Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Track Work Disrupts Chicago-St. Louis Trains

March 16, 2018

Select Amtrak Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle will be disrupted by track work being performed by Union Pacific on March 18 and 20.

Train 303 will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, with alternate transportation provided to missed stops at Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton, Illinois, and St. Louis.

Train 304 will operate between Bloomington-Normal and Chicago with Bus service provided to passengers boarding or detraining at St. Louis, Alton, Carlinville, Springfield and Lincoln.

The westbound Texas Eagle will hold at the Bloomington-Normal station until 4:15 p.m. for an open track.

Amtrak said that buses 3103 and 3004 will operate non-stop express from Bloomington-Normal to St. Louis. Buses 5003 and 5004 will make limited station stops, serving Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Alton and St. Louis on March 18.

Buses 6003 and 6004 will make all station stops, serving Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, Alton and St. Louis. Northbound buses will operate earlier and southbound buses will operate later than the train schedules.

Passengers should check with for updated schedules.


Texas Eagle Detouring in Texas

February 9, 2018

BNSF track work had Amtrak’s Texas Eagle making a detour this week in Texas that missed station stops in Cleburne and McGregor.

The detour between Fort Worth and Temple was to last through Feb 9. In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers could board at Fort Worth or Temple or seek alternate travel dates. Delays of 60 to 120 minutes are expected on the detour route.

Another Texas detour for Nos. 21 and 22 will begin next week due to Union Pacific track work. That will affect the Eagle between Longview and Taylor between Feb. 14 and March 11.

Trains 21/421 and 22/422 will not make stops at Mineola, Dallas, Fort Worth, Cleburne, McGregor and Temple. Bus service will be provided to and from these stations.

Passengers traveling to those intermediate points on Nos. 21/421 will disembark in Longview to board a bus to continue their journey.

Outbound passengers from these cities will also board a bus to Austin where they will transfer back to the train traveling to San Marcos, San Antonio and all stops west.

Passengers traveling on Nos. 22/422 for the missed intermediate stops will disembark in Austin to board a bus to their destination.

Outbound passengers from these cities also will board a bus to Longview where they will transfer back to the train traveling to Chicago and all intermediate points.

Passengers aboard Train 22/422 going to Mineola who board prior to Taylor will remain on the train to Longview for shuttle service back to their destination.

In a service advisory Amtrak said sleeping accommodations can be made on the Texas Eagle between Chicago and Longview and between Austin and San Antonio. Those seeking sleeping car travel should book a room to/from Austin or Longview.

Southern Groups Continue to Seek New Service

February 5, 2018

Work to launch Amtrak service between Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas, is continuing, but passenger train advocates said it is taking a back seat to the long-stalled efforts to restore service to the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida.

 “The Gulf Coast is first in line — it gets priority,” said Transportation for American Chairman and former Meridian (Mississippi) Mayor John Robert Smith. “ . . . There’s a finite amount of money that you can compete for.”

Smith said it will take about two years to get service restored between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

That also assumes that federal matching funds will be available to help pay for the $23 million cost.

“It’s not like it will take two years to do the work — we’re talking about negotiations,” Smith said. “You could run trains there in six months.”

Smith expects the service between Meridian and Marshall, Texas, route will follow after the Gulf Coast restoration. Amtrak’s Texas Eagle uses the tracks between Marshall and Fort Worth.

The Texas-based I-20 Corridor Council is working with state and federal officials and Amtrak to restore passenger rail service from Meridian to Marshall with the idea of ultimately connecting Atlanta and Dallas.

Intercity rail passenger service along that route ended more than 50 years ago.

“The concept is to have all three states pushing for this passenger rail service,” said Richard Anderson, chairman of the I-20 Corridor Council. “It would benefit all three states — it would benefit the entire south.”

Smith believes the Millennial Generation will ultimately be responsible for the resurgence of passenger trains, even in the South.

“They aren’t as married to the automobile as my generation was,” Smith said, adding that Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two largest generations in American history. “Those two huge generations drive marketing advertising and many of the choices we make in this country.”

Sunset Limited Suspended for Track Work

January 9, 2018

The Sunset Limited will be suspended on select dates in January due to track work being performed by Union Pacific between El Paso, Texas, and Los Angeles.

The service suspension also affects Texas Eagle through cars to and from Los Angeles that are conveyed by Nos. 1 and 2 west of San Antonio, Texas.

