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Paul Almcrantz wrote:

Thank you for the response to my inquiry about using the Coast starlight as a connection to the Texas Eagle. I chose to take the San Deigan down to Los Angles, this turned out to be a good decision as the Texas Eagle left before the Coast Starlight arrived. I tried to check our bags at the Oxnard station because the national timetable indicated that this was possible at this station. This seemed to make sense as the station was manned and the train had a baggage car, but I was told that this was not possible, go figure. Here are some observation about the trip that I will share with you. I expected the once a week L.A. to Chicago direct Eagle to be a small train but was surprised as to how few people were on it. It had one sleeper and three coaches. The sleeper was fully utilized but the third coach was empty and the other two had about 20 people each. Only half of the dining car was used and the only thing that could possible make the train profitable was the 6 boxcars on the rear of the train.

When I made my reservation from L.A. to Little Rock I originally wanted one of the through cars on the Sunset Limited that became the Texas Eagle on a different day, but the reservation agent told me that this trip would require the Sunset to Houston a bus to Longview Texas and rejoin the Eagle to Little Rock. I knew better and could have made two separate reservations, one to San Antonio and a second one to Little Rock, but did not want to change rooms in the middle of the trip. The internet reservation system has the trip laid out the same way, go figure.

I have read your thoughts about tipping and will add mine. The dining room always has good service and food, I tip one dollar per person. The car attendant I tip according to the amount of service he provides. I am an experienced rider who is very capable of and prefer converting my own room between day and night configurations. On this trip that began at 10:00 P.M. I expected the room to be in night configuration when I boarded, but it was not. The attendant was busy with many other inexperienced passengers so I converted my room and put my family to bed. On this trip of 2 days and 3 nights I only saw the attendant three times. The next day I hunted him down and asked for clean towels and one clean sheet as my young son spilled something on the bed, he brought these items by later. On the second day he came by and offered me two chits for free drinks in the lounge, this only made me wonder why he did not offer me any on the first day. He came buy later on the second day to offer me clean towels without my asking. This is the only contact that I had with him on the entire trip and I did not feel that a tip was due. The lounge attendant had a tip jar out for reasons that I don't understand, seemed kind of greedy to me.

Now the negatives. Although I received good service in the dining car I saw on two occasions when an inexperienced rider asked for the wrong thing get insulting service. One morning a gentleman was seated for breakfast at my table and tried to order coffee and tomato juice. He was told to get out and go to the lounge car. I was very embarrassed for the man and explained to him where the lounge was and that downstairs they sold these items. The diner was not full and if the steward had brought these items he may have gotten a tip, go figure. On the second occasion someone tried to order his meal to go and received the same treatment. With this type of treatment Amtrak will never get repeat riders. One last comment, the Chief of On Board Services made an announcement at every stop that a lot of folks boarded asking that they "Put their debris in the trash cans" but she mispronounced the word "debris" every time sounding very uneducated or poorly trained.


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