Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Amtrak Ridership up 1.5% in FY2017; Operating Loss Was Lowest it’s Been in Decades

November 16, 2017

Amtrak recorded its lowest operating loss in decades this year the carrier said on Thursday. The national passenger carrier said it broke passenger and revenue records for the year ending Sept. 30, helping to narrow its operating loss to $194 million.

During the period Amtrak recorded 31.7 million passenger trips, a 1.5 percent increase over FY2016 and had total revenue of $3.2 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent over FY 2016.

In breaking out ridership by service type, Amtrak said it carried 12 million in the Northeast Corridor, up 1 percent, which set a record.

State-supported trains carried 15 million passengers, a 2.1 percent increase, while the long-distance routes carried 4.6 million riders, an increase of 0.9 percent

Amtrak also set a record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues.

“Over the next several years, we’re aiming to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues by strengthening our services and continuing to drive efficiency,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia in a statement. “To do this, we are making investments in tracks and stations, on our trains, and in the delivery of customer service so that we can serve more customers with a better experience.”

Amtrak said it cuts its debt from $3.3 billion on Sept. 30, 2007, to $1.2 billion on Sept. 30, 2017, a reduction of 64 percent over the 10-year period.

Other notable milestones for Amtrak in FY2017 included a 19 percent increase in membership in its Amtrak Guest Rewards program and launching a national partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft.

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Carlinville OKs Amtrak Station Contract

November 16, 2017

The Carlinville, Illinois, city council has approved a contract that should pave the way for the opening of a new Amtrak station.

The contract had been delayed as state and local officials worked out with Amtrak language pertaining to the liability part of the lease.

The station has been completed for some time. Once Amtrak signs the contract, the station can be opened and a dedication ceremony scheduled.

Located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, Carlinville is served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

21 More Chargers Due in Chicago in January

November 16, 2017

Amtrak expects to receive 21 additional Charger locomotives in January. They will supplement the 12 that were delivered last August.

The locomotives have been assigned thus far to Hiawatha Service trains between Chicago and Milwaukee, and routes linking Chicago with the Illinois cities of Quincy and Carbondale.

Chargers also were expected to begin revenue service this week between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.

Scott Speegle, the passenger rail communications manager for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the passenger experience should be improved.

“They will provide a better acceleration and deceleration, and so we’ll have a smoother ride and better on-time performance,” Speegle said.

He said the new locomotives make it easier for more passenger cars to be added during peak travel days.

“They could pull more cars more efficiently than the older locomotives,” Speegle said. “We generally look to add cars at times there is a greater demand.”

The Chargers were built by Siemens in California and are also being used on West Coast corridor routes.

They have a Cummins engine that was built in Indiana, can reach speeds up to 125 mph and are capable of having positive train control.

Amtrak has labeled the Chargers with an “Amtrak Midwest” brand. The locomotives are owned by the states of Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan and are leased to Amtrak.

The locomotives were purchased with $216.5 million in federal funds.

German Bus Company to Enter U.S. Market

November 16, 2017

A German long-distance bus company says it plans to begin service in the United States in competition with Greyhound, Megabus and Amtrak.

FlixBus said it will be based in Los Angeles.

“There is a significant shift in the American transport market at the moment. Public transportation and sustainable travel is becoming more important,” FlixBus founder and manager Andre Schwaemmlein said in a statement.

FlixBus has been a major player in European long-distance bus service since 2013 and has survived a fierce price war among new market entrants to boost its market share in Germany.

A Reuters news service story said FlixBus has more than 90 percent market share and its bright green motor coaches are a common sight on German motorways.

FlixBus does not own any of its buses but instead works with local and regional partners.

That is similar to how Megabus operates in the United States. Owned by Britain’s Stagecoach Group, Megabus began U.S. service in 2006.

One of its chief competitors, Greyhound, is owned by a British company, FirstGroup PLC. Greyhound carries 18 million passengers a year with a fleet of 1,700 vehicles.

By contrast, Amtrak carried 31.3 million in fiscal year 2016. Figures are not yet available systemwide for FY 2017.

FlixBus did not say when it would begin service or what routes it would serve.

2nd Penn Station Track Project Begins in January

November 16, 2017

The project will extend through May 28 and involve work performed mostly on weekends.

In a news release, Amtrak said there will be a series of continuous single-track closures that will result in minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations.

“After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:

  • Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington to New York and 127 from New York to Washington.
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
  • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
  • Train 170 will also depart Washington early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
  • Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments

The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement that will be similar to the work done on Track 10 last summer and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal.

Amtrak also will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.

While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required.

Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal

 

Amtrak Head Acknowledges Need for New Equipment

November 15, 2017

Amtrak needs to replace or overhaul the rail car fleet that serves its long-distance trains, its co-CEO told the National Association of Railroad Passengers earlier this month.

