I was talking to a friend yesterday, and somehow in the course of conversation Amtrak came up. I’m not sure how exactly that happened, but…
Anyway, my friend claimed that when the clock goes back an hour in November that Amtrak trains literally stop for an hour and wait for the time to “catch up.” Meanwhile in March when the clock goes forward an hour they just run an hour behind. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, so I called BS on it.
And then I pulled up Amtrak’s timetable:
Fall and spring time changes
Amtrak operates according to prevailing local time, either standard time or daylight saving time. At the spring time change (second Sunday in March), Amtrak trains traveling overnight will become one hour late and will attempt to make up the time. At the fall time change (first Sunday in November), Amtrak trains traveling overnight will normally hold at the next station after the time change then depart on time. Arizona does not observe daylight saving time. Please observe footnotes in schedules for trains serving Arizona to determine your departure or arrival time.
Oh, the joys of Amtrak. When the clock goes back an hour they literally just sit at a station, and when the clock goes forward an hour they just try to make up the time. After all, at Amtrak an hour late is basically considered an early arrival.
There’s even an interesting Chicago Tribune article about this from 1985:
R. Clifford Black, Amtrak`s manager of corporate communications in Washington, conceded that “it`s a rather confusing procedure unless you spend a lot of time pondering it, and not many people do.
Asked why Amtrak must brake for time when planes do not circle in the air for an hour, Black answered: “There aren`t that many planes flying at night. They can adjust their departure times, and they don`t make numerous intermediate stops like trains do.“