Archive for the ‘Amtrak News’ Category

Pacific Parlor Cars Being Retired

January 19, 2018

Amtrak is retiring the Pacific Parlour Cars that have been a mainstay on the Coast Startlight between Seattle and Los Angeles.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the former Santa Fe hi-level lounge cars will be retired after Feb. 4.

The nation’s passenger carrier had said earlier that it would remove the cars from service for about a month to repair them.

Amtrak said retirement of the cars is part of “an ongoing effort to modernize equipment.”

An employee bulletin sent this week said the cars would not return to service “due to safety concerns and the rising cost of maintenance.”

The last Pacific Parlour Car to run in revenue service will leave Seattle on Feb. 4. The last northbound car will leave Los Angeles on Feb. 2.

Pacific Parlour Car service began in the middle 1990s to offer lounge space and food service to sleeping car passengers.

The cars were among the last cars still in service built before Amtrak’s 1971 creation.

Retirement of the Pacific Parlor Cars will leave only a small fleet of Heritage dining and baggage cars in active service.

A Pacific Parlour Car has an attendant who serves lunch and dinner in the car by reservation, using a unique menu separate from that served in the adjacent dining car, and provides an afternoon wine and cheese tasting on both days of the Coast Starlight’s daily overnight journey.

Although initially offered as part of the sleeping car fare, since 2015 the wine and cheese tasting has cost $7 per person for wine plus an extra $5 per person for cheese, and has been open also to Business Class passengers.

Amtrak has not determined if it plans to replace Pacific Parlour Car service by another dedicated lounge and food-service car for sleeping car passengers, or whether any other substitute amenity will be offered.

“Customers will still continue to enjoy the spectacular views from other areas of the train, including the Dining Car and the renowned Sightseer Lounge Car,” Amtrak’s Kimberly Woods told Trains magazine.

It is not clear if Amtrak will attempt to sell the retired Pacific Parlour Cars or scrap them.

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San Joaquins Have Modified Schedules in January

January 18, 2018

Amtrak said that BNSF track work will affect San Joaquins trains and thruway buses through Jan. 29.

Southbound trains will run 5 minutes late between Merced and Bakersfield, arriving in Bakersfield 20 minutes later than scheduled.

Northbound trains will operate 10-12 minutes later between Martinez and Emeryville, arriving in Oakland/Sacramento 20 minutes later than scheduled.

Train No. 703 will depart Bakersfield 10 minutes later, arriving in Stockton 20 minutes later than scheduled and Sacramento 30 minutes later than scheduled.

The following buses from Bakersfield will operate 20 minutes later at all stops.

  • Train 702 – Buses, 5402, 5602, 5702, 5802 and 5902
  • Train 704 – Bus 5804
  • Train 710 – Buses 3410, 3510, 5410, 5710, 5810 and 5910
  • Train 712 – Buses 5412, 5612, 5712, 5812 and 5912
  • Train 714 – Buses 3414, 5414, 5614, 5714, 5814 and 5914
  • Train 716 – Bus 5816

The following buses from Hanford will operate 5 minutes later at all stops.

  • Train 710 – Buses 4010 and 6715
  • Train 704 – Buses 4004 and 6703

The following buses from Emeryville will operate 10 minutes later at all stops.

  • Train 711 – Buses 3311 and 6611
  • Train 713 – Bus 6613
  • Train 715 – Bus 6615
  • Train 717 – Bus 6617
  • Train 719 – Bus 6619

The following buses from Martinez will operate 10 minutes later at all stops.

  • Train 715- Buses 6315 and 6515
  • Train 717- Bus 6417

 

Amtrak Chicago Maintenance Worker Killed

January 17, 2018

An Amtrak maintenance worker was killed early Tuesday morning near the service and inspection building in Chicago.

The victim was identified as Martin Rivera, 42, of Chicago. The incident occurred at about 7:15 a.m.

No other injuries of Amtrak workers were reported. The National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the death.

