Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner’

Amtrak Inches Back Toward Normal

December 28, 2022

Amtrak inched closer to getting back to normal on Tuesday with the resumption of the Capitol Limited in both directions.

Nos. 29 and 30 departed their respective terminals of Washington and Chicago for the first time in nearly a week, although No. 29 did leave Washington on Sunday.

No. 30 passed the Elkhart rail camera on Tuesday night with its usual consist of five Superliner cars but also had a Viewliner baggage car on the rear

The Lake Shore Limited, however, did not depart Chicago, New York or Boston on Tuesday.

Amtrak Midwest corridor services remained sidelined on five routes on Tuesday with some service suspensions still in effect on Wednesday.

However, Amtrak said it is providing substitute bus service for some cancelled Midwest corridor trains and at the time the advisory was issued was trying to line up alternative bus transportation for other trains.

Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) that did not operate on Tuesday included Nos. 352, 354 and 353. Nos. 351 and 353 will not operate on Wednesday.

The Blue Water did not operate in either direction on Tuesday and will not operate from Port Huron to Chicago on Wednesday.

Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis that were cancelled on Tuesday included Nos. 305 and 315. No. 300 will not operate on Wednesday.

Also cancelled on Tuesday was the Missouri River Runner No. 318 from Kansas City to St. Louis, and the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. The Quincy to Chicago Zephyr is cancelled for Wednesday as well.
In the East, the Maple Leaf was canceled between Toronto and Rochester, New York on Tuesday and will not operate on Wednesday between those cities, either.

Empire Service No. 280 was cancelled from Niagara Falls and Albany-Rensselaer for Dec. 27 and 28.

Cancelled between Niagara Falls and Syracuse for Dec 27 and 28 are Empire Service Nos. 281, 281 and 284.

In the West, the Empire Builder was cancelled the length of its route westbound on Tuesday. However, the eastbound Builder operated from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago while being cancelled between Seattle/Portland and St. Paul.
VIA Rail Canada began resuming service on Tuesday on a modified schedule that saw some trains combined in the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridors.

The Canadian carrier had cancelled all trains on those corridors on Dec. 25 and 26, in part due to a freight train derailment that blocked the tracks.

VIA was set to operate 14 trains in those corridors rather than the normal 28.

Rail passenger service was not the only transportation mode disrupted by severe winter weather in the past several days.

Southwest Airlines canceled 2,886 flights on Monday, about 70 percent of its schedule. It cancelled 60 percent of its Tuesday flights. The cancellations left thousands of air travelers stranded.

The airline said on Tuesday it would operate about a third of its scheduled flights in the coming days as it seeks to recover from a service meltdown.

It setup a website,, where passengers could contact the airline to rebook travel or request a refund of their fare.

The U.S. Transportation Department has launched an investigation into Southwest and its cancelled flights, which the agency described as “unacceptable.”

DOT said it was concerned about Southwest’s “failure to properly support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay.”

The CEO of Southwest, Bob Jordan, released a three-minute video statement on Tuesday in which he said he is “truly sorry” for the airline’s failures over the holiday weekend.

Southwest was not the only airline to cancel thousands of flights last weekend but has been much slower than other carriers to recover from the service disruptions triggered by a winter storm that brought subzero temperatures and heavy snow.

Another factor behind the cancellations of flights and Amtrak trains has been staffing shortages.

In his video statement, Jordan said some of Southwest’s problems can be attributed to how it has set up its network.

“We build our flight schedule around communities, not hubs, so we are the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S., cities where large numbers of scheduled flights simultaneously froze as record bitter cold brought challenges for all airlines,” he said.

Over the next several days Southwest will be working to reposition planes and personnel in order to “reset” its service. That will mean ferrying some planes without passengers.

One of the hardest hit cities has been Buffalo, New York, where officials issued a travel ban after more than four feet of lake effect snow fell on the region.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be shut down until Wednesday. News reports indicate that 29 people have died since the onset of the winter storm in the Buffalo region.