Richard Anderson

Co-CEO Richard Anderson said rebuilding or replacing aging Superliners and Amfleet cars will receive a “first priority.”

He also said the diesel locomotive fleet used to pull that equipment also needs replacement and/or rebuilding

Anderson said that the first up will be renovations of  Amfleet I and Amfleet II cars followed by new Acela Express trainsets.

New diesel locomotives are being placed into service on corridor routes in the Midwest and West.

Amtrak also expects CAF USA to complete soon an order for 25 new Viewliner II diners to be completed. Last on the list that Anderson ticked off was overhauling the current Acela fleet.

Despite saying it is a priority, Anderson did not describe a plan to replace or rebuild the Superliner fleet.

Amfleet II coaches are used on single-level long-distance trains such as the Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Crescent and Silver Service.

Anderson did, though, describe the importance of long-distance trains by emphasizing their role in “connecting small and large communities and bringing the most utility to the most Americans across the country.”

He said Amtrak’s 15 long-distance trains serve a series of markets with just 6 percent of riders traveling from endpoint to endpoint.

Many of those markets have lost or seen their level of intercity bus and airline service greatly diminished.

Anderson said Amtrak faces “risk points” with host railroads delaying Amtrak trains, the Trump administration’s efforts to end funding of long-distance trains and a dire need for capital.

The latter is most acute in the Northeast Corridor although some might say capital is desperately needed to buy new rolling stock and locomotives.

The former airline executive also said Amtrak needs to become more customer-focused.

Cary NC Ranked Amtrak’s Top Station

November 15, 2017

A customer satisfaction survey has found Cary, North Carolina, to have the highest-rated Amtrak station.

The station, which is served by the Piedmont, Carolinian and Silver Star trains, earned the highest score for “overall station experience” with a score of 97 percent.

The Cary station topped more than 450 Amtrak stations across the country.

The survey asked Amtrak passengers to judge stations based on such criteria as cleanliness, safety, clarity of signs, friendliness of station workers and ease in boarding trains.

Cary served 85,000 passengers in 2016 boarding and alighting from eight trains a day. The station was built in 1996 to replace a depot that was razed in the 1970s. It is the fourth busiest Amtrak station in North Carolina.

2nd Penn Station Project Begins in January

November 15, 2017

Amtrak will begin the next phase of its track rebuilding at New York Penn Station on Jan. 5, 2018.

The project will extend through May 28 and involved work performed mostly on weekends.

In a news release, Amtrak said there will be a series of continuous single-track closures that will result in minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations.

“After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:

  • Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington to New York and 127 from New York to Washington.
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
  • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
  • Train 170 will also depart Washington early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
  • Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments

The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal within Penn Station New York.

Amtrak also will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.

While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required.

Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal

Lyft Becomes Amtrak Ski Train Sponsor

November 15, 2017

Ride sharing service Lyft has become a sponsor of Amtrak’s Winter Park Express ski train.

In a news release, Amtrak said Lyft is offering new customers an AMTRAKLYFT promo code for $5 off their first four rides.

Lyft will provide a larger vehicle for snow boards and skis as well as drop off and pick up passengers at Denver Union Station. The arrangement begins on Jan. 5.

The seasonal service begins Jan. 5, and operates every Saturday and Sunday through March 25, with additional service on Fridays on Jan. 5, Feb. 2, and March 2.

The train departs Denver at 7 a.m. and arrives at the Winter Park Resort at approximately 9 a.m. The return trip leaves Winter Park at 4:30 p.m., returning to Union Station at 6:40 p.m.

Also as part of the new partnership, three railcars will be wrapped in Lyft’s hot pink design and remain on display at Union Station during the week.

After the Winter Park Express season ends, the wrapped railcars will continue in service on other national Amtrak routes throughout the West and Midwest.

Changes Coming to I-5 Rail Corridor

November 10, 2017

Amtrak will begin using a new station in Tacoma, Washington, that is located in a former Milwaukee Road freight house.

It is one of many changes in the Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, including the $181.2 million dollar Point Defiance Bypass Route south of Tacoma.

The latter includes 14.5 miles of upgraded tracks between Tacoma and Nisqually, Washington, where the bypass will rejoin the mainline to Portland.

A portion of the upgraded route has its original alignment on former Northern Pacific rails south of the Tacoma Amtrak depot where the tracks climb a 2.85-percent grade to South Tacoma.

Passenger trains are being moved away from the more scenic route along Puget Sound due to freight congestion, tight curvature and a single-track tunnel under Point Defiance. The track was also subject to mudslides.

The new route is also expected to be 10 minutes faster or Amtrak.

Once an additional daily Cascades round-trip in the morning and the evening between Seattle and Portland is launched, Amtrak will have 14 trains in the corridor, including the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

There will be 16 Sounder commuter trains north of Lakewood, Washington, is 16 daily trains which will result in 30 daily passenger trains on the new single track line. The new route is slated to reduce Amtrak passenger times by 10 minutes.