Archive for October, 2017

Downeaster May be Extended to Rockland

October 26, 2017

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is starting a pilot program for Amtrak’s Downeaster service that may see it extended to Rockland, Maine, next summer.

The announcement was made during a meeting of the authority board meeting. Officials said the Downeaster extension would go northeastward from the current northern terminus at Brunswick to Rockland, making stops at Bath, Wiscasset, and Newcastle.

The extension would operate only on weekends during the summer.

It would use former Maine Central tracks now owned by the State of Maine. Central Maine & Quebec handles freight operations.

The 56-mile Rockland branch was rebuilt in the early 2000s and until 2015, the Maine Eastern operated seasonal excursions on the line.

The authority, which helps operate the Downeaster between Boston and Brunswick via Portland, said it will have additional information about the pilot program in the coming weeks.

Cruising Through the Pennsylvania Hills

October 25, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvania is six minutes off the advertised as it rolls on Track No. 2 of the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern through Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

The train would lose time en route, arriving at New York Penn Station a half-hour late. The delays in this area of the route appeared to have been due to track work being performed by NS as it gets ready to cut in new signals and positive train control.

Behind lead P42DC No. 160 is an all Amfleet consist that includes coaches and a cafe car.

Holiday Train to Operate From Huntington

October 25, 2017

A holiday theme train using Amtrak and private equipment will operate out of Huntington, West Virginia, in December on the CSX Kanawha Subdivision.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society is hosting the Huntington Holiday Express between Dec. 14 and 17.

The train will make a 25-mile roundtrip excursion on former Chesapeake & Ohio tracks to Barboursville, West Virginia.

The train will have Amtrak P42DC locomotives on each end. Tickets are $55 for adults and $45 per child.

Each trip will take approximately an hour. The consist is expected to include six passenger cars, including three Amtrak café cars and three private cars.

Onboard amenities will include hot cocoa, cookies, and such Christmas activities as a visit from Santa Claus.

Best known for its New River Train fall foliage excursions, this will be the society’s first Christmas train on CSX rails.

Pacific Parlour Car En Route to LA

October 24, 2017

An online report indicated that Pacific Parlour Car Sonoma Valley (AMTK 39974) has been released by the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis and was sent to Chicago on Sunday in the consist of the Hoosier State.

The refurbishment of the car included rebuilding the trucks and cleaning the lower carbody.

In Chicago, No. 39974 was sent westbound on the Southwest Chief that departed on Monday.

Track Work Affects 2 Amtrak Trains

October 24, 2017

Amtrak said in a service advisory that track work being performed by Central Florida Rail will affect the northbound Silver Star schedule on Oct. 27.

Train 92 that departs Miami will operate as Train 1192 and depart all stations 2 hours, 35 minutes earlier than the normal Silver Star schedule.

In a similar development, track work being performed by CSX will affect Northeast Regional Train 83 between in Virginia between Richmond and Newport News on Nov. 3.

It will operate normally from Boston to Richmond-Staples Mill Road, but will not stop at Richmond-Main Street, Williamsburg or Newport News. Alternate transportation will not be provided.

UP Track Work to Disrupt Coast Starlight in Oregon, California; Will Also Affect Select Corridor Trains

October 24, 2017

Union Pacific track work is affecting Amtrak’s Coast Starlight and other western corridor trains in late October and early November.

In California, track work being performed from 10:30 p.m. on Oct.  25 through 10:30 a.m. on Oct.  27 will affect Pacific Surfliner service and the Coast Starlight as follows.

On Oct.  25 Train 785 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard. Bus service will be provided from Oxnard to Santa Barbara and Goleta. Bus service will not be provided at Ventura and Carpinteria.

On 26, Pacific Surfliner trains will operate on the following schedules. These trains will not stop at Ventura and Carpinteria, and bus service will not be provided.

Northbound Nos. 761, 769 and 785 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard. Bus service will be provided from Oxnard to Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Northbound Nos. 763 and 777 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard only. Bus service will be provided between Oxnard and Santa Barbara. Bus service will also be provided to Goleta for Train 777 passengers only.

Northbound Nos. 2763 and 2777 will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Southbound Nos. 768, 782 and 792 will originate at Oxnard. Passengers boarding in Goleta and Santa Barbara will be provided bus service to Oxnard, where they will board their respective trains.

Southbound Nos. 2774 and 2796 will operate between San Louis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Bus service will be provided between Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

Southbound Nos. 774 and 796 will operate between Oxnard and San Diego only.

The Coast Starlight will detour between Oakland and Los Angeles and will not make stops at San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys and Burbank. Passengers traveling to those destinations are directed to use local travel services.

In Oregon, track work between Klamath Falls and Portland will affect Cascades Service Nos. 503, 505, 506, 508 and Coast Starlight No. 14 as follows:

Train 503 on Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 is canceled between Portland and Eugene. Bus service will be provided at all stations on the route.

Train 508 on Nov. 1 through Nov. 3 will operate between Portland and Seattle only. Bus service will be provided to and from Eugene, Albany, Salem and Oregon City and will connect to Train 508 at Portland.

