Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Coast Starlight’

Track Work to Disrupt Coast Starlight

May 22, 2018

Union Pacific track work will disrupt the operations of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight late this month and early next month in Oregon.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that on May 28 and 29 and on June 5, Train No. 11 will terminate at Eugene. Buses will transport passengers between Eugene and Klamath Falls, stopping at Chemult.

The train may be delayed between 30 and 60 minutes departing Klamath Falls.

On the same dates, Train No. 14 will terminate at Klamath Falls with buses operating between Klamath Falls and Eugene, stopping at Chemult.

A connection to Train No. 28, the eastbound Empire Builder, at Portland will be made via Bus 5528 at Eugene.

On the days of service disruptions, Train No. 14 may be delayed between 6 and 7 hours.

On June 5, Train No. 14 will not depart Klamath Falls until 10:45 a.m.

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Track Work Disrupts Coast Starlight

March 27, 2018

Track work being undertaken this week by Union Pacific through March 29 is disrupting operations of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

Train No. 14 will miss its connection to Train No. 28 (Empire Builder) at Portland, Oregon, with no alternative transportation provided except on March 25.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that Train No. 14 will also miss its connection to Bus 8914. Passengers with tickets for Bus 8914 on these dates should call 800-USA-RAIL to change their reservation.

Amtrak Takes Host Railroads to School

March 26, 2018

Amtrak has launched a quarterly “report card” on its website that evaluates the delays that it incurs on the tracks of its host railroads.  In the first report card, Amtrak said most delays are due to freight trains interference.

The implication is that such delays violate a federal law that gives Amtrak passenger trains preference over freight trains. However, the law has some exceptions.

Amtrak assigned letter grades to six Class 1 railroads that were based on delays per 10,000 train miles.

Amtrak defines that as the number of minutes of host-responsible delay, divided by the number of Amtrak train miles operated over that host railroad, times 10,000.

Canadian Pacific received the only A on the report card. Other railroad grades included a B+ for BNSF, a B- for Union Pacific and a C for CSX. Norfolk Southern and Canadian National both “flunked” by receiving grades of F.

Following are some Amtrak comments regarding hosts railroad performances on specific routes:

• 97 percent of passengers on Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee arrived at their destinations on time. Ninety percent of trips experienced no freight train interference.

• 90 percent of passengers on Carl Sandberg/Illinois Zephyr service arrived on time with less than 4 minutes of delay by BNSF freight trains.

• More than 57 percent of passengers arrived late abroad the Coast Starlight. On an average trip on this route, passengers experienced four separate instances of delay caused by UP freight trains, accounting for 48 minutes of delay on average.

• 50 percent of passengers traveling on the Cardinal arrived late by an average of 1 hour and 27 minutes. On 85 percent of trips, the Cardinal’s 350 passengers are delayed by CSX freight trains.

• Over 67 percent of passengers arrived late at their destinations while traveling on the Crescent. The typical Amtrak train, carrying 350 passengers, is delayed over 1 hour and 40 minutes due to NS freight trains. Many Amtrak trains wait as long as 3 hours and 12 minutes for NS freight trains using this route.

• More than 200,000 passengers arrived late at their destinations on the Illini and Saluki, which operate between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. Amtrak trains were delayed by CN freight trains on nearly 90 percent of their trips.

California City Wants to be Amtrak Stop

February 27, 2018

A California city is seeking to become a stop for Amtrak’s Coast Starlight and may use a California gas tax to do it.

King City in southern Monterey County wants the Los Angeles-Seattle train to stop at its recently renovated train station.

“Like all early California cities, when the train station came to King City, it built our city, that was the impetus for us to grow,” said Mayor Mike LeBarre said. “What we see this as, is reestablishing that historic stop.”

LeBarre said having Amtrak service would enable residents of the city of 14,200 to participate in meeting California greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and bring more tourists to the town, which is one of the gateways to Pinnacles National Park.

Amtrak has studied adding King City and Soledad to its network.

“They had some estimates of timetables, which basically showed that we could get from King City to San Francisco . . . in about a three hour and 15 minute trip, which to me is very auto-competitive,” LeBarre said. “Especially if you factor in the [Bay Area] traffic.”

King City officials expect to learn in April if the city will receive gas tax funding to be used toward establishment of a multi-modal station.

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.

Pacific Northwest Schedules Modified

January 2, 2018

Amtrak has modified schedules in the Pacific Northwest until further notice.

