Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Cleveland’

When the LSL Was a Regular Daylight Train in Cleveland

April 26, 2017

It was in 2007, I believe, that Amtrak rescheduled the eastbound Lake Shore Limited to arrive and depart Cleveland between 6 and 7 a.m., which meant it was a daylight operation for a good part of the year.

That schedule didn’t last long and No. 48 soon enough began leaving Chicago at 9:30 p.m., which puts it into Cleveland at 5:35 a.m.

I didn’t take advantage of the 2007 window of opportunity as much as I should have. A friend, though, did. He made it a point to photograph No. 48 in as many places as he could between Cleveland and the Pennsylvania border just east of Conneaut, Ohio, during the summer of 2007.

I did get downtown on a couple of occasions to photograph No. 48 in the station, including this view made on July 14, 2007.

Note that lead unit No. 156 is the one that is now painted in Amtrak’s Phase I locomotive livery.

Westbound Pennsylvanian in Berea, Ohio

November 27, 2016

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Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian passes through Berea, Ohio, on May 29, 1999, in late afternoon.

The train is in its first years operating west of Pittsburgh. Amtrak rescheduled the train to operate between Chicago and Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 1998, and thought it could pay for the expansion with increased mail and express revenue.

Ultimately, Amtrak decided to get out of the head-end business and in February 2003, the Pennsylvanian reverted to New York-Pittsburgh operation.

For a while, though, Nos. 42/43 were the only daylight Amtrak trains in Cleveland, the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited calling between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Amtrak Special Rolls Through Cleveland

October 11, 2016

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On Sunday, Oct. 2, a seven-car American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners special went west through Cleveland.

The special consisted of Amtrak P42DC’s 134 and 190; Pennsylvania 120; Juniata Terminal’s Warrior Ridge; Morristown and Erie’s Alexander Hamilton; former New York Central 43, Mount Vernon; former Pullman Pacific Home; and former NYC Babbling Brook.

I caught the special going through Berea and thought it looked somewhat like the Great Steel Fleet that the New York Central ran in the postwar era.

I probably should have gone to a more representative location such as Olmsted Falls with the depot but sometimes you take what you can get.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Middle of the Night in Cleveland

September 25, 2016

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Amtrak schedules its long distance trains to maximize connections and for optimal arrival and departure times at the end point terminals.

That means that if you live near the middle of a route between Chicago and the East Coast, you’re going to see Amtrak during nighttime hours. Cleveland is about the mid-point for the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

If you were to visit the Cleveland Amtrak station at 2 p.m. on any given afternoon, no one would be around and the station might even be locked. But go there are 2 a.m. and the place will be alive with waiting passengers.

All four Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland are scheduled to arrive between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. The “best” scheduled time is for the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which is scheduled to depart at 5:50 a.m., which is not terrible, but still requires getting up rather early.

Of course, people travel every day on flights that leave about the same time, but with few exceptions domestic flights do not leave between midnight and 5 a.m. from U.S. airports.

This photo was made at 2:29 a.m. as I awaited the arrival of the westbound Capitol Limited. It was running late, but not by much.

Viewing Cleveland From Amtrak

September 17, 2016

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Except during the summer, the four Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland pass through the city in darkness because they are scheduled there between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Cleveland is an important point on the Amtrak map, but not as important as others.

So I was surprised to find inside an Amfleet cafe car this mural of downtown Cleveland. The car was on display at the National Train Day festival in Toledo as part of an Amtrak exhibit train that was designed to approximate a miniature version of the Lake Shore Limited.

Interestingly, the cafe car was labeled on its exterior for Northeast Corridor service. The Lake Shore Limited does carry a car similar to this in its consist so perhaps this car has been assigned to Nos. 48 and 49 over the years.

The view in the photograph itself is looking northeastward. That is Progressive Field in the lower right-hand corner, which is the home of the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team.

Gone From the Lake Shore Limited

September 13, 2016

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The summer of 2016 may be remembered by some as the time when the Lake Shore Limited lost its full-service dining cars.

After several of the Heritage fleet diners were sidelined with cracked frames, Amtrak assigned Amfleet food service cars to Nos. 48 and 49. It wasn’t the first time that has been done and Amtrak claims that full-service diners will return to the Lake Shore Limited once enough new Viewliner diners are built by CAF USA and placed into revenue service.

But that is for the future, which may not be until 2017. In the meantime, let’s take a look back at a time when the Lake Shore Limited still had full-service Heritage Fleet dining cars.

