Archive for January, 2014

Empire Builder to SPUD Maybe in March

January 11, 2014

Amtrak’s Empire Builder could begin stopping at St. Paul Union Depot in March.

SPUD has recently been converted into a downtown transit hub.

In November, the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority signed a 20-year lease with Amtrak stipulating that service begin in the first quarter of 2014, but no more specific date was provided.

Amtrak will pay the Ramsey County $144,500 in 2014 to lease 3,800 feet inside the depot with that cost rising 3 percent every year over the lease.

Work was also done at SPID to link existing freight lines with the station. The $23 million project came out of a larger $234 million budget to renovate the 90-year-old depot.

The project was completed in December 2012 and SPUD is now a hub for busses and bikes. When the Central Corridor opens in summer 2014, light rail trains will stop at the depot.

Kevin Roggenbuck, a senior planner with the railroad authority said some track and signal work is still being done in advance of Amtrak’s move.

The current Twin Cities Amtrak station, located in the St. Paul Midway area, is expected to be demolished or sold once Amtrak moves out of it.

More Funding Approved for Hoosier State

January 11, 2014

The Tippecanoe County Board of Commissioners recently voted to OK a one-year contract to share the costs of operating Amtrak’s Hoosier State with six cities and the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Indiana and couties and cities served by the 196-mile passenger rail line between Indianapolis and Chicago agreed in October to underwrite the $2.7 million annual cost of running the four-day-a-week train.

The Hoosier State operates quad weekly on the days that the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

Operating and equipment expenses were estimated at $3.8 million for the line that carries about 37,000 passengers a year.

Tippecanoe Commissioners David Byers and Tom Murtaugh voted to spend $25,000 a month in economic development income tax revenues for 12 months through Oct. 1, 2014. The total cost would run to $300,000 for the period.

The county’s share would increase to $32,500 a month if all of the parties to the contract agreed to extend the agreement until January 31, 2015.

Voting against the agreement was commissioner John Knochel, who said there are other needs just as pressing within the county.

“To think that Tippecanoe County would invest $25,000 a month, I think is ludicrous,” Knochel said before he voted.

“How many people out there do we have that are living on gravel roads that maybe we couldn’t hard surface them, but we could certainly chip and seal a lot of roads for $25,000 a month over the length of time this contract is going to be running?”

Byers, the commission president, said he could see both sides of the issue, but would vote yes.

“I also know we give just as much money to businesses that come to this community, whether it be job training to move in here, and I feel that’s a roll of the dice, too,” Byers explained.

“The thing that I am willing to stand behind is there is a time limit, and if they don’t perform, we don’t keep paying.”

Murtaugh, who has represented the county during the contract negotiations, said an oversight board will be pressing for service improvements during the coming months.

“The key is to make the investment in marketing it, and make it reliable in performance with somewhat of a fare increase that can make it profitable,” he said.

In West Lafayette, the board of works approved the city’s rail service contract with INDOT. The council previously voted to allocate $16,667 a month or $200,000 during the initial 12-month cost-sharing period.

Mayor John Dennis emphasized the goal of improving the service, attracting more riders and generating more revenue to cover operating costs.

“It’s not like we are writing a check and walking away,” Dennis said.

“We have an operating board with the power to suspend payment and terminate the contract if steps are not taken to improve the service, create a more viable product, generate more revenue and be more competitive.”

INDOT will pay $128,424 a month or a maximum of $1.5 million annually for the Hoosier State.

Lafayette will pay $16,667 a month or $200,000 for one year, the same amount as West Lafayette.

Crawfordsville will pay $10,046 a month or a total of $120,550. Rensselaer will pay $1,500 a month, totaling $18,000.

Beech Grove, where an Amtrak shops facility is located, will contribute $16,625 a month or $199,500 for the year through in-kind services to the Amtrak facility.

Indianapolis will pay $25,000 a month or $300,000 of its federal transportation dollars for the year. The town of Dyer opted to not participate.

No Injuries in Lincoln Service Derailment

January 10, 2014

As if the bad winter this week wasn’t enough, Amtrak’s problems continued to mount this week when northbound  Lincoln Service train No. 302 derailed Thursday morning at Wann Tower near Wood River, Ill., in suburban St. Louis.

The low-speed derailment caught the rear truck of locomotive No. 53 and the first of five passenger cars. No injuries are reported among the 116 passengers and crew onboard, according to local media reports.

Train lost head-end power for a while, but power was later restored as passengers awaited the arrival of buses.

