Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak service suspensionss’

Restoration of State-Funded Corridor Services Presents a Mixed Picture

March 27, 2021

Passengers board Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Saluki at Effingham, Illinois, on March 21. The Chicago-Carbondale corridor lost one roundtrip since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago

Although Amtrak plans to restore daily service to most long-distance routes starting in late May, the restoration of corridor service cut during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a more mixed picture.

Some states might restore service by summer but that is not guaranteed.

Michigan Department of Transportation Rail Director Peter Anastor said he didn’t known when two suspended Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) would return.

He indicated it will hinge in part on ridership and revenue trends.

“The CARES Act and the second stimulus bill helped fill the gap caused by fixed costs that stay the same whether you have 10 or 100 riders,” he said.

Michigan also funds the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water and the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette.

Although the Blue Water continued to operate throughout the pandemic, the Pere Marquette was suspended between March and last summer.

Anastor indicated new Venture coaches are expected to be assigned to Wolverine Service this spring, making it the first Midwest corridor train to have the new cars.

On other Midwest corridor routes, Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to increase to seven round trips on May 21.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Rail Division head Arun Rao said the service expansion will be promoted with an extensive advertising push and increased social media activity.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Speegle said his agency will decide in April when some other corridor services will be restored.

IDOT has suspended one round trip on the Chicago-Carbondale route, one roundtrip on the Chicago-Quincy route and two roundtrips between Chicago and St. Louis.

“We anticipate resuming full service no earlier that mid-July; the final decision on that time frame will be made in April, approximately 12 weeks prior to resumption of service,” he said.

Speegle said IDOT will review ridership and revenue numbers for the current service, anticipated costs, and the level of federal support.

Whether a second St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner will resume operating will depend on how much funding the Missouri legislature approves.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has requested funding for two daily roundtrips but the chair of a House budget committee has proposed funding just one roundtrip.

In the East, New York State has not announced its intentions in regards to restoring any suspended Empire Corridor trains.

Two routes funded by New York, the Maple Leaf to Toronto and Adirondack to Montreal have been suspended due to the U.S.-Canadian border being closed during the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the East, North Carolina will begin a fourth roundtrip starting April 5 in the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor.

Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are reinstating a third Piedmont Service roundtrip, making this the first multi-frequency state corridor to be fully restored.

North Carolina reinstated a second and third round trip last August and December, respectively.

Another Downeaster trip to Maine is expected to resume in May after schedules are worked out with Amtrak and host railroad Pan Am Railways.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the new schedule will be a little different.

“Instead of just plugging two midday trains back into their old slots, we’re adding a 10:30 a.m. departure from Brunswick, which will turn as a 3 p.m. departure from Boston,” she said.

“Given the change in commute patterns, we decided to try something different, assuming we won’t need two trains leaving Boston for the evening rush hour, but the additional round-trip means we will again have a flex schedule for the late-night train from Boston to accommodate sports fans and concert goers.”

Quinn said weekday and weekend schedules will now be identical.

In the West, one Capitol Corridor roundtrip will on March 29 be extended from Oakland to San Jose.

Capitol Corridor managing director Rob Pagette said there will be a change in departure times based on the way customers now use the trains.

“We’re about at 15 percent of where we were in February 2020 but we are looking to have a more robust service by September,” he said.

“We’ve seen more demand spread throughout the day, and this has allowed us to improve the efficiency of how we use our equipment by (temporarily) going from seven to six consists.”

Pagette said officials will be watching to determine where people are riding after the schedule change to determine where we add back the seventh consist.” An eighth trainset will be added later.

The extended round trip to San Jose will originate in Auburn because there appear to be increasing numbers of “super commuters” who ride 80 miles or more to their jobs.

Ridership trends during the pandemic have shown that if passengers are less likely to travel every day, more will opt for less-costly housing further away from the Silicon Valley.

In the San Joaquin corridor, a fifth roundtrip is expected to be added in in the fall. However, the two round trips to Sacramento aren’t likely to return until early 2021 at the earliest.

Those plans, though, are contingent on ridership stabilizing.

In Southern California, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency expects to restore one Pacific Surfliner roundtrip between San Diego and Goleta in July or August.

The date of that service restoration is dependant on available funding.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Washington Department of Transportation is eyeing returning two Seattle-Portland roundtrips in mid May.

Currently, the Cascades Service is operating with one Seattle-Eugene, Oregon, round trip.

Officials are considering increasing Portland-Eugene service to two roundtrips.

Amtrak Suspending Some Washington Service

January 18, 2021

In advance of the inauguration of president-elect Joseph Biden, Amtrak is suspending some services to Washington.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said it will not operate Northeast Regional service south of Washington on Jan 19 and 20.

The New York-Charlotte Carolinian will only operate in North Carolina between Raleigh and Charlotte on those dates.

Long distance trains operating to or through Washington will be unaffected, including the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

Amtrak said passengers whose trips begin or end in Washington should be aware that there will be pedestrian and vehicle restrictions at and around Washington Union Station.

This includes the closure of DC Metro’s Union Station stop. Passengers are being directed to use Metro’s NOMA/Gallaudet station, which Amtrak described as being a short walk from Union Station. Metro will operate on a modified schedule.

MARC commuter trains to Maryland and West Virginia have been suspended and Virginia Railway Express said its trains will not run Monday through Wednesday.

The service advisory said there will be no access to taxi or ride share services at WUS.

Some Hiawatha Service Trains to Remain Suspended

January 16, 2021

Amtrak said this week that the suspension of some Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains has been extended.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said the suspensions will continue due to continued low ridership.

However, Amtrak said that starting Feb. 1 it will add a pair of early morning trains, Nos. 329 and 330.

