Amtrak Decrease service Starting January 24th

WASHINGTON — Amtrak will reduce Northeast Corridor, long-distance, and state-supported train frequencies between Jan. 24 and March 27, the passenger railroad announced Friday evening, citing “staffing challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly active Omicron variant.”

Overall, plans will amount to an 8% reduction in train departures over the 63-day period. That will include 8% of Northeast Regional departures; two weekly departures on nine long-distance routes, which will be reduced to five-day-a-week operation; complete suspension of the Silver Meteor for the 10-week period; and 6% of state-supported regional service. However, the head of one regional operation contacted by Trains News Wire was unaware of the national network cuts or the staffing impacts on that individual’s service.

Cancellations were first implemented this week on trains whose onboard service crews are based in Los Angeles. The eastbound Southwest Chief did not leave Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 9, and Wednesday, Jan. 12, while its while its westbound counterpart was cancelled Wednesday and Saturday, Jan. 15. The Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight also had departures cancelled.

In addition to the Chief and Starlight, long-distance trains to see frequency reductions are the California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Crescent, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited and City of New Orleans. The only trains maintaining daily frequency will be the Silver StarPalmetto, and Auto Train; the triweekly Cardinal and Sunset Limited will maintain that frequency.

According to the announcement, while the Meteor is suspended, the Silver Star and Palmetto will see “a corresponding increase in capacity, as dictated by demand.”

Amtrak said that while nearly 97% of employees are fully vaccinated, “several hundred of our on-board service personnel, conductors, engineers, and mechanical crews continue to be impacted by COVID infections or exposures …  These Covid-related absences, when combined with the general skilled workforce shortage Amtrak and other transportation companies are facing, have reduced our ability to consistently deliver our current schedules and impacted the pace of hiring and training efforts.”

Trains News Wire has asked Amtrak for more information and is analyzing the impact on connections through the reservation system, since the company has not indicated which trains are cancelled on each route each week. The company said it is working to rebook passengers on remaining frequencies and ensure that all routes maintain frequencies sufficient to meet demand. “Given the recent roughly 25% reduction in customer demand now occurring because of the Omicron variant and typical season travel patterns, we expect minimal impacts to overall ridership because of these temporary changes,” Amtrak said in Friday’s release.”

In most cases, passengers will offered same-day travel alternatives; when there is no same-day option, rebooking will be offered within one day of the original departure date. Those who were scheduled on the Silver Meteor will be offered alternatives including the Silver Star, Palmetto, Carolinian, and Northeast Regional.

Therefore, Amtrak is going to go through next weekend with normal service and begin on January 24th with the Southwest Chief being the first train to end daily service. Here is a list of when daily service will end with each train:

Southwest Chief: January 24th
Lake Shore Limited: January 25th
Texas Eagle: January 26th
Coast Starlight: January 26th
Empire Builder: January 27th
Capitol Limited: January 28th
California Zephyr: January 30th
City of New Orleans: January 30th

Silver Meteor will be completely suspended for almost 2 1/2 months starting January 24, 2022 while Silver Star will operate with extra train cars and the Palmetto will takeover the portion of Silver Meteor route between New York City and Savannah, GA so therefore, any passengers who travel south can take the Palmetto until Savannah then transfer to Silver Star to continue south in Florida, same for the north as well.

 

Source: Story was provided by Trains.com and Amtrak.com

Reports: Amtrak suspends vaccine mandate for workers; won’t cut service in January

Amtrak is temporarily suspending its vaccine mandate for employees, according to multiple reports Tuesday. The rail service also does not plan to cut service in January.

The details were outlined in a memo to employees by Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn, according to Reuters, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

It cites a federal court decision that stops enforcement of President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Last week, a federal judge in Georgia blocked the administration from enforcing the mandate, saying that Biden exceeded his authority in issuing the executive order for vaccinations. The ruling expanded one issued by a federal judge in Kentucky that was limited to contractors in three states.

Fewer than 500 active Amtrak employees have not complied with the mandate, Reuters reported.