Shown is a Heritage Fleet diner on the westbound Lake Shore Limited in May 2014 as it makes its station stop in Cleveland. It’s still too early for breakfast so the diner is empty at this early hour.

Group Seeks Cleveland Amtrak Station Changes

August 12, 2016

An Ohio passenger advocacy group wants to see tracks reconfigured in the vicinity of the Cleveland Amtrak station so that two trains could serve the station simultaneously.

Amtrak logoThe work would require expanding the existing platform, installing a crossover at CP 122 on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern and rehabilitating an industrial track to make it a second station track.

All four Amtrak trains serving Cleveland arrive between 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. If one or more of them are late, it means that one train has to wait while another does its station work.

Amtrak trains in Cleveland all use the former Track No. 1 of what used to be the double track Chicago Line in the Conrail era.

Congestion can become particularly acute if the Capitol Limited arrives from both directions at the same time.

Under normal circumstances, eastbound No. 30 completes its station work and departs well before the arrival of No. 29.

Both trains use  a connecting track built by Conrail that links the Chicago Line to the Cleveland Line at CP 122. However, Amtrak trains must be on Track No. 2 of the Cleveland Line to be able to access that connecting track at CP 122.

The nearest crossover east of CP 122 is at CP 114 in Garfield Heights 8.1 miles away.

In some instances, No. 30 has departed by backing up from the station to Drawbridge and crossing over to Track No. 1 of the Cleveland Line to get out of the way of No. 29 on Track No. 2.

In other instances, No. 29 is held at CP 114 until No. 30 reaches it and crosses over to Track No. 1.

At times No. 29 has continued to Drawbridge and then backed into the Cleveland Station because it was on Track No. 1 and couldn’t reached the connection at CP 122 due to No. 30 coming out on Track No. 1 or due to NS freight traffic.

AAO is calling for a crossover between Tracks 1 and 2 at CP 122 so Amtrak trains can depart on either track.

The group also said that Track 44, an industrial tracks used by NS and CSX, could be rebuilt to Federal Railroad Administration Class III standards to serve as a second station track. A connecting track would need to be built from the Chicago Line to Track 44.

As part of that project, the current platform, which is now 10-by-1,200 feet would be expanded to 15-by 1,600 feet.

That would allow a train with two locomotives and nine cars to serve the station from Track 44 and still not block the pedestrian walkway from the station.

That walkway crosses Track 44 and the double track Waterfront Line of the Greater Cleveland Transit Authority.

It is not clear who would fund the project or whether Amtrak and NS are studying it.

2 Ohio Intermodal Station Projects Seek Other Funding after Failing to Land a TIGER Grant

August 11, 2016

Intermodal station projects in Cleveland and Oxford, Ohio, failed to win a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant this year, but will continue to move forward while seeking other funding sources.

In Cleveland, transportation officials have been studying the creation of the Lakefront Multimodal Transportation Center that will serve Amtrak, intercity buses and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority buses and trains.

Amtrak 4The center, to be located west of East Ninth Street, unsuccessfully sought a $37.4 million TIGER grant.

The total project cost is $46.7 million of which Amtrak is expected to pay $4 million.

The intermodal complex would be part of a planned Mall-to-Harbor walkway that is being built by the City of Cleveland. That project will get underway this fall.

The walkway will have stairs and an elevator linking it to the Amtrak station.

Improvements to the Amtrak station include bringing it into ADA compliance, platform resurfacing/widening, and parking lot and walkway improvements.

Planners are eyeing how to obtain funding for preliminary engineering and construction of the Greyhound portion of the transportation center.

In Oxford, the city, Miami University and the Butler County Regional Transit Authority have proposed developing an intermodal facility that would serve as a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Officials unsuccessfully sought $20 million in TIGER funds for the $26 million bus-rail intermodal station.

The Amtrak station platform, shelter and parking will cost about $600,000. The Cardinal currently does not stop in Oxford, but Amtrak has indicated it would be willing to serve Oxford if it provides suitable station facilities.

Increased Security at Cleveland Amtrak Station

July 19, 2016

Heightened security measures are in place this week for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which will also affect the Amtrak station.

Passengers are urged to allow extra time to reach the station due to street closures for security reasons.

Amtrak 4Amtrak said it will have additional personnel on hand during the convention, which wraps up on Thursday night.

Passengers age 16 and over should be prepared to present a valid photo ID to Amtrak personnel or police upon request.