No. 302 was to have turned to become No. 307 in Chicago, but that train was canceled and Amtrak provided substitute bus service instead.

Amtrak sent a locomotive to the scene to tow the train back to St. Louis.

The derailment also caused a four-hour delay to southbound Lincoln Service No. 303.

Late No. 48 at Cleveland

January 10, 2014

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Amtrak’s woes continued on Thursday with a very tardy train 48, the “Late for Sure Limited.”

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited arrived into Cleveland at 9:44 a.m., which was just over four hours late.

Amtrak wasn’t doing much better on Friday morning. At 6 a.m., The eastbound Capitol Limited 30 was estimated to arrive into Cleveland nearly five hours late with the eastbound Lake Shore Limited projected to arrive more than three hours late.

However, No. 29, the westbound Capitol Limited, arrived on time although the westbound Lake Shore Limited was shown as having a service disruption. The Track a Train feature on the Amtrak website showed No. 49 as being located between Utica and Rochester, N.Y.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Amtrak Continues to Cancel Trains

January 10, 2014

Amtrak continues to slowly resume full service on Midwest Corridor routes by putting back into service another Wolverine Service train between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac)

However, a number of trains will still not operate on Friday, Jan. 10. In a passenger advisory, Amtrak said that “Chicago Hub Service restoration, which includes placing train crews, locomotives and railcars in proper rotations to support full schedules, will continue through the weekend.”

While this work continues, the following Chicago Hub Services will not be available on Friday, Jan. 10:

Lincoln Service Trains 300, 301, 304 & 305. Trains 302, 303, 306 & 307 and Trains 21/321 & 22/322 will maintain service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

Wolverine Service Train 353. Trains 350, 351, 352, 354 & 355 will maintain service on the Chicago-Detroit corridor)

Carl Sandburg Trains 381 & 382. Illinois Zephyr Trains 380 & 383 will maintain service on the Chicago-Quincy corridor.

Saluki Train 391 & Illini Train 392. Trains 390 (Saluki) & 393 (Illini) and Trains 58 & 59 (City of New Orleans) will maintain service on the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.

Amtrak Restoring Sked, Some Trains Still Idle

January 9, 2014

Amtrak operated its full slate of trains through Northeast Ohio on Thursday morning, although all were running late.

The best performance was turned in by the westbound Capitol Limited, which arrived in Cleveland at 3:10 a.m., 22 minutes late. No. 29 had departed Washington, D.C., 15 minutes late on Wednesday afternoon.

The eastbound Capitol Limited got out of Chicago 1.5 hours late and made it into Cleveland at 4:53 a.m., which was just over three hours off schedule.

The westbound Lake Shore Limited was passing through Ashtabula shortly after 6:30 a.m. on Thursday and Amtrak projected it arriving in Cleveland nearly four hours late. No. 49 departed New York Penn Station three hours late on Wednesday. No. 449 departed Boston South Station on time.

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited was nearly two hours late getting out of Chicago Union Station on Wednesday night. It was projected to reach Cleveland just over two hours late.

Amtrak’s Track a Train showed No. 48 still in Toledo at 6:45 a.m., but the website showed the train as having arrived there at 5:32 a.m and departed at 5:57 a.m.

Nos. 48 and 49 did not depart their origination terminals on Monday or Tuesday.

Although the severe winter weather that saw temperatures dip below zero this week was abating by Thursday morning, Amtrak continued to cancel Midwest Corridor trains while restoring others

The full Hiawatha Service schedule between Milwaukee and Chicago was slated to operate on Thursday, Jan. 9. Cancellations included:
Lincoln Service Trains 300, 301, 304 & 305 are canceled. Trains 302, 303, 306 & 307 and Trains 21/321 & 22/322 will maintain service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.
Wolverine Service Trains 352 & 353 are canceled. Trains 350, 351, 354 & 355 will maintain service on the Chicago-Ann Arbor-Detroit-Pontiac corridor.
Carl Sandburg Trains 381 & 382 are canceled. Illinois Zephyr Trains 380 & 383 will maintain service on the Chicago-Quincy corridor.
Saluki Train 391 & Illini Train 392 are canceled. Trains 390 (Saluki) & 393 (Illini) and Trains 58 & 59 (City of New Orleans) will maintain service on the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.
Passengers who have paid but choose not to travel due to this service disruption can receive a

The western long-distance trains were also getting back to normal. The Texas Eagle, California Zephyr and Southwest Chief, all departed Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. Amtrak’s website showed the Empire Builder as having a service disruption.