The news comes days after Amtrak suggested a potential need to reduce service in January unless more employees get vaccinated. Amtrak president Stephen Gardner said last week that about 95% of Amtrak workers are at least partially vaccinated. The rest faced a Jan. 4 deadline that the Biden administration set for employees of federal contractors.

If enough employees resist getting the shots, “We anticipate proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network in January to avoid staffing-related cancellations,” Gardner told a congressional panel Thursday.

Gardner said any service reductions would last until March “or as soon as we have qualified employees available.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki downplayed the impact of the vaccine mandate on Amtrak.

Amtrak cut service and reduced its workforce after travel plummeted because of the pandemic — at its low point last year, ridership fell to 4% of its pre-pandemic level.

Gardner said Amtrak has restored most service and about 70% of passenger traffic has returned, “but it’s going to take several years” for ridership to return to 2019 numbers. The exact timing, he said, will depend on how long the pandemic lasts and how quickly business travelers get back on the train.

Amtrak has said it expects to hire 2,500 to 3,500 employees by September 2022, but its own inspector general said this week that the company doesn’t have enough staff or leadership in human resources to recruit, screen and hire those workers. Nearly half of the 64 jobs in talent-acquisition are vacant, leading to hiring delays, the auditor said.

Amtrak said in August that all employees would need to get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID-19. In September, President Joe Biden ordered that federal workers and employees of federal contractors be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, a deadline that was later delayed until Jan. 4.

Separately, other judges have held up Biden’s vaccine mandates for health care workers and companies with at least 100 employees.

 

Story source provided by: ABC10 News

Amtrak Seeks Service Cuts Due To COVID 19 Vaccine Mandate

Announcement just came in that Amtrak is seeking to cut it’s long distance routes to 3x times weekly service downgraded from daily service due to COVID 19 Vaccine Mandates that Amtrak needs to meet the goal to ensure 100% vaccinate rate but at this point, only 5% are unvaccinated so that is roughly about 1,500 workers. I found statement from RPA (Railroad Association of Passengers) in regarding the service cuts:

Sean Jeans-Gail | Vice President, Gov’t Affairs + Policy

At a hearing held today by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, rail operators from across the nation spoke of the opportunities and challenges they face in leveraging $66 billion in guaranteed federal funding from the bipartisan Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act to expand and upgrade the U.S. passenger rail network. Witnesses also talked about the ongoing challenges of running sprawling transportation companies during a pandemic.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner offered the clearest timeline yet for potential service interruptions flowing from workforce disruptions. These include retirements, management-mandated furloughs, separation payments executed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as resignations resulting from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Importantly, Gardner sketched out a timeline for service restorations in addition to when passengers will be informed of schedule changes:

  • “[Amtrak is] currently determining what service reductions will be necessary and intend to communicate them publicly by next week in order to ensure that we can rebook customers to the remaining frequencies we feel confident we can fully staff.”
  • Amtrak projects that, if disruptions were to take place, full service will be restored in March 2022, or “as soon as we have qualified employees available.”

The announcement drew the displeasure of the committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), who pointed out the irony of cutting service immediately in the wake of passing a bill $66 billion in guaranteed funding over five years for passenger rail. “Taxpayers will be paying more money for less service.”

Rail Passengers has been covering this story since October, so many of the underlying details will be familiar to our supporters. However, today was the most public venue in which a top Amtrak official has offered this level of detail about the operational mechanics driving potential disruptions, and why those impacts will be unevenly felt across the network:

“This impact is primarily felt across our long-distance services because of the relatively small crew bases at intermediate points along multi-day long-distance routes where conductors and engineers report to work. At some of these crew bases across our network, we have a relatively high percentage of unvaccinated employees. If those employees chose to not get vaccinated by the deadline, we will not have sufficient trained staff to support current service frequency on affected routes, as engineers and conductors must undergo extensive training both when hired or promoted and to become qualified on the characteristics of each route on which they work. We are currently determining what service reductions will be necessary and intend to communicate them publicly by next week in order to ensure that we can rebook customers to the remaining frequencies we feel confident we can fully staff. Our goal, of course, will be to have as few impacts to service as possible as we take these vital public health steps to help end the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce the spread of the new Omicron variant, and we will be prepared to reinstate frequencies as soon as the number of available employees permits.”

