Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Normal Illinois’

UP Derailment Hindered Amtrak Service

February 18, 2021

A Union Pacific derailment last Saturday hindered Amtrak service in Normal, Illinois, leading to the cancellation of some Lincoln Service trains.

UP derailed 16 cars of an intermodal train, the ZG4MQ-13, damaging the track and blocking several grade crossings.

Lincoln Service Train 300 terminated at Springfield, Illinois, and Trains 303, 306, and 307 were canceled.

The northbound Texas Eagle detoured between St. Louis and Chicago, missing seven intermediate stops.

Passengers traveling between St. Louis and Chicago were offered alternative transportation.

Further complications occurred a few days later when fire broke out during the wreck site cleanup process.

Authorities said the fire was caused by refrigeration units on some of the containers being hauled by the intermodal train that derailed.

The fire damaged the vinyl siding of an adjacent apartment building.

The derailment of the southbound train came within 25 feet of an Illinois State University student housing building.

One track was reopened to rail traffic on Sunday, but Amtrak cancelled two Lincoln Service trains and shorted the route of another.

UP and Federal Railroad Administration officials were conducting an investigation into the cause of the derailment.

Latest Amtrak Cuts Include Station Closings

March 21, 2020

Although no Amtrak long distance trains have thus far been spared from service suspensions, they are getting shorter consists.

An online report said the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited is operating with one P42DC locomotive, one sleeper, one food service car and two coaches.

Some Amtrak station waiting rooms are being temporarily closed.

In a service advisory posted on its website, Amtrak said waiting rooms in Kalamazoo and East Lansing, Michigan, are closed and passengers will not have access to the station restrooms.

The notice said station caretakers will be present to answer questions, provide direction and help operate wheelchair lifts.

Amtrak recommended that rather than waiting outside on the platform that passengers use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in their personal vehicles for their train to arrive.

Other stations that are closed include those in Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Altoona and Johnstown.

All Amtrak service has been suspended at those stations.

Other stations that continue to have service but which are closed include Bloomington-Normal, Illlinois; Burlington, Iowa; Dodge City, Kansas, Lincoln, Nebraska; Lawrence, Kansas; Plano, Illinois; St. Petersburg, Florida (Thruway bus service stop)

In the case of the Normal station, passengers will have access to the Uptown Garage and its complimentary one-hour parking.

Garage elevator access will lead only to the street level. Platform access will be from the exterior of the building only.

Customer Service Representatives will be present on the platform 30 minutes before scheduled departure times to continue checked baggage service, unaccompanied minor service and special services.

The service hours at the Gallup, New Mexico, station has been modified. Passengers will have access to the interior of the station for the 30 minutes before the train arrival time.

Additional service suspensions have also been announced.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said that starting March 23 Piedmont Service trains 73, 74, 77, and 78 are suspended.

Piedmonts 75 and 76 will continue to operate as will the New York-Charlotte Carolinian.

In California, Pacific Surfliner service will be cut in half on March 23 and further reduced on March 24.

On March 23, Trains 561, 565, 579, and 593 will operate as scheduled but Trains 569, 573, 583, 591, 595, and 759 are cancelled.

Trains 763 and 777 will operate according to the schedule between San Diego and Goleta but there will be no service north of Goleta.

Trains 767 and 785 will operate according to the schedule between San Diego and Los Angeles with no service north of Los Angeles.

Trains 564, 580, and 584 will operate as scheduled but Trains 562, 566, 572, 578, 590, 782, and 792 are cancelled.

Train 796 will operate according to the schedule between Goleta and San Diego but with no service between San Luis Obispo and Goleta.

Effective March 24, scheduled will be further modified and subject to additional change based on ridership and public health conditions.

Trains 759, 561/1761, 565/1565, 569/1569, 573/1573, 583, 591/1591, and 595 are cancelled. Trains 763 and 777 will operate according to the schedule between San Diego and Goleta with no service north of Goleta.

Trains 767/1767 and 785 will operate according to the schedule between San Diego and Los Angeles but with no service north of Los Angeles.

