Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s California Zephyr’

Private Car Trip Celebrates Golden Spike Anniversary

May 8, 2019

In what its organizers have described as likely the last of its kind, four private rail cars are traveling on Amtrak this week as part of the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike in Utah to complete the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

The cars are Berlin, built by Pullman Standard in 1956 for the Union Pacific; Pacific Union; Cimarron River, built in 1948 as a Pullman sleeping car; and the Milwaukee Super Dome.

Berlin, Pacific Union and Cimarron River are all sleepers.

The cars departed Chicago on May 2 on the Southwest Chief. They transferred in Los Angeles to the Coast Starlight and later transferred to the California Zephyr.

The trip is being sponsored by Altiplano Rail and was marketed as the Golden Spike Rail Tour.

A spokesman for Altiplano Rail told Trains magazine that due to increased Amtrak fees and restrictions on operations of private rail cars “this will likely be one of the last trips we operate.”

Utah Group Seeking Study of Expanded Rail Service

May 5, 2019

A Utah rail passenger group is seeking to prod the Utah Department of Transportation into studying expanded intercity rail service in that state.

The Utah Rail Passengers Association wants the study to examine the prospect of additional Amtrak service linking Salt Lake City, Saint George, Logan, Moab, other Utah cities as well as Grand Junction, Colorado.

Utah is currently served by Amtrak’s California Zephyr which makes stops in Green River, Helper, Provo and Salt Lake City on its daily trek between Chicago and Emeryville, California.

Mike Christensen, executive director of the URPA, said the study it is seeking to have done would cost compliment a study UDOT is already conducting.

That study, which will cost $65,000, is examining the demand for rail service in Utah.

Christensen characterized the additional study as a step to achieving a rail plan for statewide passenger service that his organization has proposed to be implemented within the next five years.

He estimated that expanding the current study to include a focus on passenger rail would cost up to $3 million.

One goal of the expanded service would be to provide better service within the state.

Christensen noted that the California Zephyr passes through Utah during nighttime hours with the eastbound train schedule to leave Salt Lake City at 3:30 a.m.

Under the URPA proposal, the state would underwrite additional Amtrak service.

Some routes would see upwards of three roundtrips per day.

The proposal would require rail to be built from Cedar City to Saint George, but otherwise use existing routes owned by Union Pacific.

Now Arriving in Naperville

April 29, 2019

It’s the afternoon of Sept. 1, 1996, and Amtrak’s eastbound California Zephyr is arriving in the station in Naperville, Illinois.

A pair of F40PH locomotives are pulling No. 6 today, but that won’t be the case much longer.

Naperville is the last stop before Chicago Union Station.

Although Amtrak is a major player in Naperville with eight trains daily, most of the passengers who board and disembark here are riding Metra as they commute to work or for other purposes.

Waiting on Passengers in Sacramento

April 23, 2019

It’s a warm July afternoon in 1999 at the Amtrak station in Sacramento, California.

Train No. 6 has halted and large crowds of people are scurrying about the platform to board their train, which will in two days arrive in Chicago.

Ahead lies some of the best scenery Amtrak has to offer in the American West.

Toward the rear of the train I noticed this car attendant standing by himself watching the boarding going on a few cars down.

The California Zephyr will board numerous coach passengers in Sacramento so it will be a matter of moments before he is helping them aboard.

Although 1999 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, it’s been more than 19 years since I made this image.

The attire of car attendants has changed since then and Amtrak no longer emblazons the word “Superliner” above the entryways to those cars.

I have no idea who this guy is, but I do wonder if he still works for Amtrak.


Omaha Being Served by Buses

April 5, 2019

Although the California Zephyr has resumed operating between Chicago and Denver, it is for now bypassing the Amtrak station in Omaha, Nebraska.

Amtrak posted a service advisory on Thursday that Nos. 5 and 6 are using a detour route in Nebraska between Ashland and Oreapolis.

The CZ’s regular route is closed due to BNSF construction on a bridge damaged by recent flooding.

The service advisory did not say how long the Zephyr will be detouring.

Amtrak said that bus/van service would be used to transport ticketed passengers the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, Amtrak stations.

Passengers will be offered the option of re-booking with the alternate transportation or traveling to/from alternate stations Lincoln or Creston, Iowa.

Buses 4005 and 4105 will connect to Train 5 while Buses 4006 and 4106 will connect to Train 6.

Bus 4006 will depart Omaha 3 hours, 14 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule.

