Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern long-distance trains’

W.Va. Senate Passes Daily Cardinal Legislation

April 7, 2017

A bill that seeks to promote daily operation of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal is poised to pass the West Virginia legislature and be sent to Gov. Jim Justice.

The Senate approved the legislation on a 32-1 vote this week without discussion.

HB 2856 had been approved on March 22 on a 95-5 vote by the House of Delegates.

The House must concur in a title amendment to the bill before it reaches the governor’s desk.

The bill has the support of the Justice administration. “I couldn’t be more solidly behind it. It’s integral to tourism to have that train operating daily,” said Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher said of the legislation, which does not appropriate any funding for operating expenses of the now tri-weekly train.

Instead, it authorizes the state Tourism commissioner to enter into compact agreements with other states served by the Cardinal, and with Amtrak to improve the quality and frequency of Cardinal service.

The commissioner will be allowed to establish a special revenue account in which funds could be deposited to promote daily Cardinal service.

The Cardinal passes through West Virginia in both directions on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, serving Huntington, Charleston, Hinton, White Sulphur Springs and Prince.

No Injuries in LSL Chicago Derailment

March 29, 2017

No injuries were reported when the inbound Lake Shore Limited derailed at slow speed just outside of Chicago Union Station on Monday.

No. 49/449 was arriving at the station at 11:50 a.m. when three cars on the 11-car train left the rails.

Passengers in the three cars were helped into the cars that remained on the tracks.

The cause of the derailment is still being investigated, but the mishap occurred as the train was moving through a switch.

There were 197 passengers and nine crew members aboard. Damage to the passenger cars was minimal.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said there were no delays to Amtrak or Metra trains. However, a couple of Amtrak trains were held in the station to allow extra time for connecting passengers to transfer their luggage.

W.Va. Legislature Moves Toward Daily Cardinal

March 24, 2017

One half of the West Virginia legislature is supporting legislation that would permit the state tourism commissioner to work with Amtrak and other states to make the Chicago-New York Cardinal a daily operation.

The House of Delegates approved the bill on a 95-5 vote and it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The bill would establish a special revenue account that could be used by the state to help fund the outreach effort, but it does not appropriate any funding to help pay the operating costs of the Cardinal.

The Cardinal currently operates tri-weekly, passing through West Virginia westbound on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and eastbound on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Capital Region Track To Be Done by Summer

March 20, 2017

Amtrak expects to finish a massive rail improvement project in New York’s Capital Region this summer.

The $163 million program is adding a second track between Albany and Schenectady, New York, in order to eliminate a bottleneck on the single-track route used by the Lake Shore Limited, Empire Service trains, the Adirondack, the Ethan Allen Express and the Maple Leaf.

The work also includes upgrading the signal system and improving grade crossings.

An earlier stage of the project involved lengthening two passenger platforms at the Albany-Rensselaer station, primarily for the benefit of passengers boarding and disembarking from the Lake Shore Limited.

Amtrak officials said the work is nearly finished south of the Capital Region and that the second track between Albany and Schenectady should go into service in late spring or early summer.

A NYDOT spokesman said contractors are still placing ballast on the new track, as well as making deck repairs on the Union Street and Erie Boulevard bridges in Schenectady, cleaning and improving culverts, and removing poles, now that the new signal system is underground.

However, officials say that earlier ides to increase the level of service west and north of the region are uncertain at best.

Michael Franchini, who heads the Capital District Transportation Committee, a government planning organization that oversees the disbursement of federal transportation funds, said there are no serious proposals to extend Empire Service trains now terminating at Albany-Rensselaer to Schenectady or Saratoga Springs.

The New York Department of Transportation will say only that it continues to consider increased service.

Saratoga County residents who are now served by the New York-Montreal Adirondack said that they need additional service to provide them more flexibility in their travel plans.

Some now drive an hour to the Albany-Rensselaer station to take advantage of its higher level of service to New York City.

In a related development, NYDOT officials have been asked to replace the locomotives used between Albany-Rensselaer and New York Penn Station.

The dual model locomotives are able to run on diesel fuel or electric current, but use electric power in the Manhattan tunnels that bring trains into Penn Station.

Replacing the fleet with 25 new locomotives would cost an estimated $250 million.

The current locomotives are old and prone to breakdowns that delay trains.

Amtrak Restoring Service Today

March 15, 2017

Amtrak said it would operate on a modified schedule on Wednesday in the East as a result of winter storm Stella.

The eastbound Capitol Limited has resumed operated to Washington. It had terminated at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Today’s No. 29 originated in Pittsburgh.

The Lake Shore Limited did not depart from either Chicago or New York/Boston on Tuesday.

The Amtrak website showed tickets are available for No. 48 leaving Chicago today as well as No. 49 leaving New York.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said all long-distance trains that use the Northeast Corridor will resume scheduled service today.