Trains 562, 566/1566, 572/1572, 578, 782, 590/1590, and 792 are cancelled.

Train 774 will operate according to the schedule between Los Angeles and San Diego with no service between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles.

Train 796 will operate according to the schedule between Goleta and San Diego with no service between San Luis Obispo and Goleta.

Service to San Luis Obispo will be preserved through limited bus connections from Santa Barbara. The Coast Starlight will also continue serving San Luis Obispo.

In northern California, the San Joaquins Joint Powers Authority, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and Amtrak have agreed on the following service reductions.

Amtrak San Joaquin service will be suspending the Emeryville and San Francisco Thruway Bus Route (Route 99) on March 21.

Passengers traveling to San Francisco are encouraged to utilize BART via the Richmond Station.

On March 26, Trains 701, 702, 703, 704, 714, and 717 will be suspended and remaining trains will not have lead service attendants or food service.
Train 719 will no longer stop at Richmond because of the BART reduction in hours.

On the east Coast, Amtrak’s Downeaster service will see further service reductions to two roundtrips a day.

On March 21 and 22, Trains 692, 694, 693 and 695 will operate.

Between March 23-27 trains operating will include Nos. 680, 682, 681 and 684.

North of the border, VIA Rail Canada has said the suspension of the Montreal-Halifax Ocean, Toronto-Vancouver Canadian, and Jasper-Prince Rupert service has been extended to May 1.

Effective March 23 Montreal-Senneterre and Montreal-Jonquiere, Quebec, trains will be cut o one round trip per week, as will Sudbury-White River, Ontario, service.

Such an-board and in-station services such as baggage handling and restaurant access will also be curtailed.

 

Both Platforms in Use in Normal

April 11, 2018

Amtrak trains are now using both platforms at the Normal, Illinois, station , which also serves Bloomington.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers should arrive at the station at least 45 minutes before their departures to ensure they have time to listen for announcements and use passenger information displays to direct them to the correct platform for Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains.

Normal to Buy Vehicle to Transport Passengers at Station

July 7, 2017

The Normal, Illinois, city council has approved the purchase of an electric vehicle to shuttle Amtrak passengers between the station and a platform that is currently under construction.

The vehicle, which will cost $26,000, will be used to transport passengers with disabilities or limited mobility.

However, the platform that the vehicle will serve isn’t expected to open for service until late October or early November.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the vehicle needed to be ordered now because it will be three months before it is delivered.

The vehicle will transport passengers to and from the south platform from the station via the Broadway Avenue or Linden Street crossings.

The vehicle will be operated by Amtrak employees and Peterson said Amtrak asked the city to buy the vehicle.

When some council members questioned why the city would spend its funds for the vehicle, Peterson said, “Amtrak has a very inflexible budget.”

He said Amtrak doesn’t pay rent at the station, although it does pay for its use of utilities, and city officials consider that a reasonable cost of having the service.

“We see other uses in the uptown area if the Amtrak use goes away,” said Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich.

The $2.5 million new platform is being funded by federal money as part of a high-speed rail project that is wrapping up this year.

Normal is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Normal Close to Decision on Crossing at Station

June 19, 2017

The planning staff of the City of Normal has recommended building a underpass at the site of the Amtrak station.

Materials prepared for a June 19 meeting of the city council said that the underpass would have a park with it.

The council will vote at the meeting on which option for a railroad crossing will be studied by a consultant and thus given favorability.

Normal’s 2014 Uptown 2.0 plan recommended the underpass and estimated its cost at $12.7 million. The plan said an overpass would cost $8.6 million.

The consultant, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, has narrowed the options to an overpass for Amtrak passengers only; two varieties of public overpasses; and three varieties of public underpasses

Adding a park to the underpass would be the most expensive option, but it was also preferred by many who spoke at an April 27 hearing or who submitted written comments.

“Out of the 41 public comments received, 29 strongly supported the underpass (with park),” said Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich in a memo.