Amtrak Service Woes Continued on Monday

December 27, 2022

Amtrak continued to struggle on Monday to return to normal with numerous trains cancelled. In some cases the cancellations were prompted by mechanical issues with the assigned equipment. But an Amtrak service advisory cited weather related issued as prompting other cancellations.

Among the cancellations were Lincoln Service Nos. 300, 301, 305, 306, 318 and 319 between Chicago and St. Louis; the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City, and the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois.

Although the Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water had been scheduled to operate, it was ultimately cancelled due to mechanical issues.

Initially, Amtrak said on Twitter that Train 364 from Chicago to Port Huron would be delayed due to late arriving equipment. No. 364 was then cancelled, reinstated, and then cancelled yet again due to mechanical issues.

Many trains that did get out on the road encountered major delays. Wolverine Service No. 352 from Chicago to Detroit (Pontiac) was running more than four hours late. The Chicago-bound Cardinal was more than four hours late arriving in Chicago.

The Amtrak Twitter feed shows a tale of cascading effects in which a late inbound train created delays for its outbound counterpart due to the need for crew rest.

Thus far Amtrak has announced that today (Dec. 27) Lincoln Service/Missouri River Runner 319, Wolverine Service 353 and Illinois Zephy 382 are cancelled.

Three long-distance trains didn’t get out on the road on Monday as well. That included the Capitol Limited (Chicago-Washington), Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-New York/Boston) and Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland).

Amtrak said all of those trains were cancelled due to “on-going weather-related issues.”

Widespread service cancellations also occurred on Monday in the east and will extend into Tuesday.

The Maple Leaf in both directions is cancelled. Train 63 will operate from Rochester, New York, to New York City, and Train 64 will operate from New York to Syracuse, New York.

A spate of cancellations have been posted for several Empire Service trains for Monday and Tuesday.

Train 280 is cancelled in New York State between Niagara Falls and Albany-Renssealer. Trains 281, 283 and 284 are canceled only between Syracuse and Niagara Falls.

Also cancelled on Monday were Amtrak Regional trains 151 and 22 between Washington and Roanoke, Virginia.

Amtrak’s reservation system shows the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited as slated to depart their respective terminals today.

However, the service advisory issued Monday afternoon indicated the westbound Capitol Limited is cancelled on Tuesday. Since last Thursday the Capitol has operated just once when No. 29 departed Washington on Sunday and arrived in Chicago Monday morning more than two hours late. No. 30 last left Chicago on Dec. 21.

The Lake Shore Limited last left its respective terminals on Dec. 21.

The Empire Builder will not depart any of its terminals today which means it has now been a week since Nos. 7/27 and 8/28 departed Chicago or the West Coast.

Missouri Service Suspensions Extended Into December

November 17, 2022

Equipment shortages continue to plague Amtrak’s Midwest Corridor services.

The passenger carrier said this week that suspension of one of the Missouri River Rail Runner round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City will last through Dec. 4, ensuring the service will not be restored in time for the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Trains 311 and 316 were suspended on Oct. 24 and were to have been restored on Nov. 16.

No. 311 departs St. Louis in the morning and then turns back in Kansas City in late afternoon.

The ongoing suspensions mean that the only service between Missouri’s two largest cities is No. 318, which departs Kansas City in the morning and runs through St. Louis to Chicago.

It’s counterpart, No. 319 originates in Chicago and departs St. Louis for Kansas City in mid-afternoon.

An Amtrak spokesman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the continued suspension of Nos. 311 and 319 is due to delays in deploying new equipment, an apparent reference to the Venture equipment Amtrak has assigned to Midwest corridor service in fits and starts due to ongoing mechanical issues with the cars.

Jefferson City Station to Stay Put for Now

January 13, 2021

The State of Missouri has given officials in Jefferson City six more months to find a new site for an Amtrak station.

The station currently is a trailer situated in the parking lot of the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site.

The state has ordered the trailer removed in order to create additional parking spaces for state employees.

