Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Cascades’

Cascades Service Further Trimmed

March 28, 2020

Amtrak Cascades Service has been further trimmed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nos. 517 and 518 have been canceled until further notice.

A notice on the Cascades Service website said all food and beverage service aboard trains that continue to operate has been suspended.

Passengers are allowed to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages onboard.

All stations between Seattle and Eugene remain open except the volunteer-staffed Olympia/Lacey and Kelso stations.

Cascades trains will continue to stop at those stations but no services are available.

Amtrak Service Cuts Just Keep Coming

March 19, 2020

Amtrak service to Michigan will be reduced to two pairs of trains and service cuts will be imposed on three corridor routes in Illinois.

However, no service reductions are being planned for the long-distance network Amtrak spokesman Marc Magilari told Trains magazine.

Michigan trains that will continue to operate are the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water while Wolverine Service will consist of No 352, which departs Chicago at 1:25 p.m. and arrives in Pontiac at 8:32 p.m. and No. 351, which departs Pontiac at 5:50 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 10:32 a.m.

Canceled are the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette and two Wolverine Service roundtrips.

On the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini will continue to operate while their counterparts are canceled.

The corridor is also served by the City of New Orleans which provides service northbound in the early morning hours and southbound in late evening.

Between Chicago and Quincy the Carl Sandburg will be canceled while the Illinois Zephyr will continue to operate.

Part of the Chicago-Quincy corridor will continue to be served by the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

The Chicago-Milwaukee corridor will be reduced to one Hiawatha Service roundtrip with the Empire Builder picking up some of the slack.

The one Chicago to Milwaukee Hiawatha will depart at 5:08 p.m. for a 6:45 p.m. arrival in Milwaukee.

There will also be a late night bus from Chicago to Milwaukee that leaves Chicago at 9:15 p.m.

The Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha will depart at 8:05 a.m. and arriving in Chicago at 9:34 a.m.

The Empire Builder will handle local passengers at all stops, including at Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee airport station, both of which Nos. 7 and 8 normally do not serve.

However, the Empire Builder is an afternoon operation in both directions between Chicago and Milwaukee so passengers will not be able to travel northbound in the morning or southbound in the evening.

On the Chicago-St. Louis corridor the southbound 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. departures from Chicago will be cut.

Lincoln Service trains will continue to depart Chicago at 9:25 a.m. and 7 p.m.

From St. Louis, Lincoln Service trains will depart at 4:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Texas Eagle will also continue operating in the corridor. Canceled are northbound Lincoln Service departures from St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For now Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue operating on its current level of service of two roundtrips per day.

On the West Coast, the Capitol Corridor route will see a reduction from 15 to five weekday departures in each direction between Sacramento and Emeryville, California, effective March 23.

This does not include the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight, which uses part of the corridor.

Service reductions on the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner corridors have not yet been announced.

Cascades Service is no longer operating north of Seattle and will see the last round trip of the day canceled.

A presentation by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University in Chicago said Amtrak’s current bookings are down 60 percent, future reservations are off 80 percent, and passenger cancellations are up 400 percent compared with the same period last year.

In a related development the Trump administration has proposed that Amtrak receive $500 million in emergency aid.

The carrier had said it needs $1 billion to cover losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is part of a supplemental appropriation proposal the administration has sent to Congress totaling $45.8 billion.

Amtrak Continues to Pare Service

March 19, 2020

It remains to be seen if Amtrak will suspend or reduce the operations of its long-distance trains, but an online report quoting a union official indicated that onboard service cuts are coming.

The official from the SMART Transportation Division said he has been told to expect sleeping car service to be suspended and dining removed from some trains.

However, the official said he has not been advised by the carrier if it plans to suspend any long-distance trains.

Amtrak has suspended several Midwest corridor trains including three roundtrips in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and one roundtrip between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette has also been suspended.

Service reductions for corridors in Illinois are expected but as of early Thursday morning had yet to be formally announced by Amtrak.

Amtrak operates three corridors in Illinois linking Chicago with Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis.

The Chicago-Carbondale corridor has two roundtrips plus the Chicago-New Orleans City of Orleans.

The Chicago-Quincy corridor has two roundtrips while the Chicago-St. Louis corridor has four roundtrips plus the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

An online report indicated that effective March 21 Chicago-Carbondale service will be reduced to the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini.

A similar service pattern is expected to be implemented for the Chicago-Quincy corridor with service to Chicago in the morning and returning service in the evening by trains 381 and 381 respectively.

In both corridors, the remaining trains could be covered with one equipment set.

The Empire Builder is also expected to begin carrying local passengers to and from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Airport station. Neither are regular stops for Nos. 7 and 8.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian also has been suspended along with all Keystone Service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Service reductions have been made in all other eastern corridors as well.

