Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern corridor trains’

4th Maine Town Backs Downeaster Extension

February 5, 2018

A fourth Maine city has agreed to help pay for an extension of Amtrak Downeastern service to the Midcoast region

Wiscasset has agreed to help the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority expand the Downeaster service beyond its current northern terminus in Brunswick.

The town’s select board unanimously agreed to fund construction of a boarding platform if NNEPRA is able to extend Downeaster service north, which originates in Boston.

Known as the “Coastal Connection,” the service would operate on weekends and serve Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle, and Rockland.

NNERPA Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the service is expected to cost about $200,000. She estimated it would have potential ticket sales of $100,000.

Bath, Newcastle and Rockland have existing boarding platforms owned by the Maine Department of Transportation that could be adapted for Amtrak use.

The Wiscasset platform is expected to be built south of Route 1 near a public boat launch. The platform is projected to cost $20,000.

“I think this would be a great thing for Wiscasset,” said Board Chair Judith Colby. “If we could make it happen, I think it would be fantastic.”

Board Member Robert Blagden said the town should be “more than capable” of building a simple platform for the train.

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Amtrak Carried 2,770 From Roanoke

December 18, 2017

During the first 30 days of service, Amtrak boarded 2,770 people in Roanoke, Virginia, which averages to 92 passengers per day.

Service to Roanoke began on Oct. 31 by extending a Northeast Regional train that terminated in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Roanoke.

Amtrak had forecast that ridership at Roanoke during the first year of service would be 38,000, an average of 104 passengers per day.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the carrier still expects to meet that projection, noting that ridership changes with the seasons.

Some Amtrak Trains in Pennsylvania Will Require Reservations During the Christmas Travel Season

December 14, 2017

Some Amtrak trains in Pennsylvania will require reservations during the Christmas holiday travel period.

Passengers riding Keystone Service trains between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian must have reservations between Dec. 21-28.

This includes travel between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

New York-Pittsfield Rail Service Studied

December 12, 2017

A study of rail service between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is underway.

The proposal would have trains use Amtrak’s Empire Corridor from New York to Rensselaer, New York, and then reverse direction and travel to Pittsfield via a CSX route now used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

This route would be unlikely to require any significant additional investment in new track, signals or land purchases on the Amtrak-owned segments.

However, facilities will be needed in Pittsfield for overnight storage and servicing of equipment.

Eddie Sporn, a West Stockbridge resident who heads real estate and planning firm Robin Road Consulting, said another option that would avoid running through Rensselaer is being eyes, but the Rensselaer option appears to be the favored.

Amtrak Marks 5 Years in Norfolk

December 12, 2017

Amtrak marked the fifth anniversary of service to Norfolk, Virginia, by saying that it was the highest-performing city pair in the Virginia state-supported system for Fiscal Year 2017.

Norfolk is served by a daily Northeast Regional train that operates to and from Washington.

Last year the route served 155,389 passengers, with ridership for the Norfolk station being 47,493.

“The success of the Norfolk service testifies to the progressive vision the Commonwealth has brought to bringing real alternatives for residents to travel,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president of state-supported services business development in a statement. “Increasing ridership for all the routes in Virginia speaks to how many people recognize trains as the smarter way to travel.”

Virginia helps to underwrite six Northeast Regional trains that serve Norfolk, Richmond, Newport News, Lynchburg and Roanoke and provide a same-seat trip to other cities along the Northeast Corridor. The Norfolk station is also a stop for the Thruway bus connection for service to the Amtrak station in Newport News.

Amtrak previously served Norfolk with the Chicago-Norfolk Mountaineer. That service ended in 1977.

More Empire Corridor Track Work Planned

December 6, 2017

More track work is planned for Amtrak’s Empire Corridor rail officials said this week.

Speaking at a ceremony to make the 50th anniversary of the New York-Buffalo, New York, route, Amtrak’s Joe McHugh, vice president of state supported services and business development, said work is planned for the Empire Connector, which leads into New York’s Penn Station.

The ceremony was held at the Capital District Transportation Authority rail station in Rensselaer.

McHugh and other officials wouldn’t provide any specifics, but the Albany Times-Union reported that sources with knowledge of the plans said Empire Service trains would have to be temporarily redirected to Grand Central Terminal next summer.

Amtrak apparently still needs to reach an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use GCT.

The event was held to look back on the history of the Empire Corridor, which was developed in 1967 by the New York Central Railroad.

