NS Says Chicago Line Congestion is Easing

An online reported indicated that Norfolk Southern told its fellow railroads during a meeting on Tuesday that it has made progress in untangling congestion on its Chicago Line. Amtrak may also resume operating the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited to Chicago on Saturday, a day earlier than planned.

During the meeting, according to the report, railroads operating in the Chicago Terminal said that delays on the NS Chicago Line had had a negative effect on the performance of all freight railroads.

But NS offered some hope that things would improve by pointing out that it had no dead freight trains tied down for 100 miles east from Chicago.

NS said it might be able to commit to handling the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited over their entire route between Chicago and Cleveland as early as Thursday.

But Amtrak said it had contracted with a bus company through Friday to shuttle passengers between Chicago and Toledo.

Amtrak had originally planned to resume operating trains 29/30 and 48/49 to/from Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 12. Amtrak reportedly is preparing to have equipment sets ready in Chicago as a contingency plan for days when Nos. 29 and 49 arrive in Chicago very late.

Late arriving trains from the East had resulted in  late departures of Nos. 30 and 48 because the equipment makes a same day turn and must be serviced in the interim.

Under normal circumstances, both the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited would reach Chicago by 10 a.m., giving Amtrak workers more than six hours to service the equipment before No. 30 departs at 6:40 p.m. and No. 48 leaves at 9:30 p.m.

During the meeting, one report has it, a representative of the American Association of Railroads warned that negative media reports about poor performing Amtrak trains could undermine the position of the freight railroads in current litigation over the legality of federal on-time standards for Amtrak trains.

There also is a report that NS is routing some oil trains via Kansas City in order to avoid the Chicago terminal.

In the meantime, Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited continue to operate hours late. At 6:20 a.m. today, No. 30 was running nearly three hours late out of Cleveland. No. 48 was an hour and a half late and had yet to arrive in Elyria.

Westbound Nos. 29 and 49 were both shown as between Elyria and Oak Harbor. However, the Amtrak website would not provide status information due to a “service disruption.”

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