Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Coast Starlight’

No Date Yet for Coast Starlight Resumption Over Full Route

August 5, 2021

No date has been set yet to restore service to the full length of the Coast Starlight route between Los Angeles and Seattle.

The service was disrupted June 28 when fire damaged the Dry Canyon Bridge bridge in Northern California.

Amtrak said it is “actively working” with host railroad Union Pacific on a plan to restore service. The bridge has since been repaired and reopened to freight traffic since Aug. 1.

A bus bridge is operating between Sacramento, California, and Klamath Falls, Oregon, to connect trains operating on the northern and southern portions of the Coast Starlight route.

The bus bridge was cancelled on July 1 but resumed on July 16, Trains magazine reported that booking travel on the Coast Starlight has been difficult because Amtrak has only placed tickets on sale a few days in advance.

Amtrak Long-Distance Trains to Resume Daily Service

March 11, 2021

Amtrak said Wednesday it will reinstate daily service on 12 long-distance routes starting in late May.

Trains on those routes shifted last year to tri-weekly or quad-weekly service in the wake of steep ridership declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement of expanded service came hours after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a pandemic relief package that contains increased funding for Amtrak.

The legislation also contains a mandate that routes that had daily service until last year resume daily operation and that furloughed employees be recalled.

President Joseph Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion bill on Friday.

Two routes, the Chicago-New York Cardinal and New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited will be unaffected by the changes because those routes have operated on tri-weekly schedules for years.

Amtrak has already resumed selling tickets for the expanded days of operation on the 12 routes.

Trains returning to daily service on May 24 include the Chicago-Emeryville, California, California Zephyr; Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight; Chicago-Portland/Seattle Empire Builder, and the Chicago-San Antonio-Los Angeles Texas Eagle.

Daily operation returns May 31 for the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited; Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans, Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, and the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Resuming daily operation on June 7 will be the New York-New Orleans Crescent, New York-Savannah Palmetto, and the New York-Miami Silver Meteor (via Savannah) and Silver Star (via Raleigh).

In a news release, Amtrak said new Viewliner II sleeping cars will be making their debut on the Silver Service trains.

The Auto Train had continued to operate daily and its operations will remain unchanged.

Amtrak will receive $1.7 billion in emergency pandemic aid, which will help fund restoration of daily service on long-distance routes.

Winter Conditions Cause More Service Disruptions

February 18, 2021

Harsh winter weather continued to lead to delays and cancellations for Amtrak on Wednesday, including in the Midwest.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said a week of temperatures near zero caused a series of “weather-related equipment issues.”

A Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water round trip was cancelled on Wednesday as a result.

Reportedly, the problem involved the train’s two Charger locomotives and Amtrak maintenance was unable to fix the issue.

The same day the Chicago-bound Pere Marquette, which originates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was terminated at its first intermediate stop in Hollard, Michigan, due to equipment problems.

Passengers were transferred to a bus to complete their journey to their destination.

Several corridor and long-distance trains that did operate on Tuesday and Wednesday encountered lengthy departure delays from Chicago.

After a late Tuesday arrival in Chicago from Carbondale, Illinois, the Saluki was canceled on Wednesday and its counterpart to Carbondale, the Illini, was cancelled that day.

Both trains were cancelled on Wednesday. Reportedly the problem that led to the cancellation of the Illini was a computer issue on the locomotive that locked up the brakes so that they would not release.

Elsewhere, Amtrak canceled trains in Virginia and the Carolinas ahead of a winter storm expected to bring ice and snow to the region.

The Auto Train was cancelled in both directions on today. Also cancelled were trains that terminate at Norfolk, Newport News, and Roanoke in Virginia, and the Palmetto to Savannah, Georgia.

The northbound counterparts to these trains have been cancelled for Thursday and Friday.

In the West the Coast Starlight has resumed operating over its entire route.

However, Wednesday departures of the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles and New Orleans were cancelled.

The Texas Eagle will originate in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday as scheduled. The westbound Texas Eagle will resume departing from Chicago on Friday.

The Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, Heartland Flyer remains suspended until Feb. 20.

Storms Disrupt Amtrak on East, West Coasts

February 1, 2021

A winter storm on Sunday prompted Amtrak to cancel several services in the East.

Among them was the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian. Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia operated on a limited schedule.

Also operating on limited or modified schedules was Northeast Regional Service between Boston and Virginia, and Empire Service between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

All Acela service between Boston and Washington was canceled.

In a related development, storms on the West Coast also caused service suspensions and cancellation over the weekend.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said all service between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, California, has been suspended until further notice because of storm damage on the Union Pacific line along the Pacific Coast.

