Archive for August, 2022

2 Wolverine Service Trains to be Suspended

August 27, 2022

Amtrak Wolverine Service No. 350 gets onto the Michigan Line in Porter, Indiana, en route to Pontiac, Michigan, in February 2022.

Amtrak is citing equipment and personnel shortages for suspending two Wolverine Service trains next week until mid-September.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 350 and 355 between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) would be suspended starting Aug. 29 and continuing through Sept. 16.

No. 350 is the early morning departure from Chicago while No. 355 is the late afternoon departure from Pontiac.

No alternative service is being provided for the suspended trains. Amtrak said Nos. 350 and 355 will resume operating on Sept. 17.

The suspensions will not affect operations of Wolverine Service Trains 351, 352, 353 and 354.

Amtrak has attributed various Midwest corridor service suspensions this summer to a shortage of equipment and personnel.

Among the trains suspended for a few days to more than a week have been the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois; and two Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis.

Since January the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor have been suspended and no date has been announced as to when those trains will be restored.

Amtrak ADA Station Project Completed in Macomb; Launched in Burlington, Ottumwa

August 27, 2022

Work was recently completed in Macomb, Illinois, to bring the city’s Amtrak station into compliance with ADA standards.

In a related development, station projects have gotten underway in Iowa in Burlington and Ottumwa to achieve the same result.

A ceremony was held Aug. 24 in Macomb to celebrate completion of the $2.7 million station renovation.

Amtrak uses a depot in Macomb built by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in 1913.

An Amtrak news release said the work in Macomb included construction of a 300-foot-long boarding platform, with a central area comprised of brick pattern-stamped concrete surface and an embedded hydronic snowmelt tubing system, connected to existing manifolds and a new boiler in the basement level of the station building.

The platform was given a detectable warning surface, guardrails, trench drain, LED lighting, new signs and a mobile lift enclosure. Ramps were built to connect the boarding platform to the station doors facing the platform.

Macomb is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr.

In Burlington, work will include construction of new accessible walkways connecting the platform with the sidewalk at East Calhoun Street and North Randolph Street.

Exterior improvements to the CB&Q station, which was built in 1944, include two new 700-foot-long boarding platforms with rehabilitated canopies and structure, new station signs, mobile lift enclosures, energy efficient LED lighting, and guardrails.

Accessible pathways will provide improved connections from the existing station building to the platform and the various access points on the site.

In Ottumwa the work involves renovation of a CB&Q station built in 1951. The project will include construction of two 1,200-foot-long boarding platforms with the rehabilitation of the existing canopy and structure, new station signs, a mobile lift enclosure, energy efficient LED lighting, and guardrails.

The station will be renovated to include ADA compliant restrooms and a ticket counter. The two entrances to the station will be upgraded with power operated doors and an ADA compliant path to existing parking spaces and city streets.

Ottumwa and Burlington are served by Amtrak’s California Zephyr which operates between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay.

College Move-in Days to Disrupt Thruways

August 27, 2022

Amtrak Thruway bus service in San Luis Obispo, California, will be affected by road closures on Sept. 13 and 14 as students at Cal Poly University return to campus.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said some Thruway buses on those days will be unable to reach the Cal Poly stop or PAC Loop between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. when students will be moving into the school’s residence halls.

Affected on Sept. 13 will be buses 4010, 4015, 4761, 4765, 4770, 4784, 4785, 4794, 6238 and 6241. Affected on Sept. 14 will be Thruway Buses 4010, 4015, 4761, 4765, 4784, 4794, 6238 and 6241.

Amtrak said all Thruway service will run normally at the San Luis Obispo station stop on both days.

Officials Inspect Massachusetts Route That May See Additional Boston-Albany Amtrak Trains

August 27, 2022

Amtrak and Massachusetts officials recently inspected the passenger carrier’s route between Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts as part of a study of possible expansion of intercity rail service.

Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s CEO, said the passenger carrier is considering increasing service in the corridor, which now has just one pair of trains, the Chicago-Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Gardner and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary James Tesler, and U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) inspected the route from aboard an Amtrak business car.

In interviews with local news media, Gardner said the trip’s purpose was to see what work needs to be done to upgrade the route.

Gardner said Amtrak is considering continuing some trains that now terminate in Springfield eastward to Boston.

Massachusetts officials want to see Amtrak add two new trains between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

CSX owns most of that route but as part of its acquisition of Pan Am Railways pledged to cooperate with Amtrak and the state in making line improvements.

Those would include building additional track and station platforms among other work.

The Massachusetts state legislature has approved a $275 million bond authorization to be used to fund route infrastructure work.

