Archive for September, 2022

Mendota Station Platform Being Renovated

September 30, 2022

Platform construction at the Amtrak station in Mendota, Illinois, will result in limited parking at the station for awhile.

The work got underway this week and heavy construction equipment is using some of the parking spaces.

The station remains open for passengers boarding the Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg and Southwest Chief.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said portions of the platform have been removed from service. It did not say when the work would be completed.

Passengers are urged to allow additional time to find parking and walk to the boarding area.

Amtrak is encouraging passengers at Mendota to arrange for pick-up and drop-off service, if possible.

Palmetto Suspended due to Hurricane Ian

September 30, 2022

Amtrak has suspended operations of the New-York Savannah, Georgia, Palmetto due to Hurricane Ian.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said No. 89 did not operate south of Washington on Thursday and will do so again today. Service south of Washington is suspended.

Earlier in the week, Amtrak had announced that the Auto Train and Silver Star would be suspended through Friday over the entirety of their routes.

The service advisory, which was posted on Thursday morning, did not indicated which of these trains might resume operating on Saturday.

Final Design Work Begins for Twin Cities Train

September 30, 2022

Efforts to add a second Amtrak train between Chicago and Twin Cities region of Minnesota have entered the final design phase.

Public comment on the project is being accepted. The train would follow the route of the existing Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder. Hearings are expected to be held this fall on the project.

Final design work is expected to be completed in mid-2023 with the train beginning operation in 2024 or earlier.

That work will describe infrastructure improvements that are needed to the route, which largely uses track of Canadian Pacific.

Funding of $53 million is being provided from federal, state, and Amtrak to improve track, signals, and grade crossings.

Funds Released for Amtrak Stop Development

September 30, 2022

Funding for a passenger station project in Lexington, North Carolina, has been released and work on the project is expected to get underway.

The $24.9 million grant from the federal BUILD grant program was announced in 2020, but red tape held up release of the funds.

Creating an Amtrak stop in Lexington has been under discussion for 20 years.

The project will involved constructing two boarding platforms, renovation of the historic freight depot as an interim passenger station, a vehicle tunnel under the tracks at Fifth Avenue, track improvements, and closing the at-grade rail crossing at Seventh Avenue.

The project is expected to cost $57 million. Additional funding is being contributed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the City of Lexington.

New reports indicated construction is not expected to begin for another two years because the project involves right-of-way purchases, structure demolition, final design and plan review.

City officials said “there is an opportunity to begin renovation of the station site prior to construction of the track and grade separation work as funding becomes available prior to 2025.” 

Lexington is located between High Point and Salisbury and would be served by Amtrak’s Piedmont Service.

Longview Amtrak Station Renovated

September 30, 2022

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held earlier this month to mark the completion of renovation of the Amtrak station in Longview, Texas.

The $5 million project brought the depot, used by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle, into compliance with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The station also hosts Amtrak Thruway bus service to Galveston, Texas, via Houston and Nacogdoches

Built in 1940 by the Texas & Pacific Railway, the Longview station provides a passenger waiting and ticketing area.

Workers removed the asphalt boarding platform and replaced it with a new 810-foot concrete platform with guardrails, mobile lift enclosure, and energy efficient LED lighting.

New station signs were installed and access to the station was improved.

Report Urges Restoration of VIA Train

September 30, 2022

A recent report concluded there is a “critical need” for VIA Rail Canada to provide commuter train service in the Kingston-Toronto corridor of Ontario.

The report was based on a survey of residents of the counties of Northumberland and Hastings, and the cities of Quinte West, Belleville and Kingston.

The report called for restoring VIA train 651, which was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ridership of that train could exceed pre-pandemic levels if it is restored, the report said.

Commuter ridership is expected to not only return to pre-pandemic levels but is expected to increase significantly from previous years.

“Our report confirms that 96 percent of pre-COVID users would return to this service, with 31 percent of all survey respondents identifying as new users eager to access this service. The data suggests that if VIA Train 651 returns, ridership levels will be stronger than pre-pandemic use,” said Bob Sanderson, Northumberland County Councilor and Chair of the Economic Development, Planning and Tourism Committee.

“The labor force in Eastern Ontario is stronger than pre-pandemic levels and our population is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the province. Our workforce needs this rail service as an alternative to costly vehicle use and residents want to make a responsible choice when it comes to the environment.”

Amtrak Extends Suspensions of Florida Trains

September 28, 2022

In a service advisory posted on Tuesday, Amtrak has extended the suspension of its Auto Train and Silver Star through Saturday.

The suspensions began Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Ian, which was expected to make landfall on the west coast of Florida.

The latest advisory said the New York-Miami Silver Star is cancelled over the entirety of its route through Saturday.

The Auto Train, which operates between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida, is cancelled in its entirety through Friday.

Amtrak said passengers affected by the service cancellations will be accommodated on other trains and the carrier will waive any fees for reservation changes.

Florida Trains Cancelled Ahead of Storm

September 27, 2022

Amtrak has cancelled departures of two trains in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Ivan in Florida and the Southeast.

The passenger carrier said the Silver Star and Auto Train would not leave their respective terminals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Silver Star operates between New York and Miami while the Auto Train operates between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida.

The Silver Star that left New York on Monday was to terminate in Jacksonville, Florida, on, Tuesday morning and originate there on Tuesday evening.

The Silver Star will not operate over any portion of its route southbound on Wednesday or northbound on Thursday.

The Auto Train will not depart either of its terminals on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

An Amtrak service advisory said additional train cancellations may be made later in the week depending on how much damage the storm causes.

Checked Bag Service Suspended on 2 Trains

September 24, 2022

Amtrak is suspending checked baggage service on two medium-distance trains through mid-November.

In a service advisory, the carrier cited a lack of equipment for suspending checked baggage service on the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and the New York-Charlotte Carolinian. The move also affects checked bicycle service.

The suspension of checked baggage service will begin on the Pennsylvanian on Oct. 3. No date was given for when checked baggage service will be suspended for the Carolinian.

Amtrak said it expects to resume checked baggage service and trainside checked bike services on or about Nov. 17.

“We will continue to re-assess equipment plans and update the plan for the winter,” the notice said.

The Rail Passengers Association said Amtrak’s notice doesn’t answer some questions, including whether it was prompted by the need for major maintenance of Viewliner baggage cars, a shortage of mechanical department workers, or having to re-assign equipment to other routes where the host railroad has imposed minimum axle counts.

On some corridor routes that have minimum axle counts requirements imposed by Canadian National, Viewliner baggage cars have been used to meet the axle count requirements.

Amtrak Overhauling Interiors of Passenger Cars

September 24, 2022

Amtrak has launched a media campaign to tout a $28 million project to overhaul the interiors of Superliner and Viewliner cars used by long-distance trains.

Some of the renovated cars are being placed in service this month.

The first overhauls are being made to Superliner cars with Viewliner sleeping cars expected to be overhauled next.

The project involves giving the cars new seat cushions and upholstery; carpeting; curtains; LED lighting; tables; bedding, linens, and pillows; towels; and updated toiletry dispensers with eco-friendly body wash, conditioner, shampoo and soap.