Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Amtrak service disruptions an increasing problem for NE corridor customers who have to depend on it for work


Vulnerability of rail service to disruption is becoming an increasing problem it seems, given an incident on the MARC tracks north of the Washington DC Beltway in PG County, MD at 7 AM Monday, resulting in stopping both MARC and Amtrak trains for almost four hours.  It was not clear if Amtrak actually used the same track (the "model train" problem).  The Washington Post story is here.

Passengers at Union Station would have had no way to leave for NYC until close to noon, probably many of them missing important work-related meetings. It’s hard to imagine that bus service, which also leaves upstairs from Union Station on the H Street side, could have filled the void.

Most of my events in NYC are in the evening, and I have all day to get there.  But sometimes, as with film festivals or weekend concerts, they can occur in the afternoon.  Delays like this would cause loss of pre-purcased events.  With air travel, I am more expecting of this and almost never fly to an event on the same day, although many people have to.  How do artists (like concert pianists) guarantee they will be there, with travel so easily disrupted?

I do find the Acela less prone to slowdowns than regular trains, and usually only slightly more expensive if purchased in advance.  Usually the hotel discounts are pretty decent.

But years ago, I never was concerned about train interruptions.  In the past few years, all that has changed, for the worse.  Remember, of course, the horrific wreck north of Philadelphia last May, still not completely solved.

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