Archive for March, 2022

Morning on the Lake Shore Limited

March 30, 2022

The westbound Lake Shore Limited rolls into Waterloo, Indiana, at almost 9:30 a.m. on March 20. The side of the train reflects the rising sunshine. The consist was three Viewliner sleepers, five Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, Viewliner dining car for sleeping car passengers, and a Viewliner baggage car.

Amtrak to Cease Serving Michigan City

March 30, 2022

Amtrak plans to end service at Michigan City, Indiana, on April 4.

In a service advisory Amtrak advised passers to instead travel to New Buffalo, Michigan, to board its trains or travel to Chicago via the South Shore Line, which offers commute rail service throughout the day.

The service advisory did not give a reason for why service to Michigan City is being dropped.

Michigan City lies on the route used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) but not all trains stop there.          

Eastbound, Wolverine Service Nos. 350 and 354 stop in Michigan City while the only westbound train to stop there is No. 355.

Amtrak’s Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water, and Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette also pass through Michigan City without stopping.

The Michigan City boarding platform is located near the former Michigan Central passenger station.

Amtrak Rejects Gulf Coast Case Mediation

March 30, 2022

Amtrak has opposed a request by CSX and Norfolk Southern that the Gulf Coast case be settled through mediation.

The passenger carrier called mediation yet another delaying tactic by the host railroads.

CSX and NS recently asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to order mediation in the case, which Amtrak brought in March 2021 in an effort to force the host railroads to allow new intercity rail passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

Amtrak asked the STB to delay any action on mediation until after the Board conducts an evidentiary hearing in early April.

In a filing dated March 28, Amtrak said it agreed with CSX and NS that “an amicable resolution of this matter may be possible,” but the move to mediation is “yet another attempt to further delay a process that has already been delayed far too long.

“At the very least the motion is premature in as much as it presumes that the building of infrastructure is necessary for Amtrak to resume the Gulf Coast service, and therefore necessary for the parties to negotiate over.”

The evidentiary hearing has been set for April 4-5.

Biden Wants Increase in Transportation Spending

March 30, 2022

The Biden administration has proposed increasing funding on railroad and public transit programs in federal fiscal year 2023 in a $5.79 trillion budget proposal.

The administration sent its budget recommendations to Congress this week.

Biden proposed spending $105 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation along with another $37 billion in advance appropriations provided for by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The budget calls for $4.66 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration. The agency received $2.86 billion in the past two fiscal years.

Amtrak would get $3 billion, including $1.8 billion for the national network and $1.2 billion for the Northeast Corridor.

The Federal Transit Administration would receive $16.87 billion, which includes $300 million for rail car replacement.

Some funding in the proposed FTA budget would cover work on the Portal North Bridge replacement project in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and $100 for engineering work on the Hudson Tunnels project between New York City and New Jersey.

Other notable transportation funding includes $2.85 billion for Capital Investment Grants, $500 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grants, $555 million for the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program, $245 million for the Railroad Crossing Elimination program, and $1.5 billion for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grants and the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance Grant program,

The figures for those programs do not include funding authorized by the infrastructure act approved last year. All funding proposals are subject to congressional approval.

Congressman Seeks Return of Laredo Service

March 28, 2022

The eastbound and westbound Texas Eagle meet in Fort Worth on March 15, 2005

Bring back the Inter-American. That might be the rally cry of Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) after a recent meeting with Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner to seek restoration of intercity rail service between San Antonio and Laredo, Texas.

Cuellar told news reporters in Texas that funding for the service could come from the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

News reports indicated that developing the San Antonio-Laredo corridor could cost up to $12 billion.

Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle is the ancestor of the Inter-American, which began service between Fort Worth, Texas, and Laredo on Jan. 27, 1973, on a tri-weekly schedule.

The northern terminus of the Inter-American was extended to St. Louis on March 13, 1974, and to Chicago on Oct. 31, 1976.

