Datenail wrote:BlendedBreak, I read your post with great interest and although I rarely if ever, post in the MNCR Forum, I had to respond. May I begin comment, by assisting you with the proper spelling your screen name, as it should read-Blended BRAKE. It is understandable, your frustration with alleged poor training standards on Metro North and I too, with the same vigor of frustration, abhor poor spelling, when one writes a letter or email.
Can we be just and fair in our assessment of Metro North, when comparing your railroad and its stellar performance, with a commuter road such is MNCR? Am I exaggerating when I say, that Metro North operates more trains per day out of Grand Central, than Amtrak operates in the entire United States? Where is your praise of the thousands of trains MNCR operates on-time, without incident or damage to life and limb? I dare say, that this in itself, is proof, of the excellence of Metro North training standards, which meet or exceed any railroad of its kind, in this Country. If Amtrak operated hundreds of trains per day out of one terminal, than they too, would imperil their service with the occasional sideswipe or stop signal infraction. Pundits would abound and with their talking heads, criticize your road. All the while completely forgetting the thousands of trains per week, that are operated on-time and without incident.
I have ridden Metro North trains many times and was quite impressed with the service, professionalism of the on-board staff and cleanliness of the trains. In a nutshell, lighten up.
As an Amtrak employee, I'm going to side with you Datenail, the times I have ridden Metro North trains, the conductors have always been nothing but professional. Every railroad has its flaws. Although I don't intend to nitpick, but Amtrak might not run as many trains as Metro North, but they certainly handle far more, albeit from an operations side of things. And it is our MW personnel who maintain those tracks, signals, catenary, bridges, etc for all of our trains plus the commuter trains who pay a pretty hefty price to use said tracks. More than 1200 trains a day go through Penn Station alone, while I believe Metro North handles in the ballpark of 600-700 trains a day out of Grand Central (feel free to correct me, I don't know numbers offhand, only what I've heard others say). That isn't counting all the trains that also run in and out of Philadelphia, Washington and Boston. All those places are dispatched by Amtrak, and utilize Amtrak owned or controlled track.
At the end of the day all the New York railroads just run far too many trains for there to never be any problems. Things are going to happen at some point or another. Do I think that Amtrak has its strong points? Sure. We have our fair share of weak points as well. It wasn't that long ago I recall an Amtrak Empire Service train running a stop signal in Penn Station. Does that mean that this person was poorly trained too? People make mistakes, and I am sure this person was just as well trained as any Metro North engineer, we're all only human, and it is important to take that into consideration before pointing fingers. Do I think there are certain areas where Metro North needs work? Sure. As a daily rider on the Hudson Line going from NYC back to where I live, I expected 3 track between CP12 and CP19 to be in much better shape after being OOS for so many months, but the ride still feels just as bumpy as before. I've also had my fair share of dealings with their C&S people when troubleshooting circuits between here and Grand Central, which might cause me to bite my tongue when on the phone with them. But I wouldn't go as far as dismissing the entire railroad. I think the vast majority of employees want to do a good job, and it shows at the end of the day. From the interactions I have had with them, I wouldn't expect any less, and I would never think twice about riding their trains.
To my fellow Amtrak brethren above, give them a break. I think you're throwing everybody under the train. Not all the employees are as bad as you make them out to be.