The consultant has already ruled out an at-grade crossing.

The voted in early 2015 to postpone plans for an overpass, which had been designed and funded, and instead research an underpass.

Normal is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

Illinois Amtrak Ridership Fell in FY 2016

January 12, 2017

Amtrak ridership in Illinois fell by 3.5 percent in fiscal year 2016. Recent figures released by state transportation officials show that more than 4.6 million rode on Amtrak trains in the state.

IllinoisNot surprisingly, Chicago topped the list of the busiest Amtrak stations in Illinois.

Most of the cities on that list are college towns. Behind Chicago the busiest Amtrak stations were Normal-Bloomington, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Carbondale, Galesburg and Macomb.

All of those cities also have multiple Amtrak frequencies per day.

Systemwide, Amtrak carried more than 31 million people in FY 2016, an increase of 2 percent over the previous year.

Normal Amtrak Station Platform Improvements Expected to be Completed by This Summer

January 6, 2017

A project to improve the Amtrak platform at the station in Normal, Illinois, is expected to be completed by this summer.

Amtrak 4The Normal City Council recently approved spending $40,000 for the project and will be reimbursed by a federal grant.

Amtrak has two platforms in Normal and the improvement project is focused on the south platform.

The work will include installing a fence to prevent passengers from crossing the tracks between the platforms. Instead, they will need to walk to Broadway Avenue to cross the rails, which are owned by Union Pacific.

A cable car system will be installed to assist disabled or elderly passengers.

The Normal station, which also served neighboring Bloomington, is a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Normal May Pay for Underpass Study

October 3, 2016

The City of Normal, Illinois, may fund a $1.4 million study of the feasibility of building a pedestrian underpass under tracks used by Amtrak in that central Illinois community located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe underpass would cost an estimated $10 million. The city was poised to begin a $6.3 million overpass two years but halted that project when members of the city council sought more research.

If the underpass study is approved, it would be finished by Oct. 15, 2018. The study is expected to determine how much an underpass would cost and what engineering issues might arise.

The underpass would connect the area of Uptown Circle to land south of the railroad tracks, which the city hopes will improve access and promote redevelopment south of the tracks. The study will be conducted by consulting firm WSP Parsons Brickerhoff.

In the meantime, Normal plans to construct a temporary at-grade crossing at the Amtrak station, which is being expanded.

City officials said construction of a boarding platform and other improvements are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Track Work to Close Normal Streets, Work Expected to Begin on Second Platform

May 6, 2016

Track work on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will close a major intersection in Normal, Illinois, while construction also is expected to get underway soon on the installation of a second platform at the Amtrak station in that city.

The track work is connected with the ongoing project to upgrade the route used by Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle for higher speed service.

City officials said that several crossings will be closed on a rolling basis to perform work that is expected to result in Amtrak trains being able to travel at speeds of up to 110 mph through Bloomington-Normal.

The first of those crossings to be closed is University at Beaufort streets, which is near the Illinois State University campus.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the crossing will be closed for three weeks and given new safety equipment.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svg“Starting in late June, they’ll be going through the community doing intersections [one at a time],” Peterson said. “It’ll be a traffic disruption, no doubt about it, in the late summer probably going into the fall.”

The high-speed service through the twin cities is expected to begin in 2017.

Peterson said the second platform construction work would begin in late May or early June.

The station work will cost $2.5 million. The platform won’t be placed into service until a temporary grade crossing is completed to connect the new platform with the station.

The new platform is being built on the south side of the tracks while the station is on the north side.

Peterson said that the platform-to-station crossing project will cost up to $1 million and is awaiting approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad.

“We’ve done everything we can do,” he said. “It will probably (start construction) late summer or early fall” and be open by spring 2017.

Eventually, city officials expect to replace the temporary crossing with an underpass that is expected to cost $11 million and enable pedestrians to move between the area north of the station to the Uptown South district. That underpass could cost up to $11 million.

City workers are still putting together a request for proposals for a two-year feasibility study that must be completed for the underpass project.