Archive for October, 2022

When Amtrak Had Alcos

October 30, 2022

We usually don’t think of Amtrak for operating Alco locomotive. Most of Amtrak’s road power has been built by EMD or General Electric.

However, the passenger carrier did have an Alco fleet that it used for work train service. Amtrak at one time had 45 RS3 road switchers on its roster.

Three of the Amtrak work train Alcos were rebuilt with EMD engines. All of the Amtrak Alco have since been retired by the passenger carrier.

No. 110 was built in May 1952 for the New York Central. Shown in New Haven, Connecticut in 1977, it was retired by Amtrak in April 1980.  

Valley Flyer to Continue to Run

October 30, 2022

An experimental Amtrak service in Massachusetts will become permanent.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Amtrak said last week that the Valley Flyer will continue to operate between Greenfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut.

The train currently runs twice on weekdays and once on Saturday and Sunday. The Flyer began on Aug. 30, 2019, for a two-year trial.

The frequency of service was cut during the COVID-19 pandemic but restored to its current level on July 19, 2021.

Ridership continues below pre-pandemic levels, but has met projections and matched the Northeast Corridor in terms of return to pre-pandemic performance.

Officials said ridership is now projected to be 24,000 in fiscal year 2023.

Amtrak Changing Adverse Conditions Practices

October 29, 2022

Amtrak Wolverine Service No. 351 gets onto the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Porter, Indiana, on Oct. 23

In the wake of an incident involving a Wolverine Service train in early October, Amtrak said it is changing its policies for handling situations in which trains suffer severe mechanical issues that adversely affects passenger comfort.

Amtrak said it will seek to get passengers off trains that lack heating, air conditioning, electricity, and working toilets whether that involves moving the train to the nearest station or finding other transportation.

“We need to get people off these trains as soon as possible when the comfort systems aren’t working properly,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told “That’s a strong position that we have.”

MLive, which also publishes newspapers in Michigan and is owned by Advance Publications, the same company that owns The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, reported that Amtrak president Roger Harris sent an email message this week to passengers who were aboard Train 351 on Oct. 7 to apologize for the conditions they experienced.

“The service fell far short of what we hold ourselves accountable for and that we promise to deliver to our customers and our partners at the State of Michigan,” Harris wrote.

On Oct. 7, Train 351 suffered numerous mechanical issues while en route, including a locomotive failure that knocked out head-end power to the passenger cars.

News reports said several passengers fled the train in East Chicago, Indiana, as it waited for a new crew after the original crew exceeded the federal hours of service rule.

Those passengers opened doors, walked across active railroad tracks and waded through tall grass to reach a nearby highway where they summoned ride sharing services to pick them up.

Train 351 eventually reached Chicago Union Station shortly after midnight, just over 13.5 hours late.

By then it had been combined with Wolverine Service Train 353, which was operating three hours behind it.

Harris said in his email the crew made “well-intentioned efforts” to keep the train going but Amtrak should have canceled the service and provided alternative transportation.

Magliari told told MLive that buses were not available “because of insufficient vehicles, drivers or both.”

The MLive story said Amtrak plans to streamline service recovery efforts by setting up an operation center in Delaware.

“Instead of having regional decision making, which could vary depending on which part of the country you’re in, our effort here is to consolidate it and make it consistent and make it accountable,” Magliari said.

Amtrak refunded the fares of about 400 passengers on Trains 351 and 353 that day while Harris offered them a $100 travel credit.

“I hope that you will consider riding on Amtrak again soon, and I would like to repeat my apology for our clear failure to provide the service that we expected, and intended, to deliver,” he wrote.

Passengers who incurred additional expenses in getting to their destination can submit receipts and claims to

MLive had earlier reported that some passengers aboard the trains said vouchers or refunds of their fare were not enough to satisfy them.

They said they wanted more information from Amtrak as to what happened and why.

“This is just a really frustrating experience with the lack of communication from Amtrak,” said Sarah Pisarczyk, 21, who was traveling from Ann Arbor to Chicago to attend a Harry Styles concert.

Amtrak reimbursed Mark Hovermale of Novi and his wife $80 — the cost of two one-way tickets — but he wants the passenger carrier to also pay expenses he incurred for hiring an Uber driver, hotel fees and his return trip to Ann Arbor.

I don’t want to get back on it,” he said before boarding the train on the Monday after his initial trip. “Renting a car at this point would be $400 or $500 to come back. A last-minute flight is too expensive. We made these arrangements. Most of us are jokingly but very scared to get back on the train.”

Amtrak did pay for passengers who missed their connections to another train to stay in a hotel in Chicago.

