Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s California Zephyr’

Greyhound Ceding Nevada Route to Amtrak

February 15, 2018

Citing low ridership, Greyhound is pulling out of five rural Nevada communities and suggesting that displaced passengers ride Amtrak instead.

The bus carrier said it will cease service on Feb. 21 to Elko, Winnemucca, Lovelock, Battle Mountain and Wendover. It also is ending service to Salt Lake City on a route that also serves Reno.

The bus cuts come on the heels of Megabus ending service to Reno on Jan. 9.

At the time that it ended service to Reno, Megabus cited aggressive pricing by airlines serving Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Greyhound will continue to offer service from Reno to such western cities as Sacramento, San Francisco and Phoenix.

It said it has reached an partnership with Amtrak to allow those booked on Greyhound to take the train.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay region offers service to Reno, Elko, Winnemucca and Salt Lake City on a similar schedule to what Greyhound operates.

Travelers to Battle Mountain, Lovelock and Wendover, however, will not receive similar accommodations.

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Missouri Man Who Halted CZ Pleads Not Guilty

February 15, 2018

A Missouri man who is charged with terrorism after he stopped an Amtrak train in Nebraska last year may not have been mentally aware of what he was doing, his attorney said after entering a not guilty plea for his client in court.

Attorney Jerry Sena of Omaha, Nebraska, said his client did not “knowingly intend” to disable the train, as the criminal charges state.

Taylor M. Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, has been accused by federal authorities of entering the trailing P42DC of the California Zephyr on Oct. 23 and activating the emergency brakes in the early morning hours near Oxford, Nebraska.

If convicted, Wilson could face penalties of up to life in prison.

Federal authorities allege that Wilson was behaving erratically when confronted by Amtrak personnel.

Reportedly, Wilson goaded them with profanities, wrestled with them, reached for his waistband and claimed to be the conductor.

Police found Wilson was carrying a fully loaded .38-caliber handgun; a “speedloader,” which enables rapid reloading of bullets; and a backpack containing three more loaded speedloaders, a box of .38 ammunition; a fixed-blade knife; tin snips; scissors; and a respirator-style face mask.

After saying in court that Wilson might not have known what he was doing in the locomotive cab, Sena was asked what Wilson was trying to do.

Sena said that was another question. The attorney also contended that Wilson is not a member of any white nationalist group and has untreated mental issues.

Police who searched Wilson’s apartment in Missouri have said in court documents that they found a hidden compartment holding a tactical vest, dozens of rounds of ammunition and “white supremacy documents and paperwork.”

On Feb. 1, a federal grand jury in Missouri indicted Wilson on four additional weapons charges related to that search, including in connection with Wilson’s alleged ownership of an illegal submachine gun.

U.S. Federal Magistrate Cheryl Zwart has rules that Wilson will stand trial on April 16. Wilson is being held at the Saline County Jail.

Man Indicted Over California Zephyr Incident

January 24, 2018

A grand jury has indicted a Missouri man on terrorism charges in connection with the stopping of Amtrak’s California Zephyr last year.

Indicted was Taylor Michael Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri.

He was indicted on one count of attempting to or threatening to “wreck, derail, and disable railroad on-track equipment and a mass transportation vehicle” and one count alleging he attempted “to interfere with, disable, or incapacitate any locomotive engineer or railroad conductor.”

Officials claim that got into the trailing P42DC locomotive of the train and tripped an emergency brake. Amtrak personnel found Wilson in the engineer’s seat “playing with the controls.”

The indictments were returned in a federal court in Nebraska.

The FBI reported finding “alt-right” and “neo-Nazi” literature in his home in Missouri.

Wilson has also been implicated in an incident in which he allegedly pointed a gun at woman during a “road rage” incident in St. Charles in 2016.

An FBI raid of the home he shared with his cousin in St. Charles last month found more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, “white supremacy documents and paperwork,” gunpowder and a “pressure plate” that an FBI agent described as a device commonly used to construct an improvised explosive.

Wilson’s father later gave the FBI 15 rifles and pistols and body armor that belonged to his son.

Wilson’s lawyer in Nebraska, Jerry Sena, said Wilson will plead not guilty to the indictment.

