If I owned Amtrak

Some random thoughts that passed through my head during my recent Amtrak trip – which went fairly well.

I don’t warrant that they’ll all be winners, popular or successful. Just some brainstorming.

  • Showers. $5.
  • Real bathrooms, even if it means there are fewer of them. Despite being better than airliner bathrooms, women don’t really appreciate them in their current state – and neither do most men.
  • Way better facilities for disabled and less mobile persons. 24″ wide winding staircases and airline-style bathrooms at the bottom of those stairs say “Stay away” to a lot of people.
  • Add some family-friendly features. There are no diaper changing tables, no place for kids to mingle and play, no family-only cars where families could avoid things that they don’t want their kids to see at whatever age.
  • Rails. Man o man the continuous welded rail in the West smokes the rails elsewhere. Quieter, smoother, faster.
  • Add a middle business class. Right now, there’s coach and sleepers. There’s room for another tier in some areas I suspect.
  • Fix the low-end sleepers. Most people who have them comment about them being cramped and uncomfortable.
  • Text message the current train position, estimated arrival (relative to that position) to subscribed mobile devices.
  • Information stations on LCD panels in each car so you know where you are, what the next stop is, how long you’ll be there, what the dining car menu is, etc.
  • Wireless everywhere.
  • Electricity in the observation car and at every seat (currently, it tends to be one or the other. Very inconsistent.)
  • Business car? Meeting room?
  • High-speed solid rail in the interstate system’s median?

Net result?

When was the last time you brainstormed about your business? Or asked your customers to do so?

3 thoughts on “If I owned Amtrak”

  1. Mark,
    You’ve got some great ideas! Both my daughters came to see me via amtrack and even for the relatively short ride – Shelby to Spokane – they were uncomfortable seat wise. Seats to short for tall daughter and shorter daughter’s seat was not working (wouldn’t recline). And the “scenic route” at night time, sad to miss the beautiful country they were traveing through, they never knew where they were, if they hadn’t been asking they would of missed their stop as it wasn’t announced. I am just guessing at some of the activity that would warrant the comment about a “family car” – not everyone wants to watch your PDA’s people – get a sleeper! My short time on a train was fun ,but a long haul with the accomodations would get old fast! So are you going to send your ideas to the head of Amtrack??????? Somebody somewhere might get the hint 🙂

  2. Could be a useful for other businesses but Amtrak is not a valid example. Trains are not a profit generating business. The areas that have decent rail have states that pay for it. The ones relying on Federal funds are lucky to have running trains at all . Also Amtrak can’t fix the rails. They belong to the freight companies. These same companies are also responsible for all the delays the passengers trains face. The freight trains have the right of way; if the freight co says pull over and wait, Amtrak waits.

    If you think Amtrak needs a whole new fleet, better get your checkbook out. Or you could try Greyhound next time.

    1. The point was to stir interest in the process of brainstorming about the reader’s business using Amtrak as an example, not to find a dozen reasons why the things I mentioned will likely never be implemented. I realize the rails are owned by the freight lines, and that the politics of Amtrak are complex, etc. Doesnt make the process of brainstorming any less valid.

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