Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern long-distance trains’

Buses to Replace Boston LSL Section

July 21, 2021

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will result in service disruptions to the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited between July 23 and 26.

During that period, Train 448 will terminate at Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with alternate bus transportation provided to the missed stops of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station.

No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stop of Framingham or Boston Back Bay. Those traveling to Back Bay will ride the bus to South Station and take an Amtrak or MBTA commuter train to Back Bay.

Train 449 will originate at Albany with alternate bus transportation provided from Boston South Station, Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield.

 No alternate transportation will be provided from Boston Back Bay or Framingham.

Back Bay passengers will be given the option of boarding at Boston South Station or traveling on alternate dates.

Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak information desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the bus terminal.

Accelerating in Waterloo

June 27, 2021

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is picking up speed as it accelerates away from its station stop in Waterloo, Indiana, one hour and 15 minutes late.

It is the first image I’ve made of the Capitol in well over a year and getting this photograph took good timing and fast acting.

Before leaving home I had checked the status of Amtrak trains through Waterloo. There wasn’t enough time to get there before the Lake Shore Limited arrived and chances were good I would miss No. 29 by 15 minutes or so.

It had been reported out of Cleveland an hour and 20 minutes but Amtrak’s website projected No. 29 would make up a good chunk of that and arrive in Waterloo 59 minutes late.

If that held, I had no chance. But I also knew Amtrak can get delayed between Waterloo and Toledo.

As I neared Waterloo I checked the Amtrak website again. No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:46 a.m. I figured to miss by that about five minutes.

The exit ramp for Waterloo onto U.S. Route 6 from Interstate 69 is just beyond the bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

As I passed the exit signs for Route 6 it was 7:47 a.m. on my car’s clock. I slowed for the bridge and exit ramp and looked toward the east. No headlight was in sight.

That was a good sign This just might work after all.

Nearly a month earlier as I had driven over that same bridge I had seen the headlight of a fast approaching Amtrak 49. I was going to fast to get to the side of the road in time to try to get a grab shot and a pickup truck also getting off at the exit was right on my tail.

So close and yet so far away.

This time I drove to a road that crosses the Chicago Line at grade shortly after I got onto Route 6. The gates were up. Another good sign.

I checked the Amtrak website and saw No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:53 a.m., three minutes from now. Did I have time to get to the station?

I began driving down a road that runs parallel to the tracks. Then there it was up ahead. I immediately pulled to the side of Lincoln Street, grabbed my camera and dashed into the weeds to make this image.

There was no time so think about what I wanted to do. I barely was able to get all of the train in the frame.

Photographing the Capitol Limited is a challenge because much of its journey occurs at night. On the western end of the route the train is always operating in the wrong light. Only on the eastern end can you get 29 or 30 in good light.

In Northeast Ohio, No. 30 is scheduled into Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. and No. 29 at 2:53 a.m.

Still, you can get an interesting image on the western end of the route if you work it right.

The glint off P42DC No. 190 was happenstance but I also knew that this time of year the early morning light would favor the north side of the train.

I’m hoping it won’t be another year before I can photograph the Capitol Limited again.

Manchin Wants Study of Daily Cardinal

June 27, 2021

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is pushing for a study of making Amtrak’s Cardinal a daily train.

Nos. 50 and 51 currently operate tri-weekly, departing Chicago on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and New York on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Manchin said in a news release that he was able to win approval of a measure to fund the study in the Surface Transportation Investment Act that is being considered by the Senate.

“The language I secured in the Surface Transportation Investment Act will require a study on potential options to restore the Cardinal line daily service, which provides access to and from much of West Virginia, Manchin said in statement.

“This is an important first step towards restoring the Cardinal line and I look forward to reviewing the results of this important study to determine how we can best move forward.”

Traditional Dining to Return to Eastern Trains

June 27, 2021

Dining aboard the Capitol Limited in route to Chicago in May 2012.

Goodbye flexible dining and hello French toast.

Amtrak announced on Tuesday its plans to return traditional dining to eastern long distance trains and allow coach passengers to buy meals in the dining car.

However, it gave no date for when those changes but indicated it would be late this year or in early 2022.

Traditional dining for sleeping car passengers is being reinstated on western long distance trains on June 23.

Amtrak officials also indicated the eastern trains likely will receive an abridged version of the menus used on western trains and that coach passengers might not necessarily be able to eat in the dining car but use a takeout service.

