Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern corridor trains’

Downeasters to Miss Woburn on April 14

April 12, 2018

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on April 14 will result in certain Downeaster trains missing the station stop at Woburn, Massachusetts.

Trains 690, 692, 694, 696, 698, 691, 693, 695, 697 and 699 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill, thus missing Woburn.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

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Downeaster Trial Expansion Scrapped

March 29, 2018

A proposed extension of Amtrak’s Downeaster service has been canceled.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which oversees the Downeaster, had planned to operate an extension from Brunswick to Rockland, Maine on three weekends this summer.

But Patricia Quinn, executive director of the authority, said the trial service was scrubbed because Amtrak could not conduct a risk assessment of the 58 miles of track to be used by the service in time for the trial runs.

Quinn said Amtrak would conduct its assessment later this year and that the authority is looking to conduct the trials in 2019 with a schedule that “hopefully can be more robust than three round trips.”

The trial service had been expected to operate in August with intermediate stops in stops in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle, Maine.

Track Work Disrupts Northeast Region, Vermont Trains

March 27, 2018

Track work being undertaken between April 6 and 8 will result in Amtrak service cancellations and substitute bus service between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut.

Affected will be Amtrak service to the intermediate stations of  Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor and Windsor Locks.

On April 6, Northeast Regional Trains 136 and 148 will operate normally from Washington to New Haven with passengers riding a bus to all stations from New Haven to Springfield.

On April 7,  numerous trains will see service disruptions. Northeast Regional Trains 140, 143, 146 and 147 will operate normally between Washington and New Haven, but passengers will be provided bus service at all stations between New Haven and Springfield.

The Vermonter will operate normally between Washington and New Haven with passengers riding a bus to most scheduled intermediate stations between New Haven and St. Albans, Vermont. However, the bus will not stop at Claremont, Windsor and Randolph.

Springfield Shuttle Trains 401, 405, 450, 460, 463, 464, 467 and 488 will be cancelled, and bus service will be provided all stations on the route.

On April 8 Northeast Regional Trains 143 and 157 will operate normally from New Haven to Washington, but passengers originating from points north of New Haven will be provided bus service.

Harrisburg Station Renovation in the Works

March 16, 2018

Plans are in the works to renovate the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Transportation Center, but no timeline for the project has been set.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said work inside the station can begin soon, but other work will not proceed until a flooding alleviation project is completed.

PennDOT said it is creating a master plan for the station, which is the western terminus of Amtrak’s Keystone Service from New York and Philadelphia and an intermediate stop for the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Officials said 90 percent of the design of the $15 million station renovation is complete and PennDOT is working with Amtrak on a construction schedule.

A public hearing has been set for March 22 at 4 p.m. at the station to discuss the proposed project.

PennDOT and the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority want to transform the transportation center and adjacent area into a new transit-oriented, mixed-use development that they say could help revitalize the city.

The plans call for improvements to Market and Cameron streets and a direct connection between the station and parking areas east of it.

However, flooding issues involving Paxton Creek need to be addressed first, including how to fund them.

By one estimate, the flood control work will cost between $60 million to $90 million with the source of that funding yet to be decided.

Some suggested sources have included the state’s Multimodal Fund and the departments of Community and Economic Development and Conservation and Natural Resources.

Once funding is secured the flood control project will require at least four or five years to complete.

Among the plans for the Harrisburg station  development project are an open-space cafe in the main lobby, new seating in the concourse area, removal of trees on Aberdeen Street to open sightlines and increase safety, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating at the station, and a new entry plaza from the lower-level Market Street entrance.

Also being planned are new office space in the upper floors and removal of offices in the lobby, a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to the station, streetscaping and improvements, and relocating the intercity bus facility.

Signal Work Affects Richmond Trains

March 16, 2018

Signal work being performed by CSX will result in delays of 45 to 120 minutes for all trains arriving and departing Staples Mills station in Richmond, Virginia.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that on March 26 the Carolinian will operate between only Rocky Mount and Charlotte, North  Carolina. No service will be provided at stations between New York and Rocky Mount.

