Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s California Zephyr’

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.

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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.

California Zephyr Schedule to be Modified

September 2, 2017

Amtrak has announced temporary schedules for the California Zephyr during a period of Union Pacific track work on the train’s route in Colorado. The modified schedules are in effect starting Sept. 4.

The westbound California Zephyr will depart Chicago at 3:35 p.m., one hour and 35 minutes later than the current schedule.

In Denver, the train will remain in the station for four hours and 30 minutes, departing at 12:35 p.m. It will arrive in Emeryville, California, at 8:40 p.m.

These schedule changes affect westbound Train 5 that departs Chicago from Sept. 4 through Sept. 14, and Sept. 23 through Sept. 29, arriving in Emeryville two days later.

The eastbound California Zephyr will depart Emeryville at 10:40 a.m., one hour and 30 minutes later than the normal schedule.

At Grand Junction, Colorado, No. 6 will remain in the station until departing at 12:30 p.m., two hours and seven minutes later than the normal departure time.

The train will depart all remaining station according to the later schedule through its arrival in Chicago at 4:57 p.m.

This schedule change affects trains that depart Emeryville from Sept. 4 through Sept. 14, and Sept. 23 through Sept. 29, arriving in Chicago two days later.

 

Cal. Zephyr Expected to Detour in Wyoming

August 29, 2017

Amtrak’s California Zephyr is expected to detour through Wyoming in September and October due to Union Pacific track work on its regular route in Colorado.

Trains magazine reported Monday that it has learned that Nos. 5 and 6 will have a modified schedule starting Sept. 4.

After 11 days, the California Zephyr will detour for eight days, resume its modified schedule for seven days and finish with eight more days of operating through Wyoming.

Trains departing Chicago between Sept. 6-16, and Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 will operate at least 4.5 hours later than the published schedule west of Denver.

Trains departing Emeryville, California, Sept. 4-12 and Sept. 23-29 will leave 1.5 hours later than the published schedule.

The detour route via Wyoming is shorter than the Zephyr’s regular route and the train might have additional layover time in Denver eastbound and Salt Lake City westbound.

The temporary route will pass through Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Wyoming cities of Laramie, Rawlins, and Evanston.

Station Agent Removed at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

July 19, 2017

Amtrak removed it ticket agent from the station in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, earlier this year.

The station, which is served by the Chicago-Emeryville California Zephyr, will have a caretaker who will be available at the station an hour before and after train arrivals and departures to answer questions about Amtrak service.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will continue to have access to the station waiting area one hour before all train arrivals and one hour after train departure.

Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers in boarding and detraining. They also will provide trainside checked baggage and bike service.

Baggage tags are available inside the station. Customers will check and retrieve their baggage and bikes with an employee at the baggage car.

The closest station to Mount Pleasant that still has an agent is 60 miles to the southeast in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Amtrak Passenger’s Death Remains Mystery

May 31, 2017

Colorado authorities are still searching for the cause of death of a woman who was found unconscious aboard an Amtrak train in Denver last September.

That has frustrated Denver Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Caruso, who said, “We sort of feel like we failed. The autopsy for us is the deceased person trying to tell us their story. How’d they end up in our suite?”

What is known is that the deceased is 28-year-old Marina Placencia, of Racine, Wisconsin.

Her death was being investigated by Denver police because Placencia had suffered blunt force trauma injuries.

An autopsy found 35 instances of injuries, including a large number of contusions, bruises, 10 broken ribs and bleeding in her stomach.

Police said Placencia had suffered physical abuse from a boyfriend in Wisconsin.

Witnesses and available public records showed that Placencia bought an Amtrak ticket and traveled from Milwaukee to Denver, changing trains in Chicago.

Tickets show Placencia and her four children were with her on California Zephyr.

A passenger who was not identified in a Denver Post story said that she boarded No. 5 in Holdrege, Nebraska, and didn’t hear any disturbances.

However, as the train approached the Denver station, “over the speaker, I heard somebody saying, ‘Is there a doctor?’” she said.

“I saw her [Placencia] in the aisle on the floor. Nobody was around her. I assumed she had already passed away,”

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Placencia before police arrived.

“They said they were waiting for the detectives and make sure nobody had killed her on the train. Their words not my words. They just wanted to make sure. Have an investigation,” the passenger said.

Caruso told the Post that he has continued to question the case even after the “undetermined” ruling was made of the death.

“There’s all kinds of red flags in the history here,” Caruso said. “We knew that going in. We’d like nothing more than to come up with another manner of death in this case.”

Caruso said he supported the cause of death as unknown because none of the bruises, contusions or broken bones were likely fatal.

However, he didn’t rule out further investigation as new facts become available.

“If new information comes about, I am certainly willing to change my opinion,” Caruso said.