• Report: #204891

Complaint Review: Amtrak Auto Train

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  • Submitted: Mon, August 07, 2006
  • Updated: Fri, January 27, 2012

  • Reported By:Frankford Delaware
Amtrak Auto Train
60 Massachusetts Ave, NE Washington, District of Columbia U.S.A.
  • Phone: 800-525-2550
  • Web:
  • Category: Amtrak

Amtrak Auto Train Train ride from hell, beware of what they don't tell you. Ripoff Washington District of Columbia

*General Comment: had a good time

*Consumer Suggestion: Auto Train NOT a rip off

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: your right sir

*Consumer Suggestion: Bill is Right!

*Consumer Comment: Amtrak

*Consumer Suggestion: Fly or Drive Next Time

*Consumer Comment: Track ownership

*Consumer Comment: a few tips to make your next amtrak exprience easier

*Consumer Comment: Reason for delay and "traffick"

*Consumer Suggestion: Not to contradict Lou, but

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Just finished taking my family on the Auto Train for the first and last time. The train sounds good on their web site and we really thought it would be an alternative to driving, it's not.

First sign should have been the train from Sanford, FL to Lorton, VA was 2+ hours late getting into the station, so we were late leaving. We were also late arriving in FL because of "switches that don't work well in the rain" (think one of their engineer might want to look at that issue). But they are consistent, we were also 2 hours late getting back to VA, even though we left a half hour early. This time it was because of traffic on the tracks. Now I'm not a railroad engineer, but you'd think they would know if there was going to be "traffic" on the rails. Everyone we spoke with that had taken the train before said they arrived late, so perhaps you should not consider their stated arrival time, 8:30am as the truth, plan on an extra couple of hours on the train, each way.

Let's talk about the bathrooms. Bring a Hazmat suit. If the smell doesn't get you, the filth will. If you think Port O' Potties are great, you'll love the toilets on board. The first couple of hours they are usable, but after about 6 hours on the train you won't want to go near them. People were changing their seats because of the smell.

If you plan on using a laptop, good luck. There were three outlets available on the entire train, unless you wanted to sit in the bathroom to recharge your battery (as one passenger did for two hours). Once someone got an outlet, they were there for the night.

Lights are on all night, and there is constant travelling between cars by passengers to the lounge car, so forget a good nights sleep. While the reclining seats were comfortable (for the first 10 hours), you really needed two empty ones next to each other to spreadout for comfort (not possible on full train).

Food was standard microwave TV dinner variety, served with wine . Breakfast was continental style, bagels,muffins, juice & coffee. If you are not a party of 4 you will be sharing your table with strangers, even if the dining car is not full.

Although they indicate the train travels at 70 mph, you'll spend a considerable amount of time stopped or barely moving along, it makes the trip seem unbearably long.

If you hate your relatives, give them gift tickets on the Auto train. Do not expose anyone you care about to this adventure. We're tired, sleep deprived, but hopefully the anti-bacterial cream helpd ward off whatever lurked in the bathrooms. And it only cost us a little of $1,000 for the thrill, about $999 overpriced.

Lou
Frankford, Delaware
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/07/2006 11:13 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Amtrak-Auto-Train/Washington-District-of-Columbia-20002/Amtrak-Auto-Train-Train-ride-from-hell-beware-of-what-they-dont-tell-you-Ripoff-Washing-204891. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 General Comment

had a good time

AUTHOR: Jordan - ()

i went on this trip twice (on a round trip). i never had any problems and the last time i went the bathrooms were clean. we had 2 outlets for every two seats. also for both trips we were on time once we got to va 1 hour early! that guy who wrote the ripoff is full of s***. and the trains slow down at dark to be safe. they also slow down for csx trains if they are on the same track. just to let yo know they fill up the train with fresh foods before every trip and they cook the food.

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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Auto Train NOT a rip off

AUTHOR: ksari6000 - (United States of America)

M. Delaware.

First, if you're from DC, and have ever had to drive I-95 to Florida...you know how hellish that can be.