The westbound Cardinal that had been halted in Indianapolis on Monday finally got out of town on Wednesday, operating as the Hoosier State.

The snow-clogged BNSF line in Illinois that had halted the Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Illinois Zephyr on Monday, was finally cleared on Tuesday.

Passengers had been transferred to buses on Tuesday morning and taken to Chicago, but the train sets had remained in place.

The equipment for the California Zephyr was backed up to Cameron where it access the tracks of the former Santa Fe mainline and went to Chicago via Joliet and Streator.

The empty Southwest Chief and Illinois Zephyr equipment reached Chicago via the normal route via Aurora.

Trains magazine reported that Amtrak long distance trains carry beef stew in reserve in the event that a train is stranded and all passengers need to be fed. That plan was implemented on Monday night aboard the marooned Chief and California Zephyr.

Marooned Aboard Amtrak This Week

January 9, 2014

Hundreds of Amtrak passengers this week found themselves stranded on Monday when a savage winter storm brought trains to a standstill in the Midwest.

Drifting snow halted three eastbound trains in north central Illinois while the westbound Cardinal was marooned in Indianapolis.

Various news reports indicated that some of those stranded made the best of the situation with some even finding some enjoyment in it.

“The best part of it was having another night on the train and actually getting to meet people and getting to talk to everyone,” said a passenger stranded passenger aboard the California Zephyr. “In the car that I was in everyone was going up and down the car talking to people, making friends, and just telling jokes, telling stories.”

But it wasn’t all pleasantries, though. Some passengers spoke of cold passenger cars and inoperative restrooms.

News reports indicated that passengers read books, watched movies on computers and took what amusement they could from a conductor who cracked jokes over the intercom.

Food ran low and some tempers boiled over, but the Amtrak staff sought to keep the heat on, entertain children and even escorted small groups of people outside for smoke breaks.

“You hear those horror stories about the cars that stop in the snow and they freeze to death. I thought, ‘Oh God, this is going to happen, we’re going to be in blankets,’’’ said passenger Chris Smith.

Some 20 hours after becoming stranded, the passengers were put aboard buses and arrived in Chicago on Tuesday.

The passengers were aboard the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles, the Illinois Zephyr from Quincy, Ill., and the California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay area, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

The trains were halted late Monday near Mendota, about 90 miles west of Chicago.

In one account, the Southwest Chieft slowed to a crawl as it hammered through snowdrifts in an empty stretch of Illinois countryside near Arlington, delivering thuds and jolts to passengers, until it lurched into a mound big enough to grind its 8,000-horsepower engine to a halt.

Amtrak service on the BNSF line east of Galesburg, Ill., halted when the Chief hit a nearly 12-foot snow drift that paralyzed the engines, said passenger Bryan Plummer by cell phone.

“They started to cut through heavier and heavier drifts,’’ said Smith, 45, describing his train.

“The passenger on my side was joking, he said, ‘I think we ran over somebody.’ They weren’t huge bumps, but it was enough to jerk the train.’’

When the train stopped altogether, around 4 p.m. Monday, a conductor came on the loudspeaker and quipped, “As you can see, there’s a little bit of snow out there.’’

“At first it was kind of funny, and our conductor had a good sense of humor about it, and then it stopped being funny,’’ said Carley Lintz, a 21-year-old journalism student on her way back to Northwestern University from her home in Gardner, Kan.

Plummer, who lives in Galesburg, had boarded the train between 1:30 and 2 p.m. Monday afternoon and had been unable to find an open seat

So he sat in the lounge car and spent Monday night trying to rest his head on a table.

He had a somewhat small serving of beef stew for dinner and said that tensions were high in the lounge car for much of the experience.

“My seat was a hard bench and I was able to rest my head on the table,” he told the Galesburg Register-Mail. “The other thing was, after dusk, we had no updates on our status and no other food available … just very ill-prepared and communication was horrible.”

Some passengers described a different experience. Barbara and Merlin Dennis of Denver, commended Amtrak’s service and amenities after they boarded the Chicago-bound bus in Galesburg.

“We were very comfortable,” Barbara said. “They did a phenomenal job of taking care of us with a free supper and breakfast. … You can’t blame Amtrak for the weather.”

Still, frustration throughout the long wait was inevitable for others. The Kaplans, who live near Chicago, boarded the California Zephyr after their flight from Salt Lake City was canceled.

“This odyssey began for us at 2 a.m. in Salt Lake City on Sunday,” Stephen Kaplan said, sitting in one of the five buses outside the Amtrak station on Tuesday.

