Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Hiawatha in Glenview

November 17, 2022

Amtrak Hiawatha Service No. 336 is sitting at the station in Glenview, Illinois, en route to Milwaukee. The image was made on May 17, 1997, during the latter years of the F40PH era.

By 1997, F40s were actively being replaced with then new GE-built Genesis locomotives. Some F40s were rebuilt into cab car service as was the case with No. 215, which is shown on the south end of Train 336.

These tracks are also heavily used by Chicago commuter rail operator Metra and see some freight service by Canadian Pacific.

2 Routes Now Have Daily Service Again

October 8, 2022

Amtrak this week is restoring daily service this week on two routes that have been operating five days a week since January.

Daily service returns to the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans) and the Crescent (New York-New Orleans).

However, Amtrak said it is pushing back for a few days resumption of the New York-Miami Silver Meteor due to lingering effects of Hurricane Ian.

In a media advisory, Amtrak said the Crescent and City of New Orleans were delayed in returning to service due to the need to hire additional crew members.

The advisory said travel demand on those routes has been rising throughout the year.

Service to Vancouver BC to Resume Sept. 26

September 3, 2022

Amtrak Cascades Service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, will return on Sept. 26.

The passenger carrier said the first trip will depart Seattle at 7:45 a.m. on that date and make five intermediate stops before reaching Vancouver four hours later.

The service from Vancouver to Seattle will depart at 5:45 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 10:10 p.m.

Seattle-Vancouver service was suspended in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak said a second Seattle-Vancouver roundtrip will be added at an unspecified date. In a statement, Amtrak said that additional train hinges upon having adequate equipment and staff.

Passengers crossing the border into Canada will need, in addition to the standard entry documents, proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Amtrak said all riders will also need to wear a mask while in Canadian train stations.

Portal North Bridge Project Gets Underway

August 8, 2022
An Amtrak Northeast Regional train passes over the existing Portal North Bridge. (Amtrak photo)
A rendering of what the new North Portal Bridge will look like (Amtrak photo)

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week to mark the start of the Portal North Bridge project in Kearny, New Jersey.

Located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the bridge  over the Hackensack River has long been a chokepoint for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains.

The news bridge will replace a 110-year-old swing bridge that has been prone to mechanical malfunctions.

A news release issued by the officer of the governor of New Jersey said the project will double rail capacity at the bridge site.

The new bridge will be a double track structure is is high enough to allow marine traffic to pass beneath it without disrupting rail traffic. Once completed, the old bridge will be removed.

The project is part of the Gateway Program, which seeks to rebuild key rail infrastructure in the corridor between Newark and New York City.

Amtrak Wants STB to Deny CN Big to Gain Kansas City Route in CP-KCS Merger Case

July 20, 2022

Amtrak has urged the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to reject a bid by Canadian National to obtain a route to Kansas City as part of the proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

CN is seeking a former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio route now owned by KCS between Kansas City and Springfield, Illinois, and operating as the Gateway Western.

Amtrak fears that if CN gets the route and carries through on its plans to expand freight service between to Kansas City this would impair operations of Amtrak passenger trains on other CN routes.

Affected in particular, Amtrak said, would be trains using CN track between Chicago and New Orleans via Carbondale, Illinois.

The congestion on that former Illinois Central line would be most acute between Chicago and Gilman, Illinois. At Gilman, trains would diverge from the Chicago-New Orleans route to an ex-IC route to Springfield that at one time continued to St. Louis.

CN trains could potentially cause delays to Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains as well as the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

As it is, Amtrak and CN have been locked in dispute for years over CN’s dispatching of the Chicago-Carbondale route with Amtrak claiming CN needlessly delays passenger trains on that route.

CN has asked the STB to require KCS to sell the Springfield-Kansas City route as a requirement of approval of the CP-KCS merger. CN has said it would use the “Springfield Speedway” to provide freight service to Kansas City from Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and eastern Canada.

CP and KCS have rejected the request and urged the STB to deny it.

In its filing with the STB, Amtrak described as woeful the on-time performance of its trains operating between Chicago and Gilman.

Also affected would be Amtrak service using a joint Union Pacific-KCS line in Illinois between East St. Louis and Godfrey.

Amtrak said other segments of the CN system that it uses could see longer or additional CN trains including track in Memphis used by the City of New Orleans, and three CN lines in Michigan used by corridor trains operating between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) and Port Huron.

