Dome to Operate on 2 Amtrak Routes This Fall

July 18, 2018

Amtrak will assign a dome car to two eastern routes this fall.

The car, Great Dome No. 10031, is a former Great Northern dome that was built by Budd in 1955 for use on the Empire Builder.

It is now the last dome car on the Amtrak roster.

The car will operate on the Downeaster between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston between Aug. 11 and Sept. 23, and on the Adirondack between Montreal and Albany, New York, between Sept. 27 and Nov. 2.

Seats are unreserved and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Amtrak is encouraging passengers to rotate in and out of the dome to allow more people to experience the view.

More information is available at https://www.amtrak.com/fall-travel-on-the-great-dome-car

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Glenview Hires Consultant to Study Track Capacity

July 14, 2018

As expected the village of Glenview, Illinois, has hired a consulting firm to study a proposal to add additional tracks to accommodate an expansion of Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service.

The Chicago suburb has budgeted $400,000 for a campaign to oppose installation of a third track on the double-track former Milwaukee Road mainline used today by Amtrak, Metra and Canadian Pacific.

The consultant hired by Glenview will conduct a capacity analysis of passenger and freight rail lines in the region.

The departments of transportation of Illinois and Wisconsin have proposed expanding Hiawatha Service from seven to 10 daily roundtrips.

The proposal was recently the subject of an environmental assessment conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration that concluded the expansion would not have a significant impact on communities along the route.

The third track would be built between Glenview and Northbook and primarily be used to hold CP freight trains.

The capacity analysis is expected to recommend ways to keep all trains using existing passenger or freight lines while avoiding the need to build the third track.

Opponents of the third track contend that it will result in adverse health, noise and environmental consequences from idle freight trains.

The consultant, Transportation Economics & Management Systems, has studied the rail line in question and believes alternatives are available, including ways to keep rail traffic moving without freight trains having to stop.

The study is expected to take six months to complete.

Glenview has also hired a law firm to lobby federal officials and agencies, such as the Federal Railroad Administration, if the environmental assessment is approved at the state level and moves toward federal approval.

The village hired another firm to lobby state officials.

Man Pleads Guilty in CZ Incident

July 14, 2018

The man charged in connection with an October 2017 incident in which the emergency brakes of the eastbound California Zephyr were activated in Nebraska has pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge.

Taylor Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, also pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered weapon, a charge stemming from an FBI search of his home.

Wilson was said to have entered the trailing locomotive  of Train No. 6 and activated the braking system. He was then confronted by the Amtrak operating crew and later arrested by Nebraska authorities.

When the judge presiding in the case asked Wilson why he stopped the train, he responded, “I was high.”

News accounts said Wilson reportedly told investigators he had dropped acid before the incident.

A written plea agreement also noted that Wilson told a sheriff’s deputy that he [Wilson] said he was “going to save the train from the black people.”

Hot Item Added to ‘Fresh and Contemporary’

July 14, 2018

Amtrak has added a hot-meal choice to its lunch and dinner “menu” for sleeping car passengers aboard the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

New is a slow-braised beef short rib in a red wine and beer sauce that an attendant will warm for patrons.

It will replace the chilled grilled beef tenderloin salad. Other items will continue to be served cold including the vegan wrap, chicken Caesar salad, and antipasto plate.

There is still only one item available at breakfast and it includes fruit, a muffin, a Greek yogurt parfait, and breakfast bars.

Amtrak removed its full-serving dining service from both trains on June 1 in favor of what it euphemistically described as “fresh and contemporary” dining service.

Passengers can eat the boxed meals in their rooms or in a dining car that serves as a lounge for sleeping car passengers only.

La Junta Ticket Window Operation Curtailed

July 11, 2018

Although the ticket agent remains, the ticket window hours of operation in La Junta, Colorado, have been restricted.

Effective July 9, Amtrak reduced the operation of the ticket office at the station served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

However, Amtrak said there may be times during this time frame when no agent is on duty.

Checked baggage service is no longer available at La Junata. The new hours are:

  • Monday through Wednesday: 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The ticket office will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Passengers will have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures. The La Junta station is open daily between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The changes mean that Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers boarding and detraining when the agent is not on duty and unaccompanied minors will not be allowed to board at this station.

Flint Ticket Office Closes

July 11, 2018

Amtrak has removed its station agent and closed the ticket window at its station in Flint, Michigan. The change was effective on July 5.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers waiting to board the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water trains will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures.

Station hours will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.

Passengers needing assistance will be helped by onboard Amtrak personnel.

There is no checked baggage service available at Flint.

Surfliners Change for Del Mar, Comic-Con

July 11, 2018

Starting July 18 some Pacific Surfliner schedules will change to accommodate passengers traveling to Del Mar racetrack and the Comic-Con being held in the area.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the two events are expected to stimulate heavy ridership between July 21 and Sept. 3.

Amtrak said Train 568 will operate as an extra round trip between Los Angeles and San Diego July 18 through 20.

Train 593 will operate as an extra round trip between San Diego and Los Angeles July 18 through 22.

Train 1568 will operate as an extra round trip between Los Angeles and San Diego July 21 through 22.

Trains 572, 583, 591, 768 and 796 will have schedule modifications on weekends between July 18 and Sept. 3. Specific details are available at Amtrak.com.

Wolverines Get New Schedules

July 11, 2018

Amtrak has changed the schedules of some Wolverine Service trains in an effort to improve their connections with other Midwest trains. The changes are effective July 16.

Train 352 will operate 45 minutes later to allow new connections from Trains 300 (Lincoln Service) and 334 (Hiawatha Service).

Train 353 will operate 45 minutes earlier to allow new connections to Train 393 (Illini).

Train 355 will also begin operating 15 minutes later.

San Joaquins to Stop for Baseball Fans

July 11, 2018

Some Amtrak San Joaquins will made an extra stop on July 22 to accomodate baseball fans attending the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics.

Trains 711 and 718 will terminate and originate from Oakland Coliseum, beyond the normal start and end point of Oakland Jack London Square, to serve passengers attending the Sunday game.

Track Work Affects Downeasters on July 18

July 11, 2018

Track work being done by Pan Am Railways on July 18 will affect operations of Downeaster trains 683, 684 and 688 schedules will be affected on July 18.

Train 683 will terminate at Portland, Maine, with alternate transportation being provide on Thruway Bus 3683 to the missed station stops of Freeport and Brunswick, Maine.

Trains 684 and 688 will originate at Portland with alternate transportation from missed stops being provided by Bus 3684 and Bus 3688.