Archive for June, 2016

Hoosier State OT Performance Reaches 86%

June 13, 2016

Since October 2015, the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State has posted an average on-time performance rating of 86 percent and an increase in ticket revenue of 20 percent.

InDOTThe figures were announced by the Indiana Department of Transportation. The Hoosier State is operated by Iowa Pacific Holdings, which contracts with Amtrak for operating crew members.

InDOT said the Hoosier State is among the highest-rated Amtrak routes, with 90 percent of riders reporting in a recent survey that they are “very satisfied” with the service.

The Hoosier State operates four days a week on days when the Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

“Instead of being discontinued, the Hoosier State train was improved,” said Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis. “On-time performance and customer service leading to more riders will be key to future success and improvements.”

Aside from providing operating crews, Amtrak works with host railroads and manages ticketing and reservations.

Iowa Pacific provides the train equipment, train maintenance, marketing and onboard amenities.

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Track Work to Cancel Lincoln Service, Send Texas Eagle Detouring Between Chicago and St. Louis

June 9, 2016

Track work on the Chicago- St. Louis corridor will result in Amtrak’s Lincoln Service being canceled between June 15 and 18 and the Texas Eagle making a detour move.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said all Lincoln Service trains will be canceled and bus service provided at all stations.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe Lincoln Service buses will depart earlier than their respective trains. Schedule information is available at Amtrak.com or calling 800-USA-RAIL (800-872-7245).

The Texas Eagle will be using a former Chicago & Eastern Illinois route via Tuscola, Illinois, that it has used in the past.

Passengers on the northbound Eagle traveling to intermediate stations between St. Louis and Chicago will disembark in St. Louis and travel by bus to their destination.

Amtrak said the Eagle is subject to delays of up to 45 during the detour.

The track work is being done to bring the top speed of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor up to 110 mph.

NS Derailments Send Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited Detouring over CSX in Ohio, Indiana

June 8, 2016

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Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited were combined at Cleveland on Wednesday morning and sent on a detour move over CSX due to a derailment on Norfolk Southern in Indiana.

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited also detoured over CSX. The trains used the former Baltimore & Ohio Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline from northwest Indiana to Greenwich and then ran up the former Big Four to Cleveland.

The NS train was the 34E, which derailed at CP 437 in South Bend, Indiana.

A passengers aboard No. 48 said in an email message that No. 48 was near South Bend when it halted and an NS locomotive pulled the train backward to Hammond-Whiting, Indiana.

Other reports, though, indicated that No. 48 only made it as far east as Chesterton, Indiana.

The passenger aboard No. 48 said it passed the combined Nos. 29/49 at milepost 194 on the former B&O.

The eastbound Lake Shore departed Cleveland 12 hours late.

Online reports indicated that Nos. 29/49 arrived in Fostoria at 7:50 a.m. and after a recrew departed at 8:15 a.m.

The combined train arrived at Chicago Union Station at 12:45 p.m. The equipment for No. 29 was placed ahead of that for No. 49.

Another report said that No. 48 passes North Baltimore at 2:38 p.m. and Fostoria at 2:50 p.m.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Amtrak expects to operate over the NS Chicago Line on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning.

The eastbound Capitol Limited was not affected by the derailment, which also caused some NS trains to find new routes.

In the photographs above, No. 48 is shown on Wednesday afternoon on CSX in Wellington, on the former Big Four.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

 

Ann Arbor Won’t Release Station Site Report

June 8, 2016

The Ann Arbor, Michigan, city council narrowly defeated a motion to release more information about the city’s efforts to create a new Amtrak station.

The Ann Arbor News had filed a freedom of information request for copies of email messages between the city and the Federal Railroad Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation pertaining to the project.

Amtrak 4Although copies of the emails were released to the newspaper, they were heavily redacted.

A motion to release copies of the emails without the redactions was defeated in a 6-5 vote.

The council also rejected 6-5 a motion that an alternative analysis report be released.

City officials have said they are evaluating station sites on Depot Street and Fuller Road.

Council members voting against release said the city’s need to engage in frank communications outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Ann Arbor city officials have said they won’t release the alternatives analysis report until a final draft is approved for release by the FRA.

Council members who voted to keep the report secret acknowledged that they don’t know all of what is in the email messages or the draft report.

Mayor Christopher Taylor said having the information subject to public review and input when it has yet to be approved by the FRA would be counterproductive.

Taylor said the city hasn’t decided on a station site because it has not heard conclusively from MDOT and the FRA where those agencies believe the depot should be situated.

“We are in the middle of a long and unpleasant process that no one is satisfied with. No one believes that this has gone well to this point,” he said.

“I think people at the table here are frustrated. People on the staff are frustrated, of course. But that’s where we are. We are not running the show.”

Ann Arbor officials have long favored building the station on city park land along Fuller Raod, but the FRA has favored redeveloping the former Michigan Central station, which is now a restaurant.

