Archive for July, 2020

NY Penn Station Waiting Area Renovated

July 28, 2020

Amtrak said it has completed the first phase of a renovation of its waiting area for ticketed passengers at Penn Station in New York.

The waiting area is located on the Amtrak Concourse on the Upper Level and 8th Avenue side of the Station.

The project involved installation of new furniture including seats with electrical and USB outlets to charge devices, an upgraded ceiling complete with new LED lighting, a new information desk and a second entrance in close proximity to the New Jersey Transit concourse, offering access towards the 7th Avenue side of the station.

A second phase of the $7.2 million project is underway and is expected to be completed by fall this year.

A temporary space to accommodate passengers during the construction will be near Tracks 13 and 14.

The renovation of the waiting areas began in 2017 as part of a plan to modernize Amtrak stations in the Northeast Corridor.

Other completed work to date includes the new LED lighting in the rotunda area, renovated restrooms, upgraded air conditioning, new furniture in the ClubAcela lounge and rebuilding of the tracks and other infrastructure.

Early Generation Pennsylvanian

July 24, 2020

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian has had a long and colorful history. It began on April 27, 1980, as a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia train funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

It was intended to replace, in part, the National Limited, which had been discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979, a move that ended intercity rail passenger service to Columbus and Dayton.

Extended to New York in October 1983, Nos. 46 and 47 got off to a slow start from a ridership perspective. But patronage soon took off and by 1994 the Pennsylvanian had become part of Amtrak’s basic network.

That would later change and for a time in the late 1990s the Pennsylvanian operated west of Pittsburgh via Cleveland.

But all of that was down the road when this image was made near Lewistown, Pennsylvania, on June 27, 1988.

The Pennsylvanian looked then like any other eastern corridor service train pulled by an F40PH with a string of Amfleet coaches and a cafe car trailing.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Track Work to Disrupt LSL Boston Section

July 24, 2020

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will disrupt operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited starting July 29.

Nos. 448 and 449 will not operate between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, and passengers will instead travel on a chartered bus.

Between July 29 and Aug. 1, passengers aboard No. 448 bound for points east of Albany will disembark at the Albany-Rensselaer station and board the bus.

Buses will stop at all stations except Framingham, Massachusetts. In a service advisory, Amtrak said that during the period there will be no alternative transportation to Framingham.

The buses also will not stop at Boston Back Bay station. Those bound for Back Bay are advised to disembark at South Station and ride an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train to Back Bay.

Between July 31 and Aug. 3, No. 449 will not originate in Boston. Instead, passengers will board a bus to catch their train at Albany-Rensseleaer.

However, the buses will not serve Boston Back Bay or Framingham.

Passengers boarding at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers boarding at Worcester, Massachusetts, will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. The buses will not board at the bus terminal.

During the service disruption period, there will be no business class or sleeping car service on Nos. 448 or 449.

Amtrak Tightens Rules on Mask Wearing

July 24, 2020

Amtrak this week tightened its rules pertaining to wearing masks aboard trains by threatening to remove and/or ban from travel those who fail to comply with its rules.

The intercity passenger carrier joined some airlines that have recently announced they will take similar actions against non-compliant passengers.

Although Amtrak last May began requiring that passengers wear masks, it has allowed those seated alone to remove their masks once seated.

Now it has tightened that rule by requiring all passengers wear masks aboard trains at all time unless they are in a sleeping car room.

In an announcement on its website Amtrak said it reserves the right to prohibit those violating the mask rules from traveling on the carrier again.

Work Starts on Newport News Transportation Center

July 24, 2020

A ground breaking ceremony was held this week in Newport News, Virginia, to mark the start of construction of a new transportation center that will replace the existing Amtrak station.

The $47 million project will be located at Bland Boulevard between Warwick Boulevard and Interstate 64.

The center, which is expected to open in summer 2022, will also serve Hampton Roads Transit buses, taxis and shuttles that serve Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

“This transformational project will provide the residents of Newport News and the surrounding area enhanced transportation options with much improved passenger rail and public transit services,” Newport News Mayor McKinley Price said in a news release.

The state is providing 44 percent of the project funding, enough to pay for the Amtrak service facility.