The Amtrak filing with the STB said that CN in 2015 told federal regulators that lack of capacity in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor was the major issue causing Amtrak trains there to be late.

But now, Amtrak said in its filing, CN claims to have excess capacity on the Chicago-Carbondale route between Chicago and Gilman.

The filing said CN operate at least 20 freight trains a day on its track between Chicago and Carbondale.

CN contends in its own filings with regulators that the Chicago-Gilman segment could handle two additional CN trains a day without interfering with Amtrak trains.

Amtrak contends that the St. Louis-Godfrey segment, which is dispatched by UP, routinely sees passenger trains encounter freight train interference that would be exacerbated by the addition of CN trains to the route.

The Amtrak filing said CN has assured it that any trains it runs on the St. Louis-Godfrey segment won’t adversely affect Amtrak, but the Montreal-based Class 1 carrier has not conducted a capacity analysis to support that assertion.

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Ceremonies Set for River Runner Reinstatement

July 16, 2022

Amtrak will celebrate the reinstatement of a second Missouri River Runner round trip with short ceremonies along the train’s route on Monday.

Amtrak said its representatives along with local officials will appear at the stations served by Train 311, which is scheduled to depart St. Louis at 8:15 a.m.

Missouri River Runner service is funded by the Missouri Department of Transportation. There will now be twice daily service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Brightline Tests at Orlando Airport Station

May 19, 2022

Florida passenger operator Brightline saw its first train arrive at its Orlando International station this past Tuesday.

The train conducted testing of the 170-mile extension of Brightline’s service territory to the airport from West Palm Beach.

Brightline currently operates between West Palm Beach and Miami.

Brightline said the Orlando extension is nearly 80 percent complete and construction is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Crew training and qualifying between West Palm Beach and Cocoa began in January.

The test train this week operated between the airport station and a maintenance facility located south of the airport.

VIA 2021 Ridership up 31.9%

May 16, 2022

VIA Rail Canada said its 2021 ridership rose 31.9 percent compared with 2020’s ridership. Passenger revenue rose 54.3 percent.

In its annual report VIA said it stayed on budget and even saw its operating expenses decline by 3.2 percent.

A VIA news release noted that the passenger carrier has been restoring service gradually. Many services were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIA said it will continue to reinstate services this year as it focuses on resuming its role operating a national passenger-rail network.

New passenger equipment is being acquired from Siemens Mobility for use in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The first new trainset was delivered last November.

Before the pandemic VIA operated more than 450 trains per week and carried 5 million passengers.

In its annual report, VIA said, “this volume essentially ground to a halt and gradually increased to reach 1.1 million passengers and 227 million passenger miles by year end.

“By the end of 2021, we were able to welcome a growing number of passengers back on board, with 1.5 million passengers representing 327.1 million passenger miles, while keeping strict health and safety guidelines in place across the network.”

Aside from buying new trainsets, VIA also is refurbishing its heritage fleet and has implemented a new reservations system.

Life After Amtrak

May 13, 2022

CSX1 leads the company’s executive train westbound through Berea, Ohio, on May 11 en route to Chicago from Buffalo, New York.

No. 1 is trailed by CSX2 and CSX3, all of them running elephant style and all of them having once pulled Amtrak trains.

No. 1 was built by EMD for Amtrak in April 1978 where it had roster number 280. After being retired from the Amtrak active motive power roster, No. 280 was acquired by the Ohio Central System.

CSX later acquired the unit and renumbered it 9998. After CSX applied a Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery to its executive fleet, No. 9998 became CSX1.

The locomotive is now classified as an F40PH-2 whereas at Amtrak it was an F40PHR.

Berkshire Flyer Schedules Released

May 13, 2022

Amtrak has released schedules for its new Berkshire Flyer, which will link New York City with Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The summer season train will operate on weekends this year and in 2023. It is considered a pilot project whose future will hinge in part on how much ridership it attracts.

Funding is being provided by government agencies in Massachusetts and New York State.

Trains will depart Penn Station in New York at 3:16 p.m. on Fridays and arrive at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield at 7:12 p.m.

Intermediate station stops will include Yonkers, Croton-Harmon, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff, Hudson, and Albany-Rensselaer.

The Sunday return trip will depart from Pittsfield at 3 p.m. and arrive in New York at 7:05 p.m.