Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Texas’

Texas Eagle to Detour in Texas May 24-June 21

May 16, 2017

The detours just keep coming for Amtrak’s Texas Eagle. Nos. 21 and 22 will detour in in Texas between Longview and Taylor starting May 24 and extending through June 21.

Passengers at intermediate stations will begin or end their journey on a chartered bus.

The buses will travel southbound from Longview and northbound from Austin.

The Eagle will not be serving Dallas or Fort Worth, but will be using a freight-only route that will be faster than the train’s normal route.

No. 21 will use a former Cotton Belt route between Big Sandy and Tyler, then a former Southern Pacific route to Corsicana, then the former Texas & New Orleans to Hearne, Texas, before getting on the former Missouri Pacific west to Taylor.

No. 22 will use the ex-MoPac from Taylor to Longview via Hearne, Buffalo, Palestine and Jacksonville.

“This detour will provide the opportunity for some unusual mileage for rare mileage fans,” Amtrak said in an email sent to ticketed passengers affected by the Texas detour.

No. 21 will depart all stations between Chicago and Longview one hour later than scheduled, but is expected to resume its regular schedule at Taylor.

No. 22 will operate on its regular schedule from San Antonio to Taylor, but run an hour earlier from Longview to Chicago.

The detour has been prompted by extensive track work by Union Pacific between Longview and Dallas.

The Texas detour will come on the heels of a detour between Chicago and St. Louis between May 16 and May 23, although No. 22 will use the detour route through May 24.

That rerouting involves the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois passenger route via Pana and Villa Grove, Illinois.

Westbound Texas Eagle to Detour in Texas May 1-8

April 26, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Texas Eagle is being detoured in Texas between May 1 and 8 due to track work being performed by Union Pacific.

The train will miss its scheduled stops at Marshall and Longview, Texas.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers boarding at Shreveport, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; and Longview, Texas, will board Thruway bus 6421 to Mineola, Texas, where they will board Train 21/421.

Passengers on Nos. 21/421 who are traveling to Shreveport, Marshall and Longview will detrain at Mineola and ride Thruway bus 6121 to their destination. Bus 6121 will originate at Mineola instead of Longview.

Those on Nos. 21/421 who are scheduled to make connections with Thruway bus 6021 at Longview will also detrain at Mineola and take Thruway Bus 6021 to their destination. Bus 6021 will originate in Mineola instead of Longview.

During this period, Amtrak personnel will be available at Mineola to assist customers.

Amtrak Studies Austin-San Antonio Service

January 10, 2017

Amtrak has agreed to study launching a commuter rail service between San Antonio and Austin, Texas, that would ease highway congestion between the two cities.

Amtrak logoTexas Public Radio reported that officials in the two cities turned to Amtrak after a regional rail commuter plan known as the Lone Star Rail project collapsed.

At the request of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Amtrak is studying ridership and revenue potential and how much it would cost to upgrade the Union Pacific line between the two cities, which are 80 miles apart.

The goal would be to offer a service that could average 90 miles per hour and duplicate what Lone Star Rail would have provided.

That would be a train leaving every 30 minutes during peak travel times. The service would begin in South San Antonio and terminate at Georgetown outside of Austin.

Much of this route is now served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Transportation officials say the commute on Interstate 35 between the two cities take two and a half hours.

The Amtrak study is expected to be completed by the middle of 2017.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said the study is projected to cost $100,000 on the study.  Capital for track improvement and operations would come mostly from private investors.

If financing can be lined up, the service could be implemented in three to five years.

San Antonio leaders are also eyeing another rail service that would link their city with Monterrey, Mexico, via Laredo, Texas.

The concept is for high-speed rail that would operate at a top speed of 250 miles per hour making the trip in two hours.

Laredo Congressman Henry Cuellar insists that the proposal is not just a pipe dream. He said he’s met with Mexican officials, federal and state transportation officials, and private investors who would consider financing the project.

“You connect San Antonio’s large population, Laredo and, of course, Monterrey with 4.5 million individuals,” Cuellar said. “Entities like Sea World (in San Antonio), when I talk to them they’re all excited, because that means potentially a new base of customers.”

Amtrak once linked San Antonio and Laredoe with its Chicago-Laredo Inter-American. which was discontinued south of San Antonio on Oct. 1, 1981, and renamed the Eagle between San Antonio and Chicago.

Hearing Examines Heartland Flyer Operation

October 31, 2016

Some Oklahoma officials are raising questions about why their state pays more to fund the Heartland Flyer than does Texas.

Heartland FlyerThose questions were explored during a meeting of the Oklahoma Senate Transportation Committee last week in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Senator Frank Simpson asked for a study, noting that at one time the two states split the costs of the Flyer 50-50.

But now, Simpson noted, the split is closer to 60-40 and Oklahoma cities have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure investments to their stations. Simpson believes that Texas may be receiving economic benefits for which it does not pay.

He also believes that the schedule of the Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, train favors the Lone Star state.

“The daily schedule really favors Texas—it’s more convenient for riders traveling south than it is for those coming north,” Simpson said. “I’m also concerned that the contract only runs a year at a time. I think when we have cities in Oklahoma making major investments a longer term contract would be tremendously helpful.”

The Heartland Flyer is scheduled to connect in Fort Worth with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Testimony introduced during the hearing indicated that the preliminary findings of a feasibility study to extend the Heartland Flyer to Newton, Kansas, to connect with the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, indicates that ridership of the Flyer might more than double.

Simpson called for a longer-term contract with Texas and a schedule that is more advantageous for Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma City is investing close to $30 million. My small community of Ardmore is going to make an investment of almost $2 million. I want to make sure they have a sense of security in doing that. That would come with a long-term contract, five or 10 years out,” Simpson said. “The long-term agreement question was not answered, but that’s something I’ve got to pursue with ODOT and probably with Texas.”

The committee also heard that Amtrak may establish a stop for the Flyer in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which is near the Chickasaw Nation’s WinStar World Casino and Resort.

Heartland Flyer Facing Funding Cut

May 2, 2016

Oklahoma legislators are considering cutting the funding for the Heartland Flyer service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

Although the Amtrak train is not necessarily expected to be eliminated, Oklahoma House Appropriations Chair Earl Sears said the funding for the train “may be trimmed a little.” The Sooner State is facing a $1.9-billion budget shortfall.

Heartland Flyer“A Heartland Flyer discontinuance would set Oklahoma transportation back to the 20th century,” said Evan Stair, president of Passenger Rail Oklahoma. “Those who call passenger rail passé need an economics lesson. People spend money in the communities where the train stops.”

Stair said that if Nos. 821 and 822 are ended or have their operation reduced that Oklahoma would stand to lose approximately $18 million in passenger spending and $1.4 million in sales tax collections.

Passenger Rail Oklahoma has been pushing to expand the number of Heartland Flyer trips because the current schedule does not make it a viable option for day trips from Dallas/Fort Worth to Oklahoma City.

The Flyer is oriented toward day trips from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, leading the Oklahoma capital city at 8:25 a.m. and arriving in Fort Worth at 12:23 p.m.

It departs Fort Worth at 5:25 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive back in Oklahoma City at 9:23 p.m.

The Heartland Flyer began operation on June 14, 1999, and was funded with federal money for its first six years of operation. Oklahoma paid whatever expenses that the federal government did not.

The service is now funded jointly by the states of Oklahoma and Texas although the latter has reduced its funding in recent years.

The Heartland Flyer carried 68,186 passengers in fiscal year 2015. It’s peak ridership was 86,446 in FY 2012.