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  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Friday, 04 December, 2020


Date: 15 January, 2009

By: Chief

ImageConsidering taking AmCrap ... er ... I mean Amtrak as the primary mode of transportation for your next business trip or vacation? Well before you make your reservation I highly suggest you DuckDuckGo and enter the following search criteria (without the quotes):

"Amtrak late"

You shall be thrilled to learn that DuckDuckGo returns pages of hits for the "Amtrak late" query. Additionally once you have read a couple of the endless horror stories you might well wish to reconsider your travel arrangements. I recommend any mode of travel, including mule, other than AmCrap.

And that is a terrible, terrible thing to have to say.

Train travel used to be, in the vernacular, the only way to fly. I personally rode the Santa Fe Chief from Richmond, California to Vaughn, New Mexico — round trip — from 1955 until AmCrap took over all of our country's passenger service in 1971. That, boys and girls, was 16 wonderful years of riding the rails during all seasons and in all weather conditions. It was fabulous.

In all of those years the train I rode might have been late — twice. And never over 30 minutes late, if that. My God, AmCrap would consider being only 30 minutes late — 10 or 12 hours early. In short AmCrap's on time track (no pun intended) record stinks.

Another thing — customer service. OMG! From the conductor right on down to the Pullman Porters (they were the finest of any, anywhere in the world), the Harvey House chefs (you will never lose weight), the engineer (with those guys at the throttle you could literally hear a pin drop), fireman, baggage handlers (there was never such a thing as lost luggage) and even the window washers (always clean and clear) — all, and let me repeat that for possible penetration, all personnel were:

Finally and without a doubt the most important trait of all:

I do not in anyway say those words lightly or, heaven forbid, falsely. Indeed, all I have are wonderful memories of riding on the finest train the world has ever seen. And crewed by the greatest people the world has ever seen. I mean each and every word I wrote and I'll stand by those words by gump or crook.

So what in the Sam Thump is wrong with AmCrap? Allow me to sum it up with a mere two words —

No pride.

Oh sure, there are plenty of other problems besetting AmCrap but each and everyone of them pale in comparison to the utter lack of pride which festers throughout the organization. This lack of pride exists at the very top level, starting with AmCrap's President and CEO, that's right — President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman, and spreading downward. All the way downward to the newest and most low level employee.

To provide you an example of what I am referring to, just read AmCraps "Code of Ethics." There is a plethora of what employees cannot do. There is even a bit, and not much more, of how they should conduct themselves with other employees. But I could not find one page, paragraph, sentence or even a single word about how employees should conduct themselves with We the People — the traveling public. Not a single bloody word.

Believe me, it is not the fault of the:

The vast majority of the fault with AmCrap is the complete lack of leadership, and always has been. The rest of the fault lies with the baby boomer generation and on to present day.

Why the baby boomers and so on? Simple. The parents of the baby boomer generation lived through two world wars and the depression. Not a real pleasant life. Hence they decided their kids would not have to go through what they did and created an entire generation of spoiled brats. Regrettably I, too, am a member of the baby boomer generation. Each successive generation has gotten worse. To the detriment of hard work, honest living and especially —


Indeed the motto of most of today's workers is 'do as little as possible for as much as possible'.

As for the other items, yes, the weather can screw things up. So can union agreements. So too can other railroads which own most of the track AmCrap uses via trackage or usage rights agreements (especially the Union Pacific railroad which, from everything I've read, is openly hostile to AmCrap).

When I traveled the Chief, during all seasons and different weather conditions, not once did:

In summary, nothing, got that, nothing went wrong. Why? Pride. Which is something AmCrap knows nothing about. Nor does it seem that AmCrap executives, managers, supervisors and employees give a hoot about. More than likely most cannot even spell —


Can AmCrap be saved? You bet. What is needed is to bring in some people who do have pride in every thing they do and want to see AmCrap flourish and become Amtrak. At first it will be brutal and necessarily so. Each and every executive, manager and supervisor will be fired. No written warnings. No nothing. Just flat out fired. All other employees will be put on probation for two years. One screw up and Joe Employee is history.

Then a full stand down shall occur. New rules put in place. Massive amounts of training and recurring training held. All cars would be inspected. All locomotives overhauled. All equipment cleaned and kept clean. In short AmCrap would be run the same way and to the same standards as the Santa Fe Chief passenger service was over three decades ago. Those who work for AmCrap would either adjust and mend their ways or — they would not survive. It is as simple as that.

Problems with trackage or usage right agreements with other railroads, are you reading this Union Pacific(?), would vanish once Eminent Domain was used once or twice and the offending railroad all of a sudden lost a large segment of land and track it had paid for. Passenger service first — freight second. Period.

As for the unions, the Santa Fe Chief passenger service was run by union personnel so they, as well, can be handled and put in their place. And should they try, and they would, to let their shadow cross over the line — they would be destroyed.

Federal law and regulations regarding railroad operations can be amended or voided. It ain't that hard. It is even easier since the U.S. Secretary of Transportation is a member of the board of directors.

The weather? If you look out the window once in a while you can see what is heading your way and prepare for it. Again, it ain't that hard. And it sure isn't rocket science. European passenger trains seem to have little problem coping with adverse weather conditions. The same holds true in Japan.

The Royal Canadian Pacific passenger train operates throughout Canada. No problems. Via Rail, another Canadian passenger service also operates throughout Canada — year round. Therefore, the unexpected situation can be dealt with, most of the time.

Hence, AmCrap can be saved and should be saved. All it takes is people with pride.

Currently though, AmCrap is just another way of saying — flush, repeat.

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