Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Downeaster Service’

Downeasters Disrupted by Track, Bridge Work

October 15, 2022

Track and bridge work will disrupt some operations on Amtrak’s Downeaster route on Oct. 15-16, and on Oct. 19.

The bridge work is being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It will also disrupt Downeaster operations Nov. 5-6 and Dec. 3-4.

During these periods all trains will operate between Haverhill and Brunswick, with passengers riding a bus between Boston North Station and Haverhill, missing the station stop at Woburn. Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the buses will operate with corresponding train numbers with no separate ticket issued. Trains may encounter delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

On Oct. 19 track work being performed by host railroad CSX will result in some service cancellations. 

Trains 681, 683, 684 and 686 are cancelled with no alternate transportation being. All other trains will operate normally.

Track Work to Disrupt Downeaster Service

July 8, 2022

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will affect Amtrak Downeaster trains on July 9.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said all trains except Nos. 688, 689, 698, 699 and 1689 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill, Massachusetts, missing the station stop at Woburn. Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

Trains 688, 698, 699 and 1689 will terminate/originate at Woburn, with alternate transportation provided between Boston North Station and Woburn.

Amtrak said trains may encounter delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

Downeasters to Stop at Maine Golf Tournament

June 24, 2022

Amtrak’s Downeaster trains are making a special stop at the Falmouth Country Club in Maine through June 26 for a PGA tour tournament being conducted there.

In a service advisory Amtrak said the temporary stop is located near Hole 16 on the lower end of the course and a 10-minute walk from the tournament entrance.

The tournament is providing free shuttle service to the gate.

MBTA Project to Affect Downeaster Trains

March 26, 2022

Amtrak’s Downeaster service will be disrupted this weekend due to a project being undertaken by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Trains 691, 693, 695, 697, 699/1689, 690, 692, 694, 696 and 698 will detour via the Keolis/Western Route Main Line between Boston North Station and Haverhill, Massachusetts, missing the station stop at Woburn. No alternate transportation will be provided at Woburn.

The MBTA project involves extension of its Green Line.

Storm Leads to Cancellations, Modifications

January 30, 2022

Amtrak updated its service advisory on Saturday afternoon to show service modifications and cancellations for Sunday (Jan. 30) due to a severe winter storm that dumped heavy snow on the East Coast, particularly in Boston and New York.

Northeast Regional trains 150, 160, 161 and 162 are cancelled between Boston and New York as are Acela trains 2250 and 2253. Also cancelled is Downeaster No. 690 (Brunswick, Maine, to Boston).

Service modifications include two trains originating in New York rather than Boston. They include Northeast Regional train 195 to Richmond, Virginia, and Northeast Regional train 99 to Newport News, Virginia.

The Carolinian to Charlotte, North Carolina, will originate in Washington rather than New York.

Amtrak Seeks Conditions for CSX-Pan Am Merger

January 15, 2022

Amtrak asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Friday to impose seven conditions on the proposed merger of CSX and Pan Am Railways.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the conditions were outlined in a letter sent to the STB by Dennis Newman, Amtrak’s vice president of strategy and planning.

For its part, CSX told regulators by letter that it agreed with the conditions although it said institution of the seasonal Berkshire Flyer between New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will hinge on completion of a station track in Pittsfield.

Although the two sides appear to be on the same page, Newman in his letter raised the question of why CSX believes capital investment is needed for Amtrak to operate 80 trains a year over a 40-mile segment of the Boston & Albany route.

He noted that CSX agreed to grant Norfolk Southern trackage rights over the same route without requiring any capacity studies or capital investments.

STB Chairman Martin Oberman said regulators would prefer that Amtrak and CSX work out their differences rather than have the Board step in and settle them.

Newman’s letter indicated that it is unclear if the CSX commitment applies to a stretch of Pan Am Southern used by Amtrak north of Springfield, Massachusetts.

He also disputed CSX assertions that it will add positive train control to the Downeaster route in Maine, saying planning for that had begun before CSX said it planned to acquire Pan Am and that Amtrak will be paying most of the costs of the project.

Patrick Fuchs, STB’s vice chairman, said the Board has never imposed passenger-related conditions in a merger case. Some Board members suggested conditions need not be imposed because existing regulations and laws already give Amtrak access to freight railroad lines and give passenger trains priority over freight traffic.

In response Newman said has faced challenges expanding service on freight railroads.

CSX, Amtrak Reach Pact on Pan Am Merger

January 14, 2022

Amtrak and CSX reportedly have reached an agreement that will remove the passenger carrier’s opposition to the freight carrier’s plans to acquire Pan Am Railways.

Although the two railroads have reached agreements on several items, Railfan and Railroad reported on its website that Amtrak said there are still some sticking points.

On Jan. 3 Amtrak had said it would oppose the CSX-Pan Am merger unless it received some specific concessions that deal with existing and potential new intercity rail passenger service in New England.

In the latest development, Amtrak said CSX has accepted six of the conditions Amtrak is seeking.

These include a CSX promise to give priority to Amtrak trains when dispatching; a CSX agreement to cooperate with potential service expansions on the former Boston & Albany line between Worcester, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York; upgrading the current Downeaster route in Maine with positive train control and allowing expanded service; and allowing operation of the new Berkshire Flyer to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The Flyer would use the B&A route, which also hosts the Boston section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, as part of its trek between Pittsfield and New York City on weekends.

A 1,000-foot siding will be constructed in Pittsfield.  Planning for the Berkshire Flyer has been underway for years but been stymied by lack of an agreement between Amtrak and CSX.

Trains magazine reported that the Flyer could operate as a special service pending construction of the Pittsfield siding.

The Trains report also said CSX agreed to ensure that Norfolk Southern intermodal and automotive trains using the B&A route would not interfere with proposed or existing Amtrak service.

NS trains now use Pan Am Southern tracks between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts, but would shift to the B&A after the merger is completed.

In recent weeks CSX has reached agreement with other railroad systems that had initially opposed or raised concerns about the merger.

However, two carriers, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation/Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Canadian Pacific, still have concerns about the merger that have yet to be addressed.

Track Work Affects Downeaster Service

May 10, 2021

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is affecting Amtrak’s Downeaster service at Woburn, Massachusetts, on Saturdays and Sundays through June 20.

Southbound Trains 690, 692, 694 and 698 and northbound Trains 691, 693, 695 and 699/1689 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill and will not stop at Woburn.

Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

Trains 696 and 697 will detour after May 8 between Woburn and Haverhill with no alternate transportation provided.

Track Work to Disrupt Downeasters

April 28, 2021

Track work being performed by Pan Am Railways will affect some Downeastern trains on April. 29.

Train 682 will terminate at Durham, New Hampshire. Non-stop alternate transportation will be provided between Durham and Boston North Station.

No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stations of Exeter, Haverhill, and Woburn.

Train 685 will originate at Durham. Non-stop alternate transportation will be provided between Boston North and Durham but no alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stations of Woburn, Haverhill, and Exeter.

Trains 681, 683, 684 and 686 are cancelled with no alternate transportation being provided.

In a service advisory Amtrak said passengers on the affected trains may choose other Downeaster service or alternate dates of travel.

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.