Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Adirondack’

Inspection Train Examines Route to Montreal

July 19, 2017

Amtrak ran an inspection train on Tuesday from St. Albans, Vermont, to Montreal as part of a review of the feasibility of extending the Vermonter into Canada.

The inspection train traveled the freight-only Swanton Subdivision of New England Central and Canadian National.

The consist included Amtrak P42DC No. 101, Amcafe 43371 and American View, the Viewliner theater inspection car.

Stops were made to inspect various structures and track.

Amtrak’s former Montrealer served the route north of St. Albans until 1995. That train originated in Washington and operated via New York.

Amtrak continues to serve Montreal with its Adirondack, which operates via Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Schenectady Amtrak Station Being Razed

July 7, 2017

The Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York, is being razed in preparation for the building of a new depot on the site.

Passengers are now using a temporary platform to board trains and the station’s parking lot has been transformed into a construction site that is blocked off with fencing.

Amtrak said parking at the interim boarding site is limited and the ticket office for Schenectady has been closed. Passengers are advised to arrive more than 30 minutes early and to plan on being picked up and dropped off.

Construction of the new station is occurring in two phases, the first of which will cost $5.4 million and involve demolishing the current Amtrak-built station, making concrete and structural repairs along the existing station platform, and installing new concrete culverts underneath the tracks.

The second phase involves construction of the new station. Bidding on that project is expected to begin this fall. The new station is projected to open in late 2018.

The new station is on the site of the former Union Station that was torn down and replaced in 1979 by a modular facility built by Amtrak.

Amtrak handled about 60,000 passengers per year in Schenectady, which is served by Empire Service trains to and from Niagara Falls, New York; the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited; the New York-Montreal Adirondack; and the New York-Rutland, Vermont, Ethan Allen Express.

Amtrak Names Trains That Will Use Grand Central

July 6, 2017

Amtrak has announced which Empire Service trains will be using Grand Central Terminal once the reconstruction of tracks at New York’s Penn Station gets underway.

Three weekday trains originating at Albany-Rensselaer, New York, will use Grand Central and be turned on the the station’s loop track.

The trains set to diverge at Spuyten Duyvil and head for Grand Central are No. 230, departing Albany-Rensselaer at 5:05 a.m.; No. 236, departing at 8:20 a.m.; and No. 242, whose departure time has been moved up to 2:40 p.m. from 3:10 p.m.)

Northbound trains will depart Grand Central at 11:15 a.m. (No. 233, weekdays only), 2:15 p.m. (No. 235), and 5:48 p.m. (No. 239).

The New York-Montreal Adirondack will continue to use Penn Station but will be combined with the Toronto-bound Maple Leaf as far as Albany. The Adirondack will arrive earlier at intermediate stops to Montreal.

The Friday departure time of the Ethan Allen Express will be moved up to the Saturday-Thursday 3:15 p.m. scheduled departure time.

Amtrak plans to cancel six New York-Washington Northeast Regional trains and the New York-Philadelphia portion of three Keystone round-trips.

Another Keystone Service will terminate at Newark, New Jersey, while the New York-New Orleans Crescent will originate and terminate in Washington

Travel between all Northeast Corridor stops will be allowed on the New York-Miami Silver Star and Silver Meteor, and aboard the Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Those trains ordinarily stop between New York and Washington to pick up and discharge passengers traveling to and from destinations south and west of Washington.

Unaffected by the changes are Empire Service trains operating to and from Niagara Falls, New York, and the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited.

The schedule changes are effective July 10. The work at Penn Station will continue through Sept. 1.

Third-rail shoes have been modified from over-running contact to Metro-North’s under-running configuration on at least four P32-DM locomotives to power the detouring Amtrak trains.

Only tracks 1-9 and 11 of Penn Station’s 21 tracks will be accessible from the west end during the construction work.

3 Bids Received for Schenectady Station Work

March 31, 2017

Three bids have been submitted for the proposed new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

All of the bids appear to be within the $6 budget for the station.

The bidders were seeking to perform the first phase of the project, which includes razing the current station and doing concrete and structural work around the station platform.

That work is expected to begin this spring once a winning bidder is chosen by the New York State Department of Transportation.

It is the second time that bids have been submitted for the station work.

Last year one bid for the project came in $10 million over budget. State officials decided to break the station project into two phases.

The budget for the project is $15 million, most of which is from federal funding.

The project timeline calls for demolition of the station to be completed this year. Amtrak is constructing a temporary boarding platform at Liberty Street.