Those are moves Amtrak management expects to decide over the next few months.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at a press event at Chicago Union Station during which Amtrak showed off its first Siemens ALC-42 locomotives that will be used in the carrier’s national network.

The carrier also showed new interior designs for its Superliner fleet.

Robert Jordan, Amtrak’s vice president operations and customer services, said when traditional dining and coach passenger access to dining cars is implemented will depend on the reactions the carrier gets to the new dining-car menus planned for the western long-distance trains.

 “A lot of it is centered on two things,” he said. “First will be passenger reaction to the menu. “Do we need to make any adjustments? What is the most popular, and how long each of those items takes to cook, because we imagine that whatever is popular with our [sleeping-car passengers] is going to be as popular with our coaches,

“And then, once we understand that, we’ll figure out the logistics of what’s going to make sense. Is it opening up the dining room or additional tables for coach customers, or is it more of a take-out kind of menu, or is it a delivery? Those are the things we have to weigh. It is a priority for us to roll it out for coach customers, so hopefully within three or four months we can do that.”

As for the differences between menus of the eastern versus the western trains, Jordan said the former will receive “a version” of the new menu, but probably not the exact menu. 

“You’re only talking three or four meals, so I don’t know if we have to have every single menu item.”

Jordan indicated the return of traditional dining to eastern trains will likely occur late this year or early near year.

Traditional dining on Amtrak’s western trains will include the return of linen tablecloths and napkins, new flatware and glassware.

Dining car china will return in a few months once Amtrak is able to receive its order of china. Until then meals will be served on plastic plates.

Roger Harris, Amtrak’s executive vice president, chief marketing and revenue officer, said the return of traditional dining and upgraded silverware and dishes reflects an understanding that premium prices should be accompanied by premium service.

“We have so much demand that prices go up, because we’re a little bit of a supply-and-demand world,” Harris said.

“We look at it, and go, ‘wow,’ if we’re going to charge people more, we better do a better job of looking after them . . . I’s not just a tablecloth. The food product is better.”

Jordan said the fare to be served in dining cars was developed in consultation with Amtrak’s own chefs as well as those from vendors such as Cuisine Solutions and Aramark.

The menu they decided upon has a mixture of long-standing Amtrak menu items, including French Toast, Angus beef burgers, and flatiron steak and some new entrees.

 “Overall, we wanted healthy items, whole food items — fairly traditional, but we wanted to simplify it to some extent, as well,” Jordan said.

“Our previous menu had 18 items; this one has, not counting the appetizers, 12 items. So customers are not overwhelmed by the choices and it makes it easier for our chefs to prepare these.”

Traditional Dining to Return to Eastern Trains

June 16, 2021

Dining aboard the Capitol Limited en route to Chicago in May 2012.

Goodbye flexible dining and hello French toast.

Amtrak announced on Tuesday its plans to return traditional dining to eastern long distance trains and allow coach passengers to buy meals in the dining car.

However, it gave no date for when those changes but indicated it would be late this year or in early 2022.

Traditional dining for sleeping car passengers is being reinstated on western long distance trains on June 23.

Amtrak officials also indicated the eastern trains likely will receive an abridged version of the menus used on western trains and that coach passengers might not necessarily be able to eat in the dining car but use a takeout service.

Those are moves Amtrak management expects to decide over the next few months.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at a press event at Chicago Union Station during which Amtrak showed off its first Siemens ALC-42 locomotives that will be used in the carrier’s national network.

The carrier also showed new interior designs for its Superliner fleet.

Robert Jordan, Amtrak’s vice president operations and customer services, said when traditional dining and coach passenger access to dining cars is implemented will depend on the reactions the carrier gets to the new dining-car menus planned for the western long-distance trains.

 “A lot of it is centered on two things,” he said. “First will be passenger reaction to the menu. “Do we need to make any adjustments? What is the most popular, and how long each of those items takes to cook, because we imagine that whatever is popular with our [sleeping-car passengers] is going to be as popular with our coaches,

“And then, once we understand that, we’ll figure out the logistics of what’s going to make sense. Is it opening up the dining room or additional tables for coach customers, or is it more of a take-out kind of menu, or is it a delivery? Those are the things we have to weigh. It is a priority for us to roll it out for coach customers, so hopefully within three or four months we can do that.”

