Last Day For Amtrak In Indianapolis

October 11, 2018

It’s Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak’s National Limited is halting for the final time in Indianapolis.

With the on-time departure of No. 31 in late morning, the capital of Indiana will be without intercity rail passenger service.

But it won’t last for long. About a year later Amtrak launched the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State and Indy returned to the Amtrak route map.

The Ohio cities of Dayton and Columbus would not be so fortunate. When the National Limited stopped there for the final time, those cities would lose intercity rail passenger service for good.

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Amtrak Workers Contend Jobs in Jeopardy.

October 11, 2018

The union representing Amtrak food service workers believes that as many as 1,700 of its members may lose their jobs if Amtrak outsources its food service to a contractor.

Some of the union workers protested that prospect during a rally outside New York’s Penn Station this week.

Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen said Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson is “engaged in a slash-and-burn management plan.”

The approximately 100 Amtrak workers also decried Amtrak’s replacement of full-service dining aboard the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited with boxed meals, most of them served cold.

Amtrak acknowledged in a statement that it has cut 14 chef positions, but that all those affected who wanted another position with Amtrak were able to get one.

The Amtrak statement also contended that the change in meal service aboard the Lake Shore and Capitol has been well received by passengers.

Lamy Volunteers Pick Up Slack After Amtrak Agent Left

October 11, 2018

Volunteers have taken over many of the duties once performance by the Amtrak ticket agent in Lamy, New Mexico.

A report published on the Trains magazine website said that the volunteers greet arriving and departing passengers with luggage carts, help with the shuttle to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and offer a clean waiting room stocked with reading material, snacks, and a station cat.

The latter is Harvey, who is named after Santa Fe Railway restaurateur and hotelier Fred Harvey.

Lamy is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

The station Amtrak uses is owned by the Santa Fe Southern Railway and its CEO Karl Ziebarth told Trains that it views Amtrak service as important for the community’s tourist economy.

The volunteers have been known to go above and beyond the call of duty by going out for pizza for a passenger stranded with children or driving people to Santa Fe who could not be accommodated by the shuttle service.

Texas Central Taps Renfe

October 11, 2018

Spanish company Renfe has been chosen to help operate a Texas high-speed rail service under development.

Texas Central said it has established a partnership with Renfe to operate the proposed service between Dallas and Houston.

Renfe will provide technical advice on design and construction and help Texas Central with operation and maintenance plans.

Another Spanish company, Adif, will help Renfe maintain equipment and signals, and oversee ticketing.

Renfe operates 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track in Spain.

Track Work to Disrupt Pacific Surfliners

October 11, 2018

Weekend track work will affect operations of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner service between Oct. 12 and 14, and again between Oct. 19 and 21.

On Oct. 12 and 19 Train 590 will be cancelled and bus service will be provided from Los Angeles serving Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town and San Diego.

No transportation will be provided at Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine or San Juan Capistrano.

On Oct. 13, 14, 20 and 21 Trains 562, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573, 1588 and 1590 will be cancelled with passengers directed to reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles and no alternate transportation will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will terminate at Irvine with bus service being provided from Irvine to San Diego.

Express buses will operate from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego.

Northbound Trains 591, 595, 763, 777, 785, 1579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine with bus service being provided from San Diego to Irvine, connecting with these trains except Train 1761).

Express buses will depart from San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano to Irvine.

Northbound buses will depart earlier than their corresponding train. Passengers should contact Amtrak for bus schedules.

Buses will not pick up at Old Town. Those passengers have the option of taking the trolley to San Diego where they can board the buses to Irvine.

No checked baggage will be offered south of Santa Ana during the busing. Bicycles will be accepted on a space available basis.

Pere Marquette Now Arriving

October 10, 2018

Although Amtrak’s Pere Marquette originates and terminates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it didn’t always sit overnight in the station.

For several years the equipment for the Chicago-Grand Rapids train sat overnight in a CSX yard and deadheaded to the station the next morning.

The photo above was made in June 1995 and the train is shown about to arrive at the station.

Service Canceled Due to Hurricane Michael

October 10, 2018

Amtrak is canceling service in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Michael.