But, we're not talking 95-we're talking Auto Train.

Most of your problems/issues with this train could be avoided if you simply invest a little more $ to buy a roomette, and or deluxe suite.  There, no one will walk up and down the isles, you'll have your own dedicated outlet, you can have steak for dinner, a very nice breakfast...and if you go with the Deluxe Suite, you will have your own shower, and toilet, so more messiness in that department.

You can also "lights out" when you choose.

I have made this trip countless times, (at least 5), and every time, it's been on time, and every time it's averaged 70 MPH, with no delays, switch or mehcanical issues.

The train makes it's standard crew change in Columbia, SC which only takes a few minutes (around 20) If I can recall correctly. 

It makes NO other stops along the route which is completely unsual for a train, anywhere in the world, and also considering the regualar train to Orlando would make 17 stops.

So, sounds like you wanted Champagne on a wine budget.  Unusual for Mass Ave resident!

Do remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for!".

Happy railings next time.
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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

your right sir

AUTHOR: amman - (Virgin Islands (US))

hello i have to agree

I am ex-employee and tried to report these issues.  I loss my job because i reported safety conditions in Sanford terminal lavatories. Passengers were falling on the wet floors and loose toilet seats. Ambulances were called numerous times.  the employees would laugh and blame it on, that the passengers were elderly.
I tried to transfer to another facility but the backlash just followed me.  At the end my manager kicked my chair and told me i was nothing but trouble.  It was Christmas night, I walked away to avoid conflict and the next day i was told that i was supposed submit to a drug test  why? i never had a problem with drugs or alcohol at work or privately.   They just wanted me out cause i reported so i dont think amtrak will change cause employees are.   discouraged

great paying job but the harassment isn't worth it.  
and  I dont care who knows my name cause i went through Amtraks chain of command and did everything i was taught to report this   

John Aiello
(((ROR redacted)))

CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Bill is Right!

AUTHOR: Karl - (U.S.A.)

It is far better to stay home and sleep in your own bed then it is to travel. Unfortunately when you HAVE to travel then fly. It is nearly always cheaper than Amtrak and you can spend your time at the destination. Cunard Lines used to advertise that "Getting there is half the fun". Not anymore.
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#5 Consumer Comment

Amtrak

AUTHOR: Bill - (United States of America)

 I have taken Amtrak 3 times and I have never ever had a problem like that, there was electrical outlet by my seat to recharge my laptop no one had a problem with that. Yes I will agree that it is hard to sleep in the seats but sir they do offer bedroom suits on the train. As for the food the train is not a 5 star resturant but the food isn't bad it isn't mirowave as you said. What did you think that when you were ready to sleep the hole train would be ready at the same time. People do have to go to the restroom at all hours of the day and night some more offen than others. I had no issues at all with the bathrooms at anytime I've taken the train. Sir there are unforseen delays things do happen that might delay the train I just came back from Florida by plane the fight left 45 min's late because the pilot wasn't there, and they wouldn't even let us board the plane. Anywhere you go when you take public transportation you have to know that there might be a delay if you don't expect that than maybe you should stay at home where the bathrooms are always spotless, you can sleep in your own bed and you don't have to worry about someone walking by you in the night. And you'll alway have a 5 star meal waiting for you from your wife.
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#6 Consumer Suggestion

Fly or Drive Next Time

AUTHOR: Karl - (U.S.A.)

Amtrak is nothing like the crack passenger trains prior to 1971 and it is woefully overpriced. A sleeper doesn't cost "a few dollars more", it costs hundreds of dollars more. If I was spending the winter in Florida I would pay a friend to drive my car down and I'd fly. I wouldn't take Amtrak. If I was vacationing in Florida I'd fly down and rent a car. Why waste time en route. Amtrak fares are screwy. It costs $40 to go from BWI Airport to Philadelphia (90 Miles) and $38 dollars to go from Washington to Connellsville PA (238 miles). You get no perks and a dirty bathroom on a plane but you are only on it for a couple of hours, not 16 or so.
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#7 Consumer Comment

Track ownership

AUTHOR: Milt - (U.S.A.)