In a service advisory Amtrak said some stations that have ticket agents may not be staffed for all train arrivals and departure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak said passengers should proceed to the platform for boarding if they encounter an unstaffed station that normally has agents directing the boarding process.

Other online reports indicated that Cascade Service between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, will be reduced to one roundtrip with trains 500 and 505 providing the service.

Cascades, Downeaster Latest Amtrak Service Cuts

March 17, 2020

Amtrak announced a few more service reductions on Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic but thus far none of those involve service in the Midwest or long-distance trains.

It may be a matter of time before corridor services are curtailed. Amtrak is reportedly talking with states that fund corridor service about service reductions.

The latest cutbacks affect the Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest and the Downeaster Service to Maine.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the closing of Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, British Columbia, has mean that Cascades service north of Seattle has been suspended.

Daily thruway bus service between Seattle, Everett, Mt. Vernon and Bellingham will still operate.

On the Downeaster route service is being reduced between March 17 and March 22.

Washington State Man Sues Over Cascade Derailment

March 3, 2020

A Washington State man has filed a lawsuit seeking damages to compensate him for injuries suffered in a December 2017 derailment of an Amtrak Cascades Service train near DuPont, Washington.

The lawsuit was filed by Timmy Brodigan, who was 16 at the time of the derailment.

The suit said he suffered a broken neck that has left him paralyzed.

The suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, names Amtrak, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit.

Although no damages amount was specified, the suit is seeking millions of dollars.

Although others filed lawsuits following the derailment, in which Cascades No. 501 plunged off a bridge and onto an interstate highway below, Brodigan’s suit is the first to name three defendant organizations.

The derailment left three dead and more than 60 injured.

A federal court jury earlier awarded $17 million to three victims in earliers cases.

An attorney representing Brodigan, Todd Gardner, said the negligence of the defendants resulted in his client now being dependent on a wheelchair to get around.

“He’d like his life back. He knows he’s not going to get that,” Gardner said at a news conference.

None of the defendants would comment on the lawsuit when asked about it by news media in Washington State.

Brodner’s lawsuit contends that Amtrak’s use of the Point Defiance Bypass south of Tacoma was rushed into service without adequate preparation.

The Dec. 18, 2017, derailment occurred on the first day of revenue service on the route.

Neither Amtrak nor Sound Transit has used the route since the derailment.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded that the Amtrak train was traveling nearly 80 miles per hour entering a 30-mph curve.

The NTSB report also noted that route did not yet have a positive train control system in operation at the time of the derailment.

Blockade Disrupts Amtrak Service to Canada

February 18, 2020

A blockade of Canadian National tracks in Canada disrupted last weekend Amtrak service to that country.

Amtrak’s Maple Leaf, which ordinarily operates between New York and Toronto, was halted at Niagara Falls, New York.

The New York-Montreal Adirondack did not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Also affected was Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest although some trains did operate all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The blockades, which have lasted more than a week, are being staged to protest construction of a natural-gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia and is opposed by the First Nation’s hereditary chiefs.

CN has shut down freight service in eastern Canada after blockades sprang up in that region.

VIA Rail Canada has also canceled most of its services within Canada.

Jury Awards Man $10M in Cascades Crash

February 14, 2020

A Washington State man was awarded more than $10 million this week by a jury for injuries he suffered in a December 2017 derailment of an Amtrak Cascades train.

Donnell Linton, 47 of Renton, was a passenger aboard the train, which derailed and crashed onto an interstate highway below in an accident that left three dead and dozens injured.

The jurors returned the verdict in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Linton is the second plaintiff to win damages from Amtrak in connection with the derailment.

Linton’s attorneys said he suffered fractures to his face, shoulder and ribs and is still receiving medical treatment.

He was traveling with his now 14-uyear-old son, who suffered some facial fractures.

An attorney said the elder Linton and his son were thrown from the train and landed on the highway.

Lawyers say other personal injury cases in connection with the derailment are pending while some cases have been settled out of court.

Group Pushes to Reopen Point Definance Route

January 25, 2020

All Aboard Washington is trying to turn up the heat to get Amtrak, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit to resume using the Point Defiance Bypass.

The route has been out of service since a December 2017 derailment of a Cascades train that left three dead and several others injured.

Two of those killed were members of the rail passenger advocacy group, Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite.

They were riding the first southbound revenue service Cascades to use the route.

In urging that the route be reopened as soon as possible AAW acknowledged that it was necessary to take safety measures on the route, including the installation of positive train control.

“The need for fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service has never been more urgent,” AAW said in a statement. “The traveling public wants a convenient, environmentally-friendly service that is safer than driving.

