Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr’

S.W. Chief Route Shortened Due to Track Work

April 4, 2018

BNSF track work will cause the Southwest Chief to cease operating between Chicago and Kansas City on April 7 and 8.

The affected stations are Chicago, Naperville, Mendota, Princeton and Galesburg in Illinois, Fort Madison in Iowa, and La Plata in Missouri.

Train No. 4 will operate from Los Angeles to Kansas City as scheduled with alternative bus service being provided for passengers traveling to all of the affected stations except La Plata and Fort Madison.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that the buses will only discharge passengers traveling to Galesburg, Princeton, Mendota, Naperville and Chicago.

Originating passengers in those cities will not be accepted aboard the buses.

Instead, passengers originating in those cities who held tickets aboard Train No. 4 are being advised to use Train No. 6 (California Zephyr) or the Illinois Zephyr or Carl Sandburg, both of which operate between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois.

Passengers should expect delays of up to 1 hour between Kansas City and these stations.

Train No. 3 will originate in Kansas City and operate as scheduled to Los Angeles.

Alternative transportation will be provided from Chicago to Kansas City by bus, departing Union Station at 1 pm, which is two hours earlier than current departure time of No. 3.

No alternate service will be provided at Naperville, Mendota, Princeton, Galesburg, Fort Madison and La Plata.

Passengers originating at the missed stations are being advised to rebook on other Illinois Service trains, the California Zephyr (Train No. 5) or on alternate travel dates.

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Amtrak Takes Host Railroads to School

March 26, 2018

Amtrak has launched a quarterly “report card” on its website that evaluates the delays that it incurs on the tracks of its host railroads.  In the first report card, Amtrak said most delays are due to freight trains interference.

The implication is that such delays violate a federal law that gives Amtrak passenger trains preference over freight trains. However, the law has some exceptions.

Amtrak assigned letter grades to six Class 1 railroads that were based on delays per 10,000 train miles.

Amtrak defines that as the number of minutes of host-responsible delay, divided by the number of Amtrak train miles operated over that host railroad, times 10,000.

Canadian Pacific received the only A on the report card. Other railroad grades included a B+ for BNSF, a B- for Union Pacific and a C for CSX. Norfolk Southern and Canadian National both “flunked” by receiving grades of F.

Following are some Amtrak comments regarding hosts railroad performances on specific routes:

• 97 percent of passengers on Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee arrived at their destinations on time. Ninety percent of trips experienced no freight train interference.

• 90 percent of passengers on Carl Sandberg/Illinois Zephyr service arrived on time with less than 4 minutes of delay by BNSF freight trains.

• More than 57 percent of passengers arrived late abroad the Coast Starlight. On an average trip on this route, passengers experienced four separate instances of delay caused by UP freight trains, accounting for 48 minutes of delay on average.

• 50 percent of passengers traveling on the Cardinal arrived late by an average of 1 hour and 27 minutes. On 85 percent of trips, the Cardinal’s 350 passengers are delayed by CSX freight trains.

• Over 67 percent of passengers arrived late at their destinations while traveling on the Crescent. The typical Amtrak train, carrying 350 passengers, is delayed over 1 hour and 40 minutes due to NS freight trains. Many Amtrak trains wait as long as 3 hours and 12 minutes for NS freight trains using this route.

• More than 200,000 passengers arrived late at their destinations on the Illini and Saluki, which operate between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. Amtrak trains were delayed by CN freight trains on nearly 90 percent of their trips.

Amtrak Posts New National Sked Few Changes Made to Heartland Train Schedules

January 22, 2018

Amtrak has a new national timetable posted online and only a few changes have been made to the schedules of its trains that serve the nation’s heartland, many of them minor.

Most  of the changes affect the six Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac). The running times on the route are being shortened

Effective Jan. 22, No. 350 will depart Pontiac 5 minutes earlier and arrive in Chicago 15 minutes earlier than the current schedule. No. 353 will leave Pontiac 10 minutes earlier and arrive in Chicago eight minutes earlier. No. 355 will depart Pontiac 20 minutes earlier and arrive in Chicago 32 minutes earlier. Times at stations en route have been adjusted.

No. 350 will leave Chicago at its current scheduled time, but arrive in Pontiac 24 minutes earlier. No. 353 will depart Chicago 10 minutes earlier and arrive in Pontiac 27 minutes earlier. No. 354 will leave Chicago 10 minutes earlier and arrive in Pontiac 14 minutes earlier.

The eastbound Blue Water will depart Chicago at its current time, but will be scheduled to arrive in Port Huron, Michigan, seven minutes earlier. There are corresponding changes at intermediate stations.

There are no changes in the schedules of the westbound Blue Water or the Pere Marquette in both directions.

Effective Jan. 8, the Pennsylvanian began arriving in Pittsburgh from New York six minutes earlier.

There are no changes in the schedules of the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited or eastbound Cardinal. The westbound Cardinal is now scheduled to arrive in Chicago five minutes earlier, but there are no changes in time at intermediate stations.

No changes were made in any schedules of trains operating in the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans corridor. Likewise, all Lincoln Service schedules between Chicago and St. Louis and Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, remain the same.

Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee has not changed.

The Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg are scheduled to arrive one minute earlier in Quincy, Illinois, but the rest of the schedules on the route are unchanged.

The counterparts of the same trains will arrive in Chicago two minutes earlier without any changes in times at intermediate stations.

The westbound Southwest Chief is departing Los Angeles five minutes earlier but its Chicago arrival time is unchanged. Some times have changed at intermediate stations. This change became effective last November.

There are no changes in the schedules of the westbound Southwest Chief, or the California Zephyr, Empire Builder or Texas Eagle.

The Heartland Flyer arrives in Oklahoma City from Fort Worth, Texas, four minutes earlier, a change that took effect last October. The southbound Heartland Flyer schedule is unchanged.

Amtrak has not printed a national timetable since January 2016, but has posted one at its website since then.

The latest timetable features an image of the Maple Leaf traveling through snowstorm.

Missing from this timetable is a letter from Amtrak’s president, which had been a standard feature of previous timetables.

The typography is largely the same as in the previous timetables, but the schedule headings have been tweaked. The schedules were compiled before Amtrak said it was discontinuing the Pacific Parlour Car on the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

Renovated Macomb Station Dedicated

December 8, 2017

The renovation of the Amtrak station in Macomb, Illinois, was celebrated on Dec. 5 with a ribbon cutting conducted by the Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Macomb and Amtrak officials.

The station work included making the depot ADA accessibile, installing a new exterior ramp, interior and exterior door modifications, and remodeling the bathrooms and seating area inside the station.

Work on the Macomb station was a pilot program for similar projects slated for other Amtrak stations nationwide.

“We were happy to be chosen by Amtrak to be part of this pilot project,” said Mayor Mike Inman. “We believe the local approach taken with this project, saved tax payer dollars.”

Macomb is located on the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, corridor and served daily by the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg.

Amtrak Adding Extra Trains for Thanksgiving

October 17, 2017

Amtrak will add eight extra trains in Illinois and 10 in Michigan to handle Thanksgiving travelers.

In a news release, the carrier said it will operate every available passenger car during the holiday period.

On the route between Chicago and St. Louis, train No. 300 from St. Louis will operate 35 minutes earlier than scheduled.

Lincoln Service extra No. 309 will depart Chicago at 10:30 a.m. and make all scheduled intermediate stops en route to Normal, Illinois, where it will arrive at 12:58 p.m.

No. 308 will depart Normal at 1:15 p.m. and make all scheduled stops en route to Chicago, arriving at 3:41 p.m. These schedules are in effect on Nov. 22 and 26.

On the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, route, Illinois Zephyr No. 383 will operate 31 minutes later than scheduled.

Carl Sandburg extra No. 385 will depart Chicago at 11:30 a.m. and arrive Quincy at 3:53 p.m., making all scheduled intermediate stops.

Extra No. 384 will depart Quincy at 1 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:23 p.m. after making all scheduled intermediate stops.

These schedules are in effect on Nov. 22 and 26.

On the Wolverine Service route, Extra No. 356 will depart Chicago on Nov. 22, 25 and 26 at 9:30 a.m., stopping in Michigan at New Buffalo, Niles, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson before arriving in Ann Arbor at 3:10 p.m.

Extra No. 359 will depart Ann Arbor on the same dates at 4:05 p.m. and make the same stops, en route to Chicago, arriving at 7:46 p.m.

On the Pere Marquette route, extra No. 372 will leave Chicago at 10 a.m. and make all stops en route to Holland, arriving at 2:11 p.m. It will depart Holland at 3:10 p.m. and make all scheduled stop en route to a 5:27 p.m. arrival in Chicago.

These schedules are in effect on Nov. 22 and 26.

Reservations will be required between Nov. 21 and 27 for travel aboard the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service.

Amtrak said that in 2016 it carried 760,755 passengers throughout its national network during the Thanksgiving travel period and it expects similar patronage this year.

It plans to assign every available passenger car to its trains during the holiday travel period.

Illinois Trains Making Detour in Galesburg

July 13, 2017

Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg are making a 5.7 mile detour in Galesburg, Illinois, due to work on the new Main Street underpass.

As part of that project, a bridge is being built under the BNSF mainline for Main Street and tracks 2 and 3 are removed until at least noon on Friday.

The regular route for Nos. 380, 381, 382 and 383, uses Track No. 2 through the Galesburg Amtrak station, thus making a detour necessary through the Galesburg yard even it is never more than a half-mile away from the normal route.

Using an eastbound train as an example, the detour route begins at Saluda, the south end of the Galesburg yard complex, and takes the lead to the Graham Cut-off Line.

At the Graham Cut-off connection, Amtrak trains continue compass north, passing beneath the Waterman lead to the Graham Cut-off.
North of the underpass, Amtrak stays on the westernmost (compass direction) track, passing west of the hump and immediately east of the locomotive tracks at the Galesburg shops.

Amtrak trains then stay to the west, pass the Prospect Street switch under the West Third Street overpass, and turns northeast to enter the Ottumwa Subdivision mainline at the west end of A-Plant.

