Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Glinting in Waterloo

October 16, 2019

I’ve photographed Amtrak in countless places over the years but never shortly after sunrise and coming out of a rising sun.

Glint photograph is a staple of railroad photographers, particularly when a train is coming out of low light at sunrise or just before sunset.

I’ve made many glint images of freight trains but never an Amtrak train.

Doing a glint with Amtrak was more challenging than I expected. I soon learned that the stainless steel sides of Amtrak cars reflect light like a mirror.

I found that getting a glint of Amtrak seemed to work best when part of the train was in a shadow such as that cast by an adjacent building.

That was particularly the case with the top image of the westbound Capitol Limited arriving in the station in Waterloo, Indiana.

No. 29 was an hour and a half late, which was why I was able to capture it in the first place.

Had it been on time it would arrived before sunrise. As it turned out, The Capitol motored into Waterloo just after 8 a.m.

About a half hour behind it was the westbound Lake Shore Limited, which was nearly an hour late.

As seen in the bottom image, there was more ambient light by then, but I learned from photographing the Capitol Limited to under expose the image to compensate for the bright reflection from the sides of the passenger cars.

That also drew out the sky and clouds a bit more.

Checked Bikes Now Allowed on Pennsylvanian

October 16, 2019

It took awhile but Amtrak has formally announced the offering of checked baggage and bicycle service aboard the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The service is available at New York, Newark, Philadelphia , Lancaster, Harrisburg, Altoona, Johnstown and Pittsburgh.

The fee for a checked bike is $20. Passengers are allowed to check two bags for free.

In news release, Amtrak said only standard bicycles will be handled.

In the case of bikes with a large seat/saddle bags, handlebar bags or panniers, those items must be removed from the bike, consolidated, and checked or carried on the train.

To make a bike reservation, passengers should select “add bike” when booking travel on Amtrak.com, calling 800-USA-RAIL or visiting a staffed ticket office.

Limited space is available for checked bicycles. No box is required.

Passengers connecting in Pittsburgh with the Capitol Limited (Chicago-Washington) can check bikes and bags through to or from their destination.

Amtrak said passengers checking bikes  must arrive at the station 45 minutes before a train’s departure time to allow enough time to purchase a ticket and obtain a baggage tag and transport the bike to the baggage car.

Amtrak Plans Extra Trains, Added Capacity for Holiday

October 14, 2019

Amtrak plans to operate extra train service and added capacity in the Midwest and other regions of the country during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

In the Midwest, this will primarily mean extra trains to some downstate Illinois cities.

Additional capacity will be added to other Amtrak Midwest corridor routes in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Passengers traveling on the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains will need reservations for travel between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2.

In a news release, Amtrak said it expects to operate every available rail car in its active duty fleet.

Additional trains are planned for the Northeast Corridor while additional cars will be added to corridor routes in the Midwest and West.

Added capacity will expand consists of Amtrak’s Keystone Service and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Keystone trains and the Pennsylvanian will require reservations for travel between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2.

Pacific Surfliner trains will require reservations between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2 for travel between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, California, via Los Angeles.

Last year Amtrak said it carried over 846,000 passengers systemwide during the Thanksgiving travel period include 160,000 customers the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

Design Teams Compete for Amtrak in Philadelphia

October 14, 2019

Amtrak recently hosted 20 DesignPhiladelphia industrial and product designers and students who competed in a competition to design new food delivery practices.

They were challenged to come up with a way that will increase recycling by 20 percent by 2020.

The winning entry was submitted by Brandon Bauer, a New Jersey native who is a junior at Drexel University studying product design.

He was received a round-trip Acela ticket for his winning submission.

Runners-up included Robin Kohles, Sam Garst, Kristin Kopple and Arcangelo Guida in second place and BreAnna Bechtold in third. These finalists received special Amtrak branded merchandise for their contributions.

Amtrak did not specify in a news release the contents of the winning entries other than they focused on ways to “source potential sustainable delivery solutions.”

The news release said the carrier is seeking ways to reduce packaging, waste and dependence on single-use plastic.

Amtrak said it will work with its vendors, facilities teams and on-board staff to improve onboard recycling and material diversion.

DesignPhiladelphia is a 10-day festival produced by the Center for Architecture and Design that is held every October.

Viewliner II Diner Has Yet to be Assigned to the Cardinal

October 13, 2019

Amtrak has yet to assign a Viewliner II dining car to the Cardinal although it indicated that it had planned to do so effective Oct. 1.

The Chicago-New York train received the flexible dining service on that date, but sleeping car passengers are being served in half of an Amfleet food service car rather than in a Viewliner II diner as is the case with other eastern overnight trains.

Amtrak’s new vice president for long distance services, Larry Chestler, told Trains magazine that the Viewliner II diner won’t be assigned to Nos. 50 and 51 “for the time being.”

Chestler said the Amfleet II lounge cars because used on the train, “are the most suitable for this service given the configuration of the cars and the Cardinal’s passenger volume.”

