Archive for April, 2022

On Board Friends?

April 27, 2022

I don’t know if these two guys know each other or not. They were chatting by the vestibule of the first eastbound Pennsylvanian to stop in Cleveland on Nov. 7, 1998. It was an extended stop in order to accommodate a welcome ceremony. The conductor is George Sanders. I never did learn the identity of the other guy or even if he was a passenger aboard the train or just talking with the conductor as the train stood on display in the station.

Greenwood Station Renovations Completed

April 27, 2022

Renovation of the Amtrak station in Greenwood, Mississippi, was recently completed.

The $5.4 million project brings the station into compliance with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The work included building a new concrete platform, renovating the waiting room to include drinking fountains and new bench seating, and constructing two ramps from the parking lot.

The City of Greenwood redesigned a sidewalk along Carrollton Avenue to improve pedestrian access.

Greenwood is served by the City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

In a news release, Amtrak said it has completed 168 ADA-related projects with 20 stations being brought into ADA compliance in fiscal year 2021 at a cost of $85 million.

Work is underway or about to begin at another 41 stations are in the current fiscal year at an estimated cost of $125 million.

Auto Train to Run Hour Later Starting May 2

April 27, 2022

Amtrak plans to change the schedule of the Auto Train on May 2.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that the Auto Train will arrive and depart its terminals in Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida, one hour later. Trains 52 and 53 will be rescheduled to depart at 5 p.m. and arrive at 9:59 a.m. at both terminals.

Check-in for all vehicle types begins at 12:30 p.m. and closes at 3 p.m. Station hour will now be 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at both terminals.

The service advisory did not give a reason for the schedule change.

Hartford Line Service Restored

April 27, 2022

Full Amtrak service has been restored to the Hartford Line.

On April 25 Amtrak resumed operating at pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels on the route, which connects Springfield, Massachusetts, with New Haven, Connecticut, via Hartford.

Resuming service were two weekday trains, one Saturday train and four Sunday trains.

The line also hosts CTrail service of 29 weekday frequencies between New Haven and Springfield. Weekend CTrail service is nine trains on Saturdays and 12 on Sundays.

In a news release, the Connecticut Department of Transportation said service levels are increasing because ridership is also increasing as people are returning to work and travel more for business and pleasure.

Colorado Passenger Agency Holds 1st Meeting

April 27, 2022

A Colorado agency formed to promote the development of intercity rail passenger service along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains has held its first meeting.

The agency, the Front Range Passenger Rail District board, was created 2021 and plans to use funding from state and federal sources.

Currently the board is working toward building support for a referendum that will seek voter approval to of funding to develop and build the rail service that will serve 13 counties.

Board Chairman Jim Souby noted that any rail expansion plans must undergo an environmental review process that can take five or more years.

Pa. Counties Seek to Form Rail Passenger Agency

April 27, 2022

Public officials in two Pennsylvania counties have suggested creating an agency that would work toward restoration of rail passenger service between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania.

If a third county agrees to join, the proposed Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority will be formed.

Thus far officials in Berks and Montgomery counties have agreed to join the proposed Authority.

Officials in Chester County are scheduled to vote on the proposal this week.

The authority would seek competitive infrastructure funding and to work with Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and other agencies.

It would have a nine-member board that would include members of the county commissions, planning commissions, other agencies, and local mayors.

Amtrak has proposed in its Amtrak Connects US plan operating up to three daily roundtrips between Reading and New York via Philadelphia.

Track Work to Affect Empire Service Schedules

April 22, 2022
The westbound Maple Leaf is about to arrive at Buffalo Depew station in July 2011.

Track work being performed in New York state will result in schedule changes for Empire Service trains and the Maple Leaf.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the work is occurring between Niagara Falls, New York, and Hoffmans.

The new schedules take effect April 25 and will remain in place through Oct. 23.

The eastbound Maple Leaf will depart Niagara Falls at its normal time of 12:17 p.m., with intermediate station adjustments from Buffalo Exchange to Albany-Rensselaer, where it is expected to arrive on its regular schedule.

Train 280 will depart Niagara Falls at 3:42 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than normal, with intermediate station adjustments from Niagara Falls to Rome. It will depart Utica on its regular schedule.

Train 284 will depart Niagara Falls at 6:31 a.m., 16 minutes earlier than normal, with intermediate station adjustments from Niagara Falls to Rome. It will depart Utica on it regular schedule.

The westbound Maple Leaf  will depart Albany-Rensselaer at 10:10 a.m., 10 minutes later than normal, with intermediate station adjustments between Albany and Niagara Falls for an arrival at the latter 25 minutes later than scheduled.

Train 281 will depart Rochester at 5:24 p.m., five minutes later than normal, with intermediate station adjustments between Rochester and Niagara Falls. It will arrive in Niagara Falls 10 minutes later than scheduled.

Train 283 will depart Syracuse at 6:49 p.m., five minutes later than normal, with intermediate station adjustments between Syracuse and Niagara Falls. It will arrive in Niagara Falls 15 minutes later than scheduled.

Inspection Train Examines Baton Route Route

April 22, 2022

An inspection train ran this week on the Baton Rouge-New Orleans corridor, a move seen as a first step toward creating intercity rail passenger service there.

The train included equipment provided by host railroad Kansas City Southern, which has fought past efforts to establish passenger service between the two cities.

Canadian Pacific has proposed to merge with KCS and has pledged to allow Amtrak to provide a single round trip between the two cities without the need for significant infrastructure improvement.

The route last had passenger service in 1969 and efforts to revive revive passenger service on the route have been ongoing for the past 20 years.

The route will in time need some work, including construction of a new bridge over the Bonne Carre Spillway west of where the KCS line joins the Canadian National route used by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans.

A Trains magazine report said the pace of the train was leisurely in part so that officials on board could get a good look at the route’s infrastructure. Among those onboard were Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Federal Railroad Administration head Amit Bose, CP CEO Keith Creel, KCS CEO Pat Ottensmeyer, and Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner.

VIA Outlines Environmental Goals

April 22, 2022

VIA Rail Canada said it is working toward having about 90 percent of its proposed High Frequency Rail route between Toronto and Quebec City be electrified.

VIA CEO Cynthia Garneau told the Montreal Gazette that this is more than a written goal.

Some segments near urban areas in which VIA uses the tracks of other railroads will continue to see trains pulled by non-electric power.

The electrification is part of a five-year sustainability plan VIA recently released.

In a news release, VIA said it has reviewed its policies, practices and priorities in preparation for the creation of a sustainability plan.

By 2025 VIA will seek to offer zero-waste trains in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor; train all employees in sustainability practices; align 80 percent of community investments with the priorities of this sustainability plan; and  reach 80 percent integration of the responsible sourcing policy by suppliers.

By 2020 VIA will seek to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent or more by 2030.

The High Frequency Rail project involves separate, passenger-only rights-of-way on parts of the corridor.

Although the Canadian government has funded various studies of the proposal it has yet to agree to fund it. The projected cost of the project is C$12 billion.

Earlier this year the government said it would seek private-sector involvement in the project.

On its Way to the Station

April 20, 2022

Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Lincoln Service No. 302 is just moments away from making its station stop in Springfield, Illinois, as it rolls along down South Third Street. No. 302 is the second northbound of the day out of St. Louis for Chicago. Today’s consist is a pure Horizon Fleet offering. The photo was made on March 1, 2022.