CN Won’t Allow Amtrak to Extend Nos. 58/59

Amtrak has been pressing Canadian National without success to allow the City of New Orleans to operate as far south as Hammond, Louisiana, or Macomb, Mississippi.

For a few weeks Nos. 58 and 59 have been operating between Chicago and Jackson, Mississippi, after CN banned operation of the train over the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway in an effort to mitigate the effects of flooding in the region.

However, CN freight trains have continued to operate over the spillway. This is not the first time that CN has not allowed Amtrak trains to operate over the spillway while it was open.

While the spillway is open Amtrak passengers bound for points south of Jackson have been riding a chartered bus.

The Rail Passengers Association said it has learned CN has denied Amtrak requests to allow the City of New Orleans to operate farther south.

However, the railroad has apparently agreed to allow Amtrak to operate the City to New Orleans and across the spillway if no passengers were on board.

Although CN has cited safety concerns for its not allowing the City to operate with passengers over the spillway while it is open, RPA speculated CN”s behavior might be rooted in negative public attention that it has received following Amtrak’s posting of report cars on its website in which it grades host railroads on their on-time performance.

RPA noted that CN received a D- on the latest report card.

In a service advisory posted on the Amtrak website, the carrier said the use of buses between Jackson and New Orleans would continue “until further notice.”

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