Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Pets Can Now Ride Chicago-St. Louis

July 11, 2018

Pets are now being allowed aboard Amtrak trains in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

This includes all Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

In a news release, Amtrak, said all of its Midwest routes now allow pets onboard subject to their owners meeting certain rules.

Dogs and cats weighing up to 20 pounds can be transported if they are placed beneath a passenger’s seat.

Reservations are required as well as payment of a $25 fee for the pet.

Pets are only allowed for trips that take no more than seven hours.
Amtrak began carrying pets aboard some trains in 2014 and has since transported more than 5,600 pets on state sponsored trains terminating or originating in Chicago.

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Petitioners Seek to Save Marshall Ticket Office

June 12, 2018

More than 500 people have signed a petition seeking to save the Amtrak ticket agent in Marshall, Texas.

The office is one of 15 being closed as part of a nationwide cost-cutting program by Amtrak to close ticket offices serving an average of less than 40 passengers per day.

The petition was sent to federal and state officials on Monday. The Marshall ticket office is slated to close on June 29.

Marshall is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Shreveport Thruway Station Moved

June 8, 2018

Amtrak Thruway Service connecting Shreveport, Louisiana, with Texas Eagle train service at Longview, Texas, has been moved from the Shreveport International Airport to the new SporTran Intermodal Terminal, located just outside of downtown Shreveport.

The address for the new facility is 1237 Murphy Street, Shreveport, LA 71101

Greyhound Thruway service, connecting Shreveport with the City of New Orleans at Jackson, Mississippi, and with the Crescent at Meridian, Mississippi, will relocate to the SporTran Intermodal Terminal, on a future date.

Until that date is finalized by Greyhound, its Thruway service will continue to be offered to/from the existing Greyhound station in Shreveport.

Excursion Being Offered From Alton

May 30, 2018

The American Association of Railroaders is sponsoring trips on June 2 from Alton to Carlinville, Illinois, and return.

The outbound trip will be aboard an Amtrak Lincoln Service train that will depart from the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center at 3:30 p.m.

Passengers will return to Alton at 6:30 p.m. aboard the Texas Eagle. During the layover in Carlinville, passengers will be able to get something to eat at one of the two fast food restaurants located a block from the station.

AAR President Rich Eichhorst will offer commentary en route, and railroad souvenirs will be available for purchase.

Non-refundable fares are $35 for adults and $29 for children age 11 and younger.

Chicago-St. Louis Route Rebuilding Nearly Complete

May 25, 2018

The Illinois Department of Transportation says that rebuilding of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor is substantially complete.

“The remaining work primarily [is] focused on the installation of fencing in Springfield and at the southern end of the corridor; crossing improvements in Springfield; and the completion of the Kankakee River Bridge in Wilmington,” said Guy Tridgell, an IDOT director of communications based in Chicago.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the current top speed of the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains on the route is still 79 p.m. although that is expected to increase to 90 mph by the end of the year.

“We had a section of 110 mph but it was not meant to be permanent,” he said referring to a stretch between Pontiac and Dwight. “The system is being installed, not just to be faster, but more reliable.”

Alton Seeks Developers for Station Area

May 12, 2018

Alton, Illinois, officials continue to talk with developers about their ideas to develop the area bordering the Amtrak station.

Two developers have proposed mixed use plans with the only variation being the mix of tenants they would seek to attract to the proposed Wadlow Town Center.

“We are still talking with a couple entities; we still are talking about the nature of what they want to do with the property,” said Greg Caffey, Alton director of development and housing. “Both parties are large developers in the St. Louis area. They have a very strong interest in this, it is just a matter of time.”

The Alton Amtrak station is located on the former 55-acre Robert P. Wadlow Municipal Golf Course.

It opened last year and replaced a station built by the Chicago & Alton Railroad decades ago on College Avenue. That station has since been razed.

Alton officials had originally issued a request for proposals to develop Waldlow Town Center and set a March 1 deadline, but received no proposals by then or a revised deadline of March 31.

Caffey said the city remains open to ideas and proposals to develop the 35.87 acres west, northwest, southwest and south of the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center that is used by Amtrak and Madison County Transit buses.

Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and its Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle stop in Alton.

“We’re in no rush; we want what is in the best interest for the site and for the community,” Caffey said. “We want a quality development for the community.”

Alton Mayor Brant Walker envisions a retail and casual dining district that would not cannibalize what exists in Alton and Godfrey.

“The city desires that the property be developed in accordance with transit-oriented design principals and meets the requirements of the city’s Mixed Use Transportation zoning classification,” the city said in its request for proposals.

The request did not suggest types or sizes of businesses that officials would like a developer to bring to the site.

Fighting to Keep Ticket Offices Open

May 12, 2018

Officials in Topeka, Kansas, and Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas, are fighting to keep open the Amtrak ticket offices located in their cities.

The national passenger carrier is closing 15 ticket offices nationwide, targeting stations that serve 40 or fewer passengers a day.

In Kansas, Topeka Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz called for the city to fight the plan.  “We cannot let this die,” she said.

“We are the capital city and we need to make sure that this man stays,” she said in reference to the Amtrak agent who works at the station.

The Topeka ticket office is slated to close on May 18. Topeka is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Ortiz encouraged the public to contact U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) to seek his help.

She believes ridership of Amtrak trains will diminish after the Topeka agent is removed.

