Tips to Manage Amtrak Train Delays and Service Disruptions


Image // (c) 2011 Amtrak

When taking a rail vacation the joy is in the journey itself, but as with all modes of transportation occasional trip delays and service disruptions occur, says Vacations By Rail, a Chicago-based specialty travel company.

Severe weather events (floods, storms and wildfires), equipment issues and track work are common causes for such travel interruptions in the U.S., the company reports. Luckily, they don’t have to spell the end to a well-planned vacation.

Vacations By Rail offeredthe tips for managing train delays and service disruptions:

1. Insure your client’s trip. Before your clients depart on their train vacation, encourage them to purchase trip protection which insures their travel investment in the event that unforeseen circumstances cause the trip to be canceled, delayed or interrupted. In many instances, this valuable coverage can be purchased up to 48 hours prior to departure.

2. Know before they go. You or your clients may call Amtrak in advance for the status of their train as well as for any service alerts. This information is also available on the Amtrak web site.

3. Compensation for alternate and altered travel. A canceled train doesn’t mean the end of a vacation—just a different adventure. Amtrak may substitute alternate transportation when a train is canceled or, in the instance of shorter delays, provide overnight accommodations. Both scenarios allow travelers to apply for a refund for service downgrades. In some instances, Amtrak may move travelers to a different train route, in which case the original ticket price may be protected if alternate travel is more expensive. In all instances, travelers should keep their train tickets and receipts which will assist them when contacting Amtrak’s Customer Relations Department.

4. Contact Passenger Services for missed connections. Travelers who miss their train connection resulting in a forced overnight stay due to their train’s late arrival should ask on-site Passenger Services—available at most major train stations—for a hotel room which will, at the very least, make their delay a bit more comfortable.

5. Contact Customer Relations upon your return home. After your client’s vacation has come to a close, Amtrak’s Customer Relations Department is available to handle any service issues that occurred during travel. The Customer Relations Department controls the amount of transportation credit travelers receive. Ask for travel credit to be kept on file, if possible, rather than receiving a transportation voucher thereby making it easier to redeem. Travelers wishing to put their concerns in writing should call Amtrak Customer Relations to obtain a case number to include in their letter. Customer Relations can also be of assistance when reporting equipment problems relating to onboard sleeping accommodations, restrooms and general onboard conditions, often providing future travel credits.

“Parts of the U.S. have seen some of the worst flooding in 125 years this summer,” said Todd Powell, president of Vacations By Rail. “That, combined with storms and wildfires, has greatly affected travel along three of Amtrak’s long-distance routes—the Southwest Chief connecting Chicago and Los Angeles, the California Zephyr connecting Chicago and Emeryville/San Francisco and the Empire Builder connecting Chicago and Seattle—causing service disruptions and train cancellations. It’s important for travelers to understand how this can affect their vacation so they can plan accordingly and recognize the options available to them.”

The best advice for all travelers—delayed, disrupted or not: Keep a good sense of humor and enjoy the adventure Vacations By Rail says.                                                                  

Vacations By Rail lays claim to be the leading seller of rail travel and tours in North America and the trusted authority on rail vacations. Travelers can choose from the largest selection of independent rail vacations, escorted rail tours, and luxury rail journeys around the world. Vacations By Rail also provides European rail passes and tickets to meet customers’ European travel needs.


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