What you breathe on an Amtrak train

ThisĀ  is what you breathe on an Amtrak train. I have yet to see an Amtrak passenger compartment I’ve been in not look exactly like this picture. What you are see is not just carpet. You are seeing caked on dust and who knows what else stuck on carpeting by air vents. When seated on an Amtrak train by the window look up to find this mess. Sadly this has been what I’ve seen every time I do so. Recently I was sent a survey in the mail in regards to one of my Amtrak trips. Unfortunately I was unable to give Amtrak high marks. The quality of customer service is to hit and miss. Cleanliness on these passenger trains is not a high priority.

On my recent Southwest Chief journey an Amtrak employee seemed put out because I politely mentioned a bathroom needing toilet paper. This nasty unclean facility had been without this much needed item for a good portion of the day. This Amtrak conductor stated they would get to it when they could. The only time you might get a somewhat clean bathroom is if you board at the original departing station. After that if you don’t carry your own alcohol wipes or cleaning supplies you are stuck using disgusting facilities.

From what I have seen and been told Amtrak’s competition isn’t providing customers with a clean experience either. One person on my recent train trip stated that airlines aren’t keeping the inside of planes as clean as they used to. I can tell you from personal experience that Greyhound buses aren’t all that clean. Greyhound restrooms are some of the most disgusting I have ever seen. One of their stations down South had a restroom that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in decades.

Even when leaving the original departing station I have rarely seen a train that is clean on the outside. In Chicago I know they have an equipment washing facility. Yet I have left Chicago on Amtrak trains that look very dirty. To me it seems as if there are very few Amtrak employees who take pride in how the aging train sets look. Honestly there are very few Amtrak conductors who seem happy with their jobs. Rarely do I see anything close to good customer service when I travel the rails here in the United States. Normally the only truly friendly helpful Amtrak employee is whoever is running the snack car that day. Some ticket counter, conductors and boarding personnel do seem to value customers. The majority of people who work for Amtrak don’t follow their example.

With Amtrak rolling stock decaying, crumbling stations, mostly bad customer service and no attention to cleanliness it’s amazing that ridership has been up. The only positive comments I ever hear on an Amtrak trip are from those who have purchased the expensive upgrades. I’ve personally only experienced business class twice. The only benefits are peace and quiet with conductors having a slightly better attitude. When riding the Amtrak Lincoln Service riding with anything less than business class is a disaster.

Dirty trains and bad service shouldn’t surprise me. On my way home recently from Chicago using the Lincoln Service I had an Amtrak conductor give me a shining example of lousy customer service. I was told after he gave my seat away twice and then sat me next to someone blasting music out of their headphones – “That is what you get when riding public transportation”. He didn’t like the fact that I complained about his screw up then not enforcing rules in regards to noise.

Unfortunately this moron would never lose his job. The union would make sure of that. But this is a shining example of why customers get dirty trains and lousy service. Then again I’m sure if Amtrak ever bothered to clean carpets, floors, bathrooms and other public areas they would just use nasty industrial cleaners. So in the end you would still be exposing riders to some sort of unhealthy atmosphere.

What is really frustrating and sad is Americans don’t expect more from their passenger rail service. Granted at least one person I know who rides the rails in Britain has stated a few times their trains have disgusting bathrooms as well. But at least they have trains running at speeds closer to true high speed rail. From what I have seen online many countries seem to have much nicer equipment running on their lines overseas. Amtrak is long overdue for a complete overhaul. At the very least Amtrak needs real everyday people being used as secret shoppers that are allowed to give honest reviews of their experiences.

Amtrak is lucky I don’t like to fly and doing so from where I live is a hassle. It is much easier to ride the train. Truthfully if I had a choice I wouldn’t give Amtrak any of my business. That statement is coming from a person who would like to see a true high speed rail passenger service developed in this country. I honestly can’t think of a time I’ve come home from riding the rails on Amtrak with a smile on my face. It does interest me to see how surprised people from other countries are when they ride Amtrak. They are amazed at how outdated train service is in the United States.

I guess when you have a staircase inside an observation car held together with duck tape – the last of your concerns is happy customers.

The Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC) is a complete and utter failure if you ask me. Although Amtrak did finally update their website so now it is actually usable.

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2 thoughts on “What you breathe on an Amtrak train”

  1. Amtrak makes enough money from their customers to always see that the public and private areas are very clean as a public heath asset.

  2. You must either work for Amtrak or you like telling a good joke. Public areas are not clean on Amtrak trains. The pictures above are the vents in those public areas. I have yet to ride an Amtrak train that looked as if anyone had bothered giving it a good cleaning inside or out. If you feel they are clean then we have two different standards.

    As for Amtrak making enough money to make cleaning a priority. Again not exactly an honest statement. My opinion is based upon my experiences over the years. I’ve been a passenger on several regional & national routes. I feel that gives me a good idea of the cleaning standards of Amtrak. If I was basing my opinion on one ride only I could understand where someone might feel I was out of line.

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