He probably was referring to the fact the Cardinal is assigned just one Viewliner sleeping car and that the onboard crew uses a portion of its rooms.

Amtrak has said that it has not assigned a second sleeper to the Cardinal because it has yet to repair a Viewliner sleeping car that was damaged in the February 2018 collision of the Silver Star and a CSX freight train.

At present, Amtrak has only one of 25 Viewliner II sleeping cars on its active roster. Those cars feature a different room configuration than Viewliner I sleepers.

Sleeper space aboard the Cardinal can be hard to book with rooms often selling out weeks and sometimes months in advance.

The Cardinal operates tri-weekly via Indianapolis and Cincinnati and uses two equipment sets.

New Amtrak VP to Oversee Long-Distance Services

October 13, 2019

On the same day that Amtrak implemented its flexible dining service aboard all overnight eastern long-distance trains it also welcomed aboard a new vice president to oversee long-distance service.

Larry Chestler took the job after a career in the airline industry, most recently in marketing at Sun County Airlines. He also work at MLT Vacations.

He told Trains magazine that he is still too new to the post to have a clear sense of the dynamics of the Amtrak rout network, including how contributes to peak travel demand.

“The role I’m stepping into as the commercial leader is take all of the elements and look at what [the trains] need to be more successful — whatever that definition is,” Chestler said.

“My team should have enough knowledge about the traffic use and customer base of (each) train and what its role is in the national network to be able to clearly advocate what it brings.”

That includes studying travelers taking a route endpoint to endpoint versus those who travel only on a segment of a route.

He described himself as “keenly interested” in studying connections to long-distance trains from corridor service trains.

Chestler had little train riding experience before taking the job. He said he had ridden Amtrak long-distance trains before, including the Coast Starlight.

He views pricing and inventory management as key to marketing the long-distance services.

Chestler also view his role as being an advocate for long distance routes. However, he said that focusing on long-distance services won’t be the only facet of his position.

He doesn’t see corridor services as competitors or rivals but partners.

Shortly after going to work at Amtrak Chestler rode the Cardinal from Chicago to Washington to observe how the carrier’s flexible dining service is playing out.

He spent the night in a business class eat that he admitted as a good experience but one in which he got little sleep.

But he told Trains “it was good for me to experience the product as the majority of our customers do, in a seat.”

Chestler also concluded that the flexible dining food service was well-received by passengers and “the onboard staff did a nice job delivering the product.”

13th Pacific Surfliner Roundtrip to Start

October 13, 2019

A 13th round trip of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner between San Diego and Los Angeles will commence on Oct. 14.

New train No. 578 is scheduled to leave Los Angeles at 1:15 p.m. and arrive in San Diego at 4:12 p.m.

Existing train train No. 591 will be renumbered to 593 and new Train 591 depart San Diego at 5:25 p.m. while being scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at 8:34 p.m.

Amtrak said the new trains fill gaps of about three hours in the existing schedule.

Minor changes are being made to the schedules of other Surfliner trains.

The busiest state-supported corridor service in the Amtrak network, the Pacific Surfliners carried 3 million passengers in 2018.

Some trains operate north of Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, California.

Portal Bridge to Remain Closed During Rush Hours

October 13, 2019

The U.S. Coast Guard has agreed to ban opening of the Portal Bridge in New Jersey on the Northeast Corridor during morning and evening rush hours.

The move will lessen the chances that the 110-year-old bridge will be stuck in the open position and delay thousands of commuters.

An average of a train every two minutes crosses the bridge during rush hours. It is used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

Last March the Coast Guard implemented a six-month ban on opening the bridge during rush hours on a trial basis.

Officials said the practice is now permanent after the trial found no delays being reported.

New Jersey officials want to replace the bridge and a $1.5 billion project to do so is part of the Gateway Project that also included other improvements to the Northeast Corridor between New Jersey and New York City.

However, that project has been stalled by political fighting over the federal government share of the funding.

BWI Station Reopens With New Facilities

October 13, 2019

A new Amtrak station building has opened at the BWI Thurgood Marshall Rail Station on the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak and MARC passengers can now wait for their trains in a new waiting room that was built in a $4.7 million project that also included a ticket office and restroom facilities.

The new building was located to accommodate a planned addition of a fourth main track and new island platforms.

Passengers had been using a small structure built in the 1980s.

Track Work to Disrupt Pacific Surfliners

October 13, 2019

Track work being conducted by North County Transit District will prompt service disruptions to some Pacific Surfliner service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Oct. 18 and 27.

On Oct. 18 and 25, Train 590 will be cancelled and passengers directed to make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

Bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown.

No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.

On Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27, Trains 562, 578, 583, 591, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573 and 1590 will be cancelled and passengers directed to reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles with no alternate transportation provided between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.

Trains 593, 595, 763, 777, 785, 579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above, except for Train 1761. Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine. Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego.

Instead passengers can take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

Bus service will not be provided to connect with Train 1761 but Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between Irvine and Los Angeles.