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Donnas First Train Ride

Exemplary Staff Make It a Wonderful Experience

by Paul Burns

Lafayette, Louisiana

We completed a trip from Hammond, Louisiana, to Greenwood, Mississippi, on the City of New Orleans, #58 - #59 on the weekend of September 8-9, 2007. My wife Donna had never been on a train.

When we boarded Train 58 in Hammond, Mr. Williams, the attendant greeted us by name. We passed through the Dining Car to show Donna the other cars on the train. The staff was working, but took time to greet us and introduce themselves: steward Claude, attendant Patti and chef Kyle. Later when announcing the dinner call, the steward's voice and manner in which he read the menu over the PA system made you want to get up and go eat right now.

Sunday morning, we were greeted by another wonderful crew aboard our train. Our Sleeper Attendant, Sherrell made sure we were situated in our bedroom immediately upon our departure. We were going to the lounge and, passing through the Dining Car, the crew — steward Christina and attendant Debra — introduced themselves as we passed. We found the Lounge Car temporarily closed but later Donna returned to purchase a coloring book that she could show her Special Ed class (unfortunately there was only one).

We have friends that are handicapped and are looking at taking a trip next summer and we wanted to see what was available, and take pictures to show them. They went to Florida this year by plane and found it to be too strenuous. Sherrell was happy to answer our questions and show us the family bedroom and accessible room — both were unoccupied.

All Amtrak employees that we came into contact with, ticket agents, telephone personnel, Sleeping Car Attendants, Dining Car Attendants, and Conductors were exemplary employees I would like to have them working for and with me.

The accommodations on both trains were perfect, clean floors and seats. The restrooms in our bedroom was stocked and clean, as was the lavatory area. The refreshment area always had coffee available as well as condiments. We were only on the train during daylight hours, so we didn't use the sleeping accommodation. Even the windows were spotless, so that we could take many photos.

The Dining Car met the same standards: clean floor and linen. The food was excellent and prepared to our wishes, served hot. Our Dining Car friends (that shared our tables) also agreed. The only problem was that we shouldn't have eaten dessert with lunch on our return trip.

Our conductor and assistant conductor were Ted and Curt. In speaking to them during our trip, they asked about our going to Greenwood, Mississippi and returning the following morning. We explained it was Donna's first train trip and just an overnight outing. They found out we were staying in the same motel. After we checked in they offered to call us Sunday morning to let us know if the train would be late, so that we wouldn't have to wait at the station.

There was a handicapped lady disembarking the train in Hammond, and she had the Conductor, Coach Sttendant, and Station Agent assisting her. The agent even assisted her all the way to her vehicle.

Thank you Amtrak, and your employees for making Donna's first trip such a wonderful experience. I know that she will be talking to her students and fellow teachers about it in the weeks to come, and showing them the photos that we took.

You sold her on my thoughts about taking a trip next summer from New Orleans to Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and back to Lafayette. She was hooked before we arrived in McComb, Mississippi.

It's the Amtrak employees that make it a special way to travel. I wish that I would be working with people that go over and above what is required as these people have.

We apologize for the length of this letter, but we want customer relations and management to know that you are doing a great job.