As for the differences between menus of the eastern versus the western trains, Jordan said the former will receive “a version” of the new menu, but probably not the exact menu. 

“You’re only talking three or four meals, so I don’t know if we have to have every single menu item.”

Jordan indicated the return of traditional dining to eastern trains will likely occur late this year or early near year.

Traditional dining on Amtrak’s western trains will include the return of linen tablecloths and napkins, new flatware and glassware.

Dining car china will return in a few months once Amtrak is able to receive its order of china. Until then meals will be served on plastic plates.

Roger Harris, Amtrak’s executive vice president, chief marketing and revenue officer, said the return of traditional dining and upgraded silverware and dishes reflects an understanding that premium prices should be accompanied by premium service.

“We have so much demand that prices go up, because we’re a little bit of a supply-and-demand world,” Harris said.

“We look at it, and go, ‘wow,’ if we’re going to charge people more, we better do a better job of looking after them . . . I’s not just a tablecloth. The food product is better.”

Jordan said the fare to be served in dining cars was developed in consultation with Amtrak’s own chefs as well as those from vendors such as Cuisine Solutions and Aramark.

The menu they decided upon has a mixture of long-standing Amtrak menu items, including French Toast, Angus beef burgers, and flatiron steak and some new entrees.

 “Overall, we wanted healthy items, whole food items — fairly traditional, but we wanted to simplify it to some extent, as well,” Jordan said.

“Our previous menu had 18 items; this one has, not counting the appetizers, 12 items. So customers are not overwhelmed by the choices and it makes it easier for our chefs to prepare these.”

Two Section Cardinal

June 4, 2021

Amtrak’s Cardinal typically operates with one P42DC locomotive, three Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, a Viewliner sleeper and Viewliner baggage-dorm.

But at least once a week it is used to ferry equipment from the Beech Grove shops to Chicago. The equipment being ferried is placed on the head end of No. 51 at Indianapolis Union Station and provides the appearance of two trains having been combined into one.

That was the case on Memorial Day this week when No. 51 passed through Brownsburg, an Indianapolis suburb, with one section consisting of two P42DC locomotives, two Viewliner baggage cars and a Superliner coach. The second section had the consist that No. 51 operated with from Washington to Indianapolis.

The train on this day was operating one hour, 50 minutes late out of Indianapolis.

Equipment bound for Beech Grove is ferried to Indianapolis in combination with Train 50 in the same manner.

Lounges to Remain Absent from 2 Trains

May 24, 2021

Sightseer Lounge cars won’t be returning to two long distance trains when they resume daily operation.

The Rail Passengers Association reported on its website that it has been told by Amtrak that the absence of the popular cars from the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle is temporary.

“While temporary, we do not yet have a defined timeline for increasing Sightseer Lounge availability, and have placed the other five Western [long distance] routes at a higher priority for deploying these popular cars,” said Larry Chestler, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long-Distance business unit. “We also are maintaining the Sightseer Lounge on the City of New Orleans due to our long-standing axle count requirements in Illinois.”

That means the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle will will continue to operate with a single food-service car.

Chestler said Amtrak has a shortage of the lounge cars due to coronavirus contingencies. He said the cars will be restored once it’s possible to do so.

The Capitol Limited is scheduled to return to daily operation on May 31 while the Texas Eagle will resume daily operation today (May 24).

In a related development, Amtrak expects to resume full-service dining aboard Western long distance trains as early as June. Last May it switched to the contemporary dining model as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The passenger carrier is recalling furloughed workers and getting them qualified.

RPA said it was told that once traditional dining returns to the Western trains, Amtrak will begin work on “improvements to dining services on other [long-distance] routes, including the Eagle.”

Tags: Amtrak onboard service, Amtrak Sightseer Lounge, Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, Amtrak’s Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, COVID-19 pandemic, dining aboard Amtrak

Boston LSL Section Disrupted by Track Work

May 10, 2021

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will disrupt operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited through June 17 east of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

On Monday through Thursday Train 448 will terminate at Albany. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stops of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station. No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stop of Framingham.

Passengers bound for Boston Back Bay station will be bused to Boston South Station and then take an Amtrak or MBTA commuter train between South Station and Back Bay.

Train 448 also will observe these schedule changes on June 5 and 12, both Sundays.