News reports indicated that Rivera was already dead and lying on railroad tracks in the 1400 block of South Lumber Street when paramedics arrived.

Rivera was found lying on the tracks by another Amtrak worker who notified authorities.

Amtrak Wants Cascade Route PTC Turned On ASAP

January 15, 2018

Amtrak has told the departments of transportation in Oregon and Washington that that it wants positive train control tested and implemented on the Seattle-Portland route “as soon as possible.”

During a legislative hearing in Washington state last week, Amtrak Senior Government Affairs Manager Rob Eaton said sensors and radio links trackside, on locomotives and on a central server still need to be integrated.

“The testing and interaction of all three of these elements will take place during the second and third quarters of the year, after which PTC will be placed into operation,” he said.

Many believe that had PTC been in operation that derailment of a southbound Cascades Service train could have been avoided.

Three passengers died in the wreck, which authority had linked to the train going 78 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone near Olympia, Washington.

The train was traveling on the first day of revenue service on the Point Defiance bypass route.

Eaton said implementing PTC is complicated by the fact that three different railroads own sections of the route, including BNSF, Union Pacific and Sound Transit.

During the hearing Amtrak officials said PTC is not in operation on any Amtrak route west of the Mississippi River.

Washington state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar testified that there was not undue pressure to launch high speed rail service before Amtrak locomotive engineers and crews had become qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass route.

“There was no deadline for initiating service,” Millar said, but did say there had been deadlines for completing construction on track and signal upgrades

Millar said those were not a factor in the December derailment.

Amtrak Adds Capacity to Pacific Surfliners

January 15, 2018

Amtrak has added capacity to its 10 Pacific Surfliner trains serving Santa Barbara County in the wake of mudslides closing Highway 101 near near Montecito, California, last week.

The mudslides had shut down Amtrak itself for a few days, but trains resumed operating on Jan. 11.

The Pacific Surfliner has served as the only viable ground transportation option between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, as drive time on alternate routes between the two counties can take nearly four hours. The Pacific Surfliner travels between Ventura and Santa Barbara in about 45 minutes.

To accommodate the increased demand, Amtrak ferried equipment from northern California, including three locomotives and eight cars.

Officials said this will increase capacity on the Pacific Surfliner by 270 seats per train.

Station stops in the affected region include Oxnard, Ventura, Caprinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Amtrak Names Vice President for Safety

January 10, 2018

Amtrak has appointed a former airline safety officer to the post of executive vice president and chief safety officer.

Ken Hylander retired as a senior vice president for Delta Air Lines in 2014. In a news release, Amtrak said that Hylander oversaw the safety system implementation at Delta and managed the occupational, operating safety, security, quality, and environmental compliance programs.

He also worked at Northwest Airlines as chief safety officer and currently serves on the board of governors of the Flight Safety Foundation and is an independent member of the board of directors of Monroe Energy in Trainer, Pennsylvania.

Before joining Northwest in 1997 as the vice president of quality reliability and engineering, Hylander spent nearly 17 years at United Airlines where he held a variety of engineering, quality assurance, and operations management positions.

Hylander will report directly to Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson.

Amtrak described Hylander’s mandate at the rail passenger carrier as being responsible for implementing a proven safety management system.

“We are improving safety at Amtrak. Keeping our customers and employees safe is our most important responsibility and a high-quality safety management system is a requirement for Amtrak,” Anderson said in a statement. “Ken is a recognized leader in the implementation and operation of [safety management systems], and his experience will be instrumental in helping build our safety culture.”

In its news release, Amtrak described a safety management system as a proactive risk management system that builds on predictive safety management methods.

Amtrak noted that the National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that Amtrak create a safety management system.

Amtrak, TCU Reach Contract Agreement

January 9, 2018

The Transportation Communications Union has reached a tentative contract with Amtrak following three years of negotiations.

The union represents carmen, clerks, on-board service workers and supervisors. TCU said in a news release that the pact would grant “significant” percentage wage increases and protects health care benefits.