In a statement filed for the record, Rail Passengers outlined our original concerns with Amtrak management’s decisions to implement furloughs and voluntary separations in spite of the likelihood of federal aid packages, and the need to fully return service in a smooth and timely fashion:

In 2020, Rail Passengers warned Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and members of Congress that the railroad was making a mistake with decisions to furlough employees and temporarily mothball rolling stock, cautioning that dismantling the people and equipment needed to recover to normal service levels would be a real problem when it was time to resume operation.

With that being said, we do wish to recognize the concrete steps Amtrak has taken to avoid any disruptions to service. This includes extending the deadline for vaccinations to Jan. 4, giving the company time to educate workers on the vaccination process and preventing disruptions during the critical holiday travel period. As of the last public communication, Amtrak stated that 94 percent of employees that it expects to be available for service in December had gotten at least one vaccine shot.

Regardless of how we arrived at this point, an extended disruption of Amtrak service on corridors affecting hundreds of communities, mere weeks after the passage of the IIJA, would surely undermine public confidence in these promising new passenger rail programs. We hope Amtrak will be able to avoid any disruptions to service. If cuts do take place, Congress must leverage its oversight powers and the FY22 appropriations bill to ensure that any such disruptions are brief.

Uncertain Impact of Recent Decision by U.S. District Court

The timeline presented by Amtrak at today’s hearing may be thrown into doubt by news that a nationwide stay of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order mandating federal contractors to require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, issued by U.S. District Court judge in Georgia.

“The Executive Order applies to millions of federal contractors, including some freight railroads, Amtrak, defense companies and airlines,” reported Railway Age today. “Amtrak, BNSF, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific are among those requiring employees to be vaccinated, and have been in court battles with unions over implementation.”

Opportunities for Growth of the Rail Network Abound

There was also plenty of positive, forward-looking proposals discussed at today’s hearing. When asked by Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) where Amtrak sees near-term opportunities to add service in the near-term, Gardner pointed to several long-time goals of our association, including a Heartland Flyer extension north to Wichita and Newton, Colorado’s Front Range, a second daily train between the Twin Cities and Chicago, and the Baton Rouge – New Orleans corridor.

Additionally, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked a series of pointed questions about the problem of freight trains interfering with Amtrak trains, causing persistent delays for passengers, as well as the need for Class I railroads to be transparent in granting access to Amtrak trains on new corridors. Knox Ross, the Mississippi Commissioner and Chair of the Southern Rail Commission, provided a persuasive response: freights need to follow the law in granting Amtrak passengers priority dispatching; and while it’s important to respect proprietary information, there’s a clear distinction between private financial data and things that anybody with time on their hands can go discover with their own eyes, such as the number of trains that utilize a specific corridor.

Rail Passengers is pleased to see congressional attention focused on these issues, and Ross’ argument aligns with comments made in our statement for the record:

It is self-evident that the success of the IIJA outside of the Northeast Corridor (NEC)—that is to say, whether it will result in meaningful expansion of the number of Americans who ride passenger trains every year—hinges on the ability of the federal government, states, Amtrak, and regional rail authorities to collaborate successfully with the owners of existing rail rights of way.

 

Rail Passengers is encouraged by the experiences of rail entities like the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, which has utilized coordinated cap-ex planning, service enhancement agreements, and collaborative structures such as the LOSSAN Working Group to forge a productive and sustainable partnership. We encourage the FRA, states, Amtrak and other Class Is to look to this partnership as a model. It is important that transportation officials identify the requisite characteristics of a mutually beneficial relationship between passenger rail carriers and host railroads—e.g., minimum levels of passenger train service, freight throughput, existing infrastructure, political engagement, etc.—to understand where this partnership can be readily replicated and where that replication will be more difficult.