The contract for construction of the permanent station is expected to go out for bid this fall with construction starting in 2018.

The new station is expected to resembled the former Union Station, which was razed years ago. The current Amtrak station opened in 1979.

About 60,000 passengers per year board Amtrak at Schenectady, but city officials believe the station could become busier after the opening of the Rivers Casino and Resort.

Capital Region Track To Be Done by Summer

March 20, 2017

Amtrak expects to finish a massive rail improvement project in New York’s Capital Region this summer.

The $163 million program is adding a second track between Albany and Schenectady, New York, in order to eliminate a bottleneck on the single-track route used by the Lake Shore Limited, Empire Service trains, the Adirondack, the Ethan Allen Express and the Maple Leaf.

The work also includes upgrading the signal system and improving grade crossings.

An earlier stage of the project involved lengthening two passenger platforms at the Albany-Rensselaer station, primarily for the benefit of passengers boarding and disembarking from the Lake Shore Limited.

Amtrak officials said the work is nearly finished south of the Capital Region and that the second track between Albany and Schenectady should go into service in late spring or early summer.

A NYDOT spokesman said contractors are still placing ballast on the new track, as well as making deck repairs on the Union Street and Erie Boulevard bridges in Schenectady, cleaning and improving culverts, and removing poles, now that the new signal system is underground.

However, officials say that earlier ides to increase the level of service west and north of the region are uncertain at best.

Michael Franchini, who heads the Capital District Transportation Committee, a government planning organization that oversees the disbursement of federal transportation funds, said there are no serious proposals to extend Empire Service trains now terminating at Albany-Rensselaer to Schenectady or Saratoga Springs.

The New York Department of Transportation will say only that it continues to consider increased service.

Saratoga County residents who are now served by the New York-Montreal Adirondack said that they need additional service to provide them more flexibility in their travel plans.

Some now drive an hour to the Albany-Rensselaer station to take advantage of its higher level of service to New York City.

In a related development, NYDOT officials have been asked to replace the locomotives used between Albany-Rensselaer and New York Penn Station.

The dual model locomotives are able to run on diesel fuel or electric current, but use electric power in the Manhattan tunnels that bring trains into Penn Station.

Replacing the fleet with 25 new locomotives would cost an estimated $250 million.

The current locomotives are old and prone to breakdowns that delay trains.

Schenectady Passengers Might Have to Make Do With a Shelter Until a New Station is Built

February 2, 2017

Schenectady, New York, officials knew that Amtrak passengers in their city would need to use a temporary facility while a permanent station was being built.

But it may be that the temporary facility will provide far less comfort than anyone expected.

Amtrak 4The Albany Times-Union reported that  in a cost-cutting move the New York Department of Transportation is looking at building what would be little more than a shelter that would not have a ticket office or restrooms.

A temporary station with those amenities was to have been completed by late 2016, but work has yet to begin on it other than the construction of stairs and a ramp.

Since 1979, Schenectady has been served by an Amtrak-built modular station that few have liked.

Since 2007, city and state transportation officials have been planning to replace the 1970s Amtrak station with something more modern and attractive.

But that project suffered a setback when the lone bid for the new station came in last year $10 million over the $12 million to $15 million budget for the depot.

The new station remains on track with Gov. Andrew Cuomo allocating $15 million for the project in his proposed state budget. That is in addition to $15 million already in hand, giving planners $30 million for the station project.

The temporary station is expected to be located north of the site for the permanent station, which is expected to open in late 2018.

Bruce Becker, vice president of operations at the National Association of Railroad Passengers and a former head of the Empire State Passengers Association, said he was concerned about the proposed temporary facility.

“Our concerns are for both the benefit and the safety of the passengers,” he said.

Schenectady is served by Amtrak’s Empire Corridor trains, the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, the New York-Montreal Adirdondack, and the New York-Rutland, Vermont Ethan Allen Express.

Vermont Eyes Extending Vermonter to Montreal

January 18, 2017

Vermont officials are optimistic that a new law expanding customers operations outside the United States will pave the way for extending the Vermonter to Montreal.

The law, which was signed by President Obama last year, will allow the United States to expand the number of pre-clearance facilities it has in Canada.

Amtrak 3One of those new pre-clearance facilities is expected to be established in Montreal Central Station, which is also served by Amtrak’s New York-Montreal Adirondack.

The Vermonter operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont. In past years the train operated to Montreal as the Montrealer.