Amtrak had reportedly pushed for a one-time lump sum increase in wages where the union sought a percentage increase.

TCU said its member will vote on the package in the coming weeks.

TCU said that it along with coalition members NCFO, IBB, IBEW, TWU, IAM, SMART Mechanical and UNITE HERE, represents 12 crafts, or 57 percent of Amtrak employees.

Jackson Ticket Office Still Staffed

January 9, 2018

Amtrak will for the time being continue to provide ticket agent service at the Jackson, Michigan, station five days a week.

The ticket office is open Thursday through Monday between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. During other times and on days when the ticket office is closed all day a caretaker will open and close the station.

Amtrak reduced its staffing at the Jackson station last August.

The current agent assigned to Jackson is retiring and Amtrak is staffing the station with other agents.

The rail carrier said it is talking with the Michigan Department of Transportation, which funds the Wolverine Service trains that stop in Jackson, and the City of Jackson about the necessity of having a ticket agent in that city.

“The volume of business we do at the ticket window has been falling over years because people aren’t buying tickets that way anymore,” said Amtrak Spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Magliari cautioned that Amtrak may at some point stop staffing the Jackson station with a ticket agent.

Sunset Limited Suspended for Track Work

January 9, 2018

The Sunset Limited will be suspended on select dates in January due to track work being performed by Union Pacific between El Paso, Texas, and Los Angeles.

The service suspension also affects Texas Eagle through cars to and from Los Angeles that are conveyed by Nos. 1 and 2 west of San Antonio, Texas.

Alternative service will be not be to stations at Deming and Lordsburg, New Mexico; Benson, Tucson, Maricopa and Yuma, Arizona; and Palm Springs, Ontario, Pomona and Los Angeles, California.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the service suspensions will affect the trains on the following dates.

Westbound to Los Angeles

  • Train 1 will depart New Orleans on January 10 terminating in El Paso on January 11.
  • Train 421 will depart Chicago January 9 terminating in El Paso on January 11.
  • Train 1 will depart New Orleans on January 13 terminating in El Paso on January 14.
  • Train 421 will depart Chicago January 12 terminating in El Paso on January 14.

Eastbound from Los Angeles

  • Train 2 will depart El Paso January 13 terminating in New Orleans January 14.
  • Train 422 will depart El Paso January 13 terminating in Chicago January 15.
  • Train 2 will depart El Paso January 15 terminating in New Orleans January 16.
  • Train 422 will depart El Paso January 15 terminating in Chicago January 17.

Thruway Buses Cancelled between Maricopa and Phoenix

  • Bus 8601 January 11 and January 12
  • Bus 8602 January 11 and January 13
  • Bus 8901 January 11 and January 14
  • Bus 8902 January 11 and January 13

Amtrak Establishes Williams Shuttle

January 9, 2018

Amtrak has established a Thruway shuttle service between Flagstaff, Arizona, and Williams, Arizona, the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

The new service, which accommodates passengers using the Southwest Chief, replaced a now-discontinued station stop at Williams Junction, Arizona.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the shuttle fare is $24 and has a guaranteed connection. The shuttle will stop at the Holiday Inn Express, 1150 W. Cataract Lake Road, in Williams.

Passengers traveling from Chicago and points west on Train 3 to Williams will detrain in Flagstaff and connect to Thruway bus 8953 departing at 10:10 p.m.

Passengers traveling from Williams westbound toward Los Angeles, will take Thruway bus 8853 departing at 8:30 p.m. to connect with Train 3 in Flagstaff.

Passengers on Train 4 traveling from Los Angeles and points east to Williams will detrain in Flagstaff and take Thruway bus 8954 departing at 6:00 a.m.

Passengers traveling from Williams heading eastbound toward Chicago on train 4, will take Thruway bus 8854 departing at 4:15 a.m. to connect with Train 4 in Flagstaff.