I'm sure Nicole means well but she is mistaken about BNSF owning almost all the trackage in the US. BNSF DOES own a lot of trackage but it is almost all west of the Mississippi River. Norfolk Southern and CSX owns virtually all of the trackage in the eastern US and the tracks between Lorton, Va and Sanford, Fl are in fact CSX's property. They own it, they control it. AMTRAK leases usage rights from CSX. AMTRAK DOES own trackage beginning in Washington DC and running north into New England but everywhere else they run is over leased rights from Class 1 freight railroads.
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#8 Consumer Comment

a few tips to make your next amtrak exprience easier

AUTHOR: Eris - (U.S.A.)

I take amtrak at least 5 times a year(northeast corridor to VA) trust me there is always traffic in new jersey because of the frieght lines.I'm sorry you had a bad experience.

#1 Amtrak is not the hilton and the Hyatt its pretty much a fend for yourself kind of thing. Don't look for perks, you won't get any
#2 Long trips my husband and i get either a sleeper car or private car VA is a long ride. I know full well how vile amtrak or any public ladies bathroom can get-ladies rooms are much more filthy than mens rooms. Plus we have to wait in line.
#3 invest in a power strip so my husband can plug in the dvd player, i can plug in my laptop, or charge the camera or cell phone on one outlet.(also do this when cruising)
#4 Bring your own snacks we pack mini bottle waters, cereal, peanut butter crackers, mms or mixed nuts (so you don't feel hungry if the diner car is full and if they run out)If you have any special dietary requirements forget it bring your own.
#5 bring reading material or ipod to kill the time
#6 amtrak is always delayed or late never on time never will be on time and amtrak like driving to work or even flying you will experience delays and traffic.

nature of the beast ask your congress rep to get more funding for amtrak.

I don't drive so i rely on amtrak to visit my relatives. cheaper than flying out of NY.
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#9 Consumer Comment

Reason for delay and "traffick"

AUTHOR: Nicole - (U.S.A.)

What they meant by "traffic" on the tracks was freight trains. You see, BNSF owns nearly all tracks in the US. Not Amtrak. So, guess who has priority? BNSF. A two hour delay is not too much when on a train. Especially in rain. Just as you must drive slower in bad weather, trains must slow down too, or risk an accident. Although you are correct on the bathrooms and food. I travel by train often, and if it is more than 10 hours, I get a private room. The food is no better, but it is quieter and more comfortable. Also, there are more than three outlets. There is usually one outlet per four-five rows. Not many, but planes don't have them either....
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#10 Consumer Suggestion

Not to contradict Lou, but

AUTHOR: Andy - (U.S.A.)

I also travelled on the Auto Train, but enjoyed the experience. I would offer the following suggestions to anyone planning to take the Auto Train:

1. Don't Expect the Train to Arrive on Time. Freight trains have priority over the AutoTrain because they generate revenue. So the AutoTrain may have to wait at some siding while a freight train passes. Bring reading materials, i-pods etc. to keep yourself entertained. Remember if you were flying on a plane, you are subject to delays. If you drive, you are also subject to delays.

2. Spend a Few Dollars More for a Private Room or Roomette. They come with a bed and are quiet, so you will sleep better than you would in coach. You will then either have a private bathroom or one used by fewer people, so it will be cleaner.

3. Bring Snacks. I had a steak with wine for dinner and enjoyed it very much. Breakfast was a typical continental breakfast with coffee and bagel. Never hurts to bring your own munchies or libations.

4. Research Before you Travel. The ride is about 16 hours long. Not everyone will enjoy. Research Amtrak and other websites. Talk to other people you know who have used Auto Train. Determine if this is best for you. If so prepare accordingly.

5. Be Nice to the Staff. I found them helpful. If you have a private room, there will be an attendant for you. If you are happy with them, give a few bucks for a tip.
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