Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

One Day in Jackson

May 16, 2022

Amtrak’s southbound Panama Limited is sitting in the station in Jackson, Mississippi, on May 14, 1977. But the train with the dome cars is not No. 59. Look down the tracks to the train with an Amfleet consist. That’s No. 59.

The train that everyone is paying attention to is the Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion that ran from Birmingham, Alabama, to Portland, Oregon, making an overnight stop in Jackson. It was pulled by former Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449.

The excursion was prompted by the need to move No. 4449 back to its home in Portland after it had finished pulling the American Freedom Train in 1976. That saw the 4449 end its journey in Miami.

The transcontinental excursion ran in two segments. One ran from Miami to Birmingham in January 1977. In Birmingham the 4449 spent time in the shops of the Southern Railway.

The second section left Birmingham on April 13 bound for Jackson. After spending the night in Jackson, the excursion departed the next morning at 10 a.m. for New Orleans. The Panama Limited was scheduled to depart Jackson for the Crescent City at 8:17 a.m.

Although Nos. 58/59 were supposed to have sleeping and dining cars, the consist changed dramatically in January 1977 when severe winter weather knocked about a third of the long-distance fleet out of service. Trains were suspended or had their routes temporarily shortened. The Panama Limited received Amfleet equipment, which turned out to be a permanent change.

As for the consist of the steam excursion, it included parlor car 3644, Nathan Hale; baggage car 1117; dome coach 9545, Silver Vision; coach 6008; counter-diner 8399; dome coach 9542, Silver Stream; snack bar coach 3965; snack bar coach 3925; coach 6024; and observation-dome lounge 9310.

The excursion train reached Portland on May 1 traveling over the routes of the Sunset Limited and Coast Starlight. It traveled 9,700 miles and made stops in 61 cities. Amtrak sold 3,655 tickets with many riding a short distance but a few hardy folks rode the entire distance.

Given the state of Amtrak today it seems unimaginable to envision such as excursion as this operating now.

Study Estimates Cost of Amtrak Service to Bristol

May 16, 2022

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has estimated that it will cost up to $1.5 billion to develop Amtrak service to Bristol, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee.

The agency said its study projected that the route, if implemented, would draw up to 15,000 passengers a year.

Emily Stock, Virginia DRPT chief of rail transportation, said the estimate of $500 million to $1.5 billion was for infrastructure improvements needed to support passenger service on the Norfolk Southern route to be used.

The service would be an extension of existing Amtrak Northeast Regional service that now terminates in Roanoke.

Up to five new stations would be added to the route between Chistiansburg and Bristol.

State and local officials have already begun work to extend Amtrak to Christiansburg by 2025. Christiansburg is located 115 miles from Bristol.

Neither Amtrak nor NS have yet agreed to operate the train to Bristol.

The study assumed that service to Bristol would be one day round trip linking the city with Washington.

NS and the state have agreed to on a proposal to extend Amtrak service to Christiansburg and to increase service to Roanoke.

Vancouver Service Not Seen Before December

May 16, 2022

Restoration of Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, is not expected to occur before December.

That triggered protests from state department of transportation officials in Washington state and Oregon.

The service was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak told the state DOTs that the passenger carrier doesn’t have enough conductors, onboard service staff, and mechanics to operate the trains.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation issued a joint statement saying “lack of support for the Amtrak Cascades service cannot continue” for seven months or more.

The statement described that as unacceptable. The agencies want at least a partial restoration of service before December.

Repairs Made to Hudson River Tunnel

May 16, 2022

Workers recently repaired damage in the south tube of the North River Tunnel near New York City in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

The work also included replacement of switches near New York Penn Station.

In a news release, Amtrak the work took place on nights and weekends. The tunnel also is used by New Jersey Transit commuter trains and passes beneath the Hudson River.

Much of the work was done during a 55-hour weekend service outage in March.

Workers used jack hammers to break away loose and unstable concrete from the walking surface, poured and set fresh concrete, and retrofitted a below-surface splicing chamber.

They also injected grout into the tunnel’s concrete liner to redirect infiltrating ground water and minimize the frequency of infrastructure failures like signal problems and poor track conditions.

Amtrak said the project is part of a $150 million investment in interim improvements to the century-old tunnel.

FRA Releases Criteria for Corridor Program

May 16, 2022

The Federal Railroad Administration last week published in the Federal Register its guidelines for its Corridor Identification Program.

The program was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and allocated $1.8 billion in funding.

Eligible corridors must be less than 750 miles; an enhancement of an existing route of less than 750 miles; the restoration of service over all or portions of a route formerly operated by Amtrak; or an increase of service frequency of a long-distance intercity passenger-rail route.

By law eligible entities that may participate in the program include Amtrak, states, groups of states, entities implementing interstate compacts, regional passenger-rail authorities, regional planning organizations, political subdivisions of a state, federally recognized Indian Tribes and possibly other entities.

The FRA expects to begin soliciting proposals to participate in the program during the last quarter of this year.