In the pre-clearance program, passengers bound for the United Sates go through customs in Canada. Those who do not pass the inspection are not allowed to board the train.

The program has been used for airline passengers for many years. The U.S. currently has 15 pre-clearance facilities in six countries.

Customs officials say an advantage of preclearance is cost savings. Last year customs turned away more than 10,000 travelers and saved $20 million in detention and repatriation expenses.

The office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said it will be at least two years before everything is in place to be able to extend the Vermonter to Montreal.

Some sections of track in Canada need to be rehabilitated, union-related crew issues must be worked out and funding for the track work and construction of the Montreal pre-clearance facility has yet to be approved.

If the Vermonter is extended into Canada, there will be no intermediate stops between Montreal Central Station and St. Albans. U.S. and Canadian customs inspections will be done in Montreal.

“This Act is key to the long-term strategy of the United States and Canada to make cross-border transit more efficient, fostering economic development and improving safety and security of our shared border,” said Amtrak’s senior Vice President of Government Affairs Joe McHugh in a statement. “When implemented, Amtrak passengers can look forward to a more reliable, safer and more efficient cross-border experience.”

It is not clear what effect the incoming Trump administration might have on the preclearance expansion plans.

Trump has vowed to tighten border security although he has not commented specifically about the U.S.-Canadian border.

Gov. Pledges Funds for New Schenectady Depot

January 12, 2017

New Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed spending $15 million to build a new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

The funding was mentioned in his State of the State speech given this week.

Amtrak 3Amtrak currently uses a depot on Erie Boulevard. Cuomo cited the Schenectady station project while discussing plans to upgrade transportation hubs across the state.

It is not clear how much new state money will be spent on the new station. Some federal and local funding is also expected to go into the project.

The New York Department of Transportation has budgeted $15 million for the station, but that includes some federal funding that may no longer be available.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the state is expected to kick in some additional money in order to get the project going and the station open by 2018.

“Anybody that’s gone through that station, it’s an embarrassment,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t reflect the quality of the community we’re building. We’re doing demolitions in the neighborhoods, working on home ownership, getting the casino online, and that train station is just an embarrassment.”

In March 2016, NYDOT sought bids for a new station, but received just one response. That bid was $10 million over budget, so the state scrapped its plans.

Instead, it decided to split the work into two projects, one involving razing the 1970s era that Amtrak built and now uses and another to build a replacement station.

The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, New York-Toronto Maple Leaf, the New York-Montreal Adirondack, the New York-Rutland (Vermont) Ethan Allen Express and four New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains serve Schenectady, which handled 61,000 passengers last year.

Amtrak and the NYDOT are building a second track between Schenectady and Albany-Rensselaer to alleviate rail traffic congestion on the route. That track is expected to be completed this spring.

Customs Inspections Improved for Amtrak

December 14, 2016

Congress has approved legislation designed to speed up Amtrak service between the United States and Canada by authorizing U.S. Customs to pre-clear passengers before they reach the border.

Amtrak logoThe bill would apply to Amtrak a practice already in place at some Canadian airports whereby airline passengers bound for the U.S. clear customs before boarding their plane.

Under current practices, Amtrak trains must stop shortly after reaching the United States and customs agents board the train to screen passengers.

Officials say that the border checks on Amtrak trains add an extra hour to the travel time.

The legislation passed by Congress expands the pre-clearance program to include train stations in Canada and passengers would clear customs before boarding their train.

The legislation was pushed by members of Congress and the Senate from New York state.

New York officials are hoping that the Canadian parliament will approve similar legislation allowing its customs officials to work at stations in the U.S.

Expected to benefit from the new practices are the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and the New York-Montreal Adirondack.

Taste NY Products Added to Select Amtrak Trains

October 5, 2016

New York state has expanded its Taste NY products campaign to Amtrak.

Amtrak logoBeer and snack foods produced in the Empire State are now available for sale on Empire Service trains, the Maple Leaf, Ethan Allen Express and the Adirondack.

In all the New York products will be available on 13 Amtrak trains.

The available products include KIND snack bars made in Manhattan; Always Bagels from Long Island; Chobani yogurt from the Southern Tier region; Sweet Sam’s coffee cakes from the Bronx; Brooklyn Defender IPA; Ommegang Witte Wheat Ale from Cooperstown; and Nine Pin Cider from Albany.

New York officials said the trains chosen carry an estimated 1 million passengers a year.