Train 449 will originate in Albany with alternate transportation provided to the missed stops of Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield.

 No alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stops of Back Bay and Framingham.

Passengers traveling from Back Bay have the option of boarding at Boston South or traveling on alternate dates.

At Boston South Station passengers should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

At Worcester, passengers will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the bus terminal.

CONO To Operate Later NB Due to CN Track Work

March 19, 2021

Canadian National track work will disrupt the operations of the northbound City of New Orleans between March 17 and May 12.

No. 58 will operate as Train 1058 and depart New Orleans on Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:45 p.m. 60 minutes later than normal.

It will operate on this later schedule at all stations from New Orleans to McComb, Mississippi, where it will hold until 4:42 p.m., 70 minutes later than normal and operate on a later schedule at all stations between McComb and Jackson, Mississippi.

It will then hold at Jackson until 7:14 p.m., 90 minutes later than normal and operate on a later schedule at all stations from Jackson to Chicago.

Train 58 will operate normally on Sundays during this time period.

CSX Track Work Disrupts Southeast Service

March 19, 2021

CSX track work has affected the operations of several Amtrak trains in the Southeast through April 25.

The southbound Silver Star will on Friday through Sunday depart Savannah, Georgia, at 4:33 a.m, 15 minutes later than normal.

Train 91 will depart Jacksonville, Florida, at 7:29 a.m, 30 minutes later than normal and depart later at all stations between Jacksonville and Miami.

On March 18, 26 and April 2, No. 91 will stop in North Carolina at Selma and Wilson and depart all stations from Raleigh to Denmark, South Carolina, six minutes later than normal, Savannah 21 minutes later than normal and all stations from Jacksonville to Miami 36 minutes later than normal.

The northbound Silver Star on Thursday through Saturday will depart Hamlet, North Carolina, at 6:29 a.m., 15 minutes later than normal.

It will depart Raleigh at 9:15 a.m., 30 minutes later than normal and depart later at all stations between Raleigh and New York.

On March 19 and 26 and April 2, No. 92 will stop at Selma and Wilson and depart Hamlet at 6:29 a.m., 15 minutes later than normal.

It will depart Raleigh at 9:15 a.m., 30 minutes later than normal, Rocky Mount 39 minutes later than normal and operate 37 minutes later at all stations from Petersburg, Virginia, to Alexandria, Virginia, and 35 minutes later than normal from Washington to New York.

The Carolinian will operate between Charlotte and Raleigh on Monday through Thursday between March 29 and April 1.

No alternative transportation is being provided between New York and Raleigh.

On March 16 through March 28 Train 79 will depart Selma at 4:58 p.m., 20 minutes later than normal and operate on that later schedule to Charlotte.

On March 16 through March 28, Train 80 will depart Rocky Mount at 11:40 a.m., five minutes later than normal, Petersburg at 1:21 p.m., 10 minutes later than normal, Richmond Staples Mill at 2:31 p.m., 20 minutes later than normal and operate on this later schedule to Washington.

The southbound Palmetto will operate operate between New York and Washington only on Mondays and Thursdays with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Savannah.

No. 89 will operate on Saturdays between New York and Savannah, departing Florence, South Carolina, at 5:59 p.m., 15 minutes later than normal.

The northbound Palmetto will operates on Wednesdays and Fridays between Washington and New York, with no alternate transportation provided between Savannah and Washington.

No. 90 will operate between Savannah and New York on Saturdays, departing Richmond Staples Mill at 5:39 p.m., 15 minutes later than normal and operating on a later schedule to Washington.

The train will depart Washington  at its normal time of 8:30 p.m.

The southbound Silver Meteor during the period of March 15 to April 1 will depart Fayetteville, North Carolina, at 1:37 a.m., 15 minutes later than normal, Florence at 3:33 a.m., 20 minutes later than normal and Savannah at 7:10 a.m., 30 minutes later than normal. It will operate on this later schedule at all stations to Miami.

The northbound Silver Meteor during the period of March 14 through March 31 will depart Kingstree, South Carolina, at 10:21 p.m., 10 minutes later than normal, Rocky Mount at 2:29 a.m., 20 minutes later than normal and Richmond Staples Mill at 4:57 a.m., 25 minutes later than normal. It will operate on this later schedule at all stations to New York.

The Auto Train is expected to be delayed by 20 minutes in each direction.