Washington Union Station Boarding Procedure

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SouthernRailway
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by SouthernRailway » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:39 pm

Arborwayfan wrote: I think Amtrak is being silly. Well, maybe the platforms at CUS are so narrow and so obstructed by posts that it's actually better to line people up and walk them out. But BOS? WAS? Champaign-Urbana, for Pete's sake?
Agreed, although my experiences on so many trains indicate that Amtrak staff members think that customers are there for the convenience of Amtrak staff.

Amtrak's painful boarding procedures and lack of the ability to go standby on another train on the same day are huge disincentives to taking Amtrak in the Northeast.

Suburban Station
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Suburban Station » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:54 pm

Today's keystone line (well one of them since there was a second line that ran from the gate to the west entrance) stretched from gate 7 through the north waiting room, down the back hallway, and in front of the baggage claim. Insane process.

bdawe
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by bdawe » Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:17 pm

electricron wrote: On the northeast corridor with Amtrak trains running every half hour or so, if passengers miss their station they could always get off at the next station and ride another train back to their desired station within hours. Not much of a big deal for Amtrak. But on long distance trains, that other train may be the next day or a second day away. Who would be responsible to pay for the over night lodging? It is vitally important that the conductor or car attendant know where everyone should disembark, and since Amtrak changes conductors every 8 hours or so, and long distance trains can stretch over three days, grouping passengers by destinations make perfect sense. Will you be awake at 2 am by yourself, or will you trust Amtrak to make that wake up nudge?
Ok, but why would LD trains be 'wagging the dog' for regional boarding procedures
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jcpatten
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by jcpatten » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:05 pm

At Boston South Station, they don't announce what track the train boards from until the train is ready to board. Then there's a "gatekeeper" partway down the platform to make sure you have the right ticket. This is because access to the platform is pretty open, between the outside, the bus terminal above it, and the many doors to the platforms inside the concourse. I suspect that all trains that have made it to Boston get serviced at Southhampton before going out on the road again, and I suspect that anything terminating in Boston doesn't go out again until next day.

hs3730
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by hs3730 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:18 am

One solution is assigned seats, oddly enough. Mark the platforms with digital signs showing where "car 1", "car 2", etc will line up (needs to be digital signs because consists vary too much). Ticket shows "car 3, seat 21 A" - line up at one of the two doors for car 3. For LD trains people can also be sorted based on destination at booking time rather than by conductor.

Arborwayfan
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Arborwayfan » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:02 am

I was thinking the same thing, hs3730. Assigned seats and prominent car numbers make the whole process smoother, as well as reducing the incentive to line up early and waste time and space.

Tom M
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Tom M » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:08 am

This reminds me of 4th grade. I lined up for Miss Savage's room and went in to my assigned seat. It's all about control.

Backshophoss
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Backshophoss » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:16 pm

All, of this"line up and wait" is Homeland Security theater shoved down Amtrak's throat, like what's done at all major airports
Homeland Security would be happier if Amtrak had fenced in every platform in the system as well. :(
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east point
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by east point » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:52 pm

Many of these proposals appear to have merit. We must remember however that Amtrak seems to kick the can down the road for most items affecting operations. That is especially true for LD trains. Now it may be Amtrak is waiting for the WASH Union station rebuilding to start different boarding and exiting train procedures. The WASH plan has wider platforms and more importantly will have 3 concourses to exit and enter platforms. Please study the link. Now is Amtrak waiting for the rebuild ? Who knows? Take a look at the final plans for WASH. As far as other stations leave that for another thread !

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Arborwayfan
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Arborwayfan » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:47 am

Reserved seats are not about someone's control fetish. They are about giving the largest possible number of people what they want: groups can plan to sit together. Someone can pick the side of the train they want. And no one has to line up, rush for seats, plead to swap with someone to get next to their kid, etc., etc. Work a little something into the software to prevent all the window seats from being reserved before any of the aisles, that kind of thing, to balance out the different benefits, and what you have is equal consumer choice, greater passenger confidence, and a lot less confusion and potential arguing when the train actually pulls into the station. My best experiences boarding in Chicago involved conductors or attendants handing out seat checks with seat numbers on them: four of us walked up and got four seats together without rush or struggle. They even let me choose not to have the first row in the car.

People like assigned seats. European railroads and cheapskate airlines know this, and charge a few bucks extra for the privilege of choosing your seat beforehand.

Nasadowsk
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Nasadowsk » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:58 pm

Arborwayfan wrote: People like assigned seats. European railroads and cheapskate airlines know this, and charge a few bucks extra for the privilege of choosing your seat beforehand.
Then assign seats. This still doesn't require line up and wait boarding.

And let's cut the whole "But train cars all have different seating arrangements!" crap. A $500 desktop computer could host a database with the seating plan of every car Amtrak has.

The rest of the world seems to be able to figure this out. No reason Amtrak can't. Hell, DB will tell you when you buy the ticket which platform the train will be at, and ditto for your connections (I was 0 for 2 last time, but whatever)...

CarterB
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by CarterB » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:58 pm

IIRC, Amtrak in the 70s used to assign seats on many trains??
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Greg Moore
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Greg Moore » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:45 pm

Another article (at least I didn't see it in the review):
https://www.vox.com/2018/12/4/18123624/ ... station-dc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
In DC, passengers are subjected to an airline-style queuing system where everyone needs to get their tickets checked as they pass through a single gate. This routinely produces overcrowding and confusion in the station and slows down the entire process.

And most strikingly of all, nobody at Amtrak can explain why they do it this way.
Pull quote from the article.
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mtuandrew
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:56 am

It would sure be nice to have multi-point access to platforms at large stations*^, with general car-destination assignments known to staff prior to boarding. Amtrak ought to be able to leverage its many car doors to speed up loading, which if they have the staff would benefit everyone by clearing the concourse faster. But as long as they don’t, there will always be a single choke point whether it’s the platform door or the narrow platform itself, and a single boarding line will reduce boarding time and confusion on the platform.

*yes, NYP, but can you imagine guiding a gaggle of tourists to the LIRR or NJT gates for Amtrak boarding?

^for baggage handling, don’t the large stations mostly still have baggage tunnels under the platforms? I don’t understand why they’d be running carts on the platform itself - though there will always be a need to transport disabled riders via cart.

Station Aficionado
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Re: bording process at Washington Union Station

Post by Station Aficionado » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:51 am

You can wait on the platforms for the lower level tracks for VRE, not sure about Amtrak.

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