“With the right service improvements, the Cascades can meet this demand. But additional daily Cascades trains, with shorter running times between Seattle and Portland, cannot be implemented until the Bypass is in use.”

The statement contends that the installation of PTC plus other safety measures that have been undertaken made the route safe enough for scheduled passenger service.

“We believe that further postponing Cascades service on the Point Defiance Bypass — for which we have already paid $181 million — is detrimental to the interests of the Puget Sound region, the Pacific Northwest, and the traveling public as a whole,” AAW said.

“The taxpayers of Washington state have invested a significant sum of money to improve a useful service along a busy corridor. Let’s make that improved service a reality without delay.”

Neither Amtrak or WSDOT has indicated when the Point Defiance Bypass might reopen.

A consultant is conducting a study to be completed by Jan. 6, 2021, of “rail safety governance best practices and recommendations for the implementation of these best practices in Washington.”

Orphan Wisconsin Talgos May Find Home in Pacific NW

December 11, 2019

The Talgo equipment built for but never used in Amtrak service in Wisconsin was moved last week to Milwaukee from the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis.

Trains magazine reported that the equipment might be poised to be sent west for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The magazine said a Talgo spokesman said the company is working with Amtrak to prepare the equipment for service in the Amtrak Cascades corridor.

This includes the installation of positive train control and “features to align with the service provided in the Amtrak Cascades Corridor.”

The Talgo Series 8 train sets were built in 2012 in Milwaukee for use in Wisconsin-funded service to Madison that never materialized.

Trains said Amtrak released a statement saying that the Talgo equipment in question is being considered by the carrier for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The Wisconsin-built Talgos have been sitting at Beech Grove since 2014.

They were moved to Chicago on Friday, Dec. 6 over the route of the Cardinal between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Trains reported that the ferry move was hindered by freight train interference.

The Wisconsin Talgo train sets include three cab cars, three bistro cafes, three baggage-coach end cars and 22 coaches.

Although Talgo equipment has been used in Cascades service for years, it became the subject of controversy after a Talgo Series VI trainset was involved in a Dec. 18, 2017, derailment in DuPont, Washington, that left three dead.

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded, among other things, that the design of the Talgo equipment played a role in the consequences of the wreck.

Talgo has disputed that and asked the NTSB to reconsider that finding.

In the meantime the Washington State Department of Transportation has said it wants all Talgo VI equipment removed from service as soon as possible, citing the NTSB report.

Amtrak is responsible for providing replacement equipment for the service.

The Trains report noted that a contract between Amtrak and Talgo has yet to be finalized and that the “interim” nature of the equipment use might be a point of contention.

The equipment would also need a waiver of Federal Railroad Administration crashworthy rules.

The State of Oregon, which also funds Cascades Service, plans to keep in service its two Talgo Series 8 train sets that it purchased in 2013.

The Trains report speculated that the Wisconsin Talgos will be reconfigured into two train sets with some equipment being kept for backup service as needed.

Talgo Manager Takes Issue With NTSB Report

November 19, 2019

A Talgo manager said the National Transportation Safety Board that its report on the derailment of an Amtrak train in Washington State in December 2017 contains many errors and unsubstantiated statements.

The NTSB recommended that Amtrak and the Washington State Department of Transportation remove from service immediately the Talgo Series VI trainsets and replace them with equipment that meets current federal safety standards.

Talgo has asked the Board to reconsider its conclusions and recommendations in the case.

Talgo’s Director of Product Development and Compliance Joshua D. Coran told Railway Age that the recommendation to cease using Talgo equipment immediately was “unprecedented and nonsense.”

“I have researched every available NTSB report of passenger train derailments and collisions dating back to 1971,” he told the magazine. “I have found 33. None recommends the removal of an entire fleet of cars.”

The NTSB report concluded that because the Talgo Series VI equipment did not meet federal safety standards it poses an unnecessary risk to passenger safety.

Talgo Series VI equipment was being used on Cascades No. 501, which derailed due to going too fast on a curve.

The NTSB concluded that the Talgo equipment did not provide adequate passenger protection and was structurally vulnerable if involved in a high-energy derailment or collision due to its lack of crashworthiness protections.

The Talgo equipment, though, was in compliance with Federal Railroad Regulations having been “grandfathered” in on one FRA regulation.

In an editor’s note, Railway Age noted that Coran’s comments were his own and not necessarily reflective of the views of Talgo.

Coran said the NTSB’s recommendation “to replace compliant equipment with compliant equipment makes no sense, as it accomplishes nothing except negative commercial impact on the manufacturer of the criticized equipment, Talgo, and benefits manufacturers of potential replacements.

More of his comments can be found at https://www.railwayage.com/safety/ntsb-amtrak-501-report-errors-and-unsupported-statements/