The Palmetto will operate between New York and Washington only. Service will not be available at any station served by the Palmetto south of Washington.

On March 27, the Carolinian will again operate only between  Rocky Mount and Charlotte with service canceled between New York and Rocky Mount  and no alternate transportation provided.

Other trains will be affected by the signal work on March 26 as follows:

  • Train 67 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Newport News.
  • Train 94 will originate at Richmond Staples Mills station with no alternate transportation between Newport News and Richmond.
  • Train 85 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Washington and Richmond.
  • Train 84 will depart Norfolk at 6 am and operate 10 minutes earlier through its arrival in Richmond. Normal schedules will resume from Richmond to New York.
  • Train 66 will originate in Washington with no alternate transportation between Newport News and Washington.
  • Train 125 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Norfolk.
  • All other trains will operate normally

Trains will operate on 27 as follows:

  • Train 66 will originate at Richmond with no alternate transportation provided between Newport News and Richmond.
  • Train 67 will terminate at Richmond with no alternate transportation provided between Richmond and Newport News.
  • Train 84 will originate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Norfolk and Washington.
  • Train 174 will originate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Richmond and Washington.
  • All other trains will operate normally.

Downeaster Service Disruption Set in April

March 13, 2018

Amtrak said that track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will result in some Downeaster trains missing their scheduled stops in Woburn, Massachusetts, on April 14 and 15.

Southbound Trains 690, 692, 694, 696 and 698 and northbound Trains 691, 693, 695, 697 and 699 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill and will not stop at Woburn.

Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

Ethan Allen Schedule to Change

March 12, 2018

Amtrak said in a service advisory that starting on April 7, Ethan Allen Express No. 292 will run 5 minutes later between Rutland and Albany. The passenger carrier said the 5 minute adjustment was being made to improve performance and help to decrease delays.

Amtrak Backpedals on Talk of Ending Service on Routes Lacking PTC

March 7, 2018

On second thought never mind. Amtrak has quickly backpedaled on comments made by CEO Richard Anderson that lack of progress on installation of positive train control might result in the carrier ending service to Vermont.

 “Right now we have no plans to cease any service on any route,” Amtrak’s Bill Hollister told Vermont Business Magazine.

Of course the operative words in that statement are “at this time.” Amtrak didn’t say that ending service to Vermont would not occur. Yet it has signaled that it is unlikely.

The Green Mountain State funds trains linking the state with New York City from St. Albans (Vermonter) and Rutland (Ethan Allen Express).

Anderson had suggested the service might end due to lack of progress on installing PTC during a congressional hearing.

The issue is not the tracks in Vermont, which are not required by federal law to have PTC, but on those elsewhere.

Some U.S. railroads are facing a Dec. 31 deadline to install PTC and some are not expected to be able to make that deadline.

The strong adverse reaction of Vermont public officials to Anderson’s congressional remarks caught Amtrak off guard. But Vermont officials in turn were surprised by what Anderson said.

Dan Delabruere, director of Vermont’s Agency of Transportation’s Rail and Aviation Bureau said Anderson’s suggestion that the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express would be suspended “kind of shocked a lot of people. We did not know this announcement was coming.”

At a recent meeting of the bureau’s advisory board, Bill Hollister, Amtrak’s senior manager of government affairs for state-supported services in the Northeast, tried to mend fences.

“I want to apologize to Vermont for all the angst [the Anderson statement] caused,” he said. Hollister said Amtrak “did not expect [a reaction] that strong.”

Delabruere said Vermont officials have had several conversations with Amtrak since Anderson’s testimony and learned that the passenger carrier is undertaking an analysis of safety risks on its route network and exploring remedies less onerous than the installation of PTC in Vermont and elsewhere, to address perceived safety risks.

“We’ve got to figure something out,” Delabruere said. “We don’t know what that’s going to mean for us. I can’t even speculate.”