Plenty of Color in Cumberland

October 28, 2022

There was plenty of color in Cumberland, Maryland, on Oct. 23 when Amtrak’s Capitol Limited arrived en route to Washington.

No. 30 arrived on time with Phase I heritage locomotive No. 161 on the point. Behind it is colorful fall foliage on a nearby hillside.

The tracks here are owned by CSX but were once part of the Baltimore & Ohio mainline that hosted the original Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

Lincoln Service Trains Won’t Resume Until November

October 28, 2022

Two Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis that were suspended in September due to equipment shortages will not resume operation until mid-November.

The suspensions affect Trains 300 and 305. They have been suspended since Sept. 17.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said no alternative transportation is being provided for those trains although passengers may ride other trains in the corridor that continue to operate.

The advisory said Train 305 is planned to resume operations on Nov, 17 while Train 300 is planned to resume operating on Nov. 18.

Renovations Set for Homewood Station

October 28, 2022

Chicago commuter rail operator Metra has awarded a contract to renovate a station in Homewood, Illinois, that also is used by Amtrak.

The $14.5 million went to IHC Construction Companies to make the station headhouse more accessible by installing an entrance ramp.

Other work will include rebuilding the boarding platforms and installing wind breaks, a warming house and gatehouse.

Workers will install new drainage, ventilation, lighting and interior features in the pedestrian tunnel and replace the elevator connecting the tunnel to the platform.

The work is expected to begin next spring and take two years to complete.

Homewood is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans trains.

Bridge Work to Disrupt Vermonters

October 28, 2022

Track work will disrupt operations of Amtrak’s Vermonter between Nov. 4-6.

During that period Trains 55 and 57, will originate at New Haven, Connecticut.

Buses 3055 and 3057 will provide alternate transportation between St. Albans, Vermont, and New Haven.

Trains 54 and 56, will terminate at New Haven with Buses 3054 and 3056 will provide alternate transportation between New Haven and St. Albans.

Alternate transportation will be provided by DATTCO to all missed stops except Claremont, Windsor, and Randolph.

Buses will operate on a modified schedule. Passengers should check for the arrival and departure times.

Bridge Work to Disrupt San Joaquins

October 28, 2022

Bridge work being conducted by host railroad BNSF will disrupt some Amtrak San Joaquin Service this weekend.

On Oct. 29, Train 719 will terminate at Stockton. Bus 4119 will provide alternate transportation for Train 719 between Stockton and Oakland-Jack London Square, making intermediate stops at Antioch, Martinez, Richmond and Emeryville.

On Oct. 30, Trains 710, 711 and 712, will originate/terminate at Stockton, operating between Stockton and Bakersfield only.

Buses will provide alternate transportation for Trains 710, 711 and 712, between Martinez and Stockton, excluding Antioch.

Trains 720, 724 and 737 will provide alternate transportation between Oakland and Martinez, making intermediate stops at Emeryville and Richmond.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers traveling to or from Antioch may use other San Joaquins service on this day.

Pacific Surfliner Schedules Being Modified

October 28, 2022

Amtrak plans to update the schedules of its Pacific Surfliner service in California on Oct. 31 to reflect the closure of a portion of the route near San Clemente.

The track was closed Sept. 30 due to an unstable hillside adjacent to track used by Amtrak, commuter rail carrier Metrolink and BNSF freight trains.

Amtrak is instituting a bus connection between Irvine and Oceanside for southbound train 562, with train 1562 operating between Oceanside and San Diego.

Trains 770, 774, and 784 will now operate to San Juan Capistrano, although passengers continuing to stops between Oceanside and San Diego should still change to buses at Irvine.

Northbound Train 1567 will operate between San Diego and Oceanside, with a bus connection to train 567 in Irvine, while Trains 777, 581, and 591 will originate in San Juan Capistrano instead of Irvine.

Those trains will continue to wait in Irvine for buses connecting from trains operating between San Diego and Irvine.

Although work has begun to stabilize the hillside, that project is not expected to be completed until early next year.

Qualifying Runs Being Made on Adirondack Route

October 28, 2022

Amtrak has been operating qualifying run trains in advance of reinstating service by the Adirondack to Montreal.

The New York-Montreal train has not operated in Canada since the early days of COVID-19 pandemic.

The qualifying trips operated in Canada over Canadian National tracks and went to Montreal’s Central Station.

Amtrak has not given a date for the resumption of service to Montreal. It restored service to Vancouver, British Columbia, in September.

A Trains magazine report said the qualification runs have operated from Montreal to the U.S. border and then returned to Montreal.

These runs have have been operating for the past two weeks.