Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited’

In Its Customary Position

May 21, 2019

An Amtrak Viewliner baggage car brings up the rear of the westbound Lake Shore Limited as it cruises through Olmsted Fall, Ohio, en route to Chicago.

The next stop for Train 49 will be Elyria, Ohio.

The typical operation of Nos. 48 and 49 has the Boston section at the front of the train. Only the New York section still has a baggage car and it is always on the rear.

And that’s for good reason, too. You would not want passengers walking through a baggage going to and from the Boston and New York sections.

Ahead of the baggage cars are a pair of Viewliner sleepers and Viewliner dining car Dover.

A Little Out of the Ordinary

May 18, 2019


Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited usually has two P42DC locomotives pulling it over most of its route, but on May 16-17, it had three.

The lead unit may have been added at Albany-Rensselaer, New York, as online reports indicated that No. 145 was leading the train out of Boston.

No. 48 was running more than three hours late when I photographed it charging through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Aside from the trio of P42DCs operating elephant style another out of the ordinary feature of this train was a second Viewliner sleeper in the Boston section.

For those wondering, the train had P42DC Nos.  95, 145 and 28 in that order. The Viewliner dining car was the Dover, which seems these days to be regularly assigned to an equipment set of Nos. 48 and 49.

CSX Track Work Leads to Boston LSL Suspension

May 18, 2019

Track work being performed by CSX will result in the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited being replaced with a charter bus on select dates between May 19 and Aug. 1.

The track work is being done between Sundays and Thursdays. On the affected dates, passengers will be transported by bus between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

The dates involved are May 19-23, 27-30; June 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30; July 1-3, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28; and Aug. 1.

Passengers holding tickets on Train 448 for travel beyond Albany, will disembark at the Albany-Rensselaer station and board a bus for stations in Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station), Massachusetts on the above dates.

Boarding passengers at these stations will board a bus at the station for Trains 448 and 449.

No alternative transportation is being provided to Framingham, Massachusetts, or to Boston Back Bay Station, both scheduled stops for Nos. 448 and 449.

In a service advisory Amtrak said passengers traveling to or from Back Bay station should take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston South Station and Back Bay.

Trains 448 and 449 will operate normally on May 26 (Memorial Day) and July 4 (Independence Day) when the track work will be on a holiday hiatus.

Passengers ticketed for No. 449 from Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station and not at the bus terminal.

Amtrak said the Boston section will not have business class or sleeping car service during this time.

Rounding the Bend in Berea

May 10, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passes through Berea, Ohio, Thursday morning, passing BE Tower, which has long been closed.

No. 48 was running 2.5 hours late. It had been three hours late when it arrived in South Bend, Indiana, earlier in the day.

The Amtrak website reported that the train got out of Chicago Union Station 2 hours and 56 minutes late at 12:26 a.m. I don’t know the reason(s) for the delayed departure.

Whatever the case, it was a rare opportunity to photograph Amtrak in daylight in Cleveland.

Aside from the two P42 locomotives, No. 48 had its normal summer consist.

The Boston section upfront had a Viewliner sleeper, cafe car and two Amfleet coaches. The New York section had Amfleet coaches, two Viewliner sleepers, Viewliner dining car Dover, and a Viewliner baggage car.

Viewliner dining car Springfield was apparently deadheading on the rear of the train.

One Menu Cover Being Used in Amtrak Dining Cars

May 9, 2019

While looking around on the Amtrak website recently I noticed that the carrier is now using the same menu cover for all of its full-service dining cars on long-distance trains.

Until recently, menu covers featured an image specific to each of those trains.

That practice, though, has been dropped. Train-specific images still are being used on menus for dining cars on the City of New Orleans and Cardinal.

Specific menus are also shown on the Amtrak website for the Auto Train, Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited but no train-special images accompany those menus.

The Auto Train has two menus, one for coach passengers and one for sleeping car passengers. If you were wondering, the entrees available in coach include flat iron steak, panko-crusted pollock, roasted chicken breast and lasagna.

The sleeping car menu on the Auto Train features beef petite tender filet, lemon pepper cod, thyme roasted chicken and mushroom bolognese lasagna.

Each menu has the same children’s menu of chicken tenders or macaroni and cheese. The desert fare is mostly the same in coach and sleeper except that sleeping car passengers are advised to ask their server about that day’s Amtrak signature dessert.

The menus for the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited are identical and there is no mention of the train names.

Amtrak has used a largely standardized dining car menu for its long-distance trains for a few years now although there were a few slight variations for some routes.

Also gone from the dining car menus are entrees created by chefs who were members of an Amtrak culinary advisory committee.

One thing that hasn’t changed are the high prices for entrees. The priciest is the land and sea combo, which features a Black Angus flat iron steak and a lump crab cake for $39.

If you just want the steak it will cost $25 if you are paying for your meal as opposed to it being included in your sleeping car room fare.

The crab cake is only available in the land and sea combo. The seafood entrees is Norwegian salmon. The chicken entree is thyme-roasted chicken breast while the pasta entree is a rigatoni pasta that is billed as being vegan compliant.

At $16.50 the rigatoni pasta is the least expensive dinner entree. As has been the practice for several years now, a side salad costs extra, although it is complimentary for sleeping car passengers.

Lunch entrees include an entree salad with chicken breast for an additional charge, black bean and corn veggie burger, Angus burger, baked chilaquiles, and steamed mussels.