The current Amtrak station on Depot Street could also be redeveloped.

The Ann Arbor News said that in response to its FOI request, it received more than 400 pages of emails sent to and from Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, dating to August 2014.

Redacted from the emails provided to the newspaper were comments made by the FRA on the station site draft report.

Mayor Taylor said once the station analysis report is released there will be ample opportunity for public review and comment.

Arcadia Valley Station Work to Start Soon

June 8, 2016

Construction is expected to begin soon on a platform in Arcadia Valley, Missouri, that will be used by Amtrak’s Texas Eagle.

The platform and its accompanying fencing and light fixtures are expected to match the design of the former Missouri Pacific passenger station next to the Union Pacific tracks used by the Chicago-San Antonio train.

Amtrak 4The Eagle is expected to stop in Arcadia Valley at about 10:30 p.m. southbound and 4:30 a.m. northbound once service begins.

Community leaders are attempting to recruit volunteers to care for the station, which will not be staffed by an Amtrak agent.

The platform will be 300 feet in length. The station will have a lift for wheelchair access, and ADA compliant sidewalks, entrances, bathrooms and parking.

Passengers will be able to wait in the former MoPac station.

Track Work to Delay Hiawatha Service

June 8, 2016

Track work being performed by Metra will delay Hiawatha Service at Chicago and Milwaukee through Aug. 21.

Hiawatha 2In a service advisory, Amtrak said that tains 331, 333, 335 and 337 will arrive in Milwaukee 10 minutes later than the current published schedule on weekdays.

Trains 332, 334, 336 and 338 will arrive in Chicago 10 minutes later than current published schedules on weekdays.

On Saturday and Sunday, tains 331, 333, 335, 337, 339, 341 (and 343 on Saturdays only) will arrive in Milwaukee 10 minutes later than the current published schedule while trains 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342 (and 344 on Saturdays only) will arrive in Chicago 10 minutes later than current published schedules.

Amtrak said schedules will not change at Glenview, Sturtevant and the Milwaukee Airport Station. Departure times will not change at any of the stations served by Hiawatha Service trains.

 

Hoosier State Equipment Open House Set

June 8, 2016

An open house has been set for June 9 in Lafayette of the equipment used by Iowa Pacific on the Hoosier State.

The event begins at 1:45 p.m. at Riehle Plaza at 200 N. 2nd St., and will last until 3 p.m.

IndianaIowa Pacific Holdings took over operation of the Hoosier State in August 2015 and provides locomotives, passenger equipment and staff, with Amtrak providing operating personnel.

IP plans to show a full-length ex-Santa Fe dome car that it uses for business class passengers. The Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State operates on the four days a week that Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

ODOT Seeks RFQ on Heartland Flyer

June 7, 2016

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has issued a request for qualifications for providers interested in operating the Heartland Flyer.

The train is currently operated by Amtrak with funding from the states of Texas and Oklahoma.

Heartland FlyerODOT and the Texas Department of Transportation are seeking to gauge the interest of companies that could provide train crews, rolling stock, train maintenance, on-board food and beverage, ticketing, and support personnel.

Issuance of the RFQ doesn’t necessarily mean the departments will proceed with a request for proposals, however. Responses to the RFQ are due by June 22.

The Heartland Flyer began operating in June 1999 between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, with funding part provided by Oklahoma.

Texas began helping to fund the train, which connect in Fort Worth with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle in 2006.

Waterloo Amtrak Station Dedication is June 24

June 6, 2016

A dedication ceremony has been set for June 24 in Waterloo, Indiana, to celebrate the opening of a former New York Central station as the new Amtrak stop.

A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. and an open house between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For years, Waterloo, which is the stop for nearby Fort Wayne, has been served with a bus stop shelter.

Amtrak 4Now, passengers will use the 132-year old NYC depot, which was moved to a new site last March.

A federal $1.82 million TIGER grant helped pay for a larger parking lot and sidewalks, new street lighting, landscaping, road resurfacing and curbs.

The renovated station will also have a kiosk to provide train arrival times and free Wi-Fi.

The station was restored in 2005 and became a community center, a use that will continue.

Waterloo is served by the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited.

In 2015, the Waterloo station handled 20030 passengers.

Heartland Flyer to Run for Another Year

June 6, 2016

The State of Oklahoma has agreed to pay Amtrak $3.7 million to keep the Heartland Flyer operating for another year.

Heartland FlyerThe future of the Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, train had been in doubt after some Sooner state lawmakers talked about ending its funding due to a $1.3 billion budget shortfall.

However, the legislature agreed to appropriate $2.84 million and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will make up the rest of the funding from its general budget.

The department is also seeking ways to reduce cost while at the same time increasing service to two roundtrips a day. A department spokeswoman said increasing service would make the route a more viable transportation option.

The cost of operating the Heartland Flyer has nearly doubled over the past seven years because the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 requires states to pay a larger share of costs of state-funded trains.