While he praised the on-board staff, Kaplan said he wasn’t sure why the train was unable to travel the short distance to the Amtrak platform so passengers could seek lodging in the city.

According to Amtrak’s Magliari, “The train is a hotel. This is an overnight train with a dining car and sleeping accommodations.”

Complicating things for Nancy Tallyn of Palos Park, Ill., was a clunky cast on her right foot.

“My chair reclined a little bit, but I’m supposed to keep my foot up,” Tallyn said. “Trying to get comfortable all night was just crazy.”

Using her walker as a makeshift foot rest didn’t provide enough comfort to get any sleep.

However, despite the longer-than-expected trip home from Nebraska, she and her husband, John, were able to make some friends as a silver lining to the unplanned stall. As she sat inside the Galesburg station, waiting to board the bus, Tallyn talked about the experience with good-humored sarcasm. “Oh, it was a fun night.”

Several passengers speaking to news outlets by cell phone said conditions on the trains deteriorated as the ordeal continued and that they went long periods without food.

“The condition is cold; we’re wearing coats. And my husband is a diabetic. He hasn’t had any food all day,” Laurette Mosley told ABC News. “The bathrooms are flooded. The sinks are full with water and the toilets are flooded.”

Mosely was traveling from California to Chicago to attend her mother’s funeral.

Plummer, told ABC News that passengers were given dinner but no snacks during the 15 hours that they were stranded.

“I inquired about breakfast service and they stated that at this time there was none planned. When the sheriff’s officer who was on board here left around 3 a.m. this morning, he stated that the Red Cross was involved and was trying to get us some meals,” Plummer said.

It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that the marooned passengers were put aboard buses. About 300 passengers from two of the trains boarded buses in Princeton.

A third train with 217 passengers spent the night in the BNSF rail yard in Galesburg. Those passengers boarded charter buses to complete their trips Tuesday morning.

“It’s a fairly remote area in Bureau County where the tracks go through something like a trench,” Magliari said of where the trains were stranded. “The trench itself was full of snow and ice and we couldn’t just plow through it.

“So it was safer to leave passengers on the train with full hotel systems, with light and heat, and toilet systems — all overnight — rather than transfer people through the trench in the snow at minus 5 temperatures and transfer them to buses,” Magliari said.

“Our trains and our passengers benefited by this happening so close to Galesburg because of the BNSF resources and the skill and dedication of the rail workers,” said Magliari. “We worked together with freight locomotives so the resources were there.”

Magliari said emergency workers were on standby and on-board train crews were with passengers all night serving dinners and preparing for potential medical issues. But no medical emergencies arose on any of the trains.

“There was no good reason to take people out of warm trains … into the cold,” he said. “We sheltered them in place.”

The crew served a dinner of beef stew over rice, but the lounge car eventually ran out of everything but drinks, passenger Smith said. Although some passengers speaking to news outlets by cell phone earlier Tuesday had complained about deteriorating conditions, including flooded sinks and toilets, Smith and others on his train only saw overflowing trash cans.

As night set in, some tried to sleep. Others paced. There was enough of a 3G signal for those glued to smartphones and tablets to stay connected.

Another train coming to the rescue also got stuck. Local authorities arrived. Crews shoveled and plowed, and passengers eventually were moved to a second train, taken back to Princeton and put on buses to Chicago. The ordeal lasted some 17 hours.

A Chicago Tribune story quoted a passenger on the Illinois Zephyr, Sarah Johnson, 19, saying the crew told passengers they were going to try and free the train by moving back and forth — like a car stuck in snow — but that didn’t work. A second train came but got stuck too, she said.

A rescue train showed up from Galesburg before 3 a.m. to take them to Princeton, the closest stop not obstructed by snow.

Alex Kasparie was a passenger on the Illinois Zephyr train that got stuck in the snow Monday afternoon.

The train was heading from Quincy to Chicago and was about 10 miles outside of Mendota when it ran into a 6-foot snow drift.

Kasparie, a law student at the University of Pennsylvania, was heading to Chicago for an interview and to visit friends.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, Amtrak told passengers there would be a lengthy delay. “It turned out to be about nine hours they were stuck there,” Kasparie said.

Kasparie said passengers on the Monday train made the best of it. “Things could be much worse than they are,” he said.”We had food, we had power, we had electricity and I had cell reception, so I was able to follow the BCS National Championship on my phone.”

