Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Winter Storm Leads Amtrak to Shorten Route of Capitol Limited, Cancel Boston LSL Section

March 13, 2017

A severe winter storm that has prompted Amtrak to cancel and reduce service along the Northeast Corridor will also affect some trains operating to the Atlantic Seaboard from outside the region.

The Capitol Limited will not operate on Tuesday (March 14) between Pittsburgh and Washington.

The Lake Shore Limited will not operate between Boston and Albany/Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said there will be no Acela Express service between New York and Boston, and there will be modified Acela Express service between New York and Washington.

Northeast Regional service will operate on a modified schedule between Boston and Washington with the routes of some trains shortened and other trains being canceled. This will affect some trains that operate beyond Washington to points in Virginia.

Also operating on modified schedules will be Empire Service, Downeaster Service and Keystone Service trains.

CSX Track Work to Affect Palmetto, Silver Star

March 11, 2017

CSX track work will affect operations of Amtrak’s Silver Star and Palmetto on Monday, March 13.

The Palmetto will not operate between Washington and Savannah, Georgia. An Amtrak service advisory did not indicate if alternative transportation will be provided.

The northbound Silver Star will depart Miami on March 12 four hours earlier at 7:50 a.m.

The times at all scheduled intermediate stations to New York will be four hours earlier on March 12-13. No. 92 will operate as No. 1092 during the trip.

NY Southern Tier Advocates Form Study Group

March 4, 2017

Intercity rail passenger advocates in New York State have formed a group to study the feasibility of restoring service to the Southern Tier cities of Binghamton, Elmira and Corning.

The proposed service would be an extension of a New York-Scranton, Pennsylvania, route that has yet to launched.

The New York group hopes to raise $100,000 to fund the study.

Colfax Thruway Bus Stop Moved

February 28, 2017

The Amtrak Thruway bus stop in Colfax, California, is being moved a half block east across the Union Pacific tracks from the Amtrak station to Roy Tom’s Plaza 33 on Grass Valley Street.

Amtrak 4In a service advisory, Amtrak said the temporary change is due to road restrictions preventing buses from accessing the station.

Amtrak trains will continue to stop at the Colfax train station on Railroad Street.

Serving Colfax are the Chicago-Emeryville California Zephyr, and some Capitol Corridor trains.

 

New Michigan Thruway Route Started

February 24, 2017

Amtrak and Indian Trails bus lines are instituting a Thruway bus connecting service between Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains and point in central Michigan, including Mt. Pleasant and Gaylord.

michiganPassengers on Train No. 350 will connect in Battle Creek, Michigan, with the bus heading to Michigan points, while passengers originating at those points will connect with Train No. 355 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The new bus route will travel to various communities along U.S. Route 127 and Interstate 75.

Mt. Pleasant is the home of Central Michigan University.

Indian Trails motorcoaches provide free Wi-Fi, 110V electrical outlets and are wheelchair-accessible.

Amtrak said that the new route expands the  Indian Trails’ network of connections with Amtrak to reach 270,000 people in more than 100 towns throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, as well as Duluth, Minnesota; Chicago and Milwaukee.

CZ Still Suspended West of Reno

February 24, 2017

Amtrak has again suspended operation of its California Zephyr over a portion of its route due to avalanche threats in Northern California.

amtrak-california-zephyrNos. 5 and 6 are temporarily suspended between Reno, Nevada, and Emeryville, California, due to Union Pacific suspending operating on its Donner Pass line between Colfax and Truckee.

Westbound trains will terminate in Reno while eastbounds will originate there. Service remains unchanged between Chicago and Reno.

Some passengers will be transported by bus between Reno and Emeryville.

Route closures had forced UP to focus traffic on its Donner Pass route and led Amtrak to cancel operation of the California Zephyr west of Salt Lake City for more than a week and half.

INDOT Supports Continued Hoosier State Funding

February 7, 2017

An Indiana newspaper reported last week that although Iowa Pacific was playing up the improvements in on-time performance and increasing patronage of its Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State, the operation had become a money pit.

IndianaThe Journal & Courier of Lafayette said IP wanted the Indiana Department of Transportation to pay it $900,000 to operate the quad-weekly train through July.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told the paper that IP said if it didn’t get that money it wanted it would cease participating in its partnership with Amtrak to operate the train.

 

For his part, IP President Ed Ellis told the newspaper that he blames the partnership’s failure on the formula INDOT used to pay IP and Amtrak.

That clause, Ellis noted, meant that as the on-time performance of the train improved IP was getting less money.

INDOT rejected IP’s demand for an additional $900,000 for six months of service because it was beyond the means of the state and municipalities that pay for the train.

Funding for the Hoosier State is provided by INDOT, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Crawfordsville and Rensselaer.

