I reported the incident to a crew member in New Haven. He instructed me to file a property damage claim, but did not take down a report. I filed a claim on February 7. A few weeks later, C. Fred Kleykamp, a supervisor with Amtrak's claim department in New Haven, CT, wrote me a perfunctory letter indicating they could not entertain the claim because "none of the [crew members] could recall the incident as having been reported," and referred me to my homeowner's insurance carrier as a possible remedy.
After receiving that reply, I wrote Amtrak President and CEO Thomas Downs to express my dismay with the way Amtrak had handled the claim. I also inquired about the safety issue and whether the trays were being inspected. I received a letter back from Customer Satisfaction Advisor Brian Bolger, boasting of Amtrak's mission to "consistently deliver high-quality, safe service that exceeds our customer's expectations." The problem surrounding the defective tray latches was never acknowledged in any of the correspondence I received from Amtrak. Furthermore, I have not been assured, personally or otherwise, that the matter was being investigated or will be resolved.
The turn knobs that hold the trays in place vibrate and become loose when travelling over rough track. They were adopted from the airlines, which don't have the problem. And while it may be expensive for Amtrak to replace the latches on all of the cars, it's surely a fraction of the cost of settling a wrongful death suit. That's right. If the force of the tray springing free was great enough to split open the screen of my laptop computer, I shudder to think what it would do to the skull of an infant being held in his mother's lap.
I have since informed Mark Yachmetz, Chief of the Passenger Program Division at the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C. of the situation and am awaiting his response. I feel my concerns are legitimate and just want to make other Amtrak travellers aware of the possible danger.
Jeff Evans, USA