Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Amtrack Still SUCKS

Or: Let's Put a Rolls-Royce Hood Ornament on a Broken Down Old Pontiac Minivan.

AdPulp reports on Amtrak's new experimentation with luxury rail service. Amtrak partnered with GrandLuxe Rail Journey for the test venture.

Hey, Amtrak! Before you go off and become a paid spokescompany for some high-end luxury travel gurus out of Colorado, why don't you try getting the basics down first? The fluff can come after you've figured out how to run a passenger rail service.

It is common knowledge in this country that Amtrak sucks. Sucks really bad. Adding a butler to my mahogany lined car isn't going to change the fact that the train is still about 15 hours behind schedule. 5-course meals? Great. So, I'm stuffed, tired, hot, sweaty and late, but my butler insists we'll be "making good time straightaway, Sir."

Why don't you all take a little learning vacation to Germany or Japan, study with some of the great train operators of the world and learn how to properly manage a passenger rail service? Why don't you admit your problems and set about fixing them? You need more tracks. Your exisiting tracks are in disrepair. Your stations, your trains and your people reflect a company that stopped caring about 30 years ago. Your habitual tardiness is legendary.

Click Fake Ad for Bigness

From the Washington Post story on the subject: "Since it was founded 36 years ago, the government-owned passenger railroad has yet to turn an annual profit, and it has piled up about $3.3 billion in debt."

That's called "Failure" in business. Awesome job, boys and girls. But when your parent corporation, the US government, is already known for legendary inefficiency and inherent corruption, you might be off on a bad foot in this start-up you call Amtrak.

So why don't we take this disaster of a business model and apply a fresh coat of paint and then ask people to pay $789 one way from DC to Miami? Brilliant.

I'd love to travel by train. Used it all the time in Germany, where it was affordable, clean (key word, there, Amtrak) and ALWAYS on time. (Deutsche Bahn, like Amtrak, is state-owned. Hmmmm.) I think train travel is fun and even preferable to flying. If it works.

I've said it before. Maybe it's just the size of this country that makes rail service so impossible, or maybe it's the fact that the automaker lobby (and the airlines) would shit a brick if Americans suddenly took to the rails.
Many major US cities have some form of subway, trolley, train, monorail thing that works. We've just never been able to connect them successfully.

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  • they're doing innovative ethnic ads too.

    By Blogger HighJive, at July 11, 2007 at 1:51 PM  

  • I Take absolutely shitty Amtrak a lot to go see the parents. One cheap round trip on a bullet train in France did the impossible: made me downgrade my opinion of Amtrak even further.

    By Blogger copyranter, at July 11, 2007 at 2:01 PM  

  • I priced out the midwest drive vs. flying vs. train thing. Train was always 6-hours longer and 1/3 more expensive than the other two.

    23 hours going 65 mph with no tunes and smelly people for $600–one way. Yeah. Where do I sign up for that.

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at July 11, 2007 at 2:42 PM  

  • I thought this was the coolest thing ever when I saw it. I've ridden a train once and it was great from what I remember.

    Of course, I've never ridden AmTrak and I had no idea about the whole "$3.3 billion in debt" thing.

    On a semi-related note, my town might get a trolly line.

    By Blogger Thinking In Vain, at July 11, 2007 at 4:43 PM  

  • I love the idea of train travel, and wish Amtrak could get its act together. I take a commuter train here in South Florida and its pretty nice.

    I completely agree, they need to go to Europe and figure out how to run an effective train system.

    By Anonymous John, at July 11, 2007 at 10:33 PM  

  • Problem, boys, is that there is no "they" to do the fixing.

    Amtrack is broke and they're completely subsidized by the government. No "taking them private" either, since no one wants to buy them, since the cost of making them profitable again is too high.

    We need the government (and I cringe as I write this, but there's no other choice) to sink some money back into Amtrack. Or split it up and sell it off, which might work.

    Given how much airlines and flying suck these days, you'd think a good train system would be a no-brainer.

    You'd think...

    By Blogger Toad, at July 13, 2007 at 10:13 PM  

  • I am not surprised by this partnership. I spent 7 days on the Grandluxe for a tour of the National Parks of the West. The trip was awful. It was stifling hot on the train and it was dirty. Our "suite" was filthy. All the personal service that you are paying for is only if you get in certain cars. Ours was nonexistent. All this for only $12,000. What a rip-off.

    By Blogger brknhrt, at August 3, 2007 at 7:35 PM  

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