Although Ortiz called on her fellow council members to pass a resolution supporting keeping the ticket office open, the council did not take any action.

In Texarkana, the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization is trying to rally support in keeping that city’s ticket office open.

The group has also protested plans to close a ticket office in Marshall, Texas. Both stations are served by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

TEMPO is seeking the support of Main Street Texarkana, which is seeking to promote development of the area around the station.

“This year, Amtrak received a record amount of federal funding, the largest ever received by America’s passenger railroad. Amtrak received this historic level of funding because of the bipartisan support of Congress for a nationwide passenger train system. Given that support, it is not appropriate for Amtrak to implement cuts affecting only national network stations without first making an effort to improve ridership at those stations,” TEMPO said in a statement.

TEMPO said it wants Amtrak to delay closing the ticket offices until adequate efforts have been made to increase ridership, in partnership with affected cities.

Marshall Seeking to Keep Ticket Office Open

May 3, 2018

Rail passenger advocates in Texas have launched a campaign to try to get Amtrak to reverse a decision to close its ticket office in Marshall, Texas.

The ticket window is one of 15 that Amtrak plans to shut down between now and late June.

Marshall is on the route of the Texas Eagle and the ticket office on the route in Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas is also slated to close.

Amtrak has just one employee in its Marshall ticket office. It plans to hire a caretaker who will open and close the waiting room at train time and keep it clean.

The passenger carrier is also installing a ticketing kiosk at the stations in Marshall and Texarkana.

In making the case to keep the office open, the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization contends that closing it will reduce ridership and revenue.

The group also said that removing local agents means no ticketing information service will be available locally and there will be no assistance for the elderly.

“If I didn’t have George [Cantliy, the Amtrak agent in Marshall] to help me get on that train with my luggage, I’ll have problems and I ride that train about once a month,” said Gail Beil, a Marshall resident.

The Marshall Depot Board of Director was to hold a meeting at the station this week to discuss information about Amtrak’s plans.

The Board said an Amtrak agent does more than sell tickets. The agent also provide services to ensure safe boarding and de-boarding of passengers, safety on the platform, assistance to those with disabilities and/or special needs and assistance with luggage.

TEMPO is asking Marshall residents and passenger train supporters to write to their congressmen and the president of Amtrak and ask that the Marshall ticket office remain open and staffed.

For its part, Amtrak contends that few people buy tickets at the stations, electing to buy them online from Amtrak’s website.

The 15 ticket offices scheduled to close all reportedly handle 40 or fewer passengers per day.

More Ticket Office Closings Planned

May 1, 2018

Amtrak will close 15 ticket offices in the next several weeks serving seven long-distance route. The closings will begin on May 15 and extend through late June.

Spokesman Marc Magliari said the closing are a bid to reduce expenses that was “made jointly by the operating divisions and the Long Distance Service Line.”

Magliari said the carrier is still figuring out which, if any, of the affected stations will have trainside checked baggage.

He said 22 jobs are being eliminated although some of the affected agents are retiring, leaving Amtrak service or bumping another agent at another location by exercising their seniority rights.

“The different dates depend on the staffing in the area and also whether agents are moving from station to station as a result of attrition,” Magliari said.

Caretakers are being hired to open and close the waiting rooms of all affected stations before and after train arrival and departure times.

The affected stations and closing dates by route are:

Southwest Chief: Lamy, New Mexico, (July 31); La Junta, Colorado,(June 1); Topeka, Kansas, (May 20); Garden City, Kansas, (May 15); and Fort Madison, Iowa, (May 16)

Crescent: Meridian, Mississippi, (May 17) and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, (May 21)

Texas Eagle: Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas, (May 15) and Marshall, Texas,  (June 29)

Empire Builder
: Havre, Montana, (June 1); and Shelby, Montana, June 5)

Cardinal: Cincinnati (June 5) and Charleston, West Virginia, (June 6)

California Zephyr
: Ottumwa, Iowa, (May 19)

City of New Orleans
: Hammond, Louisiana, (May 15)

Amtrak management has for several years been guiding passengers to booking travel on its website and closing small town and lesser used ticket offices.

It has also offered some discounts that are only available online.

Magliari said just one in 10 reservations are booked by station agents.

“This seems to be part of Amtrak’s new cost-savings strategy under CEO Richard Anderson to cut station staffing and on-board service to the long-distance national network,” said Peter LeCody, Rail Passengers Chair and President of Texas Rail Advocates in a statement.

Limited Parking in Springfield

April 30, 2018

Construction work in Springfield, Illinois, has resulted in limited parking availability at the Amtrak station through May 3.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the station parking lot may be closed at times. The work is connected with the Illinois Department of Transportation High Speed Rail Project.

Amtrak is advising passengers to be dropped off or picked up if possible rather than leaving their vehicle at the station.

Alternative parking is available in the City of Springfield’s parking garage at Fourth Street and Washington Street (immediately south of the station) for $5 a day. Metered street parking is also available along Washington Street, Fourth Street and Jefferson Street. Metered spaces are free after 5 pm Friday until 7 am Monday.

Long term parking passes can be obtained in advance for the surface parking lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington by contacting Springfield Downtown Parking, Inc at 217-522-2712.

Taxi, mass transit and ride-share services are also available to and from the station, which is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.