 

However, Rail Passengers remains concerned about the unreasonably high levels of freight train interference affecting Amtrak passengers. Too many of Amtrak’s State-supported routes have On-Time Performance (OTP) hovering at 70 percent, with OTP for routes like the Cascades and Pennsylvanianat 64 percent and 68 percent, respectively. Long-distance passengers have it worse, with trains on-time only 51 percent of the time. Poor service from many host railroads has caused chronic and excessive delays for millions of riders who rely on the Amtrak system, and they threaten the long-term viability of the service in dozens of states. America’s passengers are asking Congress to hold host railroads accountable for freight train interference, and we ask that this subcommittee works with the FRA to ensure the Metrics and Minimum Standards for Intercity Passenger Rail Service enacted last year are used vigorously to protect the rights of passengers to on-time trains.

 

Rail Passengers has also been actively taking part in the dispute between Amtrak and CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway that is currently being mediated by the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Our organization filed a letter in May 2021 in support of Amtrak’s petition for an interim order compelling CSX and Norfolk Southern to permit Amtrak timely and sufficient access to facilities and data to move forward with the preparations needed to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL in early 2022 (the STB recently ordered CSX to let Amtrak survey its Choctaw Yard in Mobile, so that Amtrak may determine the feasibility of rebuilding the West Stub Track, previously used to layover passenger trains, until the planned Mobile station is completed). We believe that the overriding principle in this instance is Amtrak’s legal right to access freight railroad tracks for a fair and reasonable cost. CSX has said it will take $2 billion to accommodate a single train every 12 hours; that is not reasonable, and it is not fair.

 

There is a larger concern at play, centered on the potential precedent this behavior sets for future passenger rail expansion elsewhere in the U.S. If a freight railroad can operate in bad faith to draw out the process to restore passenger train service along a single corridor for longer than a decade, as has happened with the Gulf Coast, there is little hope for new passenger rail projects anywhere in the U.S.

 

We encourage Congress to engage with host railroads and the STB to ensure that congressional intent in the IIJA is not being thwarted by obstructionist tactics.

 

So we will wait for the official update on which route will be affected and the new temporary schedule, once we get them, we will post it on our website so everyone will be aware of the new changes. Hopefully, once for all we will seek full restoration as early as March 2022 or so.

Proposed New AGR Elite Chart

I have been brainstorming for while how to improve the new Amtrak Guest Rewards program and make it more effective for members out there to use the benefits and how it will help people to travel more for worth of their money. Amtrak has been offering the Guest Rewards for years and this is their current status chart:

 

As you see above, I feel the benefit does not excited me so I though how to improve it? So, what I did was to create my own Elite Status program that will be more worth for my money if I want to travel often on Amtrak. I hope they will understand how important passengers to provide the best elite benefits for us who want to spend more money. The reason I stated this, if you ever want to reach the top, you will need to spend at least $10,000 in order to achieve the status, is that worth to you? From my point of view, I think Select+ is the best deal because it would be more than enough for me because of perks that gives me such as unlimited access to the Amtrak private lounges in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and New Orleans and name to few other perks.

To earn points, it’s called Tier Quailfy Points as TQP so you need to earn amount of points to reach the elite level and this chart explains how to earn TQP’s as example:

 

So the bottom line, if you want to start building up, you would need at least 25 trips on the $100 ticket level to Select. If you decide to want to ram up, ride on Business Class instead, from there you would need at least 40 trips on the $100 Business class level to become Select+. Now, once for all if you want to reach the top, you will need 80 trips on Business Class or almost 69 trips on Acela First Class to achieve it. Now that tells you, it’s way too much and it takes longer to reach to the top. If you want to reach the top fast? The secret is book $585 Roomette Sleeper rooms, let’s say from New York City to Miami and do it 20 times roundtrip, you are all set or do the full Bedroom for $995 and do it 16 times, that is other thing too. The price is as a example.

