On the evening of Friday, July 8, 2016 at approximately 8:15pm on train #91 – Silver Star just outside of Rocky Mount, NC the engineer ran over tree debris resulting in damage to a main reservoir that effected the braking system. Passengers were advised of the situation and possible resolutions. It is now 3:52am as I write this and the train along with passengers are still outside of Rocky Mount, NC. In addition, this is the return trip of a 50th birthday celebration that has gone well…until this point.
Power was shut down at various points and brought back up. However the last car where my husband and I sat the air conditioning appeared to malfunction resulting into an extremely warm, actually hot environment. During this same time approximately 1:15am a few things happened. The conductors who were on shift had to get off the clock, which is understandable but this left no communication. Until this point the male conductor provided details of all situations as he knew it.
Still from 1:15am until now the last car has become more and more unbearable. The conductor who came on duty at approximately 2:00am was unaware of the situation. I spoke to an Amtrak employee named David in the club car and was advised the conductor was outside trying to get us rolling. When I asked, “why weren’t people relocated to available seats in cooler cars?” He advised, “he’d walked through our car but everyone was sleeping.” I am sure this was true however I consider this to be an emergency situation needing actions outside standard operating procedure.
I was told that my husband and I could relocate to the car in front of us. This is where we currently sit. Accidents and tree branches fall. Also no one expects a car that had very good cooling to stop working. However, it did and someone should have had the common sense to redistribute passengers to cooler cars until the problem is fixed. We are now back rolling again or I should say flying but note that at 4:25am and upon checking the last car it is still significantly hot compared to comfortable and cool conditions in other cars.
Finally, I will be calling and contacting Amtrak in addition to writing this blog post. I’ve written this with an objective eye rather than significant opinion. I will be seeking some form of compensation for the inconvenience of the delay, original arrival time was 1:38am but now estimated at 9:38am, which is an 8-hour delay. A delay that just may have been caused by a train engineer going too fast for conditions. I hope a lesson is learned that many times Mother Nature wins. In addition to lessons for the train engineer, I hope the conductor staff will understand that good customer service requires you to step outside of what is expected in extreme and unexpected conditions.
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