Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Midwest Corridor trains’

Engine Failure Strands Pere Marquette for 3 Hours

February 7, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Pere Marquette was stranded for three hours on Tuesday night due to locomotive failure near St. Joseph, Michigan.

The train, which had a load of nearly 80 passengers, halted about five miles before reaching the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor station.

“We’re all stopped here . . . My entire unit just shut down,” the engineer was heard saying on a radio recording captured by the Saint Joseph Area Rail and Marine channel of Broadcastify.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the breakdown occurred about 9:45 p.m.

Passengers were eventually taken by bus to their destinations.

The train, which originated in Chicago and was bound for Grand Rapids, Michigan, lacked heat after the engine malfunctioned.

A CSX locomotive was able to move the stranded Amtrak train to the St. Joseph station at about 11:45 p.m. where the 78 passengers remained onboard until buses arrived about 1 a.m.

Although the St. Joseph station also houses a pizza restaurant, that business was closed at the time of the incident.

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CN Derailment Delays Resumption of Amtrak Service

February 2, 2019

A derailment of a Canadian National freight train in suburban Chicago on Wednesday afternoon set back the resumption of Amtrak service on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans line that had been canceled due to severe winter weather this week.

The Thursday night departure of the southbound City of New Orleans was canceled as was the Friday morning departure of the southbound Saluki.

The City that was to arrive in Chicago on Friday morning was terminated at Homewood, Illinois, and passengers were taken by bus to Chicago Union Station.

The derailment also knocked out Metra Electric and South Shore Line service because the derailing freight train knocked down catenary supports on the routes used by those railroads.

It was the third consecutive day that Metra Electric and South Shore Line trains had been canceled due to arctic air that sent temperatures tumbling to nearly minus 20 degrees.

The severe cold interrupted overhead electric service to both commuter carriers.

The first southbound Amtrak train that was to depart on Friday was the Carbondale-bound Illini in late afternoon.

Due to the lack of equipment in New Orleans, northbound No. 58 will not originate in the Crescent City today (Feb. 2).

The CN derailment occurred near Harvey, Illinois.

Amtrak to Begin Restoring Service From Chicago

January 31, 2019

Service on Amtrak’s Midwest corridor routes that radiate from Chicago will be canceled today (Jan. 31), but some long-distance trains will be reinstated.

All but one train will be restored by Friday Amtrak said in a service advisory.

Trains were canceled this week after a blast of arctic air sent temperatures plunging below zero and created dangerous wind chills.

Long-distance trains that will resume today include Chicago-Los Angeles (Southwest Chief), Chicago-San Francisco Bay (California Zephyr), Chicago-Seattle/Portland (Empire Builder), Chicago-New Orleans (City of New Orleans), Chicago-San Antonio/Los Angeles (Texas Eagle) and Chicago-Washington (Capitol Limited).

Long distance train that will not originate today include the Lake Shore Limited  (Chicago-New York/Boston) and the Cardinal (Chicago-New York)

On Friday all Midwest corridor services but one to and from Chicago will be restored.

The exception will be Carbondale to Chicago train No. 390 (Saluki), which will be restored on Saturday.

Amtrak Midwest corridor services to and from Chicago to be restored on Frida include Chicago-Milwaukee (Hiawatha Service), Chicago-Quincy (Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr), Chicago-St. Louis (Lincoln Service), and Chicago-Carbondale (Illini and Saluki),Chicago and Indianapolis (Hooiser State), Chicago and Detroit [Pontiac] (Wolverine Service), Chicago and Port Huron (Blue Water), and Chicago and Grand Rapids (Pere Marquette).
Also resuming operation on Friday will be the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Passengers holding reservations on canceled trains will be rebooked on other trains without any additional fees.

Amtrak Cancels Most Midwest Service Due to Cold

January 30, 2019

Amtrak has canceled all trains that are scheduled to originate in Chicago today (Jan. 30) due to subzero temperatures in the Midwest.

This also includes trains that originate elsewhere today en route to Chicago.

Trains that originated on or before Jan. 29 will complete their trip to Chicago. Most of those are long-distance trains.

Amtrak said that all corridor trains will be canceled on Thursday, Jan. 31. Most long-distance trains originating in Chicago are also expected to be canceled on Thursday.

Also being canceled today and Thursday will be long-distance trains bound for Chicago that would be scheduled to arrive on Thursday and Friday.

One long-distance train, the Chicago to Seattle/Portland Empire Builder was canceled on Tuesday due to the severe cold.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains magazine that decision was made in consultation with host railroad BNSF, which handles the train for most of its route.

The only Amtrak trains that will originate in the Midwest today and Thursday will be the two Missouri River Runner round-trips between Kansas City and St. Louis.

Amtrak typically operates 55 trains daily to and from Chicago hub.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers traveling on the affected trains will be able to change their travel to another date without an additional charge.

In a related development, intercity commuter carrier The South Shore Line suspended all service on Wednesday.

The carrier, which operates between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, said a test train encountered “significant overnight wire problems.”

