Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor’

Summer Discount Fares Announced

May 19, 2019

Amtrak has announced two summer fare programs, including a buy one get one free sale seeking to boost off-peak ridership on Saturdays in the Northeast Corridor.

The special fares will be available on both Acela Express (in business class) and Northeast Regional (in coach class) trains between May 18 and Sept. 7.

Reservations must be made by June 5th and require a three day advance purchase.

In partnership with New York State, Amtrak will offer 15 percent discounts on regular coach fares for travel across New York State on Empire Service trains on the Maple Leaf, Ethan Allen Express and Adirondack.

Travel on the Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express must be within New York State, but the fares on the Adirondack apply to travel to and from Montreal

A five-day advance purchase is required and black-out dates will apply.

Amtrak, NJT to Rebuild NEC in New Jersey

May 18, 2019

New Jersey Transit and Amtrak have announced plans to spend $31 million this year on infrastructure projects in the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey.

The work, which will get underway this spring and extend into the summer, is a result of an agreement reached between Amtrak and NJT in February whereby NJT agreed to pay Amtrak all withheld funds owed.

Projects to be under taken include a block tie replacement project that starts May 20 at Newark Penn Station.

The initial work will affect Tracks 1 and 4, which are the most used inbound and outbound track. Workers will replace wood ties with concrete ties on 95 feet on Track 1 and 1,100 feet on Track 4.

Also slated for rebuilding is the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River. Amtrak workers will replace timber decks on Tracks 2 and 3 this summer with more than 500 timbers per track being replaced.

A project to rebuild the Fair Interlocking north of the Trenton Transit Center Station will get underway on Aug. 5.

Workers will replace timbers and switch equipment, including total switch replacement for six switches.

Other work will include upgrading switch machines from air to electric, adding new electric switch heaters and replacing more than 700 ties and 350 switch timbers.

Catenary rebuilding will be undertaken on all four tracks between County Interlocking in New Brunswick and Ham, a distance of 20 miles.

This work is being done in preparation for high speeds as new Acela Express equipment enters service in 2021.

The work will include equipment removal, replacement, and new installation of constant tension catenary.

More Penn Station Rehab Work Planned

May 3, 2019

Amtrak said this week that it plans to undertake more rehabilitation of New York Penn Station, which will result in two tracks being removed from service.

Work will also be done at JO interlocking, which is located on the route to and from the East River Tunnels.

The JO work will occur between June 28 and Sept. 2.

Amtrak said that during the construction some service will be modified.

Canceled will be Northeast Regional No. 110 from Washington to New York, No. 127 from New York to Washington.

Keystone Service Nos. 640 and 643 will terminate and originate in Newark rather than New York. No. 653 will depart New York earlier.

On weekdays, the westbound Cardinal will depart earlier although an Amtrak news release did not say how much earlier. The current New York departure time for the Cardinal is 6:45 a.m.

Other changes include the combining of the Maple Leaf (No. 63) and Adirondack (No. 69). It will operate on the Maple Leaf’s schedule with a 7:15 a.m. departure from New York.

The trains will separate at Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

The work at Penn Station will also affect some trains of New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.

Added Saturday Acela Express Roundtrip Starts May 4

April 23, 2019

Amtrak will add additional weekend Acela Express service between Boston and Washington starting May 4.

The additional roundtrip will operate on Saturdays, leaving Washington in mid morning and Boston in early afternoon.

In a new release, Amtrak said this will fill a gap in scheduling that now exists.

Train No. 2252 will leave Washington at 10:50 a.m. with arrival in New York at 1:53 p.m. and Boston at 5:58 p.m.

Train No. 2255 will depart Boston at 12:55 p.m., arriving in New York at 4:47 p.m. and Washington at 8:01 p.m.

NEC Skeds to Get Minor Changes for Track Work

April 13, 2019

Northeast Corridor Scheduled will change on April 12 in order to accommodate track and infrastructure work.

In a service advisory Amtrak said the schedules of Northeast Regional and Acela Express trains may change by one to 15 minutes in both directions between Boston; New York; Washington; and Roanoke, Virginia.


Amtrak Sends FY2020 Wish List to Congress

March 27, 2019

Amtrak is seeking the full $1.8 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2020 that it has been authorized.

The legislative request submitted to Congress also expresses a desire for a dedicated funding source to support the Northeast Corridor and the national network.

If Congress appropriates more than $1.8 billion to the passenger carrier, Amtrak has a list of potential add-ons.

This includes addressing a capital projects backlog in the Northeast Corridor that includes the North Portal Bridge, the B&P Tunnels in Baltimore, and the Chicago Union Station Master Plan.

It also includes money for new diesel locomotives and replacements for Amfleet and Superliner equipment.

If funding is made available, Amtrak would like to acquire a right of way between Petersburg, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina; reinstate service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama; add service between Detroit and Toronto; and extend the Heartland Flyer from northern terminus Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas.

The base appropriation Amtrak is seeking contains $600 million for the Northeast Corridor and $1.2 billion for the national network as authorized by the FAST Act.

Future amounts of NEC funding would be $612 million for FY2021, $624 million for FY2022, $637 million for FY2023 and $650 million for FY2024.

The national network funding would be $1.2 billion for FY2021, $1.25 billion for FY2022; $1.27 Billion for FY2023, and $1.3 Billion for FY2024.

The budget request mirrors a Trump administration proposal to transfer funding of Amtrak’s long-distance routes from Amtrak’s annual grant to money channeled through the Restoration and Enhancement grant program.

The administration in its own FY2020 budget called for ending long-distance trains and instead serving rural communities with other modes of transportation, such as intercity buses.

In response to that idea, Amtrak said in its appropriation request: “Amtrak appreciates the administration’s focus on expanding intercity passenger rail service to today’s many underserved cities and corridors across the nation.

“We believe that a modernization of the National Network, with the right level of dedicated and enhanced federal funding, would allow Amtrak to serve more passengers efficiently while preserving our ability to maintain appropriate Long Distance routes. We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress, our state partners, and other stakeholders to consider these proposals in more depth”

NJ Portal Bridge Won’t Open During Peak Rail Traffic

March 23, 2019

New rules implemented on March 14 by the U.S. Coast Guard will allow the Portal Bridge in New Jersey on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to remain closed during peak travel hours.

The rules apply between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The change was made to avoid disrupting rail service for thousands of New Jersey Transit commuters and Amtrak passengers.

Amtrak and New Jersey transportation policy makers are seeking to replace the 111-year-old bridge, which spans the Hackensack River and is prone to failures when being opened or closed.

Operators have sometimes been unable to lock the bridge back into place after it has opened.

Replacement of the bridge is projected to cost $1.5 billion, but has been held up by a political fight between the state and federal transportation officials.

Congressmen Push for Doomsday Plan

March 15, 2019

Frustrated by the lack of progress in moving ahead on the Gateway Tunnel project in New York and New Jersey, two congressmen plan to introduce legislation directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a “doomsday” contingency plan in the event of a major failure of the tunnels used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit beneath the Hudson River.

The bill will be introduced by Reps. Peter King (R-New York) and Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey.

The two congressmen contend that DOT is slow walking the project.

The Trump administration has opposed spending federal funds on the project, arguing that it is a state and local responsibility.

The project will cost an estimated $13 billion and involve replacing tunnels that opened in 1910 and suffered saltwater damage in 2012 during superstorm Sandy.

Amtrak officials have said the tunnels will need extensive repairs within a decade.

Speaking at a news conference at New York’s Penn Station, King and Gottheimer said they hope their bill will bring more attention to the project.

They noted that about 200,000 passengers a day ride trains through the two tunnels.

The closing of one of the two tunnels would reduce peak-hour service by 75 percent.

“Just give us a plan,” Gottheimer said. “We think this will actually just keep ratcheting up the pressure to get it done.”

Trump Budget Would Slash Transportation Funding

March 14, 2019

The Trump administration is seeking a cut of $5.1 billion to the budget of the U.S. Department of Transportation that would also include the elimination Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

The proposed fiscal year 2020 budget would cut DOT funding by 21.5 percent and make major cuts to Amtrak funding.

The passenger carrier would receive $1.49 billion, which is a 22 percent reduction from its fiscal year appropriation of $1.9 billion.

Northeast Corridor funding would be slashed from $650 million to $325.5 million and no funding is recommended for the Gateway Tunnel project in New York and New Jersey.

The budget proposes $550 million in “transitional funding” to help states pay for Amtrak corridor routes, including those not now in operation.

The budget envisions Amtrak contracting with bus operators to provide transportation to rural areas served by long-distance trains.

The budget contended that Amtrak inadequately serves rural areas while not serving many growing metropolitan areas.

The administration cited low ridership and large operating losses of long-distance routes as the driving force for restructuring the national intercity passenger rail system.

“The administration believes that restructuring the Amtrak system can result in better service (at a lower cost) by focusing trains on shorter distance (less than 750 miles) routes, while providing robust intercity bus service to currently underserved rural areas via a partnership between Amtrak and bus operators,” the budget states.

Much of the thrust of the budget is to transfer funding of transportation from the federal government to state governments.

“The 2020 Budget  . . .  recognizes that the federal government is not — and should not be — the primary funder of the nation’s transportation systems,” the budget document said.

The American Public Transportation Association said the budget would fund public transportation at $12.4 billion, a cut of $998 million from the FY2019 enacted level of $13.4 billion.

Most of that decrease comes from cuts in the Capital Investment Grants program, a discretionary and competitive federal grant program that funds projects for light, heavy and commuter rail, as well as streetcars and bus rapid transit services.

The administration proposes spending $1.5 billion for CIG programs, a cut of $1 billion from current funding levels.

The CIG program funding recommendation would make $500 million available for new CIG projects.

However, the budget would fully funds Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act programs authorized from the Highway Trust Fund.

It also would double funding for INFRA grants to $2 billion. These can be used for ports, intermodal, or rail projects including grade crossing separations, in addition to highway projects.

The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development program would receive $1 billion, a $100 million increase.

The budget contains $200 billion for “other infrastructure projects,” but those are described as “visionary projects” such as 5G cellular communications and artificial intelligence.

Service to Harrisburg Suspended Due to Wire Issues

March 4, 2019

Amtrak said today that it has temporarily suspended Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, due to what it termed “wire issues” west of Elizabethtown.

The carrier said it is working to repair the overhead lines that support operations of electric locomotives.

The service suspension does not affect Northeast Corridor service to and from Philadelphia.

Passengers affected by the service suspension will be rebooked on other trains without penalty.