Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Empire Service’

Ceiling Collapse Closes Rome Station

July 6, 2018

A ceiling collapse prompted Amtrak to temporarily suspend service to Rome, New York, this week.

The ceiling fell in about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday but just one person was in the depot at the time and was not injured.

Amtrak closed the station in order to make repairs, which are expected to take until at least July 10.

Passengers are being steered to the Utica, New York station 14 miles away.

New York Central built the Rome station between 1912 and 1914 and it has been owned by the City of Rome since 1988.

The station was renovated between 2002 and 2004. Trains stopping there include the New Y York-Toronto Maple Leaf and two Empire Service round trips.

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NYC Bridge Removed for Repair

June 23, 2018

The Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City has been removed and towed away so that it can be repaired.

The bridge, which spans the Harlem River, lies on the route of the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Empire Corridor service.

Removal of the bridge prompted Amtrak to suspend the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited for the summer.

Once mechanical and electrical work on the bridge is completed, it will be put back into place and reopened by Sept. 3.

The bridge rehabilitation is part of a rebuilding of the Empire Connection, which also included lowering 645 feet of the Empire Tunnel on the route.

During a meeting with reporters, Amtrak’s chief operating office, Scot Naparstek, and its chief commercial officer, Stephen Gardner, gave an update on the work, which is part of a larger project to rebuild infrastructure at New York’s Penn Station.

The two Amtrak executives said the passenger carrier is seeking replacement equipment for the 500-car Amfleet I fleet, most of which is 40 years old.

They did not give a timetable for that replacement, but indicated that it is not imminent.

Amtrak has been refurbishing the interiors of its Amfleet I cars to give them a more modern look. Those cars are used largely on eastern corridor trains with a few assigned to Midwest corridor trains.

LSL New York Section Suspension Begins May 26

May 12, 2018

The New York section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited will be suspended between May 26 and Sept. 4.

During that time Nos. 48 and 49 will operate only between Chicago and Boston. Passengers bound to and from New York will connect at Albany-Rensselaer with other Amtrak trains.

At the same time, Amtrak’s Empire Service trains, the Adirondack, Ethan Allen Express and the Maple Leaf will begin using Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The service changes are due to an infrastructure renewal program at New York Penn Station and the route leading to it from the Empire Corridor.

This includes construction in the Empire Tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge. Workers will also be rebuilding Track 19 at Penn Station.

Work on Track 19 will occur between June 8 and July 20 during which time Amtrak will operate on a modified schedule.

Suspension of the Lake Shore Limited combined with making Washington the temporary eastern terminus of the Cardinal means that there will be no direct scheduled intercity rail passenger service for the first time since the 19th century.

Schenectady Station to Open in Fall

April 30, 2018

The New York State Department of Transportation expects to open the new Amtrak station in Schenectady in a few months.

In a project update, NYSDOT said the station front is starting to resemble the architect drawings and that steel is going in on the platform.

“They’re working on the head house now, which is the part of the station you encounter when you come off the train, the entryway into the station,” said NYSDOT spokesman Bryan Viggian.

“We’re pleased with the progress. It’s moving on time and on schedule.

The facility replaces a 1970s era station build by Amtrak was razed last summer. “It had reached its time. Schenectady deserved a nice, more modern station here,” Viggiani said.

The station will resemble a former Union Station that was built in 1910 but demolished several decades later.

Viggiani said the $23 million station would be finished in the fall and is part of a 15-year plan to transform Erie Boulevard.

“It took us a longer time to get it going than I would’ve liked, but the governor was a big help in terms of finally putting that package together,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.

Near the station are the Rivers Casino, Riverhouse apartments and restaurants and offices on the Mohawk riverfront.

“The train station is really just the cherry on top of the sundae there,” said Schenectady County Legislator Gary Hughes.

Schenectady is served by Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack, Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains to Niagara Falls, New York.

Options Shown for Pittsfield-NYC Service

April 18, 2018

A study has laid out three options for reviving intercity rail passenger service between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City.