In service advisory Amtrak said that daily Cascades round-trips are being provided between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Two additional roundtrips that had been scheduled to go into service on Dec. 18, 2017, have been canceled indefinitely due to lack of equipment.

One Talgo trainset was sidelined after a Dec. 18 derailment while another set has been out of service since a derailment last July.

Cascades service between Portland and Eugene and Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia are unchanged from the schedule that went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017. In addition to these schedules, the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Startlight will continue to operate to all scheduled stations.

Amtrak continues to use its station at 1001 Puyallup Avenue for all trains.

WSDOT Says Point Defiance Bypass Won’t Be Put Back Into Service Until PTC System is Operational

December 22, 2017

Passenger trains won’t use the Point Defiance Bypass in Washington State until positive train control is activated on the line.

The Washington State Department of Transportation made the announcement in the wake of an Amtrak derailment near Olympia, Washington, last Monday that left three dead.

Investigators have said the train was running at 80 miles per house in a 30 mph zone when it derailed.

The accident occurred on the first day of revenue service on the 14.5-mile line, which is owned by Sound Transit.

No timetable has been set for finishing the installation of PTC on the route. Amtrak’s Cascades Service and Coast Starlight trains will use the Point Defiance route, which runs along Puget Sound and also lacks PTC.

In the meantime, the National Transportation Safety Board said the engineer of Cascades Service Train No. 501 began applying the brakes just before the train derailed.

The NTSB said that an initial review of an in-cab camera in the lead unit of train 501 showed that about six seconds before the accident the engineer made a comment regarding an “over speed condition” and began applying the locomotive brakes.

Aside from the engineer, an Amtrak conductor training to work on the route was in the cab of the locomotive.

Neither crew members was using a personal cell phone in the minutes before the derailment and the video showed both bracing for impact in the final frame of the video.

The locomotive’s event recorder showed the train traveling at 78 mph as its final recorded speed.

NTSB officials said the investigation of the accident may take up to two years to complete.

Amtrak will continue to operate its expanded schedule of Cascades Service despite an equipment shortage caused by the derailment.

Even before the derailment occurred, equipment had been in short supply because a Talgo trainset owned by the State or Oregon was out of service for repairs.

A set of Superliner equipment had been sent to the Pacific Northwest to cover one of two daily Seattle-Vancouver, British Columbia, trains.

The Oregon-owned Talgo set was involved in an accident last July 2 and had to be sent to the Talgo factory in Milwaukee for repairs. It is expected to return to service in March 2018.

To meet schedules, Amtrak is now turning all Talgo trainsets at Portland, Oregon, rather than in Eugene, Oregon.

Amfleet equipment has been assigned to trains operated between Eugene and Portland with passengers making connections in Portland for points north.

Suspended Pacific Surfliner Service Restored

December 18, 2017

Amtrak resumed Pacific Surfliner service in California on Saturday to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Oxnard that had been suspended due to wildfires.

This includes service to all intermediate stations, including Surf Beach and Goleta.

Amtrak sent a tweet on Friday saying that the next day all Pacific Surfliners would be back to normal except for Train 774, which would originate in Los Angeles instead of San Luis Obispo. No checked baggage service would be offered at Santa Barbara.

Amtrak had ceased operating south of Santa Barbara due to the fires. The suspension also affected the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight, which had been suspended south of Emeryville, California.

Wildfires Disrupt California Service

December 12, 2017

Wildfires in California led Amtrak service to suspend service between Oxnard and San Luis Obispo. Pacific Surfliner trains are operating between Oxnard and San Diego. The Coast Starlight is operating between Seattle and Emeryville, California. Alternate transportation will be provided.

Pacific Parlour Cars Being Overhauled

December 5, 2017

Amtrak is overhauling its fleet of Pacific Parlour Cars at its Beech Grove shops with many of the former Santa Fe cars being out of service between Jan. 8 and March 14, 2018.

The cars are assigned to the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight and used as a lounge for sleeping car passengers.

An attendant in the car usually serves as a bartender, provides lunch and dinner, and hosts a wine and cheese tasting each afternoon.

Amtrak said that until the rebuild is completed, Pacific Parlour Car service will only be provided northbound out of Los Angeles on Thursdays and Fridays, and southbound from Seattle on Saturdays and Sundays.

On other days, sleeping car passengers desiring lounge car service will be directed to the train’s Sightseer Lounge, which is available to all passengers.

During the winter travel season, the Coast Starlight typically operates with a transition sleeping/dorm car, two sleepers,  dining car, Sightseer lounge and two to three coaches.