Pacific Surfliners that normally serve San Luis Obispo originated and terminated in Santa Barbara Sunday and Monday.

Alternative bus service was provided to San Luis Obispo.

Also affected was the Coast Starlight. In a Twitter message, Amtrak said the Starlight would be originating and terminating on Monday in Oakland, California.

Pacific Surfliners, Coast Starlight to be Disrupted

June 19, 2020

Some Pacific Surfliner trains and the Coast Starlight will be disrupted on June 20 and 21 due to a scheduled track closure.

In a service advisory Amtrak said the following changes will affect northbound Pacific Surfliner schedules.

Train 763 will terminate at Los Angeles with Bus 4863 operating from Los Angeles to Oxnard. Train 1763 will operate from Oxnard to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Train 777 will terminate at Los Angeles with Bus 4877 operating from Los Angeles to Oxnard and Train 1777 operating from Oxnard to San Luis Obispo.

Train 785 will terminate at Los Angeles with Bus 4885 operating from Los Angeles to Oxnard and Train 1785 operating from Oxnard to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will be provided between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stations of Glendale, Burbank Airport, Chatsworth, Simi Valley, Moorpark or Camarillo.

Buses will depart all stations earlier than the normal schedule. Trains traveling north of Oxnard depart later than the normal schedule.

As for southbound service, Train 768 will originate at Los Angeles. Train 1768 will operate from Goleta to Oxnard and operate as Bus 4868 from Oxnard to Los Angeles. Regular connecting bus service will be provided between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Train 774 will operate as Train 1774 from San Luis Obispo to Oxnard, as Bus 4874 from Oxnard to Los Angeles and as Train 774 from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Train 796 will originate at Los Angeles. Train 1796 will operate between Goleta and Oxnard and Bus 4896 will operate from Oxnard to Los Angeles. Regular connecting bus service will be provided between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

No alternate transportation will be provided to missed stations of Glendale, Burbank Airport, Chatsworth, Simi Valley, Moorpark or Camarillo.

Buses will depart all stations earlier than the normal schedule. Trains traveling north of Oxnard depart later than the normal schedule.

The Coast Starlight will not operate on June 20 and 21 between Oakland and Los Angeles, missing intermediate stops at San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys and Burbank.

Train 11 will terminate at Oakland and Bus 4796 will hold for connecting passengers. Train 14 will originate at Oakland.

Amtrak said that passengers seeking to travel between Los Angeles and Oakland could take an Amtrak Thruway bus to Bakersfield and connect to an Oakland-bound San Joaquins train.

Travel to most of the missed intermediate stops between Los Angeles or Oakland may be booked using a combination of Amtrak Capitol Corridor and/or Thruway bus service.

Thruway Bus Service to Resume to San Francisco

June 12, 2020

Amtrak Thruway Bus service between San Francisco and Emeryville, California, will resume on June 15.

The service will operate on a reduced schedule from its previous levels of service.

Buses 5005, 5006, 5011, 5014, 6011 and 6014 will connect with the California Zephyr and Coast Starlight in Emeryville.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said buses will only stop at the San Francisco Salesforce Plaza and Emeryville stations. Buses will not stop at the Oakland Jack London station.

Seating on the buses will be limited in order to maintain social distancing.

Pacific Surfliner Skeds to Change June 1

May 30, 2020

Amtrak plans to implement on June 1 some service changes to Pacific Surfliner service that will restore some previously suspended service.

Three trains in each direction will operate north of Los Angeles with two terminating in Santa Barbara/Goleta and terminating in San Luis Obispo.

Thruway bus service will provide supplemental travel options connecting with trains in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

Effective June 2, Train 774 will originate in San Luis Obispo instead of Los Angeles.

Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

Two bus trips will operate from Oakland to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. One bus trip will operate between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

Trains 562, 566/1566, 572/1572, 578, 590/1590, 782 and 792 remain canceled.

Train 777 will terminate in San Luis Obispo instead of Goleta. Train 785 will terminate in Goleta instead of Los Angeles.

Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

One bus trip will operate between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and two bus trips will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to Oakland.

Trains 561/1761, 565/1565, 569/1569, 573/1573, 583, 591/1591, 595 and 759 remain canceled.

The Coast Starlight will continue to operate one trip daily through San Luis Obispo.

Waiting Room to Reopen in Washington State

May 30, 2020

The waiting room of the Amtrak station in Olympia-Lacey, Washington, will re-open on June 1. The station will be open daily from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If the northbound Coast Starlight is late, the station will remain open until its arrival.

Amtrak said station hours may change based on service adjustments.

In other station news, the Amtrak station at Camarillo, California, on the Pacific Surfliner route will have new boarding procedures effective June 1.

