Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Crescent’

Cities Eye, Support New Amtrak Service

November 29, 2022

Although there no plans yet by Amtrak to serve Madison, Wisconsin, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, both  cities are supporting bids to create Amtrak stations.

Officials in Madison said they will begin a study in early December that will identify potential station sites.

The study will be the subject of a meeting on Dec. 7 in the Madison Municipal Building at 4:30 p.m.

Madison officials noted that extending Hiawatha Service to Madison from Milwaukee is part of the Amtrak Connects US plan. They also cited funding allocated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for new Amtrak service.

In Vicksburg the Board of Mayor and Alderman have approved a resolution supporting development of a new Amtrak route that would serve the city.

The route would link Meridian, Mississippi, with the Dallas-Fort Work region and is part of the Louisiana 2020 Rail Plan developed by the state’s department of transportation.

The state is seeking a federal grant that would fund development of the route.

Aside from Vicksburg, the proposed service would also serve Jackson and Monroe, Mississippi, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

Discussions of the service have focused on creating a section of the Crescent, which operates between New York and New Orleans.

I-20 Corridor Seen as More Likely Due to IIJA Funding

November 9, 2022

Proponents of connecting three Amtrak routes by launching new service in the I-20 corridor recently met to discuss that propsect during a conference sponsored by the Southern Rail Commission.

The meeting was held in Monroe, Louisiana, and SRC officials discussed how funding available under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act might spur development of the service.

 The I-20 corridor route would originate in Atlanta, where it would connect with the New York-New Orleans Crescent, and run west to Fort Worth, Texas, to connect with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Chief.

It also would connect with the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans) in Jackson, Mississippi.

The route would bring intercity rail service to interim points including Monroe; Shreveport and Ruston, Louisiana, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

SRC officials told attendees at the meeting that funding provided by the IIJA “increases the likelihood of the project coming to fruition.”

Dates Set for Amtrak Service Restorations

July 20, 2022

Daily operation on three Amtrak will be phased into place during the first week of October.

Trains magazine reported on its website that daily operation of the New York-New Orleans Crescent will resume on Oct. 4 and for the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans on Oct. 8.

Those dates correspond to the first dates that those trains would not have operated under the current operating conditions of running five days a week.

The New York-Miami Silver Meteor, which has been suspended since last January, will resume operating on Oct. 3.

The Trains report said that originally Amtrak said it would reinstate daily service on all three routes starting Sept. 11. But the service suspensions have been extended into October.

In suspending service on these and other routes last mid-January Amtrak cited a shortage of workers in its mechanical and onboard services departments as well as COVID-19 pandemic complications.

The suspended service on most long-distance routes has since been restored.

Amtrak has also restored some suspended services in the Northeast Corridor, including an overnight train between Boston and points in Virginia.

The New York-Toronto Maple Leaf was restored over the length of its route on June 27 and a second St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner was restored on July 17.

Still suspended are the New York-Montreal Adirondack, the Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, Saluki, and the Carbondale to Chicago Illini.

Trains reported service restorations made or planned thus far reflect Amtrak’s belief of what service can be reliably supported with the existing labor force and the equipment that is operable.

Amtrak to Restore Suspended Service on Oct. 3

July 16, 2022

Amtrak will restore fully daily service on Oct. 3 to long distance trains that are now operating five days a week.

The Rail Passengers Association reported on its website that the change affects the New York-New Orleans Crescent and the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans.

Also on Oct. 3, RPA, said the now suspended Silver Meteor will resume operation between New York and Miami.

In recent months the only service between New York and Miami has been the Silver Star, which follows a different route from the Meteor in North Carolina and South Carolina.

RPA also said some improvements in food service aboard trains might be rolled out this fall but no details on what those changes might entail are yet available.

Amtrak cited staffing shortages for reducing the frequency of most long-distance trains in January to five days a week.

Most of those service cuts have since been reversed and train operations have reverted to seven days a week.

The RPA report said Amtrak is now confident that it will have the staff and equipment needed to bring the rest of the trains back on to pre-pandemic schedules.

However, the RPA report did not say whether the service restorations includes reinstating service now suspended in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor.

Since January the State of Illinois supported service on that route has been only the northbound Saluki in the morning and the southbound Illini in late afternoon and evening.

NS Track Work Disrupting Crescent

January 5, 2022

The Crescent (New York-New Orleans) is being disrupted by Norfolk Southern track work on weekdays through Feb. 17.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Trains 19 and 20 will be canceled between News Orleans and Atlanta on Monday through Thursday with no alternative transportation provided.

The trains will continue to operate between New York and Atlanta on the affected days.

The track work is part of an annual NS maintenance of way blitz on the former Southern Railway route.

Intermediate stations that will not have service during the service disruption include the Alabama stops of Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa; the Mississippi stops of Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg and Picayune; and the Louisiana stop of Slidell.

Storm Snarls Amtrak Service in Virginia

January 5, 2022

A snow storm that snarled traffic and led to widespread flight cancellations in Virginia and Washington, D.C., also delayed Amtrak trains for hours.

New reports indicated that Amtrak passengers in Richmond, Virginia, spent hours at the Staples Mill Road Station waiting for their trains to continue their journey.

Passengers on a train stopped in Richmond were told their train was unable to move due to trees being down across the tracks ahead.

With the station being crowded, some passengers waited outside to board a train around 7 p.m.

Passengers aboard that train said they ended up spending the night aboard the train as it sat in the station.

News reports quoted passengers as saying the restrooms became unsanitary. The passengers also reported receiving little information about when they would be able to continue their trip.

In Lynchburg, Virginia, the Crescent en route from New Orleans to New York was stranded for more than 24 hours also due to fallen trees.

