Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern long-distance trains’

Silver Star Disrupted Today by Track Work

May 7, 2018

CSX track work will disrupt operations of the Silver Star in Florida on May 7.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that southbound No. 91 passengers destined for Tampa of Lakeland will detrail at Orlando and transfer to Bus 4091, which will stop at Kissimmee to pick up passengers traveling to Lakeland or Tampa only.

Passengers originating at Tampa or Lakeland will board Bus 4191 and transfer to Train 91 at Winter Haven. Bus 4191 will depart Tampa at 10:30 a.m. and Lakeland at 11:40 a.m., earlier than the train schedule.

Northbound Train No. 92 passengers headed for for Tampa or Lakeland will detrain at Winter Haven and transfer to Bus 4092.

Passengers originating at Tampa, Lakeland or Kissimmee will board Bus 4192 and transfer to Train 92 at Orlando. Bus 4192 will depart Tampa at 4:45 pm, Lakeland at 5:55 p.m. and Kissimmee at 6:35 p.m., earlier than the train schedules.

Advertisements

Amtrak Acknowledges Plans to Suspend New York Section of Lake Shore Limited This Summer

April 11, 2018

Amtrak has acknowledged that rebuilding of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City will result in the cancellation of the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited this summer.

The bridge joins upper Manhattan with the Bronx over the north end of the East River.

During the bridge work, Amtrak will also rehabilitate the Empire Service tunnel that connects Penn Station with the West Side Line to the bridge.

Although Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer, did not say during a conference call with news media when the work will be done, he indicated that through late May Amtrak is focusing on concrete demolition, wooden tie replacement and rail renewal for Track 18 used by the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station.

One more of the three turnouts by Interlocking “C” at the east end of the station is still being rebuilt. Work on the first two are finished as is all work on Track 15.

Workers are scheduled to begin the summer program of renovations at Penn Station beginning May 26 and wrap up by Sept. 4.

Amtrak is developing new timetables for all Empire Service trains to be operated to Grand Central Terminal during the outage.

During the project, the Lake Shore Limited will operate between Chicago and Boston with no through cars to or from Chicago and New York.

Amtrak has been testing the use of cab cars on Empire Service trains. Last year when the passenger carrier diverted trains to Grand Central it placed locomotives on both ends of the trains.

The Spuyten Duyvil bridge was damaged by Hurricane Sandy although some of its problems have been the result of normal wear and tear.

The rebuilding of the bridge involves both mechanical and electrical work that Amtrak engineering has been looking at doing for quite a while.

As for the Empire Tunnel, Amtrak plans to replace crossties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

New York Section of LSL Reportedly Will be Suspended During New York Penn Station Work This Summer

March 1, 2018

An online report said that Amtrak plans to return FL9 locomotives to service this summer and to temporarily drop the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited due to construction at New York Penn Station.

The report, which did not provide sources, said the FL9s are owned by the State of Connecticut and will be used as cab cars when some Empire Service trains begin using Grand Central Terminal.

The former New Haven locomotives are needed because for emergencies there must be an exit from a train in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Side doors cannot be used on outside tracks so passengers would need to be evacuated through the rear door

However, Amtrak’s P32AC-DMs locomotives lack a nose door. Therefore, the FL9s will be used to lead trains into Grand Central. The trains will be turned there so that the FL9s will lead at all times.

The report said the FL9s will need to be rebuilt at the Amtrak shops in Rensselaer, New York, for cab car use.

Metro-North P32AC-DM engines are able to use the Park Avenue tunnel because they were built with nose doors.

The planned consists of trains using Grand Central will be a cab car or non-powered FL9 leading; an unoccupied Amtrak P32AC-DM to provide traction and head-end power, and the train’s passenger cars.

During this period the Lake Shore Limited will continue to operate between Chicago and Boston.

CSX Employee Gave Wrong Info About Switch

February 7, 2018

A Jacksonville, Florida, newspaper reported on Tuesday that incorrect information provided by a CSX employee helped lead to a head-on collision early Sunday morning between a CSX auto rack train and Amtrak’s Silver Star.

Two Amtrak employees were killed in the collision in Cayce, South Carolina, and 116 were injured.

The Jacksonville Business Journal said it based its report on CSX records that it obtained and a source the newspaper did not name.

Those documents show that Amtrak’s New York to Miami No. 91 had stopped five miles before the collision site.