There will be parcel restrictions in downtown Cleveland during this  period and passengers should be ready to provide documentation about their reasons for being in the secured area, such as an eTicket or hotel reservation confirmation, if they are carrying items larger than 18 inches by 13 inches by 7 inches.

Amtrak Police will have an increased presence in Cleveland during the convention.

Lake Shore Limited Began 40 Years Ago Today

October 31, 2015
Ad advertisement for Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Ad advertisement for Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Forty years ago today (Oct. 31, 1975) Cleveland, Toledo and Elyria, Ohio; South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana; and Erie, Pennsylvania; returned to the Amtrak map with the inauguration of the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston.

All three cities had been left out of the Amtrak network when the rail passenger carrier began service on May 1, 1971.

The only city in Northeast Ohio at which Amtrak stopped was Canton on the route of the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

A short-lived Chicago-New York train named the Lake Shore served Toledo and Cleveland slightly less than seven months.

That service, which began in mid May 1971, was premised on the promises of the states served by the train to underwrite its losses. But none of them put up any money and Amtrak canceled the train in early January.

The Amtrak Improvement Act of 1973 required Amtrak to launch one experimental route a year.

Ohio officials lobbied Amtrak hard for service to be reinstated to Cleveland and Toledo via the former Water Level Route of the New York Central, which by the time Amtrak arrived had become Penn Central.

At the time that Amtrak began in 1971, Cleveland was the largest city in the county not served by Amtrak.

Secretary of Transportation Claude S. Brinegar announced on June 27, 1974, that Chicago-Boston would be Amtrak’s experimental route for 1974. A week later, Amtrak said the train would have a New York section.

Service was expected to begin within six months but was delayed for more than a year due to an equipment shortage, particularly of sleeping cars.

A public relations special operated eastbound over the route on Oct. 28-29, 1975.

Amtrak President Paul Reistrup was aboard the special and he spoke at the Cleveland stop along with Ohio Senator Robert Taft Jr., who had pushed Amtrak hard for restoration of service via Cleveland.

Taft noted that it had been a long and hard fight to get intercity passenger service restored via the former New York Central route through northern Ohio.

Reistrup had favored the route all along, saying he was amazed that it had not been part of the Amtrak network.

“This was an unwanted child, no secret about it,” Resitrup said in Cleveland. “They (Amtrak) didn’t want to run this train.”

The publicity special arrived in Cleveland at 5:30 p.m. to a crowd of about 500. The train was pulled by a pair of SDP40F locomotives, the newest equipment in the consist.

The Cleveland station was a pair of trailers, the current station having not yet been built.

“This probably will be the most important inaugural I take part in,” Reistrup told the crowd. “It’s up to you out there in this crowd to keep this train running.”

When Nos. 48/448 and 49/449 began service on Friday, Oct. 31, 1975, the Chicago-New York running time was 21 hours, which was two-and-a-half hours slower than the Lake Shore of 1971.

The Chicago-Boston running time was 25 hours, which included a backup move the train had to make at Castleton Junction, New York, because the connection that Boston-bound New York Central trains had made for decades east of Rensselaer had been removed by Penn Central.

Amtrak officials emphasized at every stop of the publicity trip that the Lake Shore Limited was experimental and if ridership was poor it would be discontinued after a two-year trial.

On the day that scheduled service began, a crowd of 300 showed up at the Cleveland Amtrak station. Most of them were bus company employees who protested federal funding of the train. They said that made rail cheaper than the bus, which threatened their jobs.

But the public embraced the train and two years after it began the Lake Shore Limited was averaging 272 passengers per trip, a figure that eclipsed the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

The U.S. Department of Transportation lifted the experimental status for the Lake Shore Limited on May 9, 1978.

The Lake Shore Limited was the first direct Chicago-Boston train since the Dec. 3, 1967, discontinuance by the New York Central of the New England States.

However, the NYC and later Penn Central ran through cars between the two cities that were interchanged at Buffalo, New York.

News accounts published in October 1975, noted the longer travel time for Amtrak compared to what the New York Central once offered.

Amtrak officials blamed that on poor track conditions. Conrail would not take over the route until the following spring and it would take years to rebuild the track.

When it began, the Lake Shore Limited was scheduled to arrive and depart Chicago in mid afternoon.

The westbound train was scheduled out of Cleveland at 7:30 a.m. The eastbound train was scheduled at 11:20 p.m.

At that time, not all of the western long-distance trains departed Chicago as they do today by mid afternoon.