Archive for March, 2019

Okla. Hails Inclusion of Heartland Flyer Extension

March 29, 2019

Oklahoma officials are hailing the inclusion of an extension of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer in the passenger carrier’s budget request for Congress even though much remains to be done before that will occur.

Amtrak’s federal fiscal year 2020 grant request identified as a priority extending the Flyer from its northern terminus of Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas, where it could connect with the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

The Heartland Flyer now operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, with $3.1 million annual funding from the State of Oklahoma. The Flyer is the only Amtrak service in the Sooner State.

“We have been working with Amtrak on this option for a while, so we are glad it is included,” said Brenda Perry, a spokeswoman with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The Amtrak budget request does not specify how much money the carrier is seeking for the extension of the Flyer.

Perry said the extension would also need funding from the State of Kansas. The prospects of that occurring are unclear.

She also said extending the Flyer would require more money from Oklahoma as well.

“Funding is always something that has to be worked through because the extension would require more ODOT funding than what we currently pay for the train going from here to Fort Worth,” Perry said.

The Heartland Flyer serves about 68,000 passengers a year.

Illinois Amtrak Expansion Hinges on Inclusion in Bill

March 29, 2019

The head of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association said that expansion of Amtrak service in Illinois will hinge upon funding for it being included in the state’s capitol bill.

Rick Harnish said a route to the Quad Cities region won’t materialize soon without the funding for capital develop projects on the routes being included in the capital bill.

A Senate subcommittee plans to meet on April 8 at Bradley University in Peoria to discuss what funding requests should be included in the capital bill.

It will also meet in Chicago on April 16 and in Elgin at a date to be announced.

Harnish noted that funding for the Quad Cities route that was approved in a previous session of the Illinois General Assembly will need to be re-appropriated.

Minn. Gov., Anderson Meet About Duluth Service

March 29, 2019

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz met recently with Amtrak President Richard Anderson to discuss the proposed Northern Lights Express project, but no agreement was apparently reached.

The governor said in a Facebook post that Anderson said the national passenger carrier is ready to work with the state on the project, which would reinstate intercity rail passenger service between the Twin Cities and Duluth, Minnesota.

Another Amtrak official expressed the carrier’s interest in the project during a visit to the state earlier this month.

The Northern Lights Express is projected to operate between a station near Target Field in Minneapolis and make intermediate stops in Minnesota at Coon Rapids, Cambridge and Hinckley, and in Wisconsin in Superior.

The 150-mile line would use BNSF rails. Amtrak’s North Star served that route through April 7, 1985, when Minnesota ceased funding the train.

Missouri Trains Sidelined Through March 31

March 28, 2019

The suspension of Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City has been extended through March 31.

Passengers traveling between those cities and to and from intermediate stations will continue to ride chartered buses.

The Union Pacific route used by Amtrak between Missouri’s two largest cities has seen a surge of freight traffic after other UP routes were closed by flooding in the Midwest.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the charter buses will stop at all Amtrak stations serviced by the River Runners and operate as close to the train schedules as possible,

However, Amtrak said passengers should expect some delays to occur.

Track Work to Affect Keystone Trains

March 28, 2019

Track work being performed on April 6 and 7 will result in boarding changes for Keystone Corridor passengers traveling to and from the Pennsylvania cities of Exton and Downingtown.

The track work will result in the closure of Track 4 at both stations.

Passengers traveling to Harrisburg will need to board their train on Track 1 at Exton and Downingtown Stations.

Some Keystone Service schedules will also change. Train 670 will operate 15 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Trains 611, 661, 663, 667, 669 and 671 will operate 10 minutes later to Exton, 15 minutes later to Downingtown and 30 minutes later from Coatesville to Harrisburg.

Train 615 will operate 46 minutes earlier from Philadelphia, 24 minutes earlier to Exton, 19 minutes earlier to Coatesville and 15 minutes earlier to Harrisburg.

Train 665 will operate 15 minutes later to Exton, 20 minutes later to Downingtown and 35 minutes later from Coatesville to Harrisburg.

Elizabethtown Station Temporarily Closed

March 28, 2019

The Amtrak station in Elizabethtown remains closed until further notice.

Passengers will continue to have access to train platforms and Keystone Service trains are continuing to stop at the station site.

However, Amtrak said passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or the elevator.

Those needing an elevator to get to track level or ticketing at a staffed station are being directed to board at the Harrisburg station, located about 30 minutes northwest of Elizabethtown, or at Lancaster station, located approximately 30 minutes southeast.

CSX Track Work to Disrupt Palmetto

March 28, 2019

CSX track work between April 1 and May will result in cancellations of Amtrak’s Palmetto on certain dates

The cancellations will be in effect for Trains 89 and 90 on April 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22 -25 and April 29-May 2.

On those dates the Palmetto will operate only between New York and Washington. There will be no alternative transportation provided for those traveling between Washington and Savannah, Georgia.

Amtrak also has canceled Thruway Buses 6089, 6090, 6189 and 6190 on those dates.

This means that the Palmetto and its connecting Thruway buses will operate on only three days during the five weeks of the track work project.

All of the operating dates are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Pacific Surfliner Schedules to Change April 8

March 28, 2019

Amtrak said that effective April 8 the schedules of select Pacific Surfliner trains will change.

Train 572 will depart Los Angeles 14 minutes earlier than scheduled at 10:40 a.m.

Train 573 will depart San Diego 30 minutes later than scheduled at 11:15 a.m.

Track Work to Affect Pacific Surfliners

March 28, 2019

The North County Transit District is conducting track work in April that will will affect operations of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner service on weekends.

On April 12 Train 590 will be cancelled and passengers advised to make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

However, bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown.

No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.

On April 13 and 15 Trains 562, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573 and 1590 will be cancelled with travelers advised to make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

In a service advisory Amtrak said Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles and no alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Train 796 also will terminate in Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from there to San Diego.

Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.

Trains 591, 595, 763, 777, 785, 1579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine with connecting bus service provided from San Diego for all trains except No. 1761.

Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine.

Amtrak said the buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego and passengers should take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

Bus service ervice will not be provided to connect with Train 1761 and Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between Irvine and Los Angeles.

Historic GG-1 Related at Harrisburg Station

March 28, 2019

A former Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 locomotive has been placed back on static display under cover at the Amtrak station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

No. 4859 along with an ex-PRR N6b cabin car were placed on track 8 at the station, which is being rehabilitated by Amtrak.

Both pieces of vintage equipment, which are owned by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society had been displaced during the rehabilitation project.

Chapter officials say the new viewing location is not ideal and they continue to seek a more suitable display location.

The GG-1 was the first to pull a train to Harrisburg following electrification of the line between there and Philadelphia in the late 1930s.

Amtrak is in the process of installing high-level platforms and new elevators at the station and recently finished that work for Tracks 6 and 7.

Work is expected to begin soon on Tracks 4 and 5 in the expectation that Amtrak will add additional Keystone Service to Harrisburg.