In the meantime, Anderson somewhat softened the stance he took earlier. In testimony to a Senate committee on March 1, Anderson said Amtrak is “reevaluating” future service in light of safety concerns.

“We have to determine whether we continue to operate in non-PTC territory, and apply the principles of our safety management system to mitigate” risks on those rail routes,” he said. “We should establish PTC as the standard for passenger rail in America, including dark territory, and including covering the areas that are today excluded by the law.”

In response to a question from Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire), Anderson said Amtrak has a research and development project underway “to determine whether we can use technologies from Europe that don’t require as much trackside investment, but that would give us speed restriction and signal location.”

“I’m not sure if Anderson even knew the implications of what he was saying,” said Ira Silverman, who worked in Amtrak management for 20 years. “The reality is, when he announces that he’s shutting these trains down, do you believe there isn’t going to be a political reaction?”

Hollister indicated after the meeting in Vermont that a compromise between the status quo and PTC implementation on all of Vermont’s Amtrak routes seems likely.

“The game plan is to work towards mitigation of risks,” he said, adding that it is an ongoing process in which Amtrak and its state partners will draft and implement plans to improve safety on Amtrak routes.

Pa. Trains Need Reservations for Easter Travel

February 28, 2018

Amtrak will require reservations for travel aboard the Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service trains for travel during the Easter travel period of March 29 to April 2.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said monthly and 10-ride tickets will be accepted on these dates.

 

PTC Issues Could Sideline Vermont Trains

February 27, 2018

Amtrak service to Vermont could become a casualty of the wrangling over the installation and implementation of positive train control.

The state funds the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express, both of which link the Green Mountain State with New York City.

In testimony given on Feb. 15 to a congressional committee, Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson noted that the tracks Amtrak uses in Vermont are exempt from a federal law that requires that PTC be installed by the end of 2018.

In his testimony, Anderson said he doubted that the Vermont services would continue operating as a result, but Amtrak later clarified that the passenger carrier has yet to make a decision on that.

Anderson had said that Amtrak won’t operate over tracks that are not in compliance with federal law pertaining to PTC.

“[f]or those instances, where we will not have PTC even after the 12/31 deadline because It’s not required by statute, we have a question about whether we’re going to operate at all, and I doubt we will,” Anderson told the committee.

The next day, though, Amtrak assistant vice president for operations Chris Jagodzinski said the carrier is launching a risk analysis of its 21,000 miles of routes.

Jogodizinski spoke at a meeting in Washington with the States for Passenger Rail Coalition with some state officials listening in via a conference call.

“They’re just having their first risk analysis meeting today,” said Dan Delabruere, who heads up Vermont’s passenger rail program at the Agency of Transportation.

Delabruere said Amtrak officials said that the scope of that analysis remains to be determined.

“There certainly wasn’t a hard, fast, ‘We’re going to stop’,” he said, referring to Jagodzinski’s comments in regards to Amtrak’s Vermont service.

Vermont public officials have rallied in support of saving the state’s service.

Senator Patrick Leahy said in an email statement, that Amtrak’s managers “have not made any decisions to halt service in Vermont or elsewhere. I will keep working to secure sufficient funding support for Amtrak so it has the resources it needs to continue providing safe service for Vermonters.”

Dan McLean, press representative for Senator Bernie Sanders, wrote, “Bernie does not want to see service suspended. But he does want to see PTC on all passenger and freight trains as soon as possible” as a matter of upgrading infrastructure.

The track used by the Vermonter is owned by the New England Central Railroad while Vermont Rail System owns rails used by the Ethan Allen Express.

Lee Khan, chairman of the Vermont Rail Action Network rail passenger service advocacy group thinks that Anderson is overreacting.

“It’s ridiculous. Our railroads have been safe – we have two of the safest short lines in the country,” she said. “It’s frightening . . . to cancel service. This is an economic driver in this state. It’s hard to imagine that Amtrak would do this. We’ll fight it every step of the way.”