At the time, the signal system in that area had been off since 8 a.m. on Saturday as work progressed to install positive train control.

After a CSX conductor at the site informed the dispatcher that a manual control switch had been moved back into its normal position, the dispatcher cleared the Amtrak train to proceed.

However, the switch had not been restored and Amtrak No. 91 was routed into the path of the parked auto rack train, which did not have a crew on board at the time of the collision.

With the signal system turned off, dispatchers were governing movement in the area with track warrants.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt has told reporters during press briefings that the CSX auto rack train had backed into the siding after working at an auto facility.

Sumwalt said investigators discovered that the switch that had been opened to enable the CSX train to move into the siding was locked with a padlock in the open position.

Amtrak No. 91 had 149 passengers and eight crew members on board at the time of the crash.

2 Dead, 110 Hurt After Silver Star Collides Head-on With CSX Auto Rack Train in South Carolina

February 5, 2018

Two Amtrak crew members were killed and more than 100 injured early Sunday morning when the Miami-bound Silver Star was misrouted into the path of a parked CSX freight train.

The accident happened at 2:35 a.m. in Cayce, South Carolina, about 10 miles south of a the train’s previous station stop at Columbia, South Carolina.

Officials said Train No. 91 had 147 aboard and 110 of them were reported to have suffered injuries ranging from minor cuts to broken bones. Nine of those aboard were Amtrak employees.

Killed were Amtrak engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia, and conductor Michael Cella, 36 of Orange Park, Florida.

Dr. Eric Brown, the executive physician for Palmetto Health,  said six people were admitted to hospitals for more severe injuries, including head trauma.

National Transportation Board Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said on Sunday afternoon that the switch had been manually “lined and locked” to divert the Amtrak train into the freight train.

“Of course key to this investigation is learning why that switch was lined that way because the expectation is the Amtrak would be cleared and would be operating straight down,” Sumwalt said.

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said during a conference call with reporters that before the crash the Amtrak crew was communicating with a CSX dispatcher by phone because a signaling system that governs traffic in the area was down for maintenance.

Authorities said investigators are still trying to determine how fast the Silver Star was going at the time of the collision, but the top speed there is 59 mph.

Sumwalt said the CSX train had two locomotives and 34 empty auto rack cars. It had unloaded automobiles on the west side of the main line and then used it to back into a siding on the east side of the main line.

“We were able to see that it was actually literally locked with a padlock to make it lined to go into the siding,” Sumwalt said of the switch on the main.

He said investigators will focus on why the switch wasn’t restored to its normal position before Amtrak No. 91 arrived.

NTSB personnel at the scene retrieved a front-facing video camera from Amtrak P42DC No. 47 and sent to their laboratory in Washington for review. The train’s event data recorder had not been located as of Sunday evening.

“I can tell you there’s catastrophic damage to each of the locomotives,” Sumwalt said. “In fact, I would say that the Amtrak locomotive would be not recognizable at all.”

The consist of the Amtrak train included a P42 locomotive, three Amfleet coaches, an Amfleet cafe lounge, two Viewliner sleepers and a baggage car.

Sumwalt said the crash could have been avoided if positive train control had been in operation at the time.

About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled after the collision, but authorities said it posted “no threat to the public at the time.”

Passengers who were not injured or had been treated for injuries were taken to a middle school for shelter.

They were later put aboard chartered buses to continue their journey southward.

Cardinal Passengers Were Stranded in Culpepper

February 5, 2018

Somewhat lost in the news about last week’s collision between a chartered Amtrak train carrying Republican congressmen and a garbage truck was what happened to two other Amtrak trains that use the same route.

The westbound Cardinal was halted at Culpepper, Virginia, stranding 90 passengers. Also halted was its eastbound counterpart. Both tri-weekly trains operate on Wednesdays through Virginia.

The collision between the Amtrak special and the truck occurred near Crozet, Virginia. One passenger in the truck was killed and two others injured.

Some of those aboard the Amtrak train suffered minor injuries. The GOP congressmen were en route to a political retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

While many passengers took the delay in stride, several were frustrated that Amtrak wasn’t providing any information. They said they didn’t receive a text, a call or see any information on Amtrak’s website.

A website that tracks Amtrak movements reported that No. 51 departed Clifton Forge, Virginia, 4 hours and 27 minutes late and eventually arrived in Chicago more than eight hours late.