Kasparie was able to get some sleep when the crew told them it would take a couple hours to dig the train out after equipment arrived to pull the train out.

Passengers were just exhausted from the all-day ordeal, he said. “I think we were all just ready to get off that train this morning,” Kasparie said.

Around 3 a.m., the train was freed and pulled back to Princeton where passengers boarded buses for Chicago.

Kasparie gave credit to the crew, which had been on the train since Sunday. “The staff was absolutely exhausted,” he said. “They’re the real troupers in all this. As bad as we passengers had it, I’m amazed that they were able to do what they did considering how long they had been on that train.”

The trip, which left more than 4.5 hours after its original departure time, was relatively smooth through Galesburg. “We had to stop a few different times because ice froze a few of the switches up,” he said.

Further west, some travelers aboard the Empire Builder were stranded for a couple of days.

Magliari said the majority of the problems have occurred between Havre, Mont., and parts of North Dakota due to strong winter storms in the area.

“We’ve been unable to operate the Empire Builder in both directions from Whitefish (Mont.) this week,” he said. “I fully expect though with the relief of some of these harsh weather conditions and trains being where they’re supposed to be and crews being properly in place, then we’ll have normal service in the next 24 hours or so.”

An Amtrak spokesperson in Oakland says that an Empire Builder train was scheduled to leave Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, and was expected to make a full trip through to Chicago.

In Indianapolis, Chicago-bound Cardinal stopped just outside of Indianapolis Union Station early Monday after frigid weather froze switches A few hours later, the train was brought to Union Station as officials tried to find alternative ways for travelers to leave the city.

“It was a whole quagmire of a situation,” said Chicago resident Jason Butler, who was on his way back from Ohio. “The frustration was in not knowing what’s going on. It was a little scary. I was three or four hours away from home and I didn’t know how I’d get there or when.”

Amtrak’s Magliari, said that CSX would not allow the Cardinal to use its tracks and Indianapolis roads and freeways were not passable.

“We worked with CSX and bus providers after CSX told us they cannot accept the train,” he said. “Throughout the day Monday, there were indications that I-65 or the tracks might open, but neither one occurred. We were not going to put them in a train that was going to travel at undetermined speeds all day long.”

Passenger Tamera Swenson said a bus was supposed to take them to Chicago on Monday, but they were later told that vehicles couldn’t travel on I-65.

Magliari said 150 passengers were on board when the train left Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Some found their own travel accommodations. Others, like Swenson and Butler, were placed in a downtown hotel.

Magliari said passengers still in Indianapolis were scheduled to leave Tuesday morning aboard the Hoosier State.

CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said in a brief statement that the transportation company has been in communication with Amtrak about the train’s status.

It was a flight cancellation that led Chicago high school teacher Rob Chambers, his husband and mother-in-law to take the train back to Chicago after the couple were married in Delaware, where same-sex marriage is legal. “We’re calling it the honeymoon ride home and here we are stuck in Indianapolis,’’ Chambers said by cellphone.

Train passengers also weren’t the only ones stranded in Indy. About 25 to 30 bus riders had to make do Tuesday inside the Greyhound station. Cots and blankets provided by the Red Cross helped make the situation more bearable, and the stranded riders also were given hot meals and food vouchers. Buses had been idle at the Greyhound station since Saturday.

Dozens of travelers stranded by the recent winter storm were holed up on Tuesday at the Indianapolis International Airport.  At least 105 flights were canceled at the Indianapolis airport during the winter storm.

Amtrak cancelled several Chicago hub trains Monday through Wednesday due to the severe weather and a need to get equipment and crews back into position.

That bothered Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. “I am really disappointed that we haven’t made the kind of investments, both at the state level and at the federal level, that would allow these trains to keep running in this kind of weather,” he said.  Harnish said it would be great to have trains offering transportation on days when the weather prevents flying and makes driving difficult.

They Waited, But Their Train Never Came

January 8, 2014

 

Not all Amtrak passengers received word that their train was canceled on Tuesday.

About 20 people planning to ride the Blue Water to Chicago showed up at the East Lansing,  Mich., station, but their train never came.

Some gave up and went home, but others waited five hours for another ride.

According to an Amtrak spokesperson, the crews based out of Chicago are backed up, and the train itself broke down due to the weather. Adding to the problem was that the station was closed, forcing passengers to wait outside in the frigid temperatures.

“[A] lot of them had little babies. They couldn’t come in and this little room was already back with 15 people,” said Jene Davis.