One option is to use existing Amtrak Empire Service from New York Penn Station on Friday afternoons to Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with a new schedule to Pittsfield and on Sundays, doing the reverse.

Option two would involve a new schedule from New York to Pittsfield on Friday afternoon and back on Sunday afternoon.

The third option calls for building a connecting track between the CSX Berkshire Subdivision and its Schodack Subdivision, to connect the new train from the Amtrak Empire Line just north of Hudson, New York, to the line to Pittsfield.

This project would cost between $18 million and $36 million. This includes the need to install positive train control on freight-only tracks on the Berkshire Sub.

The connecting track would be more than a half-mile long and meet CSX’s standards for a curve at 40 mph, the same speed as the Schodack Subdivision.

The route would be 18 miles shorter than operating via Albany-Rensselaer and feature a running time 20 minutes shorter.

Most of this would be time saved from avoiding adding a locomotive and reversing the train at Albany-Rensselaer.

Depending on the option chosen, the proposed service would have a New York to Pittsfield running time of three-and-a-half to four hours.

The study of route options was conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation at the request of Massachusetts State Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield.

Hinds has in mind a weekend service similar to the Boston to Cape Cod Cape Flyer.

The Pittsfield-New York train would not serve any stations in Connecticut.

With adequate funding and operational support from Amtrak and CSX, the service could begin in 2019 or 2020.

Pittsfield is currently served by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

NY Congressman Still Pushing to make Buffalo Central Terminal an Amtrak Station

April 17, 2018

A New York Congressman is not giving up his efforts to convert the vacant Buffalo Central Terminal into an Amtrak station.

Brian Higgins is continuing to push Amtrak to use the former New York Central depot despite the fact that the New York Department of Transportation plans to build a new Buffalo depot at the site of the current Exchange Street station.

That $25 million project is slated to get underway this fall.

“Almost 90 percent of respondents to the site selection committee . . . preferred the Central Terminal. So this is not a decision that’s widely supported by the public to site a new Amtrak station in downtown Buffalo,” Higgins said.

Higgins planned to attend an information open house being hosted by NYDOT to prod it into reconsidering Central Terminal.

“Keep in mind, that the downtown location for a brand new Amtrak station, you cannot access 65 percent of America,” he said.

Amtrak would continue to serve a station it built in suburban Depew, New York. The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited would continue to stop at Depew along with Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

The Lake Shore Limited is not expected to use the new Buffalo station because that would require a long back-up move.

Aside from its historic character, Higgins said renovating Central Terminal would enable Amtrak to close Depew station.

“There’s tremendous benefits with historic tax credits. A developer could save 30 percent or more of the entire project cost,” Higgins said. “With a tenant in there like Amtrak, the Central Terminal becomes that much more attractive for a private developer that wants to do mixed-use development including retail.”

Amtrak Acknowledges Plans to Suspend New York Section of Lake Shore Limited This Summer

April 11, 2018

Amtrak has acknowledged that rebuilding of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City will result in the cancellation of the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited this summer.

The bridge joins upper Manhattan with the Bronx over the north end of the East River.

During the bridge work, Amtrak will also rehabilitate the Empire Service tunnel that connects Penn Station with the West Side Line to the bridge.

Although Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer, did not say during a conference call with news media when the work will be done, he indicated that through late May Amtrak is focusing on concrete demolition, wooden tie replacement and rail renewal for Track 18 used by the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station.

One more of the three turnouts by Interlocking “C” at the east end of the station is still being rebuilt. Work on the first two are finished as is all work on Track 15.

Workers are scheduled to begin the summer program of renovations at Penn Station beginning May 26 and wrap up by Sept. 4.

Amtrak is developing new timetables for all Empire Service trains to be operated to Grand Central Terminal during the outage.

During the project, the Lake Shore Limited will operate between Chicago and Boston with no through cars to or from Chicago and New York.

Amtrak has been testing the use of cab cars on Empire Service trains. Last year when the passenger carrier diverted trains to Grand Central it placed locomotives on both ends of the trains.