Man Who Halted CZ Charged with Terrorism

January 9, 2018

A Missouri man who last October got into an Amtrak locomotive and activated the emergency brakes of the California Zephyr in Nebraska, has been charged by the FBI with terrorism.

During a court hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, federal officials said that Taylor Michael Wilson is a white supremacist he reportedly was seeking to “kill black people.”

Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, was armed when he halted the eastbound Zephyr in Furnas County, Nebraska.

The incident occurred just after 2 a.m. After the train stopped near Oxford, Nebraska, an Amtrak conductor went to investigate and found Wilson seated in the engineer’s seat of the trailing P42DC locomotive “playing with the controls.”

An affidavit from Amtrak personnel introduced into court records said that  as Amtrak personnel attempted to physically subdue Wilson he reached toward his front waistband and yelled “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

After restraining Wilson, Amtrak personnel called the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office for help.

Wilson has been charged with terrorist attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems.

FBI Special Agent Monte Czaplewski said there was probable cause to believe that electronic devices possessed by Wilson and firearms owned by him “have been used for or obtained in anticipation of engaging in or planning to engage in criminal offenses against the United States.”

The FBI found a stockpile of assault rifles, ammunition and white supremacist literature during a search of Wilson’s home.

Authorities also believe that Wilson might also be connected with two alleged hate crimes in the St. Louis area last year.

The FBI said that an acquaintance of Wilson had alerted them to the fact that he had been acting strangely since June and had joined a neo-Nazi group.

Wilson held a Missouri permit to carry a concealed handgun. Aboard the Amtrak train he was found to have a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his waistband, a speed loader in his pockets and National Socialist Movement business card on him.

In his backpack were three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, scissors and a ventilation mask.

A Nebraska judge in late October ordered Wilson to undergo a competency evaluation that found him competent to stand trial.

He was released on Dec. 11 on a $100,000 bond. Two days later the FBI searched his Missouri home.

Wilson has been in federal custody since being arrested on December 23.

Man Competent to Stand Trial in Zephyr Incident

December 12, 2017

A court has found a man charged with pulling an emergency brake on Amtrak’s California Zephyr competent to stand trial.

Taylor Wilson, 25, faces trial on charges of using a weapon to commit a felony and criminal mischief.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing, so his case is headed to trail in a Nebraska district court.

Wilson was said by police to be carrying a loaded revolver in his waistband and a speed loader in his pocket.

He allegedly activated the brakes as the train was preparing to stop in Holdrege, Nebraska.

Police said Wilson got into the trailing P42DC locomotive and pulled the brakes as the train passed through Furnas County.

Wilson was also said to have with him a box of ammunition a knife, tin snips, scissors, a ventilation mask and three more speed loaders.

Colorado Museum in Amtrak Depot to Close

November 21, 2017

A Colorado railroad museum housed in a depot that serves Amtrak will close next Monday.

The Glenwood Railroad Museum was unable to reach a lease agreement with the depot owner, the Union Pacific Railroad, in Glenwood Springs.

The museum’s five-year, $250-per-year lease expired at the end of 2016.

UP demanded the museum pay market-rate rent, which museum officials said would be more than $25,000 annually.

That would have eaten up the museum’s total income. “It’s just sad that we’re unable to raise the funding necessary to preserve what I think is a very important part of the history, the story of this county and this community,” said Pat Thrasher, museum manager and president of the Western Colorado Chapter of National Railway Society.

The museum plans to return to their donors some of the artifacts on display and is seeking to donate the remaining artifacts elsewhere.

Thrasher said museum officials considered relocating, but he thinks it is essential to be located adjacent to an active railroad depot.

“I would like to think we’re more than just a place where Amtrak passengers hang out while they’re waiting for a train,” he said.

The Glenwood museum had scheduled its hours around train times for Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Missouri Man Due in Court Monday in Connection With Stopping California Zephyr in Nebraska

October 27, 2017

A Missouri who got into the trailing locomotive of the eastbound California Zephyr last weekend faces a preliminary hearing on Monday in a Nebraska courtroom.

Taylor M. Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Missouri, is due in court in Furnas County, Nebraska.

He is facing charges of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, felony criminal mischief, and trespassing.

Bond was set at 10 percent of $25,000 and a judge has appointed a local attorney to represent Wilson.