The South Shore said it will evaluate weather and operating conditions and determine later today if it will operate on Thursday.

The severe cold also prompted Chicago commuter railroad Metra to operate today on a modified schedule.

Huntley Wants to be Stop on Rockford Route

January 29, 2019

Officials in Huntley, Illinois, are pushing to be made a station stop for a proposed Amtrak route between Chicago and Rockford, Illinois.

They spoke at a Jan. 15 meeting in Rockford sponsored by the Rail Alliance Initiative for Northern Illinois that was attended by two Amtrak officials.

One of the potential routes that would be used for the service involves Union Pacific-owned tracks that pass through Huntley.

The other route passes to the south on tracks owned by Canadian National that were used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Dubuque, Iowa, Black Hawk, when it operated between 1974 and 1981.

That train stopped in Rockford.

Derrick James, senior manager of governmental affairs in Amtrak’s Chicago office, said Amtrak hopes to be able to make the trip between Chicago and Rockford in less than 90 minutes.

“One of the challenges I’ve had working with legislators is distinguishing between commuter rail and intercity passenger rail,” James said. “Amtrak’s charter is to run intercity trains . . . and our experience is that passenger service works between towns of good size. The train needs to get you as quickly as possible from Rockford to Chicago.”

There have been proposals in past years to link Huntley with Chicago by commuter rail agency Metra.

But Metra has been reluctant to build a connection at its Big Timber station in Elgin to the UP line that passes through Huntley.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has projected that it would cost $233 million to extend service beyond Elgin to Marengo, Huntley, Belvidere and Rockford by rebuilding the Union Pacific tracks and connecting them with the Metra Milwaukee West tracks at Big Timber Road.

James said having one stop between Chicago and Rockford would make the most sense for Amtrak and if that is the case it would likely be in Belvidere.

The push to revive Amtrak service to Rockford has been several years in the making.

In 2007 Amtrak conducted a feasibility that estimated the cost of reinstating the Black Hawk at $32 million to $55 million.

Polar Vortex Leading to Midwest Cancelations

January 28, 2019

A Polar vortex that is bringing extreme cold to the Midwest has prompted Amtrak to modify its service on Midwest corridor routes radiating from Chicago.

Most of the changes are effective between Jan. 29 and 31.

The carrier said it will operate four round trips between Chicago and Milwaukee: Nos. 330, 331, 334, 335, 338, 339, 341 and 342. Nos. 329, 332, 333, 336, 337 and 340 will be cancelled.

Chicago to Carbondale No. 393 will be cancelled Jan. 28-30 while Carbondale to Chicago No. 390 is cancelled Jan. 29-31.

The City of New Orleans will continue to operate as will Nos. 391 and 392.

Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Nos. 351, 352, 353 and 354 will operate but Nos. 350 and 355 are cancelled on Jan. 29-31.

In the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, Nos. 301 and 304 are cancelled between Jan. 29 and 31. All others Lincoln Service trains as well as the Texas Eagle will continue to operate.

There will be no cancellations on routes linking Chicago with Quincy, Illinois; Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Port Huron, Michigan.

In a service advisory Amtrak said it expects the winter storm to reduce travel demand, but it was also acting out of “an abundance of caution.”

Amtrak said passengers holding reservations on the affected trains will be able to change their reservations for travel on other trains, including on other days, at no charge.

Track Work to Disrupt Carl Sandberg

January 23, 2019

Track work being performed on Jan. 29 will disrupt operations of Amtrak’s Carl Sandburg between Galesburg and Quincy, Illinois.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that Train No. 381 will operate between Chicago and Galesburg on that date, but passengers bound for Macomb and Quincy will ride a bus to their destination.

Train 382 will originate in Galesburg with passengers riding a bus to there from Quincy and Macomb. That bus, numbered 3382, will depart Quincy at 4:30 p.m. and operate 60 minutes earlier than the train.

Remembering My First Amfleet Experiences

January 22, 2019

The familiar profile of an Amfleet car brings up the rear of the southbound Saluki pulling out of the station in Mattoon, Illinois, in July 2018. When the equipment was delivered in the 1970s it didn’t have wi-fi antennas.

Amfleet equipment will still be around for at least a few more years and maybe longer, but the recent request by Amtrak for proposals to replace its Amfleet I fleet reminded me of just how long it has been an Amtrak mainstay.

It a dark early evening night in 1975 back in Springfield, Illinois, when I saw Amfleet equipment for the first time.

I lived in an apartment four blocks from the quasi street running of the former Gulf Mobile & Ohio mainline used by Amtrak through Springfield.

I was out walking when I noticed the crossing flashers activate on East Allen Street. It was about time for late afternoon northbound train No. 304 from St. Louis to Chicago to arrive, so I paused to watch.

I couldn’t see much, just a line of lights on the side of the cars in the windows. But something about these windows looked quite different. The rectangular-shaped windows were uniform in size and shaped differently than the square shaped and larger windows of the Turboliners that had been the usual equipment for this train.

The locomotive pulling the train also looked difference from anything I’d seen on the point of an Amtrak train to date.

