NOTE: Detailed reports of the incidents to which Mr. Dyson refers in the letter below are printed in the November Western Rail Passenger Review which will be mailed this week. To join RailPAC, see the “Membership” link in the right column. -Ed.
RAIL PASSENGER ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA
1017 L Street PMB 217, Sacramento, CA 95814
28th October 2009
Mr. Joseph H. Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002
UNACCEPTABLE SERVICE FAILURES ON PACIFIC SURFLINER
Dear Mr. Boardman:
This past month has seen a series of mechanical failures on the Pacific Surfliner service, culminating in a catastrophic weekend for Amtrak’s image as a provider of passenger service. I will not repeat here the gory details of the failure on 571 on Saturday, nor the disgraceful disregard for passengers on train 763 Sunday, with which an attempt was made to “rescue” the 571 train set from the previous day. I hope your people have given you full reports of these appalling foul ups, together with their resignation letters.
To say that this level of service from Amtrak to its fare paying passengers and to the taxpayers of the State of California is unacceptable is an understatement. You need to take action starting today to make sure that maintenance is properly performed, and to ensure that your people are authorized to make arrangements to clear failed trains without subjecting passengers on other trains to further delay. This is not the first time an attempt has been made to move a failed train with another passenger train resulting in a fiasco.
The other part of this story is the failure to keep fare paying passengers informed of the delays, and to offer them refunds or discount coupons for future journeys. As I have pointed out before, the Surfliner each day carries only a few thousand people out of a multi million population along the route. But we won’t keep even these few customers with this low level of service.
Paul J. Dyson
cc RailPAC Board