Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak western long-distance trains’

An Eagle and a Commuter

May 21, 2021

Appearances to the contrary, the train the left is not an Amtrak train. It is a Trinity Railway Express commuter train using leased Amtrak equipment.

That included a pair of F40PH locomotives and two Horizon Fleet coaches.

On the next track over the Texas Eagle is making its daily stop at the Dallas Union Terminal. Note that the Eagle has a new P40 on the point and a veteran F40PH trailing.

When this image was made on March 4, 1997, such mixed motive power consists were not unusual and would continue through the late 1990s until the P42 fleet began arriving.

Bill Introduced to Create Front Range District

April 15, 2021

A bi-partisan bill has been introduced in the Colorado state senate to establish the Front Range Passenger Rail District.

The district would plan, build, operate and maintain passenger service connecting the major cities along the east side of the Rocky Mountains as well as provide a connection service to Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and California Zephyr.

Senate President Leroy Garcia, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement that establishing rail passenger service along the Front Range has been a top priority of his since being elected to the legislature.

The legislation calls for cooperation with the Denver-area Regional Transportation District and says that if appropriate the two agencies should share capital costs on a portion of the route. District members would be appointed by April 1, 2022, with the first meeting the following month.

Full-Service Dining Expected Back on Amtrak Long Distance Trains

March 14, 2021

An Amtrak manager has told the Rail Passengers Association that full-service dining will return to six western long-distance trains once they resume daily operation in late May or early June.

Larry Chestler, who oversees Amtrak’s long distance trains, said the passenger carrier expects “something close to normal” this summer for sleeping car class bookings.

Chestler indicated that Amtrak wants to be able to offer a dining-car experience while tending to those who are anxious, fearful or do not desire the traditional communal dining experience that was common in dining cars before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a post on its website, RPA said Amtrak managers said the carrier is still developing plans for dining service restoration that may include “some new options targeting improved safety and improved meal quality.”

Since late last spring, Amtrak has offered its flexible dining model aboard all western long distance trains.

Initially begun in June 2018 aboard the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, the flexible dining model involves serving prepackaged meals to sleeping car passengers in either the dining car or in their rooms.

The model, which was initially known as contemporary dining, was later expanded to all eastern long distance trains.

It meant a more limited offering of menu items and no more onboard food preparation other than heating already cooked meals.

It was a cost-cutting measure for Amtrak because it reduced dining service from three or more positions to one.

Onboard Amtrak food service workers displaced by the practice on the western trains were moved to the extra board.

Winter Conditions Cause More Service Disruptions

February 18, 2021

Harsh winter weather continued to lead to delays and cancellations for Amtrak on Wednesday, including in the Midwest.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said a week of temperatures near zero caused a series of “weather-related equipment issues.”

A Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water round trip was cancelled on Wednesday as a result.

Reportedly, the problem involved the train’s two Charger locomotives and Amtrak maintenance was unable to fix the issue.

The same day the Chicago-bound Pere Marquette, which originates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was terminated at its first intermediate stop in Hollard, Michigan, due to equipment problems.

Passengers were transferred to a bus to complete their journey to their destination.

Several corridor and long-distance trains that did operate on Tuesday and Wednesday encountered lengthy departure delays from Chicago.

After a late Tuesday arrival in Chicago from Carbondale, Illinois, the Saluki was canceled on Wednesday and its counterpart to Carbondale, the Illini, was cancelled that day.

Both trains were cancelled on Wednesday. Reportedly the problem that led to the cancellation of the Illini was a computer issue on the locomotive that locked up the brakes so that they would not release.

Elsewhere, Amtrak canceled trains in Virginia and the Carolinas ahead of a winter storm expected to bring ice and snow to the region.

The Auto Train was cancelled in both directions on today. Also cancelled were trains that terminate at Norfolk, Newport News, and Roanoke in Virginia, and the Palmetto to Savannah, Georgia.

The northbound counterparts to these trains have been cancelled for Thursday and Friday.

In the West the Coast Starlight has resumed operating over its entire route.

However, Wednesday departures of the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles and New Orleans were cancelled.

The Texas Eagle will originate in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday as scheduled. The westbound Texas Eagle will resume departing from Chicago on Friday.

The Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, Heartland Flyer remains suspended until Feb. 20.

Winter Leads to Delays, Cancellations

February 17, 2021

Harsh winter weather led to lengthy delays for Amtrak’s eastern long-distance trains and the cancellation of some western long-distance services.

