I'm not sure that I agree with Mr. O'Keefe that a lot has changed in 10 years, or since whenever the nearly-no-stops-not-even-NWK Acela ran. I've been taking services on the NEC irregularly for the entire period, likely traveling the length of the corridor every year (frequent trips are from NWK to BOS/BBY, PHL, WAS, WIL, and BAL). I've taken Acela and Regional, and I've travelled at all times of year. I've taken long distance trains that travelled from NWK through WAS several times. Beyond Amtrak, I take commuter services periodically anywhere between PHL and STM, though my multiple times per month trip is NWK-NBK. What I can say is I see more maintenance. Hamilton and Princeton Jct. have been under repair for probably a year now in some form. It's the rare weekend when there isn't single tracking through the North River tunnels. NJT's equipment has gotten significantly less reliable (second only to their ability to schedule crews to run the trains). All of the maintenance has resulted in the retraction of services, some of them that don't return after the maintenance period. The actual Amtrak equipment has gotten shabbier, and nicer, and shabbier, and nicer -- possibly more than once in that period when you take into account individual cars. When I was riding trains pulled by AEM-7s or E60s, they weren't breaking down on me either (though the same NJT ALP-44 got me twice in the same week). Crews, on the whole, seems sadder to me -- not like "this is a sad excuse for breakfast," but legitimately the emotion sad -- particularly those that work directly in proximity to food.
The things I can't particularly remember or don't have a way to estimate are ridership, but those numbers exist outside of my personal experience. So it's true that those patterns have may changed, but to my mind, the experience of riding Amtrak hasn't, apart from the "red-seat" coaches disappearing entirely.
|=| R. Novosielski |=|