At that point, the trains cross over from Track 3 to Track 1 to serve the Amtrak station, which is unusual for these trains. Track 1 is currently the only open track through town on the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy mainline.

Macomb Leading Way in Amtrak Pilot Program

February 2, 2017

It is not every community that gets personal attention from a member of the Amtrak board of directors.

IllinoisBut then most communities served by Amtrak don’t have a former mayor on the board of directors.

At the urging of Thomas C. Carper, Macomb, Illinois, agreed to become the first city to see its Amtrak station rebuilt to comply with federal ADA standards.

Macomb is participating in a pilot program that may be extended to other stations.

A team from Amtrak inspected the depot last year and offered the city a deal. If the city would hire local companies to do the work, Amtrak would provide reimbursement.

“This pilot is the only one we’re doing,” Carper told Macomb aldermen. “What works in Macomb might be the template for other modifications. We like the idea of local construction rather than hiring one national contractor.”

Carper, who served as Macomb’s mayor between 1991 and 2003, said 511 of Amtrak’s 525 stations need work to become ADA compliant. Amtrak is responsible for the facilities of 380 of those stations.

In Macomb the work will include a new concrete walkway from the parking lot to the platform and to the depot entrances.

Also in the plans are building a sloped concrete walkway and steps to the platform and adding handrails, and then remodeling the train station interior so that entry doors and restrooms are handicapped accessible.

The Macomb city manager has recommend hiring McClure Engineering Associates to draw up construction specifications based on the Amtrak designs for a fee of $4,500.

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy depot in Macomb was built in 1913 and has been granted historic status.

Therefore, some elements outlined in the plan cannot be altered or must be done so as to appear consistent with the historic look.

Macomb is served by the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr.

Amtrak to Fund Macomb Station Upgrade

November 21, 2016

Amtrak has said it will provide some funding for plans to upgrade the station in Macomb, Illinois, to make it ADA compliant.

IllinoisThe renovations will include adding a ramp on the south side of the building, rehabilitation of the indoor restrooms, and a reconfiguration of the indoor seating to make the space more easily navigable.

Macomb is served by the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr.

Local officials said that Santa Claus will riding into town on Amtrak on Dec. 2 and 3.

Extra Trains Set for Thanksgiving Travel Period

October 19, 2016

Amtrak said it will offer extra trains between Chicago and points in Illinois and Michigan during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Amtrak logoIn Illinois, the additional trains will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, and Chicago and Quincy. All of these trains will operate on Wednesday, Nov. Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 27.

In Michigan, extra trains will operate between Chicago and Ann Arbor on Nov. 23, 26 and 27. Extra trains will also operate between Chicago and Holland on Nov. 23 and 27.

Train No. 309 will depart Chicago at 10:30 a.m. and arrive in Bloomington-Normal at 12:58 p.m., making all intermediate stops served by Lincoln Service trains.

No. 308 will depart Bloomington-Normal at 1:15 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 3:39 p.m.

Train No. 385 will depart Chicago at 11:30 a.m. and arrive in Quincy at 3:53 p.m.

No. 384 will depart Quincy at 1 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:23 p.m. The Chicago-Quincy trains will operate as Carl Sandburg Extra service.

Some regularly scheduled trains will have altered schedules during the holiday period. Lincoln Service train 301 will depart Chicago at 7:30 a.m., a half-hour later than normal, on Nov. 23 and 27.

Lincoln Service train 300 will depart St. Louis on Nov. 23 and 27 at 4 a.m., a half-hour earlier than normal.

Illinois Zephyr No. 383 will depart Chicago on Nov. 23 and 27 at 6:15 p.m., which is 20 minutes later than normal.

In Michigan, the Wolverine Service Extra trains will depart Chicago at 9:30 a.m. and arrive in Ann Arbor at 3:10 p.m., operating as No. 356. Intermediate stops will be made at New Buffalo, Niles, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Jackson.

No. 359 will depart Ann Arbor at 4:05 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 7:47 p.m., making the same intermediate stops as No. 356.

There will no change in schedules for other Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Pere Marquette Extra will depart Chicago at 10 a.m., operating as No. 372, and arrive in Holland at 2:11 p.m. It will make all intermediate stops also served by the regular Pere Marquette. No. 373 will depart Holland at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:27 p.m.

There will be no change in the schedule of the daily Pere Marquette.

Amtrak said that during the holiday travel period it will operate every available passenger car in its fleet.

Amtrak No. 1 on No. 380 at Highlands

September 30, 2016

amtrak-eb-illinois-zephyr-june-20-1998-highlands

There is something special about number one. Numero Uno often is used to designate the winner of something, often a sports team that won a championship.

Not many railroads have locomotives with roster numbers in the single digits. Most Amtrak locomotive roster numbers are three digits but an exception was made for the P42DC fleet, which began with No. 1

There is nothing out of the ordinary about P42DC No. 1 other than its number. Nonetheless, I was excited to see it leading the Illinois Zephyr past Highlands on the BNSF raceway in Chicago a few years ago.

Just over a year later I would see No. 1 again, this time in Portland Oregon. It would lead the Portland section of the Empire Builder eastward and I would ride behind it all the way to Chicago.