Armed with a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, Wilson is alleged to have engaged an emergency brake, causing train No. 6 to stop.

Police said that when he was arrested, Wilson also had in his possession a speed loader in his pocket and two bags containing three speed loaders, a box of ammo for the revolver, a knife, tin snips, scissors and a ventilation mask.

No. 6 was nearing its scheduled station stop in Holdrege, Nebraska, when the incident occurred early on the morning of Oct. 21.

“We lunged forward in our seats and all the power went out, it went completely black in the train car and the emergency lighting came on which is just at your feet and it’s really sparse so we couldn’t see anything and we could smell something burning and I’m going to guess that was the brakes,” said passenger Bobbie Garris.

Garris said passengers sat in quiet darkness for over an hour. During that time, Amtrak staff rushed past toward the head end. They never explained what was happening.

Authorities are still unsure as to what Wilson’s plan was.

Amtrak released a statement saying, “The circumstances of the incident are under active criminal investigation at this time. Amtrak is working with law enforcement in Nebraska and will continue to cooperate fully in the investigation.”

Nebraska Police Arrest Armed Man Who Got into Trailing Locomotive on Amtrak No. 5 Saturday

October 23, 2017

Police arrested a Missouri man early Saturday after he got into a locomotive pulling the eastbound California Zephyr and activated an emergency brake in Oxford in south-central Nebraska. That brought the train to a halt.

Taylor M. Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Missouri, had in his possession a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolved in his waistband and a speed loader in his pocket at the time he was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies of Furnas and Harlan Counties. He was held in the Furnas County Jail.

Police also found two bags with three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, tin snips and a ventilation mask.

Wilson was en route from Sacramento, California, to St. Louis. He made his way to the trailing locomotive where he pulled an emergency brake at about 1:54 a.m.

Oxford is 23 miles southwest of Holdrege, Nebraska, a scheduled stop for Amtrak Nos. 5 and 6.

Wilson was initially detained by Amtrak personnel until police arrived.

He was held on $50,000 bond on charges of suspicion of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, felony criminal mischief and trespassing.

Don’t Look for Amtrak in South Dakota Anytime Soon

October 18, 2017

Just two of the lower 48 states in the continental United States are not served by Amtrak.

Wyoming once hosted three Amtrak routes and sees a periodic detour of the California Zephyr.

But South Dakota has never seen a scheduled Amtrak train and the state had lost intercity rail passenger service before Amtrak began on May 1, 1971.

Officials in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have discussed bringing Amtrak to their city, but it is not a high priority they say due to the cost.

Sam Trebilock studied bringing Amtrak to Sioux Falls seven year ago. A planner for the city, Trebilcock said he doesn’t know how much it cost to lure the passenger carrier to the state’s largest city, but it would be expensive.

“I think because of the expense of it, it’s something that isn’t on the front burner or anything,” he said.

Much of the expense of bringing in Amtrak involved track renovation. “You can’t just put passenger rails as I understand it onto a freight rail corridor,” he said.

Another hurdle is showing there is a market for the service. “You’d need to be able to show that you’re going to have the ridership it’s going to take to make that work,” Trebilcock said.

Sioux Falls would need to be linked to a destination that would matter to riders, such as Minneapolis or Omaha, Nebraska.

Although transportation officials in Minnesota studied providing Amtrak service to within six miles of Sioux Falls, it was not a high priority.

California Zephyr Detouring via Wyoming

September 21, 2017

Track work by Union Pacific has sent the California Zephyr detouring through Wyoming between Sept. 16 and 23 and Oct. 1 and 8.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the detour of Nos. 5 and 6, will result in them missing station stops in Colorado at Winter Park, Granby, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction; and in Utah at Green River, Helper and Provo.

Amtrak said passengers for No. 5 detraining at any of the missed station stops will be provided bus service from Denver to their destination. Passengers boarding at any of the missed stops will be provided bus service to Salt Lake City.

However, alternate service will not be provided for Winter Park or Granby.

A similar procedure will apply to No. 6. Passengers detraining at any of the missed station stops will be provided bus service from Salt Lake City to destination.

Passengers boarding at any of the missed stops will be provided bus service to Denver, where you can board the train. Alternate service will not be provided at Winter Park or Granby.