Bottom line, the way to reach to the top is not cheap, very expensive. If you can afford the luxury, great and go for it. But if you want to be budget wise, just enjoy and travel and go with the flow. Unless if you have the Amtrak AGR World Mastercard, say with $7500 credit limit, spend on anything like Bills, Restaurant, Food Shopping, Amtrak trips and many more and it’s the only true option to reach higher status faster because the spending you do, you earn more points that way since it has 3X points every dollar so it adds up. You do the math.

 

As you see, my own version Elite Status chart is shown below:

 

 

The only big difference is this that I added a new level status called Ambassador that gives more full benefits with big perks. I also changed the status name to be more common for the elite status out there. I am outling the level information below with more detailed what benefits it offers:

 

CLUB:

  • 2 Points per $1 Amtrak Travel
  • 25% point bonus on Business Class Travel
  • 50% Points on Acela First Class Travel
  • 75% Point bonus on Sleeper Class Travel
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • Up to 50,000 points to purchase per calendar year
  • Up to 100,000 points to share points per calendar year

 

GOLD:

  • 3 Points per $1 Amtrak Travel
  • 25% point bonus on Business Class Travel
  • 50% Points on Acela First Class Travel
  • 75% Point bonus on Sleeper Class Travel
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • Up to 100,000 points to purchase per calendar year
  • Up to 250,000 points to share points per calendar year
  • Up to 50,000 points transfer from your account per calendar year
  • Two Tickets to Access to Amtrak lounges
  • Two One-Class Upgrade Coupons
  • One Companion Coupons
  • Two coupons for 10% off Amtrak travel
  • 50% point bonus on Amtrak travel
  • Priority call handling
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from a variety of program partners

 

PLANTIUM:

  • 3 Points per $1 Amtrak Travel
  • 50% point bonus on Business Class Travel
  • 50% Points on Acela First Class Travel
  • 75% Point bonus on Sleeper Class Travel
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • UNLIMITED points to purchase per calendar year
  • Up to 500,000 points to share points per calendar year
  • Up to 100,000 points transfer from your account per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED Access to Amtrak lounges
  • Four One-Class Upgrade Coupons
  • Two Companion Coupons
  • Four coupons for 10% off Amtrak travel
  • 100% point bonus on Amtrak travel
  • Priority call handling
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • Auto-registration for promotions
  • Complimentary Upgrade Ticket – When your elite status reach this level, you’ll be given a free one ticket for Business Class on any route wherever Amtrak goes.
  • Rollover Elite Status – If you still maintain TQP points for the calendar year without travel, you can rollover your status to the next year.

 

EXECUTIVE: 

  • 4 Points per $1 Amtrak Travel
  • 25% point bonus on Business Class Travel
  • 50% Points on Acela First Class Travel
  • 75% Point bonus on Sleeper Class Travel
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • UNLIMITED points to purchase per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED points to share points per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED points transfer from your account per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED Access to Amtrak lounges
  • Six One-Class Upgrade Coupons
  • Four Companion Coupons
  • Two Auto Train Priority Vehicle Coupon
  • Six coupons for 10% off Amtrak travel
  • 100% point bonus on Amtrak travel
  • Priority call handling
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • Auto-registration for promotions
  • Complimentary Upgrade Ticket – When your elite status reach this level, you’ll be given a free one ticket for First Class on any route wherever Amtrak goes.
  • Rollover Elite Status – If you still maintain TQP points for the calendar year without travel, you can rollover your status to the next year.

 

AMBASSADOR:

  • 5 Points per $1 Amtrak Travel
  • 25% point bonus on Business Class Travel
  • 50% Points on Acela First Class Travel
  • 75% Point bonus on Sleeper Class Travel
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • UNLIMITED points to purchase per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED points to share points per calendar year
  • UNLIMITED points transfer from your account per calendar year
  • 25,000 Bonus Points every year when you are on this level when meet elite status requirement
  • UNLIMITED Access to Amtrak lounges
  • UNLIMITED One-Class Upgrade Coupons
  • UNLIMITED Two Companion Coupons
  • UNLIMITED Auto Train Priority Vehicle Coupon
  • UNLIMITED for 10% off Amtrak travel
  • 125% point bonus on Amtrak travel
  • Priority call handling
  • Exclusive discounts and bonus offers from our program partners
  • Auto-registration for promotion
  • Complimentary Upgrade Ticket – When your elite status reach this level, you’ll be given a free one ticket for Bedroom Sleeper Ticket on any route wherever Amtrak goes.
  • Rollover Elite Status – If you still maintain TQP points for the calendar year without travel, you can rollover your status to the next year.

