Archive for July, 2019

No Longer Standing in Summerhill

July 30, 2019

Earlier this summer workers removed the venerable Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals at Summerhill, Pennsylvania, on the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern.

But in October 2017, the signals were still alive and well although their future even then was in doubt.

The eastbound Pennsylvanian rushes through Summerhill en route to its next station stop in Altoona and its way to New York City.

Keystone Service Modified for Track Work

July 30, 2019

Track work in Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor has affected the schedules of some Keystone Service trains through Sept. 6.

On weekdays, Train 600 will operate five minutes later from Elizabethtown to Philadelphia. Train 648 will operate five minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and will arrive on time into Philadelphia.

Train 650 will operate five  minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and 1 minute earlier into Philadelphia.

On weekends, Train 612 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia while Train 670 will operate three minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

On weekdays, Train 641 will operate five minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and three minutes later into Harrisburg and Train 643 will operate four minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg.

Train 651 will operate four minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and will arrive on time into Harrisburg.

On weekend, Train 611 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg while Train 661 will operate 3 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg.

During the track work period there will be no boarding from Track 2 at Elizabethtown station.

Passengers traveling to Harrisburg will need to board on Track 1.

CP Nixes Hiawatha Expansion Without Illinois Siding

July 30, 2019

Canadian Pacific has said it won’t agree to any increase in Amtrak Hiawatha Service unless it gets infrastructure improvements in Illinois.

The railroad made its demands public by releasing a letter containing them that was written to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Release of the letter may have been the railroad’s way of expressing discontent with WisDOT announcing recently that it was moving ahead with expanded Hiawatha Service in the next two years.

WisDOT officials have said they planned to seek federal matching funds for infrastructure improvements in Wisconsin that would enable the addition of two additional roundtrips.

But CP said in the letter that improvements in Wisconsin alone won’t be enough to win the host railroad’s approval for the additional passenger trains.

Those improvements would expand track capacity in the Milwaukee terminal and at Muskego Yard.

“Should WisDOT do so, it does at its sole risk that there will be no additional Hiawatha train starts,” wrote C.E. Hubbard, CP’s director interline and passenger – South.

The letter said the the additional trains, “would unreasonably interfere with the adequacy, safety, and efficiency of our existing operations,”

CP is demanding that a freight holding track for CP freights that was proposed in suburban Chicago be part of any infrastructure plan for increasing Hiawatha Service.

The holding track between Glenview and Lake Forest triggered a political backlash that eventually prompted the Illinois Department of Transportation to decline to seek federal funding to build the track.

Additional track capacity was also proposed in the vicinity of Rondout, Illinois, where a Metra line diverges from the CP route to head to Fox Lake, Illinois.

“[T]hese improvements  . . . were identified by a joint team of stakeholders as necessary and required infrastructure to support any additional Hiawatha train starts,” Hubbard wrote. “Without these improvements, CP cannot support any additional Hiawathas in this corridor.”

South of Rondout Amtrak shares track with Metra and CP trains and the planned Hiawatha trains would operate during Metra’s rush hour when CP freights usually are sidelined.

Grade Crossing Crash Derails Amtrak’s Illini

July 30, 2019

A truck driver was killed and Amtrak’s southbound Illini derailed after a grade crossing collision Sunday afternoon in University Park, Illinois.

Two passengers aboard Amtrak Train 393 were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The train was reported to be traveling at 70 mph when it struck the truck at 5 p.m.

The lead Charger locomotive and five cars derailed. The train had 300 passengers and five crew members.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the crossing gates appeared to be working at the time of the crash.

The derailment blocked the Canadian National mainline and Amtrak’s southbound City of New Orleans was canceled as was the Monday morning departure of the southbound Saluki.

The northbound City terminated in Carbondale, Illinois, on Monday and passengers were taken by bus to Chicago or their intermediate stations.

The City departed as scheduled on Monday night. Also operating as scheduled on Monday were the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini.

Virgin Wants to Sell Bonds for Las Vegas Route

July 30, 2019

Virgin Trains USA is seeking approval of state authorities in California and Nevada to sell up to $3.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds for a proposed high-speed rail line linking Las Vegas and Southern California.

Virgin has submitted an application to California’s Debt Limit Allocation Committee to borrow $2.4 billion in unrated private activity bonds. The agency is expected to review the application in September.

The rail operator has also sought approval from Nevada authorities to sell $1.2 billion in bonds in that state.

It used bond sales to raise $1.75 billion to expand its existing intercity rail service in Florida, which currently operates between Miami and West Palm Beach that Virgin plans to extend to Orlando.

In the West, Virgin plans to initially operate between Las Vegas and Victorville, California, which is located 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.


FRA Wants Cameras in All Passenger Locomotives

July 28, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed requiring passenger train locomotives to have inward and outward facing video cameras.

The cameras would be operation while the lead locomotive of a train is in motion. Data recorded would be kept in a crash resistant module.

The data would be used to conduct operational tests to determine passenger railroad operating employees’ compliance with applicable railroad rules and federal regulations.

The proposed rule would label the cameras as “safety devices” under existing federal railroad safety regulations to prohibit tampering with or disabling them.

Public comment on the proposed rule is being taken through Sept. 23. Although the FRA does not plan to hold public hearings on the rule, it said that if enough people say by Aug. 23 that they have been unable to provide a written opinion by that date a hearing will be held.

No Time to Waste at Pesotum

July 26, 2019

A tardy southbound Saluki races past the former Illinois Central Railroad depot in Pesotum late on a Tuesday morning.

No. 391 had earlier met its northbound counterpart at Rantoul, where the southbound train was 24 minutes behind schedule.

It lost another 14 minutes between Rantoul and Champaign and by the time it reached DuQuoin it was 1 hour, 8 minutes down.

But through the “miracle” of recovery time, a.k.a. schedule padding, No. 391 pulled into Carbondale a mere 32 minutes late.

No passenger train has been scheduled to stop at the depot in Pesotum for several decades.

Restored Creston Station Opens Aug. 1

July 26, 2019

The new facility will be the newly restored Creston station at 116 W. Adams St.In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will use a historic waiting room, which has received ADA upgrades, including new doors. The station also has ADA-compliant parking and restrooms.

Passengers will still board from the same platform, which is now connected by a new pathway to the restored station, which will open 30 minutes prior to train arrival and close 30 minutes after departure.

CONO Skeds Adjusted For CN Track Work

July 26, 2019

Track work being performed by Canadian National will affect the operation of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans between July 29 and Aug. 2.

No. 58 will depart Jackson, Mississippi, during the period at 7:44 p.m., 2 hours later than normal and operate on a later schedule to Chicago.

Connecting buses from New Orleans to Jackson will operate two hours later at all stations.

Train No. 59 will depart Chicago at at 9:05 p.m., one hour later than normal, and operate on a later schedule at all stations from Chicago to Jackson.

Connecting buses from Jackson to New Orleans will operate an hour later at all stations between Jackson and New Orleans.

Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 8, Train 58 will originate in Memphis while No. 59 will terminate in Memphis. Both trains will operate on their normal schedule.

Alternative transportation will be provided between Memphis and Jackson but there will be no alternate transportation to the missed station stops in Mississippi at Marks, Greenwood and Yazoo City.

Track Work Affects Lincoln Service, Texas Eagle

July 26, 2019