Train No. 508 will operate as normal on Nov.  4 and 5.

Trains 505 and 506 are canceled between Portland and Eugene will be cancelled. Bus service will be provided at all stations on the route.

Train  will operate between Portland and Seattle only. Bus service will be provided to and from Eugene, Albany, Salem and Oregon City to connect to Train 506 at Portland.

On Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 the northbound Coast Starlight will wait at Eugene up to two hours and 15 minutes.

Passengers connecting from Train 14 to Empire Builder No. 28 at Portland, you will get off the train at Eugene, where bus service will be provided to Portland to board No. 28.

Track Work Disrupts Downeaster Service

October 24, 2017

Track work being performed by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is affecting Amtrak’s Downeaster service the carrier said in a service advisory.

On Oct. 28, all Downeaster trains will detour between Haverhill, Massachusetts, and Boston North Station. Service will not be provided to or from Woburn, Massachusetts.

On Nov. 4 and 5, Downeaster trains will operate to and from Haverhill. Passengers will ride a bus Haverhill and Boston North Station. Service will not be provided to or from Woburn.

The buses will operate non-stop between Haverhill and North Station.

Hoosier State OT Performance Improving

October 23, 2017

The on-time performance of two Amtrak trains in Indiana has shown some improvement of late.

From a 37.1 percent rating in August the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State improved to 56 percent in September.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal, which uses the same route, had an on-time performance of 58 percent during the month

Brittany White, stakeholder and marketing manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said the on-time performance for the Hoosier State for the month of October thus far has been close to 80 percent.

Amtrak has said most of the delays to the trains have occurred on CSX tracks between Indianapolis and Dyer, Indiana.

These run the gamut between malfunctioning signals to freight train interference.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the delays have resulted from issues stemming from implementation of a new operating model known as precision scheduled railroading.

He said changes in how freight cars are sorted at the railroad’s Avon Yard west of Indianapolis resulted in unanticipated congestion that contributed to service issues for Amtrak.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier has seen a slow but steady increase in on-time performance.

INDOT has hired a consultant to identify areas for improvement in Amtrak, CSX and INDOT operations. That report is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Suspicious Luggage Prompted Evacuation of Lincoln Service Train in Illinois Late Last Week

October 23, 2017

Amtrak passengers aboard a northbound Lincoln Service train were delayed for more than three hours in Lincoln, Illinois, last Friday after a passenger reported suspicious bags aboard the train.

They turned out to be luggage that a passenger who had disembarked in Springfield, Illinois, had left onboard

Passengers were instructed to get off the train at the Lincoln station while police with bomb-sniffing dogs searched the train.

Authorities said there were 190 passengers aboard Train No. 302, which departed St. Louis at 6:40 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 12:20 p.m.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said in a statement that the evacuation of the train was a pre-caution. The passengers lingered outside the station waiting for authorities to allow them to re-board their train.

Under normal circumstances, No. 302 would have departed Lincoln at 9:05 a.m. Instead it didn’t leave until 12:40 p.m.

Three other Amtrak trains, including the northbound Texas Eagle and southbound Lincoln Service trains 301 and 303 were delayed by the incident.

A passenger who did not want to be identified said that the man who left the luggage behind “just kind of seemed like there was something maybe not quite right with how he was acting.”

A news account quoted a passenger as saying the man seemed like he was on edge.

“Well, before we stopped in Springfield, he said, ‘I’m going to leave my bags here, I need to get off the train, but there’s only clothes in there, I promise,’ is what he said,” the passenger said.

Another passenger, Carla Mayernick of Girard, Illinois, told reporters that when the train reached Lincoln, passengers were told to evacuate and leave their bags.

Terry Storer, the deputy director of the Logan County Emergency Management Agency, said, the investigation was standard procedure because abandoned packages raise everyone’s suspicion.

Passenger Barry Trump said the train left the station for undisclosed location, “which I thought was a great idea, so it didn’t blow up in the station.”

Nebraska Police Arrest Armed Man Who Got into Trailing Locomotive on Amtrak No. 5 Saturday

October 23, 2017

Police arrested a Missouri man early Saturday after he got into a locomotive pulling the eastbound California Zephyr and activated an emergency brake in Oxford in south-central Nebraska. That brought the train to a halt.

Taylor M. Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Missouri, had in his possession a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolved in his waistband and a speed loader in his pocket at the time he was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies of Furnas and Harlan Counties. He was held in the Furnas County Jail.

Police also found two bags with three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, tin snips and a ventilation mask.

Wilson was en route from Sacramento, California, to St. Louis. He made his way to the trailing locomotive where he pulled an emergency brake at about 1:54 a.m.

Oxford is 23 miles southwest of Holdrege, Nebraska, a scheduled stop for Amtrak Nos. 5 and 6.

Wilson was initially detained by Amtrak personnel until police arrived.

He was held on $50,000 bond on charges of suspicion of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, felony criminal mischief and trespassing.