The Spuyten Duyvil bridge was damaged by Hurricane Sandy although some of its problems have been the result of normal wear and tear.

The rebuilding of the bridge involves both mechanical and electrical work that Amtrak engineering has been looking at doing for quite a while.

As for the Empire Tunnel, Amtrak plans to replace crossties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

Amtrak Acknowledges Changes Coming for Empire Service, Cardinal, Due to Penn Station Construction

March 12, 2018

An Amtrak official has confirmed that the carrier plans to divert Empire Service trains this year to New York Grand Central Terminal during a construction project at New York Penn Station.

In a related development, Amtrak said it plans to temporarily cease operating the Cardinal between New York and Washington starting March 29.

The Empire Service diversion was discussed by Amtrak’s Empire District general superintendent, Kevin Chittenden, during a meeting of the Empire State Passengers Association.

Although he didn’t say when the diversion would take place, Chittenden said it would last for three months during the summer. During that time, the connecting track that Amtrak uses to move between Penn Station and Metro North tracks will be closed for maintenance.

Chittenden also indicated that Amtrak is considering used FL-9 locomotives as cab cars for trains going to and from Grand Central. However, Amtrak may also use cab cars in push-pull mode.

Amtrak diverted several Empire Service trains into Grand Central last summer, but continued to operate the Lake Shore Limited into Penn Station.

News reports have surfaced that Amtrak plans to temporarily drop the New York section of the Lake Shore while work is being done on the connection track to Penn Station .

As for the Cardinal, Amtrak said it is being terminated in Washington to relieve congestion at Penn Station.

The first eastbound train to terminate in Washington rather than run through to New York will leave Chicago on March 29. The first train to originate in Washington will depart on April 1.

Amtrak did not say how long Nos. 50 and 51 will continue to operate only between Chicago and Washington.

The Rail Passenger Association said the advocacy group Friends of the Cardinal is preparing to enter into talks with the West Virginia Tourism Commission on support for making the Cardinal a daily service.

It currently operates tri-weekly, originating in New York on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and originating in Chicago on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

New York Section of LSL Reportedly Will be Suspended During New York Penn Station Work This Summer

March 1, 2018

An online report said that Amtrak plans to return FL9 locomotives to service this summer and to temporarily drop the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited due to construction at New York Penn Station.

The report, which did not provide sources, said the FL9s are owned by the State of Connecticut and will be used as cab cars when some Empire Service trains begin using Grand Central Terminal.

The former New Haven locomotives are needed because for emergencies there must be an exit from a train in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Side doors cannot be used on outside tracks so passengers would need to be evacuated through the rear door

However, Amtrak’s P32AC-DMs locomotives lack a nose door. Therefore, the FL9s will be used to lead trains into Grand Central. The trains will be turned there so that the FL9s will lead at all times.

The report said the FL9s will need to be rebuilt at the Amtrak shops in Rensselaer, New York, for cab car use.

Metro-North P32AC-DM engines are able to use the Park Avenue tunnel because they were built with nose doors.

The planned consists of trains using Grand Central will be a cab car or non-powered FL9 leading; an unoccupied Amtrak P32AC-DM to provide traction and head-end power, and the train’s passenger cars.

During this period the Lake Shore Limited will continue to operate between Chicago and Boston.

New York-Pittsfield Rail Service Studied

December 12, 2017

A study of rail service between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is underway.

The proposal would have trains use Amtrak’s Empire Corridor from New York to Rensselaer, New York, and then reverse direction and travel to Pittsfield via a CSX route now used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

This route would be unlikely to require any significant additional investment in new track, signals or land purchases on the Amtrak-owned segments.

However, facilities will be needed in Pittsfield for overnight storage and servicing of equipment.

Eddie Sporn, a West Stockbridge resident who heads real estate and planning firm Robin Road Consulting, said another option that would avoid running through Rensselaer is being eyes, but the Rensselaer option appears to be the favored.