Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Coast Starlight’

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.

Changes Coming to I-5 Rail Corridor

November 10, 2017

Amtrak will begin using a new station in Tacoma, Washington, that is located in a former Milwaukee Road freight house.

It is one of many changes in the Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, including the $181.2 million dollar Point Defiance Bypass Route south of Tacoma.

The latter includes 14.5 miles of upgraded tracks between Tacoma and Nisqually, Washington, where the bypass will rejoin the mainline to Portland.

A portion of the upgraded route has its original alignment on former Northern Pacific rails south of the Tacoma Amtrak depot where the tracks climb a 2.85-percent grade to South Tacoma.

Passenger trains are being moved away from the more scenic route along Puget Sound due to freight congestion, tight curvature and a single-track tunnel under Point Defiance. The track was also subject to mudslides.

The new route is also expected to be 10 minutes faster or Amtrak.

Once an additional daily Cascades round-trip in the morning and the evening between Seattle and Portland is launched, Amtrak will have 14 trains in the corridor, including the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

There will be 16 Sounder commuter trains north of Lakewood, Washington, is 16 daily trains which will result in 30 daily passenger trains on the new single track line. The new route is slated to reduce Amtrak passenger times by 10 minutes.

UP Track Work to Disrupt Coast Starlight in Oregon, California; Will Also Affect Select Corridor Trains

October 24, 2017

Union Pacific track work is affecting Amtrak’s Coast Starlight and other western corridor trains in late October and early November.

In California, track work being performed from 10:30 p.m. on Oct.  25 through 10:30 a.m. on Oct.  27 will affect Pacific Surfliner service and the Coast Starlight as follows.

On Oct.  25 Train 785 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard. Bus service will be provided from Oxnard to Santa Barbara and Goleta. Bus service will not be provided at Ventura and Carpinteria.

On 26, Pacific Surfliner trains will operate on the following schedules. These trains will not stop at Ventura and Carpinteria, and bus service will not be provided.

Northbound Nos. 761, 769 and 785 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard. Bus service will be provided from Oxnard to Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Northbound Nos. 763 and 777 will operate between San Diego and Oxnard only. Bus service will be provided between Oxnard and Santa Barbara. Bus service will also be provided to Goleta for Train 777 passengers only.

Northbound Nos. 2763 and 2777 will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Southbound Nos. 768, 782 and 792 will originate at Oxnard. Passengers boarding in Goleta and Santa Barbara will be provided bus service to Oxnard, where they will board their respective trains.

Southbound Nos. 2774 and 2796 will operate between San Louis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Bus service will be provided between Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

Southbound Nos. 774 and 796 will operate between Oxnard and San Diego only.

The Coast Starlight will detour between Oakland and Los Angeles and will not make stops at San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys and Burbank. Passengers traveling to those destinations are directed to use local travel services.

In Oregon, track work between Klamath Falls and Portland will affect Cascades Service Nos. 503, 505, 506, 508 and Coast Starlight No. 14 as follows:

Train 503 on Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 is canceled between Portland and Eugene. Bus service will be provided at all stations on the route.

Train 508 on Nov. 1 through Nov. 3 will operate between Portland and Seattle only. Bus service will be provided to and from Eugene, Albany, Salem and Oregon City and will connect to Train 508 at Portland.

Train No. 508 will operate as normal on Nov.  4 and 5.

Trains 505 and 506 are canceled between Portland and Eugene will be cancelled. Bus service will be provided at all stations on the route.

Train  will operate between Portland and Seattle only. Bus service will be provided to and from Eugene, Albany, Salem and Oregon City to connect to Train 506 at Portland.

On Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 the northbound Coast Starlight will wait at Eugene up to two hours and 15 minutes.

Passengers connecting from Train 14 to Empire Builder No. 28 at Portland, you will get off the train at Eugene, where bus service will be provided to Portland to board No. 28.

Amtrak to Build New Engine Facility in Seattle

June 15, 2017

Amtrak will build a $28 million locomotive service facility in Seattle to serve two long-distance trains and the state-funded Cascades service.

Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed in two years. The first step will be demolition of the site’s existing buildings, utilities, tracks and other structures.

Workers will then construct a new 31,000-square-foot locomotive shop that will have a new 125-ton drop table being funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation and a 55-ton overhead bridge crane.

Seattle is the western terminus of the Empire Builder from Chicago and the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles. The Cascades trains operate to Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and to Vancouver, British Columbia.