I didn’t know it at the moment but I had seen Amfleet and a GE-built P30CH for the first time.

A couple days later I was downtown when No. 301, the first southbound St. Louis-bound train, halted at the former GM&O depot used by Amtrak.

That provided me my first opportunity in daylight to see the new Amfleet equipment and a P30 in the flesh.

There was a guy with a camera running around snapping photographs of this train like a proud father recording every move of his first-born child.

I recognized the Amfleet and P30 from photos I’d seen in Trains magazine.

In daylight I was able to see how the shape of an Amfleet car closely resembled that of a Metroliner even though at the time I had yet to see a Metroliner car in person.

I would later learn that Trains 301/304 had been the first Midwest corridor trains to receive Amfleet equipment effective Dec. 18, 1975.

The new Amfleet equipment intrigued me. At the time I considered the conventional streamliner equipment Amtrak had inherited as old fashioned. I wanted to see and ride something modern and new.

I got my first opportunity to see Amfleet from the inside the following January when I rode No. 304 from St. Louis to Springfield.

My first impression of an Amfleet coach was that it resembled the inside of a jetliner cabin with its fold-down tray tables, overhead reading lights and small windows. That was a good thing in my mind.

Those smallish windows have been panned over the years, but I never had any problem with them or being able to view the passing countryside from them in a window seat.

By early 1976 Amtrak had begun to assign Amfleet coaches and café cars to other Midwest corridor trains, including the Chicago-Carbondale Shawnee.

By the end of the year Amfleet was ubiquitous on Illinois-funded corridor routes.

Aside from its jetliner-like appearance, I was impressed with Amfleet because its head end power heating and cooling meant a more consistent environment.

HEP came in handy for Amtrak during the brutal winter of 1977 when it assigned Amfleet equipment to three long-distance trains radiating from Chicago, the Panama Limited, James Whitcomb Riley and the Inter-American.

Those assignments would stick on all those trains except the Inter-American, which reverted back to conventional equipment that spring for several months before being “Amfleeted” again.

I rode in Amfleet coaches numerous times over the next decade when I was most active in riding Amtrak throughout its national network.

This included overnight trips on the Panama Limited, Pioneer and Cardinal.

Some Amfleet coaches were equipped for longer distance travel and had fewer seats, leg rests and a foot rest attached to the seat ahead of you.

The lack of the latter had been one of the few amenities I had missed about conventional fleet coaches. But I never really found the leg rests all that comfortable.

In time the Horizon fleet arrived to spell most of the Amtrak coaches used on Midwest corridor trains, particularly the Amfleet coaches.

Horizon cars have a more conventional profile, but their interiors are similar to those of Amfleet.

The arrival of the Horizon fleet didn’t excite me in the same way that the coming of Amfleet had.

I was older then and less prone to getting excited about equipment changes. From a passenger perspective there wasn’t much difference between Horizon coaches and Amfleet coaches.

My reaction to whatever equipment that Amtrak comes up with to replace its Amfleet I fleet is likely to be similar. It will be interesting and I’ll enjoy riding it and seeing it for the first time.

But it won’t be the big deal that the coming of Amfleet was back in 1975.

Amtrak Still Willing to Serve Rockford

January 19, 2019

An Amtrak spokesman recently told an audience in Rockford, Illinois, that the carrier wants to return to their city, but there are no firms plans to do that at this time.

Marc Magliari, who is based in Chicago, said the State of Illinois needs to decide what type of rail service it wants in Rockford, whether it be Amtrak or commuter rail.

“This is an area that’s unserved. We’d like to connect this part of the network to the rest of the network,” Magliari at a meeting of T.R.A.I.N. Illinois, a passenger advocacy group.

Amtrak service to Rockford ended in 1981 when the state ended its funding of the Chicago-Dubuque, Iowa, Black Hawk.

In recent years the Illinois Department of Transportation has studied reinstating intercity rail service to Rockford, but those efforts slowed during the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who was defeated in November in his re-election bid.

Magliari said Illinois transportation policy makers will meet next month to discuss the future of passenger rail in the state.

The Illinois Department of Transportation funds corridor service from Chicago to Milwaukee, St. Louis, Quincy and Carbondale.

As for returning service to Rockford, Magliari said, “The route hasn’t been chosen, there’s been discussion about various routes, there’s been discussion about extending commuter rail service here but in the end if this many people get together to say they want service, we’ll come out and talk and that’s what we’re doing tonight.”

Amtrak Back on Normal Route in Chicago

January 15, 2019

Amtrak returned to its regular route on Tuesday between Chicago and Joliet, Illinois, after being disrupted on Monday by a freight train derailment.

The line, which is owned by Canadian National, was closed after an early morning wreck near Willow Springs.

Metra Heritage Corridor service was canceled on Monday and some Amtrak trains were detoured over Metra’s Rock Island District. At least two Lincoln Service trains were canceled.

The first Amtrak train to resume its normal route on Tuesday was St. Louis-bound No. 301, which departed Chicago Union Station at 7 a.m.