Since IP became involved with the Hoosier State in July 2015, it has provided locomotives and passenger cars and been responsible for marketing and on-board service.

Among other steps, IP began offering business class service and had a chef prepare on-board meals. Business class passengers were able to sit in the upper level of a full-length dome car.

Amtrak’s role was to provide the operating crews and handle relationships with the host railroads. That included incentive payments to CSX to handle the train on time.

The Hoosier State, which uses the same route between Chicago and Indianapolis traversed by Amtrak’s tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, primarily uses tracks of CSX.

Amtrak has said it will take over complete responsibility for the Hoosier State on March 1, including providing rolling stock.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman based in Chicago, said the services Amtrak will provide are still being worked out.

However, he said Amtrak hopes to offer Wi-Fi and business class service. One amenity that Amtrak is likely to offer that IP did not is on-board power outlets.

The type of food service, if any, that Amtrak will provide is another unknown at this point. In the years before IP took over the Hoosier State, Amtrak did not offer food service.

Magliari said the train’s schedule will remain the same.

“What we think is important is that we have those amenities,” Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said in reference to the services that IP provided. “We think this has led to the increase in ridership.”

As he has said in the past, Ellis told the Journal & Courier that if the Chicago-Indianapolis corridor is to thrive it needs a faster travel time and more trains.

“You have to be able to run multiple frequencies,” Ellis said. “It takes a lot of capital to do that. I was hopeful we would be able to, but here we are: We have the same number of trains going at the same speed.”

Wingfield said INDOT has recommended to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb that the state continue for the next two years to fund the Hoosier State at $3 million a year.

Ellis said anything beyond the current level of service will require a higher level of funding from the state.

“I know the folks at INDOT want to solve this, but it’s beyond them,” he said. “It’s up to the legislature and a higher level of commitment to the Hoosier State.”

Bridge Fire Strands Sunset Limited near San Antonio

February 3, 2017

A bridge fire Thursday night shut down rail traffic near San Antonio, which brought Amtrak’s Sunset Limited to a halt.

sunset-limitedAmtrak chartered buses to rescue the 155 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the eastbound train, which also has through cars between from Los Angeles to Chicago that are interchanged in San Antonio with the Texas Eagle.

The fire broke out about 10 p.m. on a trestle on the Union Pacific tracks in Southwest Bexar County.

News reports said fire destroyed the 100-foot long bridge over a creek. The bridge is located near MacDonna LaCoste and Hackelberg roads.

Amtrak No. 2 was halted about 1 a.m. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said passengers had food, water, electricity and air conditioning, but a passenger called a local radio station to report that the train smelled of urine and feces. “We can’t even flush the toilet,” she said.

Union Pacific spokesman Jeff DeGraff said the fire broke out about midnight.

“For right now, we do have some trains that are being rerouted on alternate lines, mainly going north into Dallas, then they can come back down to San Antonio,” DeGraff said. “We also have some trains that have a little more flexibility in their schedule and we have been able to hold those.”

Penn Station Info Board Being Removed

January 23, 2017

A New York Penn Station icon fell by the wayside on Monday (Jan. 23, 2017).

The large train arrivals and departures board was removed in favor a passenger information display system that was actually activated last October.

Amtrak logoAmtrak said the new system features LCD displays that are easier to read and synchronize audio and visual messages.

The passenger carrier also contends that the system will improve foot traffic flow because although the new video screens are smaller, they are dispersed throughout the station.

The former information board was centrally located and drew traffic to it, particularly during peak periods when passengers would stand beneath the board towering 10 feet over their heads to wait for the track for their train to be posted.

Workers began Monday morning removing the former information board, a process that will continue throughout the week.

Penn Station handles 665,000 people a day riding 1,200 trains.

Residents, Public Officials Await FRA Response to Hiawatha Expansion Environmental Assessment

January 18, 2017

Residents and public officials in the north Chicago suburbs are waiting for the Federal Railroad Administration to respond to a proposal to expand Amtrak’s Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service.

Hiawatha 2The expansion, which is not a sure thing to occur even with FRA approval, has raised hackles along the Hiawatha route because it calls for the building of a passing siding for Canadian Pacific freight trains to wait for Amtrak and Metra passenger trains.

Although an environmental assessment study released last year found the siding would not have a negative environmental impact, public officials and residents have challenged that during a series of public meetings and called for a complete environmental impact study.

The departments of transportation of Illinois and Wisconsin fund the Hiawatha Service and want to increase the number of daily trains from seven to 10.

A public comment period on the environmental assessment ended on Jan. 15. The comments received have been sent to the state DOTs and Amtrak. Residents have expressed concern about noise, vibration, diesel fumes and flooding.

The FRA is expected to respond to the environmental assessment during the first quarter of 2017.