 

So what is your thoughts on this? Will it be worthwhile or am I wasting my time on this nonsense? I want to see Amtrak Guest Rewards program to be improved, soon.

Amtrak Travel Miami to Buffalo Review

Train: Amtrak Empire Service & Silver Meteor
Type of Cars: Amfleet II and Viewliner II
Train #: Northbound Silver Meteor #98 & Westbound Empire Service #283
Route: Miami, FL to Buffalo, NY
Date: June 11, 2021
Duration:‚ Approximately 29 hours
Seat Type: Viewliner II ADA Bedroom & Business Class

 

I had great time in Miami for 5 days, with nice warm weather, beaches, hitting bars & restaurants all over and even check the finest bright clean blue water, Miami beach! So my vacation is over and I am getting ready to go back home to Buffalo, NY from Miami, FL and this time, the story will gets interesting so I am excited! This trip I am going on, I will be staying in the new ADA (Accessible bedroom) on the new Viewliner II car and after heard stories how amazing it is so I had to upgrade from Roomette, I want to taste and experience it myself. I requested Uber and the ride was only 11 minutes and it was $9, great. I finally arrived the Amtrak Miami station, I am not sure why the layout is so old and they need to demolish and rebuilt or move to the new station further south by the airport? I heard there was issues with shortage track that doesn’t fit the entire train. What a shame. This what Miami station looks like:

 

The ticket for the Roomette was $565 and I was talking to agent at the station to see if I can upgrade to the ADA room, they checked on computer but the agent doesn’t know what he’s doing so he had to call office upstairs and confirmed me that I would need to shell extra $300 for the upgrade. I nodded and walked away and went back to my seat and I was like, no way jose. I decided to call Amtrak, within minutes the agent answered so I explained the story. Right away, the agent confirmed the agent at the station doesn’t do it properly and the upgrade fee is not $300, so the real number I was told, only $98 dollars more so I immediate took the offer, seconds later I got new eTicket and it says ADA room H. Everything is history.

28 minutes later after the hassle of upgrading my ticket, the agent came up to me and says I am ready for boarding since I have the ADA room so I walked up to the platform and showed the conductor where is my sleeper car, he pointed to the last sleeper car right behind the baggage car so I hop in and looked for the ADA room and all I see a big door that has a button that allows me to open the door and saw the room. I had my jaws dropped because it was so HUGE. That made my day and I felt like I am in dream la land! If you can, take a peek below what the new ADA Accessible bedroom looks like:

 

30 minutes later, the train finally start moving and I have noticed that the yard is right on other side and noticed lots of new Viewliners and Baggage cars sitting there and I’m not sure why but hope they go in service on all east long distance route soon even worse there are lot of Amfleet coach cars there and I assume it’s related to staff shortage due to Pandemic so to get the idea see pictures below of the yard:

 

So I was looking around what the ADA room looked like and so far, I was impressed because it’s so roomy and I can even have dance or get wild in it because it’s so big. What I loved about the room? Big shower area and I’ll use it tonight before I go to bed. After the celebration, I though try to peek in the new improved “Bedroom room” right next to the ADA room and good thing no one is in, it’s empty so I decided to take pictures of it so you can get the idea what it looks like:

After one crazy old man conductor came up to me and says a big X with his arms and say “NO, you cant go in”, I replied “There is no one and its empty” and he threated me to be kicked off but he walked away and didn’t bother me further. So I decided to walk up in the sleeper car and found some interesting thing. The coffee station is there and I learned it’s available but only 6am to 11am only and you can get as much coffee you want from there. If you need ice and others, ask the attendant at any time.

