Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Adirondack’

Restoration of State-Funded Corridor Services Presents a Mixed Picture

March 27, 2021

Passengers board Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Saluki at Effingham, Illinois, on March 21. The Chicago-Carbondale corridor lost one roundtrip since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago

Although Amtrak plans to restore daily service to most long-distance routes starting in late May, the restoration of corridor service cut during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a more mixed picture.

Some states might restore service by summer but that is not guaranteed.

Michigan Department of Transportation Rail Director Peter Anastor said he didn’t known when two suspended Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) would return.

He indicated it will hinge in part on ridership and revenue trends.

“The CARES Act and the second stimulus bill helped fill the gap caused by fixed costs that stay the same whether you have 10 or 100 riders,” he said.

Michigan also funds the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water and the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette.

Although the Blue Water continued to operate throughout the pandemic, the Pere Marquette was suspended between March and last summer.

Anastor indicated new Venture coaches are expected to be assigned to Wolverine Service this spring, making it the first Midwest corridor train to have the new cars.

On other Midwest corridor routes, Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to increase to seven round trips on May 21.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Rail Division head Arun Rao said the service expansion will be promoted with an extensive advertising push and increased social media activity.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Speegle said his agency will decide in April when some other corridor services will be restored.

IDOT has suspended one round trip on the Chicago-Carbondale route, one roundtrip on the Chicago-Quincy route and two roundtrips between Chicago and St. Louis.

“We anticipate resuming full service no earlier that mid-July; the final decision on that time frame will be made in April, approximately 12 weeks prior to resumption of service,” he said.

Speegle said IDOT will review ridership and revenue numbers for the current service, anticipated costs, and the level of federal support.

Whether a second St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner will resume operating will depend on how much funding the Missouri legislature approves.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has requested funding for two daily roundtrips but the chair of a House budget committee has proposed funding just one roundtrip.

In the East, New York State has not announced its intentions in regards to restoring any suspended Empire Corridor trains.

Two routes funded by New York, the Maple Leaf to Toronto and Adirondack to Montreal have been suspended due to the U.S.-Canadian border being closed during the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the East, North Carolina will begin a fourth roundtrip starting April 5 in the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor.

Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are reinstating a third Piedmont Service roundtrip, making this the first multi-frequency state corridor to be fully restored.

North Carolina reinstated a second and third round trip last August and December, respectively.

Another Downeaster trip to Maine is expected to resume in May after schedules are worked out with Amtrak and host railroad Pan Am Railways.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the new schedule will be a little different.

“Instead of just plugging two midday trains back into their old slots, we’re adding a 10:30 a.m. departure from Brunswick, which will turn as a 3 p.m. departure from Boston,” she said.

“Given the change in commute patterns, we decided to try something different, assuming we won’t need two trains leaving Boston for the evening rush hour, but the additional round-trip means we will again have a flex schedule for the late-night train from Boston to accommodate sports fans and concert goers.”

Quinn said weekday and weekend schedules will now be identical.

In the West, one Capitol Corridor roundtrip will on March 29 be extended from Oakland to San Jose.

Capitol Corridor managing director Rob Pagette said there will be a change in departure times based on the way customers now use the trains.

“We’re about at 15 percent of where we were in February 2020 but we are looking to have a more robust service by September,” he said.

“We’ve seen more demand spread throughout the day, and this has allowed us to improve the efficiency of how we use our equipment by (temporarily) going from seven to six consists.”

Pagette said officials will be watching to determine where people are riding after the schedule change to determine where we add back the seventh consist.” An eighth trainset will be added later.

The extended round trip to San Jose will originate in Auburn because there appear to be increasing numbers of “super commuters” who ride 80 miles or more to their jobs.

Ridership trends during the pandemic have shown that if passengers are less likely to travel every day, more will opt for less-costly housing further away from the Silicon Valley.

In the San Joaquin corridor, a fifth roundtrip is expected to be added in in the fall. However, the two round trips to Sacramento aren’t likely to return until early 2021 at the earliest.

Those plans, though, are contingent on ridership stabilizing.

In Southern California, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency expects to restore one Pacific Surfliner roundtrip between San Diego and Goleta in July or August.

The date of that service restoration is dependant on available funding.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Washington Department of Transportation is eyeing returning two Seattle-Portland roundtrips in mid May.

Currently, the Cascades Service is operating with one Seattle-Eugene, Oregon, round trip.

Officials are considering increasing Portland-Eugene service to two roundtrips.

More Amtrak Service Cuts Announced

March 16, 2020

Amtrak updated its service reduction plans on Sunday and added the Colorado ski train to the list of cuts.

The service advisory said that the ski train, which operates between Denver and Winter Park, would be canceled for the remainder of the season.

Ski resorts in the state have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amtrak also said that café car service in the Northeast Corridor will be suspended on some trains operating between New York and Washington.

The carrier had earlier said that starting March 16 Northeast Corridor service will be reduced to 40 percent of its typical weekday operations.

In addition, Keystone Service will operate on a Saturday schedule between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak will not provide service to the Pennsylvania cities of Ardmore, Paoli, Downingtown, Parkesburg, Coatesville and Exton.

The Hartford Line and Valley Flyer will operate  on a Saturday scheduled seven days a week.

On the Empire corridor, the Maple Leaf will operate only between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, with service to Toronto suspended.

The New York-Montreal Adirondack will operate only between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said other services may be affected by service cuts and changes as circumstances surrounding the coronavis pandemic change.

Amtrak Makes More Service Cuts in the East

March 15, 2020

Amtrak will be making additional service cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective on March 15, the Maple Leaf will temporarily cease operating between Toronto and Niagara Falls, New York.

Nos. 63 and 64 will continue to operate between New York and Niagara Falls.