Alternative service will be not be to stations at Deming and Lordsburg, New Mexico; Benson, Tucson, Maricopa and Yuma, Arizona; and Palm Springs, Ontario, Pomona and Los Angeles, California.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the service suspensions will affect the trains on the following dates.

Westbound to Los Angeles

  • Train 1 will depart New Orleans on January 10 terminating in El Paso on January 11.
  • Train 421 will depart Chicago January 9 terminating in El Paso on January 11.
  • Train 1 will depart New Orleans on January 13 terminating in El Paso on January 14.
  • Train 421 will depart Chicago January 12 terminating in El Paso on January 14.

Eastbound from Los Angeles

  • Train 2 will depart El Paso January 13 terminating in New Orleans January 14.
  • Train 422 will depart El Paso January 13 terminating in Chicago January 15.
  • Train 2 will depart El Paso January 15 terminating in New Orleans January 16.
  • Train 422 will depart El Paso January 15 terminating in Chicago January 17.

Thruway Buses Cancelled between Maricopa and Phoenix

  • Bus 8601 January 11 and January 12
  • Bus 8602 January 11 and January 13
  • Bus 8901 January 11 and January 14
  • Bus 8902 January 11 and January 13

IDOT Head Sees Top Speed of 90 mph for Trains by Summer 2018 in the Chicago-St. Louis Corridor

December 18, 2017

Illinois Secretary of Transportation Randy Blankenhorn said Amtrak trains in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor should be operating at 90 mph starting next summer.

The current top speed on the route is 79 miles per hour exception for a demonstration section between Pontiac and Dwight where 110 mph speeds began in fall 2012.

In an interview with the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Blankenhorn said a nearly $2 billion high-speed rail project to rebuild portions of the route for high-speed service is starting to wind down.

Although the route has an infrastructure for a 110 mph top speed, Blankenhorn said those speeds won’t come until 2019 after a positive train control system is put into operation.  “We are substantially complete,” said Blankenhorn.

Blankenhorn expects the project to finish on time and on budget with federal funding accounting for $1.65 billion of the estimated $1.95 billion final project cost.

The state is paying about $300 million of the project cost. IDOT has said that once the project is completed, Amtrak trains will have an 85 percent on-time guarantee.

Union Pacific, which owns the most of the track in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor used by Amtrak will be subject to financial penalties if the 85-percent, on-time guarantee is missed.

Nearly 590,000 passengers rode Amtrak between St. Louis and Chicago during the Illinois fiscal year that ended last June 30.

Patronage has fallen below 600,000 the last three fiscal years as a result of service disruptions caused by the high-speed project work.

One final phase of the project that is still underway is finishing track work in the Third Street corridor in Springfield.

“There’s some crossing work that needs to be done in Springfield, and that’s well underway,” Blankenhorn said.

The work will also include six-foot safety fencing on each side of the tracks. Safety, technology and accessibility improvements are planned for the Springfield Amtrak station.

Workers have made changes to 190 crossings in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor along 330 miles of track, closed nearly two dozen crossings and put up 90 miles of safety fencing meant to prevent trespassing.

The higher speeds are expected to reduce the 5.5 hour trip between St. Louis and Chicago by 11 minutes and by 20 minutes when a second set of tracks is competed near Joliet. Trains traveling 110 mph should cut the running time by 53 minutes.

However, the faster running times won’t address freight rail congestion in Chicago or St. Louis, which Blankenhorn said accounts for many of the delays now occurring.

Just over half of Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains ran late in the three years prior to high-speed rail work.

“It’s not so much about speed as it is reliability,” said Blankenhorn. “Passengers would use our trains a lot more if they knew they were going to be there when they need them and were not going to be an hour-and-a-half late.”

John Oimoen, chief of IDOT’s rail division said installation of the equipment needed for PTC in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will be completed next spring.

“It’s the challenge of developing the software and getting that information back to (train) dispatcher,” he said.

Blankenhorn said the highest speeds initially will be allowed between Alton and Joliet while the state continues to work to fix the traffic bottlenecks in St. Louis and Chicago. He said those fixes will be “complicated and expensive.”

Renovated OKC Station Opens

December 8, 2017

The former Santa Fe station in downtown Oklahoma City has reopened following the completion of the first phase of its renovation and restoration.

The station, which is the northern terminus of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer route, opened in 1934.

The restoration project restored the interior of the station to what it looked like in the 1930s.

This included matching paint from samples chipped from the wall and installing replica art deco light fixtures.