A news report indicated that Northeast Regional Train 176 encountered downed trees and power lines in Nelson County, Virginia. The train was later terminated in Lynchburg

A passenger aboard the Crescent said passengers were unable to leave the train.

“All we’ve been told is there are trees on the tracks preventing us from moving forward,” a passenger said. “Nobody has eaten for about 20 hours and the toilets in coach are completely backed up. The snack bar sold out of food yesterday. Passengers have been banned from leaving the train.”

Amtrak contended that passengers were able to leave the train but it was unclear when it would be able to resume its trip.

The passenger carrier said the train had returned to the Lynchburg station with 220 passengers and six crew members.

A City of Lynchburg officials said Amtrak was providing food and beverages for the passengers.

Amtrak Raises Doubts about CN-KCS Merger

July 8, 2021

For years the Southern Rail Commission has talked about instituting intercity rail passenger between New Orleans and Baton Route, Louisiana.

But those efforts have been stymied by the refusal of would-be host railroad Kansas City Southern to allow an inspection train to examine the route or even to talk with the Commission about instituting the service.

The future of the proposed service has become a point of contention in the efforts of Canadian National to acquire KCS, a matter now pending before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

In an attempt to mitigate concerns that the CN-KCS merger will reduce rail competition in the New Orleans-Baton Route corridor, CN has offered to sell the KCS route between the two cities.

But that offer comes with a catch. CN would retain the right to offer freight service over the route.

Amtrak recently weighed in on the matter by telling the STB in a filing that this would make institution of passenger rail service much more difficult.

The Amtrak filing said CN’s plan is “the equivalent of a homeowner selling their house but reserving the right to continue to live in it.”

Canadian Pacific also wants to buy KCS and has pledged to cooperate with Amtrak in restoring New Orleans-Baton Rouge service.

In a letter to Louisiana Transportation Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, CP CEO Keith Creel cited “CP’s proven track record of co-operating and operating passenger trains on its network.”

The letter acknowledged the route need extensive infrastructure work to bring it up to passenger standards, but said, “If we are successful [in acquiring KCS], we would be in a strong position to ensure the level of maintenance is up to a mainline standard that would efficiently support both freight and passenger operations.”

Aside from New Orleans-Baton Rouge service, the SRC also has pushed to create a Dallas section of the Crescent that would operate on KCS tracks west of Meridian, Mississippi, via Jackson, Mississippi, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Creel letter said  CP would be committed to reviewing and participating in studies with the goal of introducing a (passenger) train pair in the Meridian-Dallas corridor

However, Creel said that would be contingent on getting the support of Norfolk Southern, which with KCS has a joint venture to improve the route.

The proposed Dallas section of the Crescent would be expected to use Union Pacific tracks west of Shreveport because the KCS roué to Dallas is circuitous.

Sked Change Set for Crescent, Roanoke Train

May 21, 2021

Amtrak will modify the schedules of some trains serving Roanoke, Virginia, and the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

Effective May 29 Train 156 will depart Roanoke 15 minutes later at 8:55 a.m.

The Crescent’s schedule will change on June 6. Train 19 will depart Washington at its current scheduled time and arrive in New Orleans at 9:02 p.m., which is two hours later than the current schedule

En route arrival and departure times will be adjusted accordingly.

Train 20 will depart New Orleans at 9:15 a.m., 2 hours and 15 minute later than the current schedule. It is being rescheduled to arrive in Washington at 1:45 p.m.

Amtrak said Train 20 will leave Washington at 2:42 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 2:12 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sleeping car passengers will continue to be offered breakfast upon leaving New Orleans and will now be offered dinner upon departing Philadelphia and Trenton.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the changes are being made to improve customer satisfaction and on-time reliability.

Amtrak Long-Distance Trains to Resume Daily Service

March 11, 2021

Amtrak said Wednesday it will reinstate daily service on 12 long-distance routes starting in late May.

Trains on those routes shifted last year to tri-weekly or quad-weekly service in the wake of steep ridership declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement of expanded service came hours after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a pandemic relief package that contains increased funding for Amtrak.

The legislation also contains a mandate that routes that had daily service until last year resume daily operation and that furloughed employees be recalled.

President Joseph Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion bill on Friday.

Two routes, the Chicago-New York Cardinal and New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited will be unaffected by the changes because those routes have operated on tri-weekly schedules for years.

Amtrak has already resumed selling tickets for the expanded days of operation on the 12 routes.

Trains returning to daily service on May 24 include the Chicago-Emeryville, California, California Zephyr; Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight; Chicago-Portland/Seattle Empire Builder, and the Chicago-San Antonio-Los Angeles Texas Eagle.

Daily operation returns May 31 for the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited; Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans, Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, and the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Resuming daily operation on June 7 will be the New York-New Orleans Crescent, New York-Savannah Palmetto, and the New York-Miami Silver Meteor (via Savannah) and Silver Star (via Raleigh).

In a news release, Amtrak said new Viewliner II sleeping cars will be making their debut on the Silver Service trains.

The Auto Train had continued to operate daily and its operations will remain unchanged.

Amtrak will receive $1.7 billion in emergency pandemic aid, which will help fund restoration of daily service on long-distance routes.

Salisbury Station to Get Second Boarding Platform

March 5, 2021

A second boarding platform will be built at the Amtrak station in Salisbury, North Carolina.

The city council of Salisbury approved an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the $19.75 million project.

The cost includes right-of –way acquisition to enable expanded freight and passenger service at the station location.

Most of the funding will come from the state with the city chipping in $780,000.

Work is expected to be finished in 2024. Salisbury is served by the Crescent, Piedmont Service and the Carolinian.