Local and regional funds will cover the remaining cost to construct the station building, parking and perform utility work.

Significant Delays Occur on VIA Trains

July 24, 2020

The remote service of VIA Rail Canada to Northern Quebec has experienced major service disruptions this week.

Nos. 601 and 603 that were to depart on Friday (July 24) from Montreal to Jonquiere and Senneterre were to have their departure delayed by nine hours.

All subsequent stops have also been delayed by nine hours meaning that the arrival in Jonquiere will be at 2:10 a.m. and in Senneterre at 4:40 a.m.

On Sunday (July 26), No. 606 will depart Sennterre at 10 p.m., with all stops 13 hours, 15 minutes later than usual, and No. 602 will depart Jonquiere at 12:30 a.m., with all subsequent stops 13 hours, 20 minutes later than usual.

VIA said the delays are “due to operational constraints . . . concerning the reduced speed of trains running during the day” imposed by host railroad Canadian National.

Last week the same trains were cancelled because of “operational constraints related to weather forecasts.”

Alaska Railroad to Curtail Passenger Service

July 24, 2020

The Alaska Railroad said this week it will shorten the operating season for one train and operate another train on fewer days.

The carrier said the changes stem from ridership declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coastal Classic, which operates between Anchorage and Seward, will end daily operations on Sept. 7, one week earlier than originally scheduled,

On Aug. 1, the Denali Star will end daily bi-directional service between Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks.

From Aug. 2 to Sept. 13, the Denali Star will run northbound service on Saturdays and Mondays. The southbound train will operate on Sundays and Tuesdays.

The Hurricane Turn flag stop train will continue to operate in combined service with the Denali Star.

Virgin Completes Laying Track at Orlando Airport

July 24, 2020

Virgin Trains USA has completed laying track at its terminal at the Orlando International Airport.

The project is part of a 170-mile extension from the current northern terminus on the service, formerly known as Brightline, at West Palm Beach, Florida.

The intercity carrier said it has laid 3.5 miles of track at the airport. That work was done in tandem with construction and remodeling that included a revision of the airport’s main entrance and a new south terminal.

Amtrak to Temporarily Cease Stopping in Homewood

July 23, 2020

As a Canadian National train works at nearby Markham Yard, Amtrak’s southbound Saluki calls at the Homewood station on Aug. 8, 2008.

Amtrak will suspend train service to Homewood, Illinois, starting July 27 due to a station construction project that will extend through next spring.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans and Chicago-Carbondale corridor trains will no longer stop in Homewood but alternative bus service will be provided between Homewood and Kankakee, Illinois.

During the construction project, which is expected to last through March 31, 2021, passenger traveling to Homewood from points south will disembark in Kankakee and ride a bus to Homewood.

Passengers would have boarded in Homewood for points south will board a bus in Kankakee and travel to Kankakee where they will board their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that during the construction the boarding platform will be closed and a temporary waiting room and restrooms will be established near the station building.

Portions of the station parking lot will be closed for construction stating.

No alternative transportation is being provided between Chicago Union Station and Homewood.

However, Metra Electric trains will continue to operate between Homewood and the Millenium station in downtown Chicago.

The Amtrak charter buses operating between Homewood and Kankakee will have numbers corresponding to their connection trains: 4058, 4059, 4390 and 4393.

Although Amtrak does not provide local service between Homewood and Chicago, it does allow passengers to board in Homewood if they are connecting to other Amtrak trains at Union Station.

Such passengers may either board Amtrak in Kankakee or in Joliet, Illinois, to begin their journey to Chicago Union Station and a connection with another Amtrak train.

Contract Awarded for WUS Project

July 23, 2020

Work will begin on a construction project at Washington Union Station that Amtrak said will not affect scheduled train operations.

The project will increase the rail capacity at WUS and is known as the Track 22 Reconstruction Project.

Amtrak awarded a contract to Skanska USA Civil Northeast to oversee the rebuilding of the  platform, restoring historic columns, and constructing a new covered walkway to provide customer access to the platform via a new elevator, escalator, and stairs to the station.

In a news release, Amtrak said the track was previously used for equipment storage.

Funding is being provided in part by a $19 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.

The project is expected to be completed in 2022.