Becky took off for Louisiana on Friday night, via Amtrak. We’re ‘lucky’ to be living where we do, because Amtrak has stations here in town and where her folks live, so it’s a straight shot. It’s cheaper than airfare and faster and easier than driving. However, there are big tradeoffs.

The train is supposed to arrive at about 10:15 pm. We had already been told that it was running late and to show up instead at a little after 11:00 (Let me back up – we went on Friday evening to get her ticket and showed up at 7:45. The ticket window was closed for dinner until 8:30. We killed some time and went back at 8:45 and at that point were told we should come back after 11:00 to board the train. So when we showed up at 11:10, it was our third time there.) When we arrived, we were told (after asking) that the train was even more late, and would be arriving until 12:30. Yes, a half hour after midnight.

Why was the train so late? Why was it running two hours late from Chicago, which is two hours away from us? Because it didn’t leave Chicago until 10:30. Why didn’t it leave Chicago until 10:30? Don’t worry your pretty little head about that.

I don’t know why this train bothers to have a schedule in the first place, since it’s never on time. The last three times we did this it was late – and not twenty minutes late, but hours late.

Amtrak, if for some reason you’re reading this and scratching your head wondering why you can’t make any money, it’s because your service is terrible. You see no reason to try and keep to any kind of schedule, you express no sympathy when your trains are running very late, and you don’t see any kind of problem with this. On the famed ill-fated trip where we spent ten hours on a train stopped in Kentucky, no one at Amtrak felt we should be told what was going on, what was being done about it, or anything else, and in fact, one of the employees said, “We can stay here all day for all I care, because I’m paid by the hour.” Swell service, guys. That’s the kind of service tat makes people want to give you money!

I like the idea of a national train service, and I like the train, in theory, but you guys need to get your act together. I realize you have a monopoly and are more or less government funded, but even that will crumble as long as you don’t give a damn about your customers. Get your trains where they’re supposed to be, and apologize when you don’t. How hard is it?

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