The Adirondack will cease operating north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York, but will continue to operate between New York City and Albany.

Effective March 16 service in the Northeast Corridor will be reduced to a typical Saturday schedule on a daily basis.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said it will continue to maintain frequent service by Acela and Northeast Regional trains to Boston, New York, Washington and Virginia points.

The service reductions in the Northeast Corridor will extend through March 29.

Amtrak earlier had announced reduction of service in the Keystone Corridor to a typical Saturday schedule with service suspended to Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

That service cut does not affect daily operation of the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Also starting March 15 service on the Harford Line and the Valley Flyer will operate on a Saturday schedule on a daily basis.

Operating Issues Disrupted Adirondack

February 26, 2020

Unspecified issues with the host railroad led to Amtrak’s Adirondack originating and terminating at Albany-Rensselaer, New York, last weekend.

In a service advisory Amtrak said Nos. 68 and 69 might continue to terminate at Albany if the host railroad is unable to resolve the operating issues.

The service disruption, which lasted from Feb. 21 to the 24, meant no service to Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Whitehall, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport, Plattsburgh, Rouses Point, St. Lambert and Montreal.

No alternative service was provided to those stations.

 

Blockade Disrupts Amtrak Service to Canada

February 18, 2020

A blockade of Canadian National tracks in Canada disrupted last weekend Amtrak service to that country.

Amtrak’s Maple Leaf, which ordinarily operates between New York and Toronto, was halted at Niagara Falls, New York.

The New York-Montreal Adirondack did not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Also affected was Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest although some trains did operate all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The blockades, which have lasted more than a week, are being staged to protest construction of a natural-gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia and is opposed by the First Nation’s hereditary chiefs.

CN has shut down freight service in eastern Canada after blockades sprang up in that region.

VIA Rail Canada has also canceled most of its services within Canada.

NY Amtrak Routes Posted Ridership Gains in FY2019

November 23, 2019

Ridership numbers for various Amtrak routes are starting to be released in the wake of the passenger carrier releasing a summary of its fiscal year 2019 performance.

This includes routes serving the Empire Corridor of New York where the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf posted a 6.5 percent increase to 390,355 passengers.

The Lake Shore Limited, which links Chicago with Boston and New York, saw a 5.9 percent gain to 357,682 passengers, while the Empire Corridor south of Albany posted a 5.5 percent gain to 1,214,206 passengers.

The Adirondack between New York and Montreal was up 5.5 percent, while the Ethan Allen Express between New York and Rutland was up 1.7 percent.

Amtrak Dome Ocean View Has Been Retired

September 2, 2019

The great dome car that was used in recent years for special duty on Amtrak trains has been retired.

The carrier’s last dome car is thought to be in storage at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

In recent years the car had been assigned to the Adirondack between Albany, New York, and Montreal during the fall foliage season.

Known as the Ocean View, the dome was built in 1955 for the Great Northern for use on its Empire Builder.

It was acquired by Amtrak from the Burlington Northern and given roster number 9361.

After being rebuilt in March 1985 to head end power, the car was renumbered to 9300(2) and assigned to the Auto Train.

It was renovated in 1999 and given roster number 10031 at which time it was assigned to Amtrak’s corporate services unit.

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams told the Times Union newspaper of Albany that the Ocean View was retired “due to the age and expense of maintaining this vintage car.”

Gary Prophet, president of the Empire State Passengers Association, told the newspaper he was “very sad and disappointed” that Amtrak decided to retire the car rather than repair it.

He described the Ocean View as “a huge benefit for passengers riding through the Adirondacks.”

Agreement Might Speed Up Customs Inspections

August 29, 2019

An agreement between the United States and Canada promises to make the border crossing a little faster.

Under the pact, U.S. customs inspections will be conducted at Montreal’s Central Station, in the manner that it is done for air travel between the two countries.

However, officials warn that it will be at least two years before the inspections begin in Montreal.

Garry Douglas, president and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, New York, predicts the best case scenario is that it will be at least two years before the new system is implemented.

“There are at least six parties in the conversation,” he said.

One key question that has yet to be answered is where the funding will come from to construct an inspection facility in Montreal.

At present, Amtrak’s New York-Montreal Adirondack, stops at the border and customs officials move through the train interviewing passengers as well as examining luggage and identification documents.

That process can take up to an hour, depending on how many passengers are on board.

The move to end the border stop has been in the works for more than five years.

Agencies involved in the discussions include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New York State Department of Transportation, Transport Quebec, Transport Canada, Amtrak and the City of Montreal.

One idea is to use an unused track and platform in Montreal for the inspection facility.

Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll said the carrier will establish a timeline to implement the new inspection procedures in consultation with New York officials, Canadian authorities, and U.S. border authorities.

2 Amtrak Trains Strike Trees

August 9, 2019

Two Amtrak trains, including the Lake Shore Limited, struck trees on Wednesday night in New York State that had been downed by thunderstorms.

Train 49 struck a tree north of Poughkeepsie, New York. There were no injuries and the locomotive suffered what officials terms cosmetic damage.

The Lake Shore resumed its journey to Chicago after a 90 minute delay.

The New York-bound Adirondack hit a tree six miles south of Rhinecliff, New York, incurring an air leak and damage to an electrical box.

After being stranded for 75 minutes, Train 68 was able to move on its own to New York.

Adirondack Sked Temporarily Changes

July 16, 2019

The schedule of the New York-Montreal Adirondack has changed through Aug. 30 due to expected heat restrictions being imposed by host railroad Canadian National.

No. 68 will depart Montreal 10 minutes earlier, arrive 10 minutes earlier at St. Lambert, Quebec, and arrive at current time in Rouses Point, New York.

No. 69 will depart St. Lambert 10 minutes later and arrive 10 minutes later in Montreal.