McHugh said that in the middle 1960s it wasn’t clear whether there was a future for passenger rail.

“The people who rethought the roles that trains could fill are the people who saved the railroad,” he said.

In recent years, Amtrak has rebuilt some tracks used by Empire Service trains, added a fourth track at the Albany-Rensselaer station, and installed a second track between Albany and Schenectady.

A new station for Schenectady is currently under construction.

Amtrak is still awaiting delivery of new dining cars and sleeping cars for its long-distance trains, including the Lake Shore Limited.

McHugh said the diners that have been delivered have received positive comments from passengers, and that refurbishment of the interiors of the carrier’s Amfleet I cars should be completed by March 2018.

Downeaster Extension Test Runs Set

December 6, 2017

New England transportation officials hope to announce in January the details of a proposed summer service to Central Maine.

The plans are to extend Downeaster service to Rockland in the “Vacationland” region of Maine.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has said that the service would operate on weekends during the summer. NNEPRA manages the Downeaster line.

Officials said that test runs are slated before the end of this year to examine the potential schedule and cost of extending service beyond Brunswick.

NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the trains would also stop in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle.

“It’s conceptual,” Quinn said. “We’ve penciled it out and we’re in the phase of trying to see if we can actually do what looks like [it] might be possible on paper.

“Obviously it’s a heavily visited area. There’s a lot of tourism up the coast of Maine.

Quinn said it would also be a “very beautiful and scenic ride.”

Passenger service to Rockland ended in 2015 after the Maine Department of Transportation accepted a bid from Central Maine & Quebec Railway to operate freight service on the line between Brunswick and Rockland.

At the time, Maine transportation officials said they would eventually accept applications for passenger service on the route.

“The railroad infrastructure is a valuable resource that’s not being used to its full potential right now,” Quinn said.

Part of the motivation for extending the Downeaster service would be to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. Route 1

NNEPRA said earlier that the Downeaster carried 511,422 between July 2016 and June 2017.

Amtrak to Mark 50th Anniversary of Empire Service

December 2, 2017

Amtrak and New York State on Monday will celebrate 50 years of Empire Service between New York and Buffalo, New York.

The event will be held at the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station. Expected to be in attendance are elected officials, local dignitaries and prominent Albany civic leaders.

Amtrak plans to honor those who were at the New York Central in 1967 when the Empire Service was launched.

“Celebrating 50 years of rail passenger service is an accomplishment that Amtrak is proud to celebrate with all of its state partners and the communities along this route who have been integral to the Empire Service’s success,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak’s vice president of state supported services and business development.

The Empire Service was the result of restructuring of NYC intercity passenger service that the railroad hoped would reduce its passenger financial deficit.

Many long-distance trains were restructured and lost their names. The NYC also discontinued the fabled 20th Century Limited.

When Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971, the Empire Corridor hosted seven daily trains.

Today the corridor has 12 daily trains, although most of them operate only between New York and Albany-Rensselaer.

Amtrak restored service to Niagara Falls in 1971 and to downtown Schenectady in 1978.

Amtrak’s Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Trains in the corridor use dual-mode locomotives, which enables the trains to operate under diesel power and then switch to electric third rail power for operation into and out of New York Penn Station.

Until April 7, 1991, Amtrak’s Empire Service trains used New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

A recent track rebuilding has resulted in a 45-mile stretch of track between Hudson and Schenectady having a top speed of 110 miles per hour.

Downeasters to Skip Woburn on Dec. 2-3

November 30, 2017

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on Dc. 2 and 3 will result in some Downeaster skipping the stop at Woburn, Massachusetts on those dates.

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, Massachusetts, and will not stop at Woburn.

Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

New Platforms Open in Meriden

November 21, 2017

New platforms and a pedestrian bridge have opened at the Amtrak station in Meriden, Connecticut, but additional work still needs to be completed.

“Amtrak trains are now pulling up to the new platforms and the [pedestrian bridge] is open to customers,” said John Bernick, assistant rail administrator. “Both platforms opened up to allow for the completion of the track work and the removal of the temporary platform.”

Meriden is served by Northeast Regional Service trains between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts.

City Planner Robert Seale said sidewalk and landscaping work remains to be done in front of the station.

The pedestrian bridge will enable residents of the city’s east and west sides to more easily move between the two areas. Local officials said the tracks have long constituted a barrier.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station is expected to be held soon.