It showed that eastbound No. 50 departed White Sulphur Spring an hour and a half late but has no data for any stations west of there.

Brian Hambrick was headed for Clifton Forge, but said he wasn’t in a hurry.

“I’m just curious how long something like this takes,” said Hambrick, who was returning from New York City after seeing the Grammy Awards on Sunday. “I’m sure the whole Congress element adds a whole other level to it.”

Hambrick laughed and told a reporter, “You never know what the day holds, right?”

Bart Danielson who was returning home to West Virginia, said he rides Amtrak about twice a month.

“I’m eating junk food I normally wouldn’t eat,” he said before adding, “I don’t think the train’s going anywhere soon.”

Amelia Hannah and Chris Wright were headed to Charleston, West Virginia, The couple from Manchester, England, said the delay wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.

“Luckily, we are a bit of carefree,” Wright said. “If we are here for a few hours, we can still get to our hotel and get a good night’s sleep before seeing Charleston.”

Culpeper tourism director Paige Read said some passengers who arranged ride from Uber or a taxi company to finish their trip.

But others visited Culpeper’s shops and restaurants on Davis Street because they knew “they aren’t leaving any time soon.”

The Museum of Culpeper History hosted younger passengers. “A God send,” said Pam Mitchell, a parent of two children, heading home to West Virginia.

“The tourist center here has been very open and welcoming,” one passenger said. “They’ve just been wonderful.”

Frigid Outside, Warm Inside

January 25, 2018

Outside the temperature was in the low teens and the wind chill was below zero. A friend and I were waiting to photograph Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited roaring through Geneva, Ohio. No. 48 was running two hours late. It also was running a few minutes behind a CSX stack train.

The usual consist of the eastbound Lake Shore Limited has the Boston cars toward the front and the New York cars on the rear. Typically, No. 48 has two Viewliner sleepers for New York.

This day was no exception. Shown above is the first of the two New York sleepers. Some passengers in those rooms might just now be getting up and about while others might be watching the wintry countryside of Northeast Ohio fly by. Still others might be having breakfast in the “dining car” just ahead of the first New York sleeper.

I placed the phrase “dining car” in quotations because it is not the same as the dining cars that used to run on this train. With Viewliner diners, presumably, being readied for revenue service, the Lake Shore Limited might get a full dining car some day.

Running in a Winter Wonderland

January 22, 2018

When the weather in the upper Midwest turns wintry, Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited often runs late.

Earlier this month Nos. 48 and 49 were running as much as six hours or more behind schedule due to the effects of winter conditions. Delays in turning the equipment in Chicago were given some of the blame, but winter operating conditions can also lead to frozen switches, broken rails and freight train emergencies that are not Amtrak’s fault.

If No. 48 leaves Chicago late, it likely will be even later as it rolls eastward toward New York and Boston.

On a sunny but frigid day last week when the early morning temperatures were in the low teens and the wind chill was sub zero, I braved the elements to photograph No. 48 at Geneva, Ohio, which was more than two hours off its schedule.

It was running a few minutes behind an eastbound CSX stack train. I can only speculate that the dispatcher put the intermodal train out ahead of Amtrak because it would not be stopping in Erie, Pennsylvania, but Amtrak would be.

Double Shot of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

January 8, 2018

Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited is running seven hours late as it rushes through Painesville, Ohio, on Sunday morning.

Amtrak train No. 48 has some heritage on the point as it passes through Northeast Ohio.

After church on Sunday morning I saw on the Amtrak website that Lake Shore Limited No. 49 left Erie at 8:57 a.m. Under normal running time that would put it at the Painesville station at 9:57 a.m.  Also, No. 48 departed Cleveland at 9:33 a.m., which would put it under normal running through Painesville at 10:03 a.m. It had Phase IV heritage unit No. 184 on the lead. Luck was on my side. No. 49 arrived at 9:50 a.m. and No. 48 showed up 11 minutes later at 10:01 a.m.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Late 48 at 12:35 p.m. on Consecutive Fridays

January 6, 2018

I photographed Amtrak No. 48 at the Painesville station of the former New York Central  running more than six hours late at the same time – 12:35 p.m. – on consecutive Fridays. The top image shows the eastbound Lake Shore Limited on Friday, Dec. 29. The bottom photo shows the train on Friday, Jan. 5 when the air temperature was 7 degrees.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas