Archive for September, 2018

Southeast Service Back to Normal

September 26, 2018

Amtrak on Wednesday restored the last service that had been suspended in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

The last trains to resume were the New York-Miami Silver Star, which had been operating only between Miami and Jacksonville, Florida.

Train No. 84 to Get Temporary Schedule

September 26, 2018

Amtrak Northeast Regional Train No. 84 will be given a temporary schedule change between Norfolk, Virginia, and Trenton, New Jersey, between Oct. 1 and Nov. 16.

Amtrak said in a service advisory the schedule change is due to track work being conducted on the Northeast Corridor.

Train No. 84 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Norfolk to New Carrollton, Maryland; will operate eight minutes earlier from BWI Airport and will operate six minutes earlier from Baltimore to Trenton.

All departure times from Metropark, New Jersey, to Newark, and the arrival time in New York will not change.

Cold Day in Geneva

September 24, 2018

Outside the temperature is in the single digits, but inside Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited the passengers are nice and warm as their train heads for points in New York and Massachusetts.

The train is shown passing through Geneva, Ohio, with the next scheduled stop being Erie, Pennsylvania.

Study Recommends Chicago-St. Paul Train

September 24, 2018

A second passenger train between Chicago and Twin Cities is a viable concept, a Minnesota Department of Transportation study has found.

A second train on the route should operate four to six hours later than the eastbound Empire Builder, which currently is scheduled to leave St. Paul at 8 a.m.

The second westbound train would operate six hours apart from the Empire Builder, which is scheduled to arrive into St. Paul at 10:03 p.m.

The cost of the service would range between $137 million and $169 million. However, no funding source for the service has materialized.

A previous Amtrak study found 155,000 passengers would ride the second train and recommended the proposal proceed with an environmental review and public outreach efforts that would make the project eligible for federal funding.

“The bottom line is local government has been carrying the water for the last couple of years on this issue,” said Rafael Ortega, Regional Railroad Authority chairman. “We need to push this at the state legislature.”

The Empire Builder operates daily between Chicago and Seattle/Portland.

PennDOT to Study Pittsburgh-Altoona Train

September 24, 2018

A feasibility study will be conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of a Pittsburgh-Altoona passenger train.

PennDOT will review several studies on the Keystone West Corridor; and gather information about the existing right of way, current and projected freight-rail activity on the line.

The study will also develop cost estimates of the proposed service as well as three potential service plans, a travel-demand marketing assessment and ridership estimates.

The service would supplement the existing Amtrak Pennsylvanian, which operates between Pittsburgh and New York and is funded by PennDOT.

The route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is owned by Norfolk Southern.

Pennsylvania has commissioned previous studies of additional Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh but thus far nothing has materialized.

Ski Train to Operate in 2019

September 24, 2018

Amtrak said last week that it will again operate a ski train this winter between Denver and Winter Park, Colorado.

The Winter Park Express will run on Saturdays and Sundays between Jan. 4 and March 31, 2019. The schedule also included trips on the first two Fridays of each month.

The ski train will leave Denver Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrive in Winter Park at 9 a.m.

The return train departs Winter Park at 4:30 p.m. and is due back in Denver at 6:40 p.m.

The Winter Park Express follows a Union Pacific route (nee Denver & Rio Grande Western) via Moffat Tunnel that is also used by Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Passengers who buy tickets early can obtain them for $29 one way. Those discounted tickets are being sold in limited quantities. Regular fares are $39, $49 and $59.

Amtrak Continues to Restore Service in Southeast

September 20, 2018

Amtrak continues to restore service in areas of the Southeast that were hit by Hurricane Florence last week.

Piedmont Service between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, resumed operating on Thursday.

Also resuming service over all of its route on Tuesday was the Crescent.

The Carolinian was to resume operating between Raleigh and Charlotte today. Amtrak has not said when Nos. 79 and 80 will resume operating north of Raleigh to New York City.

That will hinge on how quickly host railroad CSX can repair and put back into service the A Line used by Amtrak.

The Auto Train and Silver Meteor remain suspended through Sept. 22. The Silver Star is operating only between Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, while the Palmetto is operating only between New York and Washington.

Brightline Acquires Xpress

September 20, 2018

Florida-based Brightline is eyeing expanding in the West after it agreed to acquire XpressWest, a proposed high-speed rail project that had hoped to link Southern California and Las Vegas.

Brightline will take over the development, construction and operation of the project, which initially will operate between Las Vegas and Victorville, California.

In a news release, Brightline said service will be extended to Los Angeles at a later date.

The corridor’s first phase is expected to be built on right of way within and adjacent to Interstate 15, traversing 185 miles with no grade or pedestrian crossings.

Construction is expected to begin next year with service starting in 2022.

The carrier is acquiring 38 acres adjacent to the Las Vegas strip for construction of the Las Vegas rail station and mixed-use development.

Planning is underway for additional stations, as well as for potential connections to Metrolink and California’s future high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Brightline currently operates daily intercity rail service on Florida East Coast Railway track between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The company is planning to expand to Orlando International Airport in 2021 and, potentially, to Tampa.

“Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly,” said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group, which owns All Aboard Florida, Brightline’s parent. “Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Gotta Go to Work

September 18, 2018

An Amtrak locomotive engineer climbs the steps to a P42DC locomotive in Memphis to go to work aboard the northbound City of New Orleans.

He will take No. 58 to Carbondale, Illinois, where another engineer will go on duty to finish the journey into Chicago.

Siding to Allow Downeaster Expansion

September 18, 2018

Construction of a siding on Pan Am Railways in Maine is expected to enable an expansion of Amtrak Downeaster service between Boston and Brunswick, Maine.

The siding being built at Royal Junction between Falmouth and Cumberland.

Officials said current track conditions limit the number of trains that can operate between Portland and Brunswick.

The siding, which is costing $9 million, has been in the planning stages since Downeaster service was extended to Brunswick in 2012.

“Royal Siding will improve efficiency of service and increase the amount of service to Freeport and Brunswick,” said Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn.