Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Lincoln Service’

Another Snowstorm, More Cancellations

February 16, 2022

Here comes another winter storm and with it another round of Amtrak service cancellations.

In a service advisory, Amtrak cited “forecasted impacts from the winter storm and for the safety of our customers and employees.”

On Thursday (Feb. 17), Lincoln Service Nos. 304 and 305 (Chicago-St. Louis ) are cancelled. Lincoln Service trains 300, 301, 302, 303, 306 and 307 will operate as schedule.

Lincoln Service Nos. 300 and 301 are canceled on Friday (Feb. 18). Nos. 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307 will operate as scheduled.

Also on Thursday, Missouri River Runner No. 313 is canceled from St. Louis to Kansas City, Missouri. Pere Marquette No. 370 is cancelled from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On Friday (Feb. 18), Missouri River Runner No. 314 is canceled from Kansas City to St. Louis. Pere Marquette No. 371 is cancelled from Grand Rapids to Chicago.

First Venture Revenue Run was ‘Soft Opening’

February 4, 2022

Perhaps it was inevitable that something would go wrong during the first revenue service trip of the new Siemens Venture passenger cars in Amtrak Midwest Corridor service.

As reported by Trains magazine, when conductor Erik Newsom tried to make an announcement over the train’s public address system about the significance of the trip, the PA didn’t work properly.

Newsome was later able to advise the passengers of Lincoln Service No. 303 that they were the first revenue passengers for the new equipment.

And technicians were aboard to resolve any other problems that occurred.

The Trains report indicated that the trip on Tuesday (Feb. 1) from Chicago to St. Louis was a “soft opening” with the Illinois Department of Transportation planning an official “grand opening” in mid February.

Lincoln Service trains will be the first to get the new Venture cars before they are assigned to other Midwest routes.

Jennifer Bastian, IDOT section chief of passenger rolling stock said the cars will be placed into revenue service at the rate of eight cars per month, “if Siemens can support getting the coaches ready.”

There are 42 Venture cars in Chicago now with more yet to be released by Siemens.

Bastian said until all of those cars arrive Midwest corridor trains will have a mix of Venture coaches and Horizon or Amfleet food service cars with a business class section.

The Trains article contained photographs of the interiors of the Venture coaches and descriptions of how the cars to be used in Amtrak service differ from those used by Brightline trains in Florida since 2018.

It can be found at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/first-look-siemens-venture-coaches-debut-for-amtrak/

Venture Cars Begin Amtrak Revenue Service

February 2, 2022

Amtrak’s new Venture cars made their first Midwest corridor revenue service run on Tuesday on Lincoln Service No. 303 from Chicago to St. Louis.

Equipment from that train turns in St. Louis and returns to Chicago as No. 306.

The Venture cars, built by Siemens, have been in Amtrak’s possession for more than a year, but undergoing testing on various Midwest routes, including corridors extending to Detroit and Carbondale, Illinois.

The first of the Venture cars built for Midwest corridor service were delivered in August 2020.

Siemens also built Venture equipment for California corridor service that has yet to enter revenue service. 

As was the case with the development of the Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives used on Midwest corridor trains, the Venture cars were a collaborative effort involving state departments of transportation in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri.

No Injuries in Lincoln Service Incident

January 25, 2022

No injuries were reported when an Amtrak Lincoln Service train struck debris from a derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train near Springfield, Illinois, on Friday.

News reports indicate Amtrak Train 306 struck a wheel from the derailment and sustained minor damage.

The Charger locomotive pulling the train shut down after striking the wheel. The crew was able to get it restarted and the train continued northward to Chicago.

Chicago-St. Louis Top Speed Set at 90 mph

July 9, 2021

Amtrak this week raised the top speed for trains traveling on its Chicago-St. Louis corridor to 90 miles per hour.

The action came after the Federal Railroad Administration completed its certification of reliability of the signal system on the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio route that is now mostly owned by Union Pacific.

The higher speeds will apply between Laraway Road (south of Joliet, Illinois) and CP Wann (two miles south of Alton, Illinois).

The higher speed is permitted if a train is led by an Amtrak locomotive equipped with both Alstom’s Incremental Train Control System to monitor the status of highway crossings, and the Wabtec Interoperable Electronic Train Management System.