Service was discontinued between San Antonio and Laredo on Oct. 1, 1981, as a result of an Amtrak budget cut.

Cuellar has talked about the new service to Laredo connecting with a proposed service between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, Mexico.

That would be a resurrection of sorts of the original mission of the Inter-American, which was created in response to a congressional mandate to Amtrak to create three international routes.

Amtrak never operated the Inter-American into Mexico or had any through car arrangement across the border. There were ground transportation options at times for passengers connecting between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.

Eventually, the connection was broken when schedule changes to the Inter-American and Mexico’s Aztec Eagle resulted in Amtrak arriving after the Mexican train had departed Neuvo Laredo.

The Amtrak Connects US plan released last year does not call for a new corridor between San Antonio and Laredo.

NEC Schedules Change Today

March 28, 2022

Amtrak on Monday (March 28) changed several schedules of trains serving the Northeast Corridor.

In a service advisory the passenger carrier said the changes were due to track and infrastructure work being made along the corridor.

Scheduled departure and arrival times of Acela and Northeast Regional trains may change by three to 10 minutes in both directions between Boston and Washington.

Acela 2152 will replace the 2150, operating approximately one hour later. All Acela trains will depart Washington 10 minutes before the hour.

Burlington Service to Start in July

March 28, 2022

Amtrak is planning to begin service to Burlington, Vermont, in July.

The service is an extension of the state-funded Ethan Allen Express, which operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has been working to get Amtrak into Burlington, the state’s largest city, for the past decade.

The Burlington area is served by the Vermonter, which terminates in nearby St. Albans, Vermont. The Vermonter operates to Washington.

A new station is being established in downtown Burlington and will be a short walk from the Lake Champlain waterfront tourist district.

VTrans said the Vermonter carries about 100,000 riders a year while the Ethan Allen Express, handles about 50,000 riders a year.

The extended Ethan Allen will have intermediate stops in Vergennes and Middlebury.

Burlington last had intercity rail passenger service in 1955.

NS, CSX Seek Mediation in Gulf Coast Case

March 28, 2022

The Gulf Coast Amtrak service dispute may be headed to mediation.

CSX and Norfolk Southern want the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to appoint a mediator to help them resolve their dispute with Amtrak over the latter’s efforts to start passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

Amtrak more than a year ago brought a case before the STB seeking an order forcing the would-be host railroads to allow the service to begin.

The parties have been at odds over the level of infrastructure improvements that are needed to the route to accommodate passenger service.

Regulators held public hearings in February and are set to conduct an evidentiary hearing in early April.

If the STB appoints a mediator, all parties would have to accept whatever resolution of the dispute the mediator enables the parties to reach.

Amtrak Sued Over Missouri Onboard Shooting

March 28, 2022

The onboard shooting death of an Amtrak passenger in Missouri last January has led to a lawsuit against the passenger carrier.

The family of Richie Terell Aaron Jr. is seeking at least $100 million in the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Missouri.

Aaron, 30, was shot aboard a westbound Missouri River Runner train on Jan. 14 during the station stop in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Police two weeks later apprehended Marquise Webb, 21, of Kansas City, Missouri, who has been charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with Aaron’s shooting.

Webb also faces charges of unlawful weapon use and vehicle hijacking for allegedly carjacking a vehicle to flee the shooting scene.

The lawsuit alleges that Amtrak allowed the train to continue to the next station stop of Independence, Missouri, despite pleas from some passengers to seek immediate medical attention for Aaron.

Amtrak is also cited in the lawsuit for failure to provide security measures to prevent firearms from being brought on board.

The passenger carrier has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

See the Horizon in Glenview

March 26, 2022

Milwaukee-bound Hiawatha Service No. 334 has an all Horizon equipment consists as it prepares to depart Glenview, Illinois. Note the differing liveries of the two coaches. On the point is a GE-built P32-8 locomotive.