In a service advisory issued on Tuesday, the passenger carrier said that the Silver Star (Nos. 91 and 92) will operate between Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, effective Oct. 10.

No alternate transportation is being provided between Jacksonville and New York City.

The Palmetto (Nos. 89 and 90) will operate only between New York and Washington with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Savannah. This change is effective Oct. 11,

Michael is to come ashore in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday and turn east toward the routes used by the affected two trains.

Flooding earlier affected operations of two other routes.

The Southwest Chief detoured in Kansas due to the threat of flooding along the Little Arkansas River.

No. 3, which departed Chicago on Tuesday, and No. 4, which departed Los Angeles on Monday, traversed a former Rock Island line between Hutchinson and Topeka. Those tracks are now owned by Union Pacific.

Chartered buses served passengers traveling to and from Newton, which was the only missed station.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the detour could continue for multiple days if needed.

The northbound Heartland Flyer was affected by a track washout in southern Oklahoma delayed passengers after heavy rainfall on Sunday afternoon damaged the tracks between Gene Autry and Davis.

The train was halted in Ardmore and passengers were transported by bus to all stops en route to Oklahoma City.

Many passengers aboard the Flyer had attended the annual Red River Showdown football game in Dallas between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas.

California Shows Off New Chargers

October 10, 2018

California officials and Amtrak recently showed off the livery to be used on the 14 new Charger locomotives that are being assigned to Pacific Surfliner service.

The locomotives and their livery were introduced at a ceremony at Los Angeles Union Station that was sponsored by the California Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency.

The units were built by Siemens in Sacramento, California, and have received the Tier IV emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, making the Charger one of the cleanest diesel-electric passenger locomotives in operation.

Caltrans funded the locomotives with $100 million in state, federal and local funds. The Chargers will replace Amtrak-owned locomotives that are nearly 20 years old.

SW Chief to Remain Intact for FY2019

October 5, 2018

The proposed 500-mile bus bridge for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is on hold for at least another year.

During a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee this week Amtrak said it would continue to operate the Chicago-Los Angeles train as it is now through the end of fiscal year 2019, which began on Oct. 1.

Amtrak’s chief operating officer, Scot Naparstek, was noncommittal, though, when prodded by senators representing the states along the route who are seeking to get Amtrak to release $3 million it earlier pledged to use to rebuild tracks used by the train.

Colfax County, New Mexico, earlier won a $16 million federal TIGER grant for the track rebuilding.

“At this point we’re committed to work with the stakeholders and try to reach a conclusion,” Naparstek said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) said in news release that it is imperative for Amtrak to improve the route of the Chief.

“I reiterate the need for Amtrak to work with the communities impacted to create a real plan for the future of the Southwest Chief,” he said in a statement.

Amtrak has proposed replacing the train with bus service between Albuquerque and Dodge City, Kansas, saying the route lacks a positive train control system.

There would have still been rail service between Chicago and Dodge City, and between Los Angeles and Albuquerque.

Amtrak IG Outlines Problems Carrier Must Address

October 5, 2018

A report by Amtrak’s inspector general has highlighted eight areas that the passenger carrier must address in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

This includes improving safety, noting that Amtrak’s employee and passenger fatalities in thje past year have increased to the highest levels since fiscal year 2015.

The IG also said Amtrak may lack the capacity to handle multiple initiatives simultaneously.

The report said size and scope of the carrier’s ongoing and planned asset purchases make managing any one of them a problem given its history of weaknesses in planning and managing major programs. “Pursuing them concurrently is a daunting undertaking,” the report said.

IG Tom Howard in his report provided a detailed review of each of the problem areas – Safety and Security, Governance, Financial Performance, Asset Management, Customer Service, Acquisition and Procurement, Information Technology, and Human Resources.

However, Howard also noted Amtrak has made progress in some areas. It reduced operating costs to the lowest amount in the past five fiscal years, improved customer relations through a series of focused initiatives, and “institutionalized more effective management processes and tools.”

The report can be downloaded at  http://go.usa.gov/xPBnr