Trains 331, 337 and 339 will continue to operate from Chicago and Trains 332, 338 and 342 from Milwaukee in order to provide daily morning, afternoon and evening trips.

The advisory said ridership will continue to be evaluated and service restorations are expected later this year.

The Hiawatha Service is funded by the states of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Amtrak to Temporarily Cease Stopping in Homewood

July 23, 2020

As a Canadian National train works at nearby Markham Yard, Amtrak’s southbound Saluki calls at the Homewood station on Aug. 8, 2008.

Amtrak will suspend train service to Homewood, Illinois, starting July 27 due to a station construction project that will extend through next spring.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans and Chicago-Carbondale corridor trains will no longer stop in Homewood but alternative bus service will be provided between Homewood and Kankakee, Illinois.

During the construction project, which is expected to last through March 31, 2021, passenger traveling to Homewood from points south will disembark in Kankakee and ride a bus to Homewood.

Passengers would have boarded in Homewood for points south will board a bus in Kankakee and travel to Kankakee where they will board their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that during the construction the boarding platform will be closed and a temporary waiting room and restrooms will be established near the station building.

Portions of the station parking lot will be closed for construction stating.

No alternative transportation is being provided between Chicago Union Station and Homewood.

However, Metra Electric trains will continue to operate between Homewood and the Millenium station in downtown Chicago.

The Amtrak charter buses operating between Homewood and Kankakee will have numbers corresponding to their connection trains: 4058, 4059, 4390 and 4393.

Although Amtrak does not provide local service between Homewood and Chicago, it does allow passengers to board in Homewood if they are connecting to other Amtrak trains at Union Station.

Such passengers may either board Amtrak in Kankakee or in Joliet, Illinois, to begin their journey to Chicago Union Station and a connection with another Amtrak train.

Service Cuts Mean Fewer Connections

June 23, 2020

Amtrak’s plans to reduce the frequency of operation of its New York-Miami trains will mean there will be no connections to and from Florida on some days in Washington or New York.

The passenger carrier plans on July 6 to begin operating the Silver Meteor four times a week and the Silver Star three times a week.

It is the first step of a larger plan to reduce operations of all long-distance trains except the Auto Train to less than daily service on Oct. 1.

The Silver Meteor will depart New York Monday through Thursday, and Miami Sunday through Wednesday.

The Silver Star will operate Friday through Sunday southbound and Thursday through Saturday northbound.

The New York-Savannah, Georgia, Palmetto will for now continue to operate daily.

The July schedule changes will preclude connections on some days to Florida from the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, and Cardinal.

Cross-Florida travel and service to South Carolina’s state capital, Columbia, will only be possible on different days around weekends.

A Trains magazine analysis noted that during May the combined ridership of the Silver Star and Silver Meteor was 7.2 million passenger miles generating $1.4 million of revenue.

That compares to 5.2 million passenger miles and $2.4 million in revenue for all Northeast Corridor trains between Boston and Washington.

In an unrelated development, Amtrak is offering a 20 percent off sale on roomette accommodations for its Auto Train.

The sale is good through June 24 for travel through Aug. 31.

The sale does not apply to any other trains that provide sleeping car accommodations.

Service Suspended at Holdrege

June 23, 2020

Construction on the boarding platform at Holdrege, Nebraska, will result in a suspension of service to that station effective July 1.

Amtrak said in a service advisory the project involves building a new accessible platform.

The work is expected to take three months during which time there will be no public access to the station platform.

Holdrege is served by the California Zephyr and Amtrak has suggested that passengers travel to Hastings, Nebraska, approximately 60 minutes east, or McCook, Nebraska, approximately 75 minutes west, to board Nos. 5 and 6.

Amtrak Service Reinstatements Remain in Flux

May 16, 2020

Restoration of suspended Amtrak services remains in flux despite what has been reported in recent days based on company planning documents.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari cautioned that some trains shown on Amtrak’s website as operating in June might be canceled and that many service decisions shown in the planning document are still pending.

One example of that is the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette, which has been suspended since late March and was shown in the Amtrak reservation system as resuming operation on June 1.

Amtrak has removed the Pere Marquette from its reservation system for June in recent days.

It’s possible some passenger have made reservations for trains that will not be operating on the day of the reservation.

Magliari said in those cases Amtrak will notify the passenger of the cancellation.

Amtrak has announced that some services in the Northeast Corridor will return on June 1.

Amtrak Trims More Service, Brightline Suspended

March 26, 2020

Additional Amtrak service reductions have been announced and Florida intercity rail passenger operator Brightline has suspended all service.

The latest Amtrak cancellations include reducing the level of service of Missouri River Runner service effective March 30

The two daily roundtrips between St. Louis and Kansas City will be cut to one with trains leaving Kansas City at 8:15 a.m. and St. Louis at 4 p.m.

The St. Louis-Kansas City corridor was the last in the Midwest to be unaffected by the COVID pandemic-induced service reductions.

Effective today Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has ordered all Amtrak in that state to be suspended.

The Vermonter, which normally operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont, will not operate north of New Haven, Connecticut.

On its reduced schedule, the Vermonter will not operate on Sundays.

The Ethan Allen Express, which normally operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont, will not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Scott said he took the action after consulting with Amtrak. He also issued a stay-at-home order for residents of his state and directed the closure of in-person, nonessential businesses in order to minimize unnecessary activities outside of homes.

In Florida, Brightline, which is owned by Virgin Trains USA, laid off 250 of its more than 300 South Florida workers this week.

Brightline said on Wednesday that it was suspending all service in the wake of the pandemic.

The layoffs included Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development.

In a statement, Brightline said it hoped to rehire most of its workers once service resumes, but said it could not say when that might be.

A report in the Miami Herald said more than 700 construction workers on a project to extend Brightline track to Orlando remain employed.