Among the trains that were canceled were the Heartland Flyer, Feb. 14-16; Texas Eagle, Feb. 14 and Feb. 16 in both directions; Sunset Limited, eastbound on Feb. 14 and westbound on Feb. 15; Coast Starlight, cancelled between Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento, California, on Feb. 15; Southwest Chief, Feb. 14 in both directions; and the City of New Orleans, southbound on Feb. 15 and northbound on Feb. 17.

Some trains that continued to operate were subject to lengthy delays.

The Coast Starlight that departed Seattle last Saturday was more than 15 hours late arriving in Los Angeles and more than 25 hours late reaching Seattle on Sunday.

The delays were prompted by heavy snow and downed trees between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

Those same conditions led to the lone daily Cascades Service train between Seattle and Eugene to operate only between Portland and Seattle on Saturday and to be cancelled on Sunday.

The Empire Builder was more than six hours late reach both Chicago and Seattle on Saturday.

The eastbound Lake Snore Limited was held for 39 minutes on Saturday to accommodate connecting passengers from inbound No. 8.

The eastbound California Zephyr was more than four late into Chicago on Monday.

Trains along the Atlantic Seaboard also suffered lengthy delays, including the Carolinian from New York and Charlotte, North Carolina; and the Palmetto between New York and Savannah, Georgia.

The northbound Palmetto that is scheduled to reach New York at 11:56 p.m. on Sunday arrived Monday at 8:03 a.m.

Aside from weather issues the train was stalled by freight train interference and delays in changing crews en route.

Also affected were the Auto Train and Silver Star.

California Zephyr in Colorado

January 15, 2021

It is late June 1988. The photographer and a friend had ridden Amtrak’s California Zephyr to Denver to spend a week railfanning Denver & Rio Grande Western lines in Colorado.

They managed to catch Amtrak Nos. 5 and 6 numerous times on the Moffat Tunnel route. In those days three F40PH locomotives was the standard motive power consist.

In the top photograph, No. 6 is cruising along the Colorado River in Byers Canyon. In the middle, No. 5 is coming into Winter Park as it exits Moffat Tunnel. In the bottom image, the westbound Zephyr is at Rollins, Colorado.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Heading Out of Big D

December 1, 2020

An Amtrak conductor waits to throw a switch as Amtrak’s Texas Eagle leaves Dallas Union Station.

The conductor will reboard the train after the switch is lined back to it normal position.

The image was made on March 5, 1997. At the time P40 locomotives were fairly new and some F40PH locomotives could still be found in motive power consists.

Staffing Resumes at Marshall Station

October 16, 2020

Amtrak this week resumed staffing its station in Marshall, Texas.

A service advisory said that effective Oct. 12, a customer service representatives began helping passengers in making reservations and boarding the Texas Eagle.

The notice said additional staff is being recruited and Amtrak plans to soon have representatives for every arrival and departure of Trains 21 and 22.

The station waiting room is open for passengers at all train times with an Amtrak Quik-Trak kiosk available for ticketing and printing of boarding documents.

Passengers must use a credit card, reloadable credit or debit card, or Amtrak gift cards to pay for tickets as the carrier is not accepting cash for ticket purchases at this time.

CZ to Resume Stopping at Holdrege

October 10, 2020

Amtrak has a new boarding facility in Holdrege, Nebraska, and the California Zephyr will resume stopping there after an absence of about three months.

Until July, Nos. 5 and 6 had stopped at the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy station, which is now privately owned.

But Amtrak and the owner of the station were unable to reach an agreement on renovating the station facilities to comply with ADA accessibility standards.

Amtrak spent $2 million to create a new platform, lighting, shelter and parking lot about 63 yards to the east of the previous station.

The Burlington depot, which was built in 1910 has been converted to primarily office space.

Holdrege, located in western Nebraska, served 1,800 Amtrak passengers in 2019.

Amtrak Sleeper Passengers Can Pre-Select Meals

October 1, 2020

Amtrak has begun giving sleeping car passengers the ability to choose their meals in advance of travel.

The option is now available for those riding the Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, and Lake Shore Limited.

Passengers will be sent an email informing them of the option as well as offering an opportunity to view menus before selecting their meals.

Amtrak expects the ability to pre-select meals to be extended to the Silver Star and Silver Meteor in the coming weeks.

The meals on all of those trains are prepared off the train and heated onboard in a microwave oven.

Sleeping car passengers can have their meals delivered to their rooms or eat in a dining car reserved for the use of sleeping class passengers.

Amtrak currently only prepares meals onboard the Auto Train, having suspended the practice for Western long-distance trains during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the passenger carrier has said the suspension of on-board food preparation for Western long-distance trains is temporary and a notice on the carrier’s website indicated that full-serving dining on those trains is suspended through Dec. 15.