The Acela Express and Northeast Regional service will operate on a modified schedule between New York and Boston with trains terminating short of their destination or cancelled.

Acela Express and Northeast Regional service between New York and Washington will also operate on a modified scheduled.

Also operating on modified schedules will be the VermonterKeystone Service and Empire Service trains. The Downeaster and Springfield Shuttle will resume scheduled service.

At the Throttle of the Last WB National Limited

March 14, 2017

Conrail engineer Russell Smith awaits a highball in Indianapolis aboard Amtrak’s last westbound National Limited.

Smith has his left hand on the throttle of of F40PH No. 310 as it barrels along toward Terre Haute.

Looking over the engineer’s shoulder as Amtrak No. 31 rolls over the former New York Central mainline west of Indianapolis for the final time as a scheduled train.

It is Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak train No. 31 has arrived early into Indianapolis. This is a crew change point and for the final time the engineer and fireman will board the head end of the National Limited to take it west, working as far as St. Louis. Both are Conrail employees.

Tomorrow, the National Limited will be no more. It’s last trips departed from their endpoint cities on Sept. 30 and were allowed to continue to their destinations.

I got permission from the engineer to ride in the cab of F40PH No. 310 as far as Terre Haute, Indiana.

All of these photographs were made using Kodak Tri-X film. The images were scanned from the negatives.

Winter Storm Leads Amtrak to Shorten Route of Capitol Limited, Cancel Boston LSL Section

March 13, 2017

A severe winter storm that has prompted Amtrak to cancel and reduce service along the Northeast Corridor will also affect some trains operating to the Atlantic Seaboard from outside the region.

The Capitol Limited will not operate on Tuesday (March 14) between Pittsburgh and Washington.

The Lake Shore Limited will not operate between Boston and Albany/Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said there will be no Acela Express service between New York and Boston, and there will be modified Acela Express service between New York and Washington.

Northeast Regional service will operate on a modified schedule between Boston and Washington with the routes of some trains shortened and other trains being canceled. This will affect some trains that operate beyond Washington to points in Virginia.

Also operating on modified schedules will be Empire Service, Downeaster Service and Keystone Service trains.

CSX Track Work to Affect Palmetto, Silver Star

March 11, 2017

CSX track work will affect operations of Amtrak’s Silver Star and Palmetto on Monday, March 13.

The Palmetto will not operate between Washington and Savannah, Georgia. An Amtrak service advisory did not indicate if alternative transportation will be provided.

The northbound Silver Star will depart Miami on March 12 four hours earlier at 7:50 a.m.

The times at all scheduled intermediate stations to New York will be four hours earlier on March 12-13. No. 92 will operate as No. 1092 during the trip.

Last EB Hilltopper in Roanoke

February 14, 2017

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Amtrak will make a comeback in Roanoke, Virginia, some time within the next year or so.

There have been numerous passenger trains in the Virginia city in recent years, but they have been excursions pulled by Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611.

Amtrak served Roanoke between March 5, 1975, and Sept. 30, 1979.

Service initially was provided by the Chicago-Norfolk, Virginia, Mountaineer, which operated combined with the James Whitcomb Riley west of the Chesapeake & Ohio’s Russell Yard near Ashland, Kentucky.

Under pressure from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, Amtrak divorced the Mountaineer and Riley on April 24, 1977.

The Mountaineer became an independent train that operated between Cattlettsburg, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C., and was renamed the Hilltopper.

Low patronage made the Hilltopper an easy target to be discontinued during the 1979 Amtrak route restructuring. It made its final trips on Sept. 30.

The eastbound Hilltopper had three passenger cars tacked on the rear for part of its journey.

The cars, owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, were removed at Roanoke.

Connersville Amtrak Ridership Fell in FY 2016

February 2, 2017

Connersville is the only Amtrak station in Indiana that does not see daily service.

Amtrak CardinalThe town of 13,000 located southeast of Indianapolis is served in the middle of the night by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal.

It also earned in 2016 the distinction of having the lowest ridership of the 11 Amtrak stations in the Hoosier state.

That came on the heels of record ridership in 2015 in Connersville.

Amtrak figures show that ridership in Connersville fell 24 percent last year from what it was in 2015. In 2016 Amtrak boarded and discharged 586 passengers, compared with 770 the year before.

Revenue earned from business in Connersville was 23.2 percent less in 2016 than the year before at $37,650 for fiscal year 2016, compared with $48,990 in 2015.

Going back to 2008, ridership at Connersville has been in the 600 to 700 range. The lowest ridership was recorded in 2011 when 532 boarded or got off.

What happened in Connersville was not all that out of line with Amtrak’s ridership in Indiana generally.

Amtrak ridership in Indiana during FY 2016 was 134,012 riders, a decline of 1.1 percent from the 135,509 who rode in 2015.

In the meantime, Amtrak plans this year to rebuild the Connersville station to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.