Lawmakers also created a commission to create a passenger rail authority by March 2023.

Gardner Signs CEO Diversity & Inclusion Pledge

August 27, 2022

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner has signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge.

An Amtrak news release said the pledge seeks to cultivate diverse perspectives and experiences.

Company leaders signing the pledge agree to implement it within their respective workplaces and to support companies doing the same.

Amtrak said it will focus its efforts in four areas including supporting an open dialogue on “complex and sometimes difficult” diversity and inclusion conversations; expanding awareness of unconscious biases; sharing best practices and unsuccessful actions; and establishing accountability.

Amtrak said it has eight employee resource groups that it said “aim to foster connections and create a sense of belonging for employees.”

Rushing Through Arcola

August 24, 2022

Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Saluki rushes through Arcola, Illinois, and past the town’s massive grain elevator complex on Canadian National’s Champaign Subdivision. On the point is SC-44 Charger No. 4619. The train was running about 20 minutes late and incurred another short delay at Tuscola due to Union Pacific running a train across the diamonds. When the Amtrak locomotive engineer reported the delay to the CN rail traffic controller, he replied that he told his UP counterpart not to run a work train out in front of Amtrak. “But I guess they don’t care about that,” the CN dispatcher said.

Hudson Station Lot to Close for Repaving

August 24, 2022

The parking lot at the Amtrak station in Hudson, New York, will be closed starting Sept. 5 as part of a paving project.

All vehicles must be moved from the lot by that date or be subject to being towed at the owner’s expense.

In a service advisory Amtrak said it expects the lot to reopen by Oct. 10. Alternative parking is available across the street in a lot operated by the City of Hudson.

The fee to park there is $10 per 24 hours. Hudson is located on Amtrak’s Empire Corridor.

Agency Chooses Consultant for Rail Project

August 24, 2022

An agency seeking to restore intercity rail passenger service between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania, has chosen a Washington consulting firm to oversee those efforts.

The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority hired Transportation for America. It was one of two firms to bid on the job.

The proposed 55-mile route if it comes to fruition is expected to be operated by Amtrak and have intermediate stops in Norristown and Phoenixville.

Personnel Issues Hinder Midwest Corridor Trains

August 23, 2022

Amtrak cited a shortage of personnel for combining two Michigan trains on Sunday that operated hours late as a result.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the Blue Water to Port Huron, Michigan, was combined with Wolverine Service No. 354 as far as Battle Creek, Michigan.

The combined train left Chicago at 6:31 p.m., which was 2.5 hours late for the Blue Water and 41 minutes late for No. 354.

By the time the combined train reached Battle Creek at 10:38 p.m., the lateness had stretched to three hours for the Blue Water, which maintained that lateness level to Port Huron.

Amtrak cited “mechanical issues” on its Twitter feed as causing the delayed departures.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains that the situation was aggravated by a shortage of personnel.

It was among the latest of a series of disruptions to Amtrak’s Midwest corridor services that have occurred this summer.

The Trains report noted that the Illinois Zephyr to Quincy, Illinois, was cancelled last week after an employee assigned to the run became unavailable an hour before departure time.

Passengers instead rode buses between Chicago and Quincy. The cancellations stretched out through Friday and affected four runs of the train.

Earlier, Amtrak cited equipment shortages for suspending one Lincoln Service roundtrip between Chicago and St. Louis.

Magliari told Trains that the suspended Lincoln Service trains will be restored on Aug. 24.

My First Look at an ALC-42 Charger

August 22, 2022

Shown above is the first of what I expect to be dozens if not hundreds of photographs of Amtrak trains pulled by Siemens-built ALC-42 Charger locomotives.

The City of New Orleans is just under an hour late as it rips through Humboldt, Illinois, on the Champaign Subdivision of Canadian National with No. 304 in charge.

Amtrak began phasing the new Charger locomotives into revenue service last spring on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder. The CONO was the second train to receive the units.

However, not all CONO train sets have the ALC-42s. The day before this image was made, the northbound CONO was pulled by a P42DC.

Over the next few years the ALC-42 units will replace P42 and P40 locomotives on long-distance and select corridor service trains. In the Midwest, corridor trains have been pulled for the past three to four years by Siemens-built SC-44 Chargers.

The ALC-42s have introduced Amtrak’s Phase VII livery, which features a dark blue carbody with red accenting and white stripes.

Perhaps in time I’ll become as tired of seeing this livery and locomotive as I’ve come to be with seeing the P42DC in action in the Phase V scheme. But that day is years away for now.