One proposed site for the trailer was nearby city-owned land, but that proposal fell through because it would have been blocked by one of the entrances to the historic site lot.

The station for several years had been located in the Union Hotel. However, it was closed in fall 2019 due to structural defects in that building.

Jefferson City is served by Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Missouri River Runner Gets Another Coach

June 12, 2020

In anticipation of increased ridership, Amtrak has added an additional coach to Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The carrier said the expanded equipment consist will provide additional seating while maintaining social distancing.

Missouri River Runner trains will now have three coaches available although only half of the seats are being sold.

Amtrak operates one roundtrip daily between the two cities. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic service had been two daily roundtrips.

There also had been a fight in the Missouri legislature over whether to continue funding two roundtrips per day.

Warrensburg Waiting Room Closed, Boarding Procedures Changed at Washington Union Station

May 6, 2020

The waiting room of the Amtrak station in Warrensburg, Missouri, has been closed.

Missouri River Runner trains will continue to stop at the station and the boarding platform remains accessible.

Passengers and those waiting on them are asked to wait in a personal vehicle for their train rather than waiting outside.

In a related development, Amtrak has changed boarding procedures at Washington Union Station in an effort to promote social distancing.

Priority boarding has been discontinued and boarding times have been adjusted to avoid lines and waiting in the station.

Passengers without checked baggage are advised to be at the station no more than 30 minutes prior to departure.

Those with checked baggage should arrive no more than 60 minutes before their train’s scheduled departure.

Passenger boarding will begin 20 minutes prior to departure.

Amtrak also said that effective May 10, Wilmington’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr., station will reduce the number of entrances and have modified station hours.

The only open station entrance will be at the corner of French and Front Streets.

Facial coverings will be required when inside the station as mandated by Delaware State Ordinance.

The Wilmington station will be closed between midnight and 5:45 a.m. to all non-Amtrak personnel, in order to clean and disinfect for our riders and employees.

Amtrak also said that the Faber store will be closed and restrooms will be closed to the public.

The SEPTA/DART ticket office will be closed closed and passengers must purchase tickets purchased on the train.

Only ticketed passengers, or those wishing to purchase tickets, are permitted inside the station. SEPTA passengers needing to purchase a ticket can come into the station approximately 15 minutes prior to train departure.

Amtrak Trims More Service, Brightline Suspended

March 26, 2020

Additional Amtrak service reductions have been announced and Florida intercity rail passenger operator Brightline has suspended all service.

The latest Amtrak cancellations include reducing the level of service of Missouri River Runner service effective March 30

The two daily roundtrips between St. Louis and Kansas City will be cut to one with trains leaving Kansas City at 8:15 a.m. and St. Louis at 4 p.m.

The St. Louis-Kansas City corridor was the last in the Midwest to be unaffected by the COVID pandemic-induced service reductions.

Effective today Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has ordered all Amtrak in that state to be suspended.

The Vermonter, which normally operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont, will not operate north of New Haven, Connecticut.

On its reduced schedule, the Vermonter will not operate on Sundays.

The Ethan Allen Express, which normally operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont, will not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Scott said he took the action after consulting with Amtrak. He also issued a stay-at-home order for residents of his state and directed the closure of in-person, nonessential businesses in order to minimize unnecessary activities outside of homes.

In Florida, Brightline, which is owned by Virgin Trains USA, laid off 250 of its more than 300 South Florida workers this week.

Brightline said on Wednesday that it was suspending all service in the wake of the pandemic.

The layoffs included Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development.

In a statement, Brightline said it hoped to rehire most of its workers once service resumes, but said it could not say when that might be.

A report in the Miami Herald said more than 700 construction workers on a project to extend Brightline track to Orlando remain employed.

Missouri River Runner Schedule to Change as Funding Debate Continues in Budget Committee

March 17, 2020

Amtrak will change the schedule of Missouri River Runner No. 311 to operate an hour earlier effective March 23.

In a service advisory Amtrak said the changes were being made in a bid to improve the train’s n-time performance and passenger satisfaction.