The guidelines published by the FRA sets forth 14 criteria that will be used to evaluate corridors.

These include whether the route was identified as part of a regional or interregional planning study; projected ridership, revenues, capital investment, and operating funding requirements; anticipated environmental, congestion mitigation and other public benefits; projected trip times and their competitiveness with other transportation modes; anticipated positive economic and employment impacts; committed or anticipated non-federal funding for operating and capital costs; and benefits to rural communities.

Also among the criteria are whether the corridor is included in a state’s approved state rail plan; whether the corridor serves historically unserved or underserved and low-income communities or areas of persistent poverty; whether the corridor would benefit or improve connectivity with existing or planned transportation services of other modes; whether the corridor connects at least 2 of the 100 most populated metropolitan areas; whether the corridor would enhance the regional equity and geographic diversity of intercity passenger rail service; whether the corridor is or would be integrated into the national rail passenger transportation system and would create benefits for other passenger rail routes and services; and whether a passenger rail operator has expressed support for the corridor.

FRA officials said the agency will “work with the entity that submitted the proposal, the relevant states, and, as appropriate, Amtrak to prepare or update a service development plan.”

OIG Report Says Amtrak Not Reaping Savings Expected in Purchase of Wilmington Building

May 16, 2022

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General found that the passenger carrier has failed to achieve many of the cost savings and personnel consolidations that it expected when it purchased an office building in Wilmington, Delaware.

The OIG report attributed that to a failure by Amtrak to verify its plans.

Amtrak purchased the building in May 2020 for $41.1 million. At the time, the carrier said it expected to reap saving of $50 million by consolidating in the building 250 dispatchers, 400 information technology workers, some Amtrak police, and other employees from locations around the country.

Much of the savings would come from the elimination of leasing costs elsewhere, allowing Amtrak to save on leasing costs.

However, Amtrak later determined it could not move dispatchers from Boston and some from New York because they had co-dispatching duties with local transit agencies.

Amtrak also dropped plans to move dispatchers from Chicago to Wilmington. Only about 40 dispatchers are expected to work in the new facility, which Amtrak is renovating at a cost of $37 million. Only 25 to 35 IT positions will be located in the new building.

The OIG investigation found Amtrak is updating its plan for the structure. The OIG report recommended that Amtrak verify the new assumptions and accuracy of projected costs and benefits.

Palmetto Disrupted by CSX Track Work

May 13, 2022

CSX track work is affecting operations of Amtrak’s Palmetto on weekdays through May 20.

Trains 89 and 90 are canceled on Monday through Thursday with no alternative transportation being provided.

An Amtrak service advisory said passengers should book alternative travel dates or use other Amtrak trains.

On Fridays, Train 89 will operate on an adjusted schedule between Washington and Savannah, Georgia, departing Washington at 10:45 a.m., 45 minutes later than normal.

It will then depart Richmond Staples Mill station at 3:19 p.m., three hours later than normal.

South of Richmond No. 89 will depart all stations between Fayetteville and Savannah 210 minutes later than normal on the affected dates.

Train 90 will depart Savannah at 6:15 a.m., 80 minutes earlier than normal. It will depart Richmond Staples Mill at 4:01 p.m., 40 minutes earlier than normal.

Train 90 will depart Washington at the normal scheduled departure time of 7:10 p.m.

Trains 89 and 90 will operate normally on Saturday and Sunday.

Track Work to Affect Keystones on Weekends

May 13, 2022

Track work will lead to schedule changes to Amtrak’s Keystone Service on weekends starting May 21 and lasting through June 26.

Train 615 will depart Philadelphia at 2 p.m. and operate five minutes later to Harrisburg, arriving at 3:47 p.m.

Train 663 will depart Philadelphia at 11 a.m, operating 10 minutes later to Harrisburg, arriving at 12:55 p.m.

Train 667 will depart Philadelphia at 5 p.m, operating five minutes later to Harrisburg, arriving at 6:50 p.m.

Train 669 will depart Philadelphia at 7 p.m., operating five minutes later to Harrisburg, arriving at 8:50 p.m.

Allentown Thruway Bus Stop Moved

May 13, 2022

Amtrak Thruway buses now have a new stop in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The stop is now at the LANTA Allentown Transportation Center, located at 110 North 6th Street. In a service advisory Amtrak said passengers will board at Gate B or C on North Church Street.

Amtrak Releases Summer Schedule

May 13, 2022

Amtrak officially announced this week its summer schedule, which will include some restorations of suspended services.

The passenger carrier plans to restore daily operation on May 23 to the Lake Shore Limited, California Zephyr, Empire Builder and Southwest Chief.

Also on that date Amtrak will also increase Acela service to 10 weekday roundtrips between Washington and New York City, and nine between New York City and Boston.

Amtrak has increased its Northeast Regional service to close to 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.

This includes 13 roundtrips every weekday between New York and Washington with nine roundtrips on Saturdays and 14 on Sundays.

Keystone Service has also been expanded between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and New York, while service  on the Hartford Line connecting New Haven and Springfield in Connecticut is fully restored.