In the past decade Amtrak, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration have spent more than $2 billion to upgrade the route with the goal of achieving a top speed of 110 miles per hour.

However, those efforts fell short because of several failed efforts to create a signal system that would support that speed and while interacting with highway crossing equipment.

A short stretch between Dwight and Pontiac in 2015 tested 110 mph speeds in 2015 but UP and other parties concluded the equipment used there was unreliable and incompatible with the railroad’s I-ETMS positive train control system.

I-ETMS is only currently certified as a vital system for a top speed of 90 mph.

It would need further testing and development to reach FRA certification for 110 mph, a process that would require additional funding that has yet to materialize.

Amtrak plans to tweak its travel times on July 19 to reflect the higher speeds and when it returns Lincoln Service to its pre-COVID-19 pandemic level of service.

UP Derailment Hindered Amtrak Service

February 18, 2021

A Union Pacific derailment last Saturday hindered Amtrak service in Normal, Illinois, leading to the cancellation of some Lincoln Service trains.

UP derailed 16 cars of an intermodal train, the ZG4MQ-13, damaging the track and blocking several grade crossings.

Lincoln Service Train 300 terminated at Springfield, Illinois, and Trains 303, 306, and 307 were canceled.

The northbound Texas Eagle detoured between St. Louis and Chicago, missing seven intermediate stops.

Passengers traveling between St. Louis and Chicago were offered alternative transportation.

Further complications occurred a few days later when fire broke out during the wreck site cleanup process.

Authorities said the fire was caused by refrigeration units on some of the containers being hauled by the intermodal train that derailed.

The fire damaged the vinyl siding of an adjacent apartment building.

The derailment of the southbound train came within 25 feet of an Illinois State University student housing building.

One track was reopened to rail traffic on Sunday, but Amtrak cancelled two Lincoln Service trains and shorted the route of another.

UP and Federal Railroad Administration officials were conducting an investigation into the cause of the derailment.

Lincoln Station Temporarily Closed

November 27, 2020

The station waiting room in Lincoln, Illinois, has been temporarily closed.

Amtrak did not say in a service advisory why the station  has closed or when it will reopen.

Passengers will continue to have access to boarding platforms for Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains.

Amtrak No. 303 at Chenoa

September 17, 2020

Although I’ve written dozens of posts in the past years about the project to upgrade Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis route for higher speed service, it has been more than a decade since I visited that line.

On a recent Friday morning I drove to Chenoa, Illinois, to photograph Lincoln Service No. 303, which barrelled through on time.

Much has changed since I last saw operations on this route. The trains travel faster, the tracks have been rebuilt, new signals have been installed and the motive power is SC-44 Chargers.

Many of the grade crossings are no horn zones with barriers and fencing having been installed for safety.

But the consist of Horizon and Amfleet cars was the same as what I saw during my previous visit years ago. Some things have not changed.

Springfield Property Owners Want Their Land Acquired for Railroad Relocation Project

September 2, 2020

Two property owners in Springfield, Illinois, whose land was not acquired as part of a railroad relocation project are asking that authorities acquire their homes.

The owners contend that construction from the $310 million Springfield Rail Improvement Project is disrupting their lives, has damaged their homes, driven down the value of their property and interfered with their quality of life.

The homes in question were not acquired because they did not meet Federal Railroad Administration rules for purchase.

Project managers said the properties in question were not acquired because the land was not needed.

A project engineer said all property needed for the relocation has been acquired.

The project is seeking to move rail traffic from a former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio line through downtown Springfield into a corridor east of downtown along a line owned by Norfolk Southern.

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle and Lincoln Service trains use the ex-GM&O route, which now is owned by Union Pacific.

Work on the rail relocation project, which has been in the planning stage for several years, began in 2014 is expected to be completed next year.

More Station Waiting Rooms Closed

April 13, 2020

Additional Amtrak stations have seen their waiting rooms closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waiting rooms in Rome and Utica in New York State will be open only for passengers who are wearing masks.

Passengers not wearing masks will be directed to wait for their train outside.

Police officers will reportedly be present at those stations to enforce the policy.

The waiting room of the station in Lincoln, Illinois, has closed to all passengers and visitors.

Trains will continue to stop and passengers and visitors will continue to have access to boarding platforms.

Lincoln is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.