A new sculpture, titled Connectivity and created by Marsh Scott, fills the window over the west entrance.

Additional limestone traced to the same Texas quarry as the original pieces was also used in the restoration work.

“This is a gem to be involved in,” said Rick Lueb of TAP Architecture.

Most of the money for the $28.4 million project was provided by a federal transportation grant.

Lueb said photographs provided by a railroad enthusiast proved invaluable in recreating the original station.

Aside from serving Amtrak, the station will house city transit offices and retail businesses.

The next phase of the project will involve building a tunnel under the tracks to create a walkway to Bricktown and a plaza. That work is expected to be finished in June 2019.

OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said the restoration shows community values at work, preserving what could be lost.

The Heartland Flyer operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, where it connects with Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The OKC station might also some day serve a proposed light rail line.

Lincoln Amtrak Station Renovated

December 5, 2017

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the renovation of the Amtrak station in Lincoln, Illinois, will held today.

The depot, built in 1911, has been renovated to retain its historic character and details. Amtrak passengers use a former freight house, which was transformed into a passenger station.

The project also included new parking lots, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

Funding for the project came from a federal High Speed Rail Initiative grant.

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

New Carlinville Station Now Open to Passengers

November 28, 2017

The new Carlinville, Illinois, Amtrak station is now serving passengers and a grand opening has been set for Dec. 11 at 1 p.m.

Work on the station began more than a year ago and the depot opened on Nov. 16.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Mayor Deanna Demuzio.

Construction was completed two months ago, but negotiations between the city and Amtrak over a lease kept the station from opening. Primarily, the talks focused on liability insurance.

Speakers and entertainment for the grand opening event will be announced at a later date.

Among those expected to appear are Illinois Secretary of Transportation Randall Blankenhorn and Abraham Lincoln impersonator Randy Duncan.

The new station is open from 5 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily. The doors lock automatically once travelers from the last scheduled train have had time to depart.

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

Alton Road Depot Being Razed in Alton

November 28, 2017

Demolition of the former Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois, began this week after efforts to find a nonprofit organization to buy and move the station failed.

The 89-year-old depot was once operated by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, but is now owned by Union Pacific, which owns the former GM&O tracks through Alton.

The station was built by the Chicago & Alton Railroad and opened in May 1928.

Kristen South, UP director of media relations, said the demolition is expected to take two weeks.

Amtrak had leased the 1,602-square-foot brick structure and parking lot until it began using the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center on Sept. 13.

UP had said it didn’t want the depot to be used at its current location due to potential liability issues.

Preservationist Terry Sharp sought to save the station. He established a Facebook page devoted to the cause that had 418 members.

Sharp, the president of the Alton Area Landmarks Association, expressed disappointment that the station could not be saved. “I guess I will go out there and take some pictures,” he said.

The AALA included the depot in its house tour brochure in recent years in an effort to spark interest in saving it.

“I would talk to people, but no one, nothing, came up,” he said. “It was about money, and where to put it (station). There was always a circle of questions. It had to go to a not-for-profit, and it had to be moved. To move it would cost $150,000. We tried, but nothing came up. It’s too bad, it would have been nice to save it. It is going to be sad to see an old building torn down.”

In May 2013, the City of Alton signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency, Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific to develop a marketing plan and attempt to help sell the building.

UP agreed to sell the station to a not-for-profit for $1 as a tax write-off provided that the buyer moved the depot at its own expense. UP also demanded that the platform and foundation be removed.

Had a group offered to take possession of the building it would have had up to 12 months to move the structure.

The city in the meantime is documenting the structure in accordance with the Illinois Historic American Building Survey Standards and Guidelines. That work will be placed in archives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

“People talk about how great old train stations are that are still around, but we haven’t gotten a lot of public sentiment,” Sharp said last summer. “I was hoping this would be part of the (April 4) election, but none of the candidates brought it up. We’ve tried, I said I would try, but nothing has clicked.”

The station is located at 3400 College Avenue. Amtrak now uses a facility off Homer Adams Parkway.

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

Carlinville OKs Amtrak Station Contract

November 16, 2017

The Carlinville, Illinois, city council has approved a contract that should pave the way for the opening of a new Amtrak station.

The contract had been delayed as state and local officials worked out with Amtrak language pertaining to the liability part of the lease.

The station has been completed for some time. Once Amtrak signs the contract, the station can be opened and a dedication ceremony scheduled.

Located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, Carlinville is served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.