According the Amtrak spokesperson, the East Lansing operator and a backup called in sick. There was no one to help or tell the passengers what was going on, and nothing had been shown as canceled on the Amtrak website.

The people who stuck it out did get to Chicago but not by a train. A bus from Dean Trailways showed up at 12:40 p.m. to take anyone to Chicago that had an Amtrak ticket.

“As long as I get there, that’s what matters,” said passenger Alex Brown, who was headed for a conference in Chicago.

Amtrak arranged the bus as a one-time solution. On Wednesday, everything should be running as normal.

Amtrak Cancels Trains for Wednesday

January 7, 2014

Amtrak has canceled the following Midwest Corridor trains on Wednesday, Jan. 8:

Lincoln Service Trains 300, 301, 304 & 305.  Trains 302, 303, 306 & 307 and Trains 21/321 & 22/322 will maintain service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

Hiawatha Service Trains 329, 332, 333, 336, 337 & 340 are. Trains 330, 331, 334, 335, 338 & 339 will maintain service on the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor.

Wolverine Service Trains 352 & 353 are cancelled. Trains 350, 351, 354 & 355 will maintain service on the Chicago-Ann Arbor-Detroit-Pontiac corridor.

Illinois Zephyr Train 380 & Carl Sandburg Trains 381 & 382 are cancelled. Train 383 will be the only service on the Chicago-Quincy corridor.

Saluki Train 391 & Illini Train 392 are cancelled. Trains 390 (Saluki) & 393 (Illini) and Trains 58 & 59 (City of New Orleans) will maintain service on the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.

Neither the Lake Shore Limited or Capitol Limited departed from their terminals on Tuesday. both are shown as planning to depart from their respective endpoints on Wednesday. The eastbound Cardinal department Chicago on Tuesday night.

The California Zephyr and Southwest Chief were both canceled westbound on Tuesday, but are slated to depart on Wednesday.

The eastbound Southwest Chief on Monday was already running about two hours late at Galesburg when it encountered massive snowdrifts near Zearing that blocked BNSF’s Mendota Subdivision. Amtrak eventually dispatched buses to evacuate the stranded train.

Also blocked were the eastbound California Zephyr and Illinois Zephyr. Passengers were eventually unloaded from both trains and put on buses. The equipment for the CZ then ran empty to Chicago via the former Santa Fe mainline.

The Illinois Zephyr had been delayed leaving Quincy because the previous night’s train from Chicago arrived more than five hours late.

The westbound Chief and California Zephyr were preparing to leave Chicago were both cancelled on Monday and again Tuesday.

Amtrak canceled at least one frequency in each direction for Monday on all Illinois routes following Gov. Pat Quinn’s state-of-emergency declaration. On Tuesday all service was cancelled on the Chicago-Quincy and Chicago-St. Louis lines until the last departures of the day from each endpoint. The eastbound Texas Eagle was held for open track at St. Louis on Tuesday.

Eastbound Southwest Chiefs were turned to their westbound counterparts at Albuquerque and Kansas City, and the California Zephyr is being turned at Denver to represent the train that never made it out of Chicago on Monday.

Some Midwest corridor services suffered hours-long delays as a result of frozen switches, disabled freight trains, and blocked passing sidings on host railroads.

Thousands of flights at Midwest over the past two weeks have been canceled due to the severe winter weather. Road closures and accidents also hindered or shut down bus service.

WB Wolverine Stalls for 8 Hours in Michigan

January 7, 2014

Amtrak Wolverine Service No. 353 en route to Chicago was delayed for 8.5 hours on Monday after being halted in Michigan due to mechanical problems with the trains locomotive.

The train, which had departed from Pontiac, Mich., at about 10:30 a.m., rolled into Chicago Union Station at 1:30 a.m. (CST).

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said No.. 353 was eventually connected to another westbound train.

No. 353 was carrying more than 200 passengers. Magliari said heat, lights and toilets continued to operate while crews tried to solve the problems with the locomotive.

The train had stalled between Niles and New Buffalo in Berrien County about 4 p.m. The train sat for more than eight hours before it began moving again.

Low temperatures “affected the ability of the train to power itself,” Magliari said of No. 353.

“I’m certain some passengers were frustrated, as were we,” Magliari said. “It was better to shelter the passengers in place than to off-load passengers, even if buses were available.”

Passenger Celeste Aruda said it was a long day.

“About every hour they told us, ‘Just another half-hour until we get someone here who is going to fix this,’” Arudatold Chicago TV station WMAQ. “And every plan they went through just fell through.”