All southbound trains and northbound train 759 will use Track 2. All other northbound trains will use Track 1

Track 2 will be accessible from the pedestrian bridge located at the end of the platform near the freeway overpass and the street at 71 N. Dawson Drive.

Amtrak said it is an approximately 10 minute walk from one track to the other.

Amtrak’s April Ridership Was Bad, But Bookings for Long-Distance Trains is Looking Promising

May 23, 2020

Amtrak ridership data for April was released this past week and it showed a sharp plunge compared with a year ago.

In April 2020 Amtrak handled 120,000 passengers compared to 2.7 million who rode in April 2019.

The ridership drop is attributed largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Northeast Corridor handled 19,000 passengers, a drop of 97.5 percent from a year earlier. It was the steepest ridership plunge system wide on a percentage basis.

Amtrak lost 87 percent of its passengers on the San Joaquin route in California.

Ridership of state-funded corridors fell 96 percent while the long-distance trains saw ridership fall 86.8 percent.

Year-to-date ridership is down 21 percent and revenues has fallen by 19 percent.

Amtrak expects those figures to grow and they might have been larger than they were but for strong ridership and revenue performances earlier in the year before social distancing measures were imposed.

In a related matter, the Amtrak vice president who oversees long-distance trains said the use of prepackaged meals for sleeper class passengers on Western trains will continue for at least another month.

Larry Chestler told the Rail Passengers Association that Amtrak has begun to see some early signs of recovery on many routes.

However, he cited safety and continued lagging ridership for waiting to restore traditional dining car service to the Western trains.

Chestler said the carrier will evaluate ridership data in late June and determine at that time whether to restore traditional dining car service.

The prepackaged meals have been served to sleeper class passengers on Eastern long-distance trains since June 2019 and were extended to all of those trains last October.

Although the long-distance trains have seen steep ridership drops, Chestler said those declines have been smaller than on other routes.

A recent rise in bookings for long-distance trains have given Amtrak some hope that higher demand is coming, Chestler said.

“Whether that means there’s more demand for summer it’s too soon to say,” he said.

In particular, bookings are trending upward for Coast Starlight and Southwest Chief with some growth also starting to show for the California Zephyr and Empire Builder.

Chestler said bookings are coming back “from the bottom of the bottom,” which Amtrak reached during the period of mid April to early May when it averaged 3,000 passengers a day nationwide.

Since then Amtrak ridership has doubled that, but it’s still well below what it would otherwise be at this time of year.

Some of the ridership of long-distance trains has occurred in regions where corridor trains have been suspended or reduced in frequency.

An example would be the Empire Builder between Chicago and Milwaukee where Hiawatha Service was suspended in favor of a once a day Thruway bus.

Before the pandemic, Amtrak operated seven daily roundtrips between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Chestler said Amtrak management considered continuing into the summer the reduced consists that began operating during the pandemic.

But management elected to move from what he termed “a kind of quasi-minimum” to restoring capacity for the summer.

“Had we reduced to the May levels [for the summer] we would have had a number of trains where we would have been essentially sold out already” in coach, Chestler said.

That doesn’t mean all of the seats would have been occupied because Amtrak for now is selling only half of the capacity of each coach assigned to a train in order to maintain social distancing.

“On the [Southwest] Chief and the [California] Zephyr and the [Empire] Builder there’s more sleepers [and] typically one more coach,” he said.

“We’ve balanced the use of baggage coaches and other kinds of cars to put an appropriate amount of capacity” in place “to capture demand signals from customers,” Chestler said.

Amtrak management is mindful that reducing capacity also could dampen the return of demand because the seats aren’t available.

Chargers Pull Test Train on Empire Builder Route

February 3, 2020

Amtrak is operating a test train on three routes that is being pulled by a pair of Siemens Charger locomotives.

The consist included two SC-44 units, a P42DC locomotive, a Horizon Fleet car, three Viewliners baggage cars, a Viewliner passenger car and four Superliner cars.

The train operated from Chicago to Seattle last Tuesday and was designed to simulate the weight and length of a long-distance train.

“The purpose of this trip is to gather data,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari, adding that officials from Amtrak and Siemens were on the train.

Additional tests runs are being made on the routes of the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr.

An online report indicated that the test train departed on the route of the Zephyr on Sunday morning and is due into Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.

Amtrak said in December 2018 that it would purchase 75 Siemens Charger locomotives for long-distance trains to replace its GE-built P40 and P42DC locomotives.

The Genesis series locomotives have been in service for more than 25 years.

The Chargers are expected to begin arriving at Amtrak in mid 2021.

Currently Chargers are in service on corridor trains in the Midwest and West.