Archive for October, 2015

Website Launched to Promote the Hoosier State

October 13, 2015

Iowa Pacific has launched a website to promote travel via the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

The site, www.hoosierstatetrain.com, enables visitors to view photographs of the interior of the train, check out the dining car menus, and find out information about things to do and places to visit in the online communities served.

The Hoosier State operates with equipment provided by Iowa Pacific Holdings, which owns and operates several short line and tourist train operations around the United States.

Operating crews are furnished by Amtrak, which also provides reservations booking services.

The Indiana Department of Transportation along with several communities served by the train are providing funding for the service.

Amtrak operated the Hoosier State until earlier this year.

Texas Eagle to Detour, Lincoln Service to be Replaced by Buses Due to Union Pacific Work

October 10, 2015

Construction on bridges along the Chicago-St. Louis route will result in substitute bus service for Lincoln Service trains and the rerouting of the Texas Eagle in Illinois between Oct. 17 and 31.

Additionally, the Texas Eagle will be replaced by buses on Oct. 20 and 21 between Little Rock, Arkansas, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Union Pacific is rebuilding and expanding six bridges in Illinois as part of a project to improve the Chicago-St. Louis corridor to allow maximum speeds of 110 mph.

Trains 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307 will be canceled during the construction period. Bus service will be provided at every station for all trains except Train 300. Buses may not operate at the same time as the respective trains. Contact Amtrak for bus schedules.

The Texas Eagle will detour over an alternate Union Pacific route and will not make any intermediate stops between Chicago and St. Louis.

Alternate Transportation at intermediate stations is not being provided for Train No. 21. However, bus transportation will be provided for passengers bound for intermediate points between Chicago and St. Louis.  Those passengers will disembark in St. Louis to board the bus.

Trains 321 and 322, which is a dedicated Chicago-St. Louis coach on the Nos. 21/22, will not operate during the construction period.

Amtrak said Nos. 21 and 22 may experience delays of up to 45 minutes during the detour period.

Union Pacific track work in Arkansas and Texas will result in passengers having to disembark in Little Rock to board buses bound for Fort Worth.

All intermediate stations will be served. Rail transportation will resume at Fort Worth for all destinations served by the Texas Eagle west of there, including over the route of Sunset Limited west of San Antonio.

The same procedure will be used for the eastbound Texas Eagle with passengers riding buses between Fort Worth and Little Rock.

 

UP To Replace Bridge Over the Kankakee River Bridge on the Chicago-St. Louis Corridor

October 10, 2015

Union Pacific plans to replace a bridge over the Kankakee River in Illinois that lies on the Chicago-St. Louis route of the Texas Eagle and Lincoln Service trains.

The bridge is located at Wilmington, Illinois, and is a single-track 540-foot, five-span structure.

UP is proposing to build two side-by-side bridges that would carry two tracks.

The north bridge would be 573 feet in length and have eight spans. The south bridge would be 604 feet and have nine spans, according to the notice.

The new brides would share common bridge piers that will be skewed in the direction of the angle of the river.

During construction, two temporary steel bridges will be used. The existing bridge will be removed.

Hoosier State Resumes Operation

October 8, 2015

After a week of cancelations, the Hoosier State resumed operating between Chicago and Indianapolis last Monday. The train was sidelined on Sept. 28 due to mechanical problems with one of its locomotives.

The Monday trip also marked the launch of business class service as well as a third coach.

That coach, named the Durant, had defects that had been missed in an inspection conducted two weeks earlier.

Trains magazine reports that the Indiana Department of Transportation canceled the Oct. 2 trips of the Hoosier State after inspectors found the defects on the Durant during a follow-up inspection.

A delay in receiving replacement parts led to the train being replaced by buses until Monday night’s trip from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Amtrak Warns Congress About Service Suspensions if PTC Deadline is Not Extended

October 7, 2015

Amtrak has joined the chorus of railroad voices warning that failure to extend the deadline for installation of positive train control will result in service suspensions.

In a letter to South Dakota Senator John Thune, Amtrak President Joe Boardman said the passenger carrier will begin to notify passengers around Dec. 1 of service suspensions.