In the meantime, Missouri legislatures are grappling with whether there will be two or four River Runners when the state’s next fiscal year begins on July 1.

A budget plan approved by a House committee would retain the present two daily roundtrips between St. Louis and Kansas City, but a news report indicated that how to pay for that level of service remains an unresolved issue.

Missouri owes Amtrak $12 million for service provided but not paid for over the past decade.

The unpaid balance has been ringing up 12 percent interest in the meantime.

The chairman of the House budget committee, Cody Smith, offered an amendment to direct the Missouri Department of Transportation to pay for no more than one daily roundtrip.

Smith’s amendment directed Amtrak to operate the current level of service but making up the difference between what the state is willing to pay and how much the service cost by increasing fares.

However, the committee voted 19-16 to strike Smith’s amendment before sending the budget on to the full House.

Lawmakers continue to discuss whether to reduce service and pay off the debt to Amtrak or to keep service at its existing level.

Since 2017, the legislature has approved $9.1 million each year for Amtrak service.

The budget for next year also calls for that same level of funding.

However, the service actually cost $10.6 million in 2017 and expected to cost $12 million next year.

Paying the debut to Amtrak and funding two daily roundtrips would cost an additional $12.2 beyond the $9.1 million now in the budget bill.

Smith said he wants the state to pay off its debut to Amtrak but limit the service to what the legislature ends up appropriating for it.

He said that would prevent Missouri from getting into debt to Amtrak again.

In 2014 MoDOT accepted $50 million in federal funding for station improvements and ending the River Runners would put the state on the hook for paying back $36 million of that funding.

Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, who represents Hermann and Washington, both stops for the River Runners joined with lawmakers from St. Louis and Kansas City in arguing that Amtrak service is good for commuters and tourism, keeps traffic off the highway and bringing visitors to spend money.

He also cited the value of connecting Missouri’s two largest cities.

If River Runner service fell to one roundtrip per day it would be impossible for commuters to use the trains because they would have to find another one-way transportation for the other leg of their trip, Griesheimer said.

State Rep. Deb Lavender of Kirkwood said people in her district frequently ride Amtrak for day trips to Hermann or Washington.

She said every dollar the state spends on tourism results in tourists spending more money within the state, she said.

Lavender suggested using state tourism funds to cover the remaining balance, but she withdrew her amendment after Lynn Struemph, director of finance for the Division of Tourism, testified that they would have to cut advertising and promotions if the money was diverted from that fund.

Amtrak funding is makes up a small slice of MoDOT’s $3.66 billion budget. Transportation funding in Missouri is paid for by dedicated user fees, fuel taxes and federal funds, but Amtrak service is funded by the state’s general revenue.

Missouri River Runners Facing Service Cut

March 16, 2020

A budget plan making its way through the Missouri legislature is expected to reduce Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner service.

The plan would appropriate $12 million for Amtrak service in the next fiscal year.

But once the state pays off its debt to Amtrak for past service provided there would only be enough funding left to pay for one daily roundtrip between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Missouri has fallen being paying its bills to Amtrak for the River Runners since 2010 and now owes an estimated $6.5 million.

Amtrak is allowed to charge 12 percent interest on the outstanding debt but has yet to threaten to discontinue service.

The next fiscal year in Missouri begins on July 1.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna said in January that the state cannot end Amtrak service because it still owes the federal government $36 million for station improvements on the 283-mile route.

The River Runners carried 167,000 passengers in 2018 but saw ridership fall last year due to cancelations prompted by flooding.

UP Derailment Leads to Amtrak Cancellations

March 2, 2020

A Union Pacific derailment on Friday evening prompted cancellations of Missouri River Runner Service on Saturday and delays on Sunday.

The derailment occurred near Smithton, Missouri, and blocked a portion of Route 50.

Alternative bus transportation was provided in lieu of the canceled trains.

Amtrak Tweeted on Sunday that is trains were being by 30 minutes to more than an hour due to signal issues and freight train interference.