taking Amtrak and having no one drive and everyone being able to hang out is the best option. So I hope they get their s%*t together. Almost forgot, the 45 minute flight to Chicago is nice too but obviously the most expensive. Plus thereis a good deal of time spent getting to the airport, parking, boarding, unboarding and taking the blue line into downtown. That probably takes as long as driving!!

Sorry for the rant. Now I want to go back there....

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Why don't they just adjust the estimated arrival times to account for always being late? If the trip takes an extra hour the majority of the time, seems like THAT should be the trip time... :dontknow:

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Much of the trip time is spent going very slowly on the last few miles in GR, and perhaps in chicago. there are some odd rules which if changed, could cut travel time by a half hour or more. With some rule changes the trip time could be reduced significantly at even with the present hardware (if maintained.)

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I've taken the Amtrack to Chicago and back about five or six times in the past few years and the biggest delay I've had was probably only about an hour although I know other people that have had much longer delays. Most times the trains are usually full. I definitely try to get towards the front of the boarding line to ensure a window seat! Regardless, I tend to agree with the chicken and the egg scenario mentioned above. I've become pretty familiar with Chicago and I'd love to be abel to get there faster. Thus far it is the fastest alternativeto driving, that is unless you stop at the Four Winds Casino on the way there....

As for alternatives to the Amtrak, I've taken the Greyhound from Chicago and I've gone to and from Chicago by driving to Michigan City, IN and taking the South Shore Line. The Greyhound costs about the same as the Amtrak an d takes six hours instead of four. Plus I think there are a few more stops. The greyhound, to me, is really an alternative when the Amtrak is full. When I took the South Shore Line, the train was about 30 to 45 minutes late and I got to Chicago about an hour or more later than expected. I don't know if that is normal since thats the only time I've taken it. It was cheap though, only six or seven bucks. Granted, its not much more than a city bus on tracks but we didn't have to take the car into the city. Plus Millenium Station was two blocks from the theatre my fiance and I were going to, one block from the Red Line that we take to my friends place, and two blocks from the H&M that I go to every time I'm in Chicago. Anyway, the fastest anc cheapest way to get to and from Chicago is still driving, unfortunately, but I still prefer Amtrak over the alternatives. The bus takes to long, and the commuter train is ok but after riding it for an hour and change and then having to drive is kind of a drag. Taking Amtrak and having no one drive and everyone being able to hang out is the best option. So I hope they get their s%*t together. Almost forgot, the 45 minute flight to Chicago is nice too but obviously the most expensive. Plus thereis a good deal of time spent getting to the airport, parking, boarding, unboarding and taking the blue line into downtown. That probably takes as long as driving!!

Sorry for the rant. Now I want to go back there....

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actually, I've ridden this line twice in the last couple of months and both times the trains were quite full. I think they have more customers than you realize. Of course, both times the trains were an hour late arriving at their destinations, in both directions.

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It may be the claustrophobic in me, but I can't stand Greyhound or any kind of charter bus, especially for 4 or 5 hours. :shok: Train seating seems to be more spacious.

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While Amtrak has made mistakes in the past that have caused ridiculously long delays, most of the problems stem from infrastructure issues. Amtrak owns very little of its own rail and must submit to the requests of freight traffic. Much of the infrastructure is old and fails regularly. Imagine driving from Grand Rapids to Chicago on a one-lane road with a speed limit of 40mph. That's the kind of infrastructure Amtrak deals with and it's the same story almost everywhere you go in the U.S. People continue to use Amtrak because they don't have a private vehicle at their disposal and the price isn't too bad.

This site lists the route performance for each Amtrak line as well as the primary causes for delays. MI's Amtrak lines were on time 27.2% over the last 12 months with delays being attributed to train interference 32.3% of the time, track and signals 26.5% of the time, and operational problems 19.2% of the time.

If you want to see what Amtrak could--and should--be like check out the Acela Express line's performance. I hope a significant portion of Obama's proposed infrastructure stimulus will go towards the improvement of Amtrak service. It seems like the best place to start is rail ownership.

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Much of the trip time is spent going very slowly on the last few miles in GR, and perhaps in chicago. there are some odd rules which if changed, could cut travel time by a half hour or more. With some rule changes the trip time could be reduced significantly at even with the present hardware (if maintained.)

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's way too much media in this town chasing way too little "news". These winter weather advisory's, watches and warnings day in and day out. Give me a break, it's Michigan and it's winter. It comes every 12 months + /- and last 4-5 months.

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Since watches, warnings and advisories are posted by the National Weather Service, I don't think you can fault the local media for them. Sure they get hyped more than necessary, but it is the media's responsibility to inform the public of notices given by the NWS.

And as for the rail rules, wasn't the latest long delay due to an engine problem that took 5 hours to fix? That has nothing to do with the rules and I'd imagine that at least 50% of the long delays (2+ hours) are due to mechanical problems and not something out of Amtrak's control.

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My comment was directed to the new anchors and media weather people's incessant yacking about the watches and warnings. I don't have a problem with the leaders on the bottom of the screen but interviewing someone from the road commission about "are you ready and do you have salt?" and standing live next to the road sticking a finger in the snow to show "how deep" it is every newscast is ridiculous.

As for mechanical vs congestion delays, I was addressing blodgett's comment about the rules that require any train to proceed slowly within yard limits ie the approaches into Chicago and GR stations.

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Ridiculous delays are not limited to Amtrak...

Last night I spent a full hour in a city bus north of 28th street for a second bus to take us to our destination. 30 minutes after the bus had a (third) problem, a maintenance guy showed up to try everything the driver had already tried to get it running again. (This was after the third time the bus had problems starting up within the first quarter-leg of the route. Had to be restarted at Central, a few blocks down, and completely died around 28th Street.) We all ended up boarding the next scheduled bus which was an hour later. There were only five of us on the bus (4 after about 45 minutes when a student had a ride come pick her up.) It seems to me they could have sent a couple County Connection vehicles our way to at least get the few of us home, or at least called a taxi for us. An hour on the bus making for an hour-and-a-half trip to 44th Street is not exactly how I want to spend my night.

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I pine for the days when watches and warnings were only for real weather emergencies, and only real weather nuts with police scanners worried about "advisories" from the NWS.

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I was surprised that the TV stations weren't breathlessly waiting for the delayed train last night. It sounds like the engine had some trouble (fortunately not with the power to the cars) and CSX had to send an engine off a coal train to get them to GR. The same engine pulled the train to Chicago this morning (about 2 hours late).

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