Then I went further down and checked the old Viewliner I sleeper car because I was so curious of their old shower room what it looked like:

Then I was so curious about the new Dining car, but too bad it was empty because we just left Miami but I asked the attendant if I can take picture just the kitchen area so I can show the public what the new improvement kitchen looks like so I took a chance, sadly we don’t have traditional dining and this beauty kitchen could had done with it. But the attendant confirmed me that starting in 2022, Silver Meteor is the first East Long Distance route to have Traditional dining service then all other routes will follow.

 

So I went back to my ADA room, lay down and take a nap. The attendant woke me up and asked what I wanted for lunch. I requested the boring Pasta with Meatballs like I had before because I had no choice. We are into Jacksonville and I saw a big army base field and then when we were going in the curve, I could see the Amtrak P40 engine, there was two of them. We are 10 minutes away from the Jacksonville station, I was told crew change and refuel for 45 minutes so I step outside and took a fresh air and stretch my body and took some pictures as well.

 

After little delay to be exact, one hour, we finally left Jacksonville and we get into the straight tracks for next 40 miles so we were speeding 80mh and the tracks was smooth also. I decided to take a nap again. After I woke up, we stopped at North Charleston, SC and I immediate took picture of this station sign.

Right after we left, I had dinner and it was same Fish Cod dinner that I had last time but this time, it tasted little different but I ate anyway. I asked the attendant to make up the bed, after that, I decided to take a hot shower and I was impressed how hot it is and so comfortable to use it because the space is so big which I liked it. I went to bed and realize that bed is big and I could had 2nd person sleeping with it and I had no issues slept overnight. We finally arrived Washington, DC and I skipped breakfast because it’s junk. I instead had coffee and OJ.

We were waiting about 38 minutes for crew change and engine switch. When that was completed, we start moving again and we went double the speed, 119 mph instead of 74mph and lucky we made it back to New York City in 3 1/2 hours.

After I got off the train, went back up to the station on ground level, I went straight to Starbucks and had a food and coffee and I felt lot better afterwards. I’ve noticed my next train back to Buffalo via Empire Service #283 Business Class and it’ll be ready in hour so I stood by the gate and wait for the gate to be ready to accept passengers. When time flew by, this signage showed up:

So I knew I had to be ready, when the Track number showed up, it says 6 and I was right by the gate, I knew it. Moving on, I went downstairs and went straight to the business class and by surprise, it was almost full and my seat is right front of the cafe:

When train started moving again, the conductor is checking in all passengers eTicket and mine was checked. I start to sit, relax and enjoy my ride and I love the view because I can see the river right front of me for next two hours. This what I love about downstate NY!

 

Finally, we arrived Albany, course crew change again and I went outside for 15 minutes for fresh air. Then I notice other Empire Service #244 was sitting right next to us so I took some pictures:

 

We’re moving again and it’s almost 3:15pm, I decide go to the cafe and get something to eat. I had this very good Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap and Soda. To get the idea what menu looks like:

After my late lunch, I decide to take a nap because I have long day. When we are almost to Buffalo, the conductor woke me up and say your stop is about 5 minutes away so I got up and get ready and when we arrived at the station and I finally got off and my trip is all over. But one thing it pissed me off, it was raining so hard and lot of lighting/thunder so I had to call Uber to take me home.

 

My FINAL Thoughts?

The trip was interesting because I had a chance to sleep in the new ADA Accessible room from Miami to New York and it was amazing experience and I will definitely to sleep there again. For the NYC to Buffalo trip is always relaxing and I always love the view. By means, if you want to travel in style, take Amtrak and you will thank yourself since it’s more effective and safe than flying. Therefore, if you hate flying, Amtrak is for you. Less TSA and no drama BS. That simple. For information about travel by rail, go to www.amtrak.com and get started and make sure to join Amtrak Guest Rewards to gain status for perks, you won’t be disappointed.