“Should Congress fail to pass legislation to extend the PTC deadline beyond December 31, 2015, there will be significant impacts to our service and on our customers and tenant railroads,” Boardman wrote. “The potential impacts would also be substantial, since a vast majority of our network would be inoperable without an extension of the deadline.”

Boardman said Amtrak would continue to provide service on tracks that it owns in the Northeast between New York and Washington in any event.

It is not clear if Boardman named specific routes and trains that would be suspended.

Some Class I railroads and commuter operators have also written to Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to warn that they will shut down service on Jan. 1 rather than face the prospect of fines from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Amtrak Panel Recommend Chicago Rail Fixes

October 3, 2015

Amtrak’s Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel is calling for bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers that are now scattered across the country, improving operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads, and funding for priority projects in northern Illinois and Indiana.

The panel also released a study that concluded that rail congestion in Chicago poses the greatest potential economic vulnerability to the economy of all the major U.S. rail hubs.

Chicago has been dubbed America’s “rail traffic speed bump,” creating an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year.

“The panel interviewed experts with the freight-rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman.

The panel said its recommended fixes are expensive but without actions rail gridlock will only get worse.

The panel recommended:
• Coordinate in real time operations among Chicago’s railroads, including coordinated dispatching.
• Continue efforts to improve operational performance in the Chicago terminal.
• Obtain adequate and sustained public funding for vital projects.
• Give priority to the CREATE 75th Street Corridor and Grand Crossing projects.
• Make additional investments in Chicago-Porter, Indiana, corridor.
• Seek innovative financing through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan program.
• Provide consistent environmental review requirements among all transportation modes with priorities given to projects of national importance.

The report can be found atAmtrak.com/ChicagoGateway.

Cummins Delivers Diesel to be Used in Passengers Locomotives Being Built by Siemens in California

October 3, 2015

A diesel locomotive to be used in locomotives being built for Midwest, California, Florida and Washington state passenger service has been shipped to the factory assembling the locomotives.

Cummns Inc. said the first production 95-liter, 16-cylinder QSK95 engine built to a rail specification has been received at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, California, that is assembling the Charger locomotives.

The engine is rated at 4,400 hp (3,281 kW). Siemens is building the locomotives as part of a 35-unit order placed by the departments of transportation of Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.

The Charger locomotives will also power the trainsets for All Aboard Florida.

Cummins said that the QSK95 can support a top locomotive speed of 125 mph, which achieves the highest output of any 16-cylinder high-speed diesel

The company said that the combination of its Modular Common Rail Fuel System with quad-turbocharging allows the engine to deliver reduced noise and good response in a smaller footprint than medium-speed diesels traditionally used in locomotives.

The engine is compliant with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emission standards.

Locomotive Issues Sideline Hoosier State

October 1, 2015

Locomotive issues forced the cancellation of five trips of the Hoosier State over the past week.

The cancellations resulted after an inspection found defects in one of two GP40FH-2 locomotives used by Iowa Pacific to operate the Chicago-Indianapolis passenger train. The canceled trips occurred between Sept. 23 and 29.

Trains magazine reported that an Amtrak inspector “bad ordered” an IP locomotive because springs on one of the locomotive’s trucks were not seated properly and needed adjustment.

Two other Iowa Pacific units are out of service, one of which has been waiting for a new air compressor for more than a week.

The inspection occurred just before IP No. 4144 was set to deadhead with other Iowa Pacific equipment on the rear of Amtrak’s Cardinal on Sept. 22.

No. 4144 could not be left behind because the head-end power generator wasn’t operable on the other Iowa Pacific engine in the consist.

Amtrak repaired the IP locomotive in Chicago. As the repairs were being made, chartered buses replaced the Hoosier State on the Sept. 23 southbound trip and the Sept. 25 northbound trek.

The Hoosier State made four trips between Sept. 25 and last Monday, but an inspector hired by the State of Indiana found other defects not discovered in previous Amtrak and Federal Railroad Administration inspections.

These included windshield glass that had been installed backwards.

As a result, passengers were back on the bus Monday evening, Tuesday morning and on both Wednesday trips.

The Hoosier State operates on days that Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

The Cardinal operates in both directions on Thursday so the Hoosier State is slated to next operate on Friday in both directions.