Prices of the lunch entrees range from $14.50 to $12.50. At lunch and dinner there are four desert items available, including sugar free vanilla pudding, a flourless chocolate tart, New York-style cheesecake and a seasonal desert.

The breakfast fare seems rather pricey for what you get. Three pancakes cost $10.50, which doesn’t include a breakfast meat.

Scrambled eggs with roasted potatoes or grits and a croissant cost $8.50.

The continental breakfast of cereal or hot oatmeal accompanied with fresh seasonal fruit, Greek yogurt and a croissant is $8.75.

Other breakfast entrees include a made to order three-egg omelette, and cheese quesadillas with eggs and tomatillo sauce. Both of these come with a croissant and omelette also has potatoes or grits.

Breakfast meats include pork sausage, chicken sausage and bacon, but must be ordered separately. You will also pay extra for such toppings as cheese or guacamole.

LSL Cafe Car Tables Removed for Bike Racks

April 13, 2019

Amtrak has removed two of the six café car tables from the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited in order to accommodate bicycles.

The space where the tables had been located in the Amfleet I café cars has been replaced by four bike racks.

Bicycles on the train had been stored in baggage car, but that car was removed earlier this year.

The café car operates between Chicago and Boston. The New York section of the Lake Shore continues to have a baggage car.

A report on the website of the Rail Passengers Association reported that one table was being used for a condiment display while another was reserved for the operating crew.

That left just eight seats for the six coach car passengers.

NY Won’t Fund More Empire Service Cafe Cars

April 5, 2019

New York transportation officials have ruled out for now funding café car service on Amtrak’s Empire Service trains operating between New York City and Albany-Rensselaer.

Food and beverage service was removed by Amtrak from those trains in 2005 in a cost-cutting move.

Earlier this year, passenger train advocates, including the Empire State Passengers Association, began pushing for food service to be offered on all Empire Corridor trains.

However, a New York Division of Budget official ruled that out this week.

“The FY 2020 Enacted Budget does not include funding to restore food service in the Empire Corridor and we continue to look to the Federal government to restore its role in fully supporting train service,” said spokesman Freeman Klopott.

Nonetheless, the ESPA is not giving up. President Gary Prophet said the money needed to restore food service would used to cover startup costs of the service.

“Cafe service on short-distance trains breaks even,” Prophet said, adding that it was only the dining cars on the long-distance trains that lose money.

Café car service is available on several trains operating in the Empire Corridor including the Adirondack, Ethan Allen Express, Maple Leaf and Lake Shore Limited.

The two New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service roundtrips also offer café cars.

Amtrak cited heavy financial losses for ending food and beverage service on Empire Service trains operating south of Albany in 2005.

It launched a four-month trial in fall 2005 of selling Subway sandwiches aboard those trains, but pulled the plus before the end of the first week of operation.

Passengers since then had to bring their own food or buy something at a coffee shop in the Albany-Rensselaer station.

Rochester Station Named for late Congresswoman

March 28, 2019

The Amtrak station in Rochester, New York, was recently dedicated to the memory of the late U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Slaughter as instrumental in winning a federal TIGER grant of $15 million that was used to construct the station, which opened in October 2017 after a 15-year planning process.

Slaughter died in March 2018 and before her death helped to secure $18.5 million in federal funds for the station’s construction.

Her daughters, Emily Robin Minerva and Megan Secatore, joined Amtrak and New York public officials for a dedication ceremony.

The station will be called the Louise M. Slaughter Rochester Station. It serves Empire Corridor trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

It is built on the site of a “temporary” Amtrak-built station that was used for 36 years. That station was in turn built on the footprint of a former New York Central depot.

Didn’t Beat the Clouds

March 15, 2019

I was hoping to get a photograph of the eastbound Lake Shore Limited with sunlight on the nose and dark clouds behind it.

But the clouds moved faster than the train and by the time No. 48 reached my location in Olmsted Falls the skies had clouded over the leading edge of a winter storm reached northeast Ohio.

No. 48 was nearly three hours late at the time that it reached suburban Cleveland.

Report Backs Berkshire Flyer Proposal

March 14, 2019

A group seeking to establish experimental Amtrak service to Berkshire County in Massachusetts from New York has issued a report calling for a two-year pilot program to start in 2020.

The service, dubbed the Berkshire Flyer, would operate on weekends between New York Penn Station and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, using routes now used by Amtrak.

During the pilot period, one train would operate on Fridays to Pittsfield while the return train to New York would operate on Sundays.

The season would begin with Memorial Day weekend and last through Columbus Day weekend. Fares are expected to be $70 each way.

The report indicated that an earlier option to operate through Connecticut on the freight-only Housatonic Railroad would cost $300 million.

State Senator Adam Hinds of Pittsfield introduced legislation directing the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to create a working group to study the feasibility of service using Amtrak’s Empire Corridor and CSX tracks that host the Chicago-Boston Lake Shore Limited.

“They reported back that it was, in fact, feasible, would be beneficial economically, and would require no new capital investment for the infrastructure,” Hinds said.

The report also estimated that it would cost $421,561 to start the program in June 2020.

Ticket revenue is expected to be $184,000, leaving $237,561 to be raised elsewhere, Hinds said, adding that a combination of federal, state, and local funding might be used to launch the Berkshire service.

The service will also need a sponsor who can serve as the go between with host railroads Amtrak and CSX, as well as government agencies and private companies involved in the service.