CZ Resumption Pushed Back to Thursday

April 3, 2019

Amtrak plans to restore the California Zephyr this week between Chicago and Denver, but passengers for Omaha, Nebraska, will be riding a bus for a while longer.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the first eastbound CZ to operate through to Chicago departed from Emeryville, California, on Tuesday (April 2).

The first westbound Zephyr to originate in Chicago will depart on Thursday (April 4).

Amtrak said rail service to Omaha remains suspended due to the regular BNSF route of Nos. 5 and 6 being closed. Amtrak trains are detouring within Omaha.

The Zephyr has been suspended over its normal route through Iowa for two weeks due to flooding. For a short time, it detoured over a Union Pacific route via Ames, Iowa.

The service advisory said charter buses will provide transportation for Omaha passengers. They will board or disembark from the train in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Amtrak had expected to resume normal service east of Denver on April 1, but Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said host railroad BNSF said the route was not yet ready.

No alternative transportation has been provided to CZ passengers traveling to or from points between Chicago and Denver during the service suspension.

California Zephyr to Resume Operating to Chicago

March 30, 2019

The California Zephyr will return to its normal route between Chicago and Denver next week, but will bypass the Omaha, Nebraska, station through late April.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that trips originating March 30 from Emeryville, California, and on April 1 from Chicago use most of the normal route east of Denver.

Nos. 5 and 6 will detour in Omaha because the regular route over the Platte River was destroyed by flooding and is not expected to be rebuilt and reopened for several weeks.

Plans are for the Zephyr to detour between Ashland and Oreapolis, Nebraska.

Omaha passengers will be transported on chartered buses between Omaha and the Amtrak station in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Amtrak is working to create a bus connection between Omaha and Creston, Iowa, for eastbound passengers starting their journey in Omaha.

However, in the meantime, Omaha passengers traveling eastbound on No. 6 will have to leave at 2 a.m. to travel to Lincoln to catch their train.

The scheduled Omaha departure time of No. 6 is 5:14 a.m.

The rail travel time between Lincoln and Creston is shorter than the normal route via the Omaha station so No. 6 will be held in Creston until its scheduled 7:04 departure time if it is operating on time.

The California Zephyr detoured for a week between Chicago and Omaha on a former Chicago & North Western route, but that was ended in favor of Denver-Emeryville operation due to chronic lateness and equipment issues.

CZ Only Operating Between Emeryville and Oakland

March 27, 2019

A service advisory posted on the Amtrak website last Friday indicates that the California Zephyr is only operating this week between Denver and the San Francisco Bay area.

The advisory said Train 6 originating between March 25 – 29 and Train 5 originating between March 27 – 31, will only operate between Oakland and Denver, with no alternate transportation provided for missed stops.

Last week the Zephyr had detoured via the former Chicago & North Western route now owned by Union Pacific between Chicago and Omaha, Nebraska.

The last train to leave Chicago was shown early today to be operating 9 hours late at Omaha.

The train’s regular route over BNSF through southern Iowa has been closed due to flooding in the western regions of the state.

CZ Detouring Due to Flooding in Iowa

March 22, 2019

Flooding along its regular route has led to the California Zephyr having to detour over the former Chicago & North Western mainline in Iowa.

The detour began on March 21 between Chicago and Omaha, Nebraska, on a route owned by Union Pacific.

The train’s normal route on BNSF between those two cities is closed due to flooding in western Iowa.

There is no alternative service being offered to the intermediate stations in Iowa of Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola and Creston.

It is unclear how long the detour will last. Amtrak has used this route in past years when the normal route was closed.

No stops are being made at intermediate cities between Chicago and Omaha.

UP crews are serving as pilots for the Amtrak trains and locomotives equipped with an automatic train control system are expected to be assigned to Nos. 5 and 6.

The Zephyr will be departing from the north side of Chicago Union Station and switching from Metra to UP tracks at Western Avenue.

CZ To Resume Operating in California

March 3, 2019

The California Zephyr is expected to resume operating the full length of its route today (March 3) after it was truncated due to heavy snowfall on Donner Pass.

The route was closed on Feb. 26 after an avalanche buried the tracks of host railroad Union Pacific near Truckee, California.

No. 5 that departed Chicago on March 1 will be the first train to continue beyond Reno, Nevada, where the Zephyr had been turning.

During the service disruption, chartered buses took Zephyr passengers to and from Reno.

Those buses had to take a round-about routing due to the closure of Interstate 80 between Reno and Colfax, California, between Tuesday and Thursday.

The routing involved traveling on U.S. Route 50 and led